Sam Hanna Jr.

When I was a student at LSU in the late 1980s and early 1990s, one of my journalism professors was the late Dale Thorn.

Some readers of this weekly offering may recognize Thorn’s name. That’s entirely possible since Thorn spent his formative years in West Monroe where his father was a minister at McClendon Baptist Church. A Marine, Thorn was well educated. He earned an undergraduate degree in journalism at then-Northeast Louisiana State College, a master’s degree in journalism at LSU and a doctorate degree in higher education administration at Florida State University.

Thorn spent several years in the newspaper business including a stint at The Monroe Morning World, since renamed The News-Star, before serving as editor of The Shreveport Times. It was at The Morning World that Thorn and my father got to know one another. Daddy was political editor of the paper when they met, and in 1965 when daddy was preparing to leave The Morning World to pursue a publishing career in the community newspaper business, he trained Thorn to succeed him as The Morning Worlds capitol bureau reporter. Their friendship was cemented, which later was passed on to me. Thorn and I first crossed paths in a classroom at the J-School, since renamed the Manship School of Mass Communication, at LSU. We maintained a friendship until his death in 2014.

To suggest Thorn was a liberal would be an understatement. He was very liberal, but not once did I ever witness him demean someone because of their conservative leanings or beliefs. He relished a thorough discussion about policy, politics and life in general, but he had very little tolerance for anyone who refused to recognize facts before forming an opinion. In privately mocking such people, Thorn would stick a finger in each ear and say, “Don’t bother me with the facts; I’ve already made up my mind.”

Thorn has come to mind on several occasions in recent months as the Black Lives Matter movement has continued to unfold, ripping the country apart and dividing Americans largely along political and racial lines. It has defined this year’s presidential race.

While the so-called mainstream media has tried in vain to paint the BLM movement as a struggle for racial justice, the facts simply do not support the narrative. And the fact of the matter is BLM — like the Democrat Party since the 1960 presidential race — is using black Americans as a wedge to advance a politically driven agenda that aims to do nothing to improve the lives of black Americans. Instead, BLM aims to upend American culture, institutions and Western civilization in general.

BLM was cofounded in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Khan-Cullors. They are admitted Marxist revolutionaries who openly praise Mao Zedong, the Chinese Marxist who founded the People’s Republic of China. In his lust for power, Chairman Mao, as he was known, was responsible for the deaths of some 46 million Chinese, including roughly 550,000 intellectuals and dissidents who were persecuted for their beliefs.

According to BLM, the movement found its footing following the 2013 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, in Florida and the subsequent acquittal of the man who killed him. A year or so later, BLM descended upon Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting death of Michael Brown, a black man who lost his life at the hands of a police officer. According to Barack Obama’s own Justice Department, it was a justified shooting. Nevertheless, BLM initiated protests. Looting and violence soon followed and Ferguson burned.

It’s worth noting Martin was a troubled teen; Brown was a convicted felon.

There have been other protests along the way including an outburst in Baltimore, Maryland following Freddie Gray’s death in 2015 while in the custody of police. Like Brown and Martin, Gray was black. An overzealous black prosecutor, who later lost her job, charged six police officers with using excessive force in their handling of Gray. Two officers were found not guilty by judges in bench trials while charges were later dropped against the other four officers. Nevertheless, BLM initiated protests after Gray’s death. Looting and violence soon followed, and Baltimore, though already a hellhole of a city, evolved into a domestic war zone. It still is.

Earlier this year, BLM reemerged in full force following George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd, a career criminal, was black too. Criminal cases against the officers are ongoing though it’s safe to say the co-called mainstream media has already convicted them in the court of public opinion. The accused will never receive a fair trial.

Ever since Floyd’s death, BLM-inspired protests and violence have erupted in cities across the country, particularly in New York, Portland and Seattle. Mayors of those cities — all Democrats — have allowed protestors to destroy private and public property, carry out violent attacks against police officers and civilians, and they have declined President Donald Trump’s offers to deploy federal resources to restore law and order in the cities the mayors were elected to serve.

Over the weekend, two sheriff’s deputies in Los Angeles County were ambushed and shot by a black man in Compton. The shooting was captured on video. At the hospital where the deputies were taken for medical treatment, BLM-inspired protestors showed up, blocked the entrance to the hospital and chanted “we hope they die.”

Among BLM’s many claims is the accusation that law enforcement officers across the country target and needlessly kill black Americans. The accusation is patently false.

According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the rate of police killings of black Americans has declined by roughly 70 percent over the past 50 years. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, some 2,925 black Americans were murdered in 2018, which represents the most up-to-date statistics that are available today. Some 89 percent of the black Americans murdered in 2018 were killed by other black Americans. That same year 209 black Americans were killed by police officers, justified or otherwise.

Do those statistics support the silly notion that police officers target and needlessly kill black Americans? Of course they don’t.

Make no mistake, BLM is an organized movement, and it’s well funded. Billionaires such as the leftists George Soros and Rob McKay, an heir to the Taco Bell fortune, pump money into BLM. The Ford Foundation, the Borealis Philanthropy and Democracy Alliance, among others, all pour money into BLM too. The money will continue to flow until the financiers suffer consequences such as criminal prosecutions for financing violent protests against innocent Americans and law enforcement officers, not to mention inspiring upheaval targeting local, state and the federal governments. After all, it is against the law in the United States to finance a movement committed to overthrowing the government.

In recent months we’ve observed celebrities, elected officials, entertainers, professional athletes, large corporations and colleges and universities all hop on the BLM bandwagon. They all demand that action be taken immediately to advance social justice.

For its part, LSU has embraced BLM including prominently expressing its support for BLM on the university’s web site.

That raises a question or two. Did anyone at LSU dig into BLM’s mission statement to see what it says or bother to read the background information on BLM’s cofounders before the university opened its arms to BLM? I would like to think the decision makers at LSU simply overlooked it. Otherwise, we have to assume LSU has embraced a Marxist movement committed to upending American culture, institutions and Western civilization in general.

Sam Hanna Jr. can be reached by phone at 318-805-8158 or e-mail at samhannajr@samhannajr.com.

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