June 10, 2020

A Worthy Martyr?

George Floyd’s funeral occurred yesterday, but there are men more worthy of the accolades.

The Associated Press captured the moment in all its regal splendor: “The funeral capped six days of mourning … in three cities. … After the service, [his] golden casket was taken by hearse to the cemetery. … A mile from the graveyard, the casket was transferred to a glass-sided carriage drawn by a pair of white horses. A brass band played as his casket was taken inside the mausoleum.”

JFK? Churchill? Ronald Reagan?

Nope. George Floyd.

The past two weeks have been nothing short of tumultuous, so perhaps it was unsurprising that such an unaccomplished man with such a violent and lawless past would command such a stunning send-off. It was a funeral attended by hundreds of people at a time when, thanks to the pandemic shutdown, countless other Americans were unable to attend or even have funerals for their loved ones. But this is the country we live in. “Everybody is going to remember him around the world,” said George’s brother Rodney. “He is going to change the world.”

Indeed, he already has changed the world. But for the better?

“I do not support George Floyd and the media depiction of him as a martyr for black America,” declared Candace Owens in a viral video she shared just days after Floyd’s death. Owens, whose 18-minute missive has since been seen more than 60 million times, also made an observation that she credits to conservative thinker and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Shelby Steele — an observation that would seem to explain the near-deification of George Floyd: “We [blacks] are unique in that we are the only people that fight and scream and demand support and justice for the people in our community that are up to no good.”

The media, for its part, is clearly complicit here. After all, were it not for the exhaustive and over-the-top coverage, we’d never have heard of Michael Brown or Eric Garner or Freddie Gray. In a July 2000 speech at the NAACP National Convention in Baltimore, then-Texas Governor George W. Bush was making a point about education when he referred to “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” But he might just as well have been making Candace Owens’s point.

Let’s be clear and unequivocal: George Floyd didn’t deserve to die. But just think: Had he not (allegedly) tried to pass counterfeit money to a local merchant, he’d still be alive today. Perhaps had he not had fentanyl and methamphetamines in his system at the time of his arrest, he’d still be alive. But beyond that, at least 17 other Americans who died during the ensuing looting and rioting would also be alive. And untold storefronts and small businesses serving inner-city communities would still be intact. And ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News could’ve aired their regularly scheduled programming yesterday afternoon.

Another funeral will be held today, but the deceased man won’t command nearly the attention afforded George Floyd. His name was David Dorn, he was 77, and he served 38 years with the St. Louis Police before retiring as a captain. During the early morning hours of June 2, he was gunned down as he tried to protect a friend’s pawn shop from looters.

“The fact that he was protecting and serving,” said Dorn’s son Brian, “this is the way, I feel in my heart of hearts, that he would have liked to leave this earth.”

David Dorn leaves behind a wife and five children, a life and legacy worth celebrating, and — forgive us — a case for martyrdom far stronger than that of George Floyd.

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