Guest Commentary / November 27, 2021

The Politics of Weaponized Car Attacks

Some media outlets are spinning away from suspect Darrell Brooks and his left-wing politics.

By Tim Graham

As we learn more about the senseless SUV attack on the crowd attending a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, some liberal media outlets are energetically attempting to spin away from the suspect Darrell Brooks and his left-wing politics on social media.

That’s funny. With Kyle Rittenhouse, they quickly dug into his social media activity. The Washington Post warned last summer “the 17-year-old shadowed local law enforcement, filling his social media feeds with posts declaring that ‘Blue Lives Matter’ and photos of himself posing with guns.” For Brooks, the Post lamely mentioned Brooks wrote under the name MathBoi Fly and that “after multiple legal battles,” he “started turning the life he lived in the streets into music.”

In their Thanksgiving edition, USA Today’s front page explored the politics of “vehicle ramming.” But they shifted the scrutiny back to people who resent “Black Lives Matter” protests, especially the protesters that block roads and threaten drivers and passengers with violence.

Reporter Dennis Wagner wrote: “Weaponizing of vehicles is a practice sometimes used by terrorists abroad. But the wanton attacks have also surged in the United States. The increase began after the police murder of George Floyd prompted Black Lives Matter demonstrations, which in turn prompted angry or fearful motorists to run over protesters.”

This framing makes it sound like protesters are “peaceful” and not “angry” and pose no threat. Wagner added, “A Boston Globe survey identified at least 139 incidents in which vehicles ran into crowds of demonstrators since Floyd’s death in May 2020. Fewer than half resulted in criminal charges.”

Really? The original Globe story appeared on Halloween by reporter Jess Bidgood, who sounds more like an opinion writer. She began with the usual sympathetic figure: a man who was paralyzed after falling off an interstate overpass while blocking drivers in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bidgood was outraged no one was arrested, despite admitting that the red pickup involved felt threatened as “protesters banged on its hood and threw things at the vehicle as it moved in.”

Bidgood wrote, “A Globe review of the recent incidents found there have been scores of people hit, dozens of injuries, at least three deaths, but precious little justice, much less sympathy, for the demonstrators injured, killed, or just plain terrified. Yet Oklahoma and 15 other states have considered bills protecting drivers, not protesters, as these ramming incidents have proliferated.”

In the minds of the Globe, driving into a road-blocking protest makes you guilty until proven innocent. “Given the choice between defending the safety of pedestrians protesting a police murder and the drivers of the vehicles running them down, prosecutors and lawmakers here have reserved their concern for the drivers.” You’re “running them down” if you attempt to escape.

In fact, Bidgood compared the drivers to Bull Connor and the violent racists who beat John Lewis and other civil rights protesters. “To those on the short end of this cold calculus, it feels like siding, during the 1960s civil rights protests, with Bull Connor’s firehoses over the Black children of Birmingham. Or with the cops with clubs over the brave, battered souls who traversed Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge.”

This article is littered with reckless smears like this. But this article is linked in Bidgood’s pinned tweet. She’s very proud of this.

The Globe’s ramming-incident numbers were accumulated in part with the help of “The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project,” which sounds objective. But this ACLED group has also delighted the liberal media with the data that “the vast majority of Black Lives Matter protests — more than 93% — have been peaceful.”

Consumer beware: These studies are ideologically loaded.

Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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