You have probably never heard of Sean Ernest Ruis, but the Michigan man’s death last week marked the convergence of two current media propaganda themes — police shootings and the threat of COVID-19. The proximate cause of Ruis’s death was Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (“The Worst Governor in America”), who expanded her state’s mandatory mask policy on July 10:
Businesses in Michigan must now require all of their customers and employees to wear a face mask or face a $500 fine and other penalties.…
“Masks can reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70 percent. … For the sake of your loved ones, let’s all mask up, Michigan.”…
Governor Whitmer said, over the past week, every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new cases, and she says daily case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in the Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Lansing regions.
Whitmer says, research confirms that a big part of the reason is spotty compliance with the governor’s requirement, issued in prior orders, that individuals wear face coverings in public spaces.
Whitmer’s policy of penalizing businesses for non-compliance means that businesses must refuse service to anyone entering their premises without a mask. Ruis, a 43-year-old employee of Michigan’s state transportation department, apparently didn’t get the memo.
About 6:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, Ruis was not wearing a mask when he entered a Quality Dairy convenience store in Dimondale, a town about 10 miles south of Lansing. When the clerk refused to serve Ruis, he produced a knife and repeatedly stabbed another customer, a 77-year-old man. The store clerk called 911, and Ruis fled the scene. About 30 minutes later, a female sheriff’s deputy pulled over Ruis’s vehicle near his home. Ruis emerged from his car brandishing two knives in one hand and a screwdriver in the other. The deputy drew her pistol, and ordered Ruis to drop his weapons, but he lunged toward her and she opened fire.
Ruis died and thus cannot explain what motivated his stabbing rage, but the sheriff defended the deputy’s actions. “She backed away from him while repeatedly ordering him to drop the weapon, but he continued to advance and attack and she acted in defense of her life,” said Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich, who released video from the deputy’s bodycam and a nearby surveillance camera that captured the fatal confrontation.
For her part, Gov. Whitmer said she was “incredibly sad” about the incident. “I cannot ever pretend that I understand someone who would become murderous over wearing a piece of cloth on your face,” Whitmer told reporters Wednesday. “But what I can say is that violence is never the solution.”
Because the knife-wielding dead man was white, nobody rioted after he was shot to death. No statues were toppled, no stores were looted, no sports teams were renamed. White people getting shot by cops doesn’t interest the national media or arouse the outrage of “social justice” activists, so there were no angry protest mobs chanting outside Gov. Whitmer’s office, blaming her for Sean Ruis’s death.
Crime is only of interest to the national media when such stories can be used to advance the political agenda of the Democratic Party. By selectively focusing on crime stories that support a progressive “social justice” narrative, the media’s coverage produces a distorted perception in the public mind. This coverage is much like atrocity propaganda, a wartime tactic of “spreading of information about the crimes committed by an enemy, which can be factual, but often includes or features deliberate fabrications or exaggerations.”
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has exploited the media’s political bias to help promote a sort of atrocity propaganda in which the police are treated as the demonized enemy, supposedly motivated by racism to kill innocent black people. To give this false perception a semblance of reality, BLM activists and the media take advantage of the simple fact that, in a nation of more than 325 million people, it is not difficult to find at least one example of anything. People arrested for having sex with dogs? Here’s a story from Youngstown, Ohio, another one from Highwood, Pennsylvania, and yet another from Berks County, Pennsylvania — that’s three dog-sex stories in just the past month. It takes only a few minutes of Google searching to find dozens of such stories from across the country, but don’t expect to see any dog-sex coverage on CNN, because outrage over bestiality won’t help Joe Biden win in November.
National media coverage of police killing black people, however, is calculated to “energize” Democratic voters, and it does not matter how statistically rare such killings are. Nor does it matter whether or not there is actual evidence that racism was involved in any particular incident. For nearly two months, America has witnessed what the media call “mostly peaceful” protests — never mind the arson, looting, and vandalism — prompted by video of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. What we have not yet witnessed, however, is any evidence that racism was to blame for Floyd’s death. Four officers have been charged in the case, and you might suppose that, if any of them had ever done anything indicative of racism (e.g., posting something offensive on social media), the news media would have publicized that by now. But nothing of the kind has emerged so far, and the lawyer for one of the accused officers says body-camera video would exculpate his client.
“The decision to restrain Floyd was reasonably justified,” attorney Earl Grey said in a motion filed earlier this month seeking dismissal of the charge against former officer Thomas Lane. The motion noted that Floyd, who autopsy results showed was under the influence of the narcotic fentanyl, complained about not being able to breathe before officers put him on the ground. Arrested for trying to pass a counterfeit $20 at a store, Floyd would not let officers put him in the police car, saying he was claustrophobic and afraid of dying. “Y’all, I’m going to die in here,” Floyd told the officers. “I just had COVID man, don’t want to go back to that.”
Officer Lane expressed concern that Floyd was experiencing drug-induced “delirium,” so the cops put him on the ground, called an ambulance, and waited for it to arrive. The senior officer on the scene, Derek Chauvin, put his knee on Floyd’s neck to restrain him until the ambulance arrived, and it was a witness’s eight-minute video of that scene which ignited the firestorm of protests. Nothing in the public record, however, shows that racism was the motive for anything that Chauvin or the other officers did. Yet somehow the media turned this incident into an indictment of America in toto, definitive proof of “systemic” oppression.
Any skepticism toward this narrative is dismissed as inherently racist. Activists at Cornell University are trying to get Professor William Jacobson fired from his job for criticizing BLM, and, amid the clamor about supposedly racist police, researcher Heather Mac Donald has been a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Analyzing crime data from 2015, Mac Donald has pointed out that “a police officer was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was to be killed by a police officer. Black males have made up 42 percent of all cop-killers over the last decade, though they are only 6 percent of the population.” In a recent appearance on Fox News, Mac Donald called the BLM movement “extraordinarily reckless” and based on “utter hypocrisy.”
Yet this criticism is ignored by most in the major media, who are committed to promoting the atrocity propaganda about racist cops for the same reason they are fear-mongering about the COVID-19 pandemic, i.e., because they believe these narratives will help Democrats win the November election. The media seem unconcerned about collateral damage of their propaganda. For example, their campaign of demonizing police has resulted in an astonishing increase of violent crime, and most of the victims of this crime wave are black. In Chicago this weekend, at least 58 people were wounded and nine killed in shootings. In nearby Peoria, 13 people were shot in a wild melee by the city’s riverfront in the predawn hours of Sunday morning. The homicide rate in New York is up 25 percent compared to last year, and other cities — including Houston, Milwaukee, and Kansas City — have seen even larger increases in deadly violence. Suffice it to say that most of the victims of this urban crime wave are not Trump supporters, if you catch my drift.
The names of people killed by black-on-black street violence are almost never mentioned by the national news media. Their lives don’t matter to the anchors at CNN or the editors at the New York Times, because their deaths don’t fit the media’s political propaganda narrative. They’re like the thousands of elderly New Yorkers who died from COVID-19 because of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s disastrous policy. COVID-19 is only of interest to the media insofar as they can scapegoat President Trump for the pandemic, and black lives only matter to the media when their deaths can be blamed on racist police.
What about a white guy in Michigan who flips out over being required to wear a mask? If Sean Ruis had died of COVID-19, at least he would have mattered as a statistic. But getting shot by a cop? His life didn’t matter at all. America in 2020 is a very strange place.
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