By: Mark Glennon*

UPDATE 10/18/20: According to the film’s producers, after Amazon refused to stream the film and saying it would hear no appeal, and after extensive public criticism, Amazon proceeded nevertheless to publish the film without the producer’s consent or knowledge. They have now sent a cease and desist letter to Amazon. The producers’ version of the sequence of events is described here.

It’s tempting to dismiss this as just another instance of media censoring views it doesn’t like, but it’s about far more. It’s about the entire “conversation” we supposedly are having on race in America, and why it’s no conversation at all.

 “What Killed Michael Brown?” is a new documentary written by impeccably credentialed Shelby Steele, who has long been among the most prominent voices challenging orthodox thinking on race.

The film isn’t another look at the facts surrounding the shooting of a black man, Michael Brown, by a white cop in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. That shooting sparked riots and gave life to the entire Black Lives Matter movement as well as the “hands up, don’t shoot” meme.

Instead, Steele uses the event as an example through which his broader views are presented, updated to address America’s meltdown on racial issues over the past year. The “poetic truth” that the establishment likes to push, as Steele put it, is that Brown was executed. He wasn’t executed, making the shooting a metaphor for many other faulty “poetic truths” Steele challenges.

Since Steele himself is black and gifted with unusual clarity in thought and words, the cancel culture’s reaction should be no surprise.

Amazon, where the plan was to stream the film, abruptly cancelled, sending only a smug email saying this:

Unfortunately, we have found that your film doesn’t meet Prime Video’s content quality expectations and is not eligible for publishing at this time. We will not be accepting resubmission of this title and this decision may not be appealed.

Consider the irony in that. Amazon got its start as a book seller. Having achieved near monopoly power, it’s now a book burner.

Amazon also reportedly has contributed millions to Black Lives Matter.

But credit Amazon for knowing what to squelch because the movie undoubtedly would succeed in opening many of the minds Amazon would like kept closed.

It’s superb.

It traces Steele’s personal story. Born in Chicago, he grew up in south suburban Harvey. His parents met while working in the early civil rights movement. He worked initially in St. Louis as what he calls a “warrior hero” in President Johnson’s War on Poverty, much of which was misguided as he now sees things. Robert Woodson also appears in the film. Like Steele, he spent his younger years administering 1960s-style welfare programs and is now a leading critic thereof.

The culture fostered by those programs eventually migrated to suburbs like Ferguson, says Steele in the film, and it’s that culture that killed Michael Brown.

As for the facts surrounding the Brown shooting, the film lays out what many Americans probably still don’t know, which is those facts are not subject to dispute. The police officer acted in self-defense according to multiple eye witnesses. A grand jury therefore declined to indict the officer. The FBI, under Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department, found no wrongdoing in the shooting.

But Holder proceeded nevertheless to inflate the controversy by accusing the city of other forms of racism, ultimately hurting the entire community. “Holder made Ferguson pay the price for a racist murder that was neither racist nor a murder,” says Steele.

Ex-Black Disciple gang leader, Varney Voker (L), and Pastor Corey Brooks (R) discuss their work in South Side Chicago.

The film, produced by Steele’s son, Eli, brings his father’s views to life. It includes segments with Chicago’s Corey Brooks, a pastor on the Southside along with a reformed drug dealer now helping Brooks.

“I wonder what would have happened if Michael Brown had the good fortune to meet Pastor Brooks,” says Steele in the film.

All Chicago should be wondering that.

All America should be wondering that.

They aren’t, thanks to a culture that cancels and punishes such thoughts. Amazon is hardly alone. A day hardly passes now without a story from a workplace or school were somebody is flogged for daring to voice a contradiction with the prevailing view that white supremacists lurk everywhere, racism is systemic and we’re all biased but too dumb to know it.

Ferguson provided Steele with an illustration of what he thinks is wrong about America’s approach to race; Amazon has now provided him with an illustration of how views like his get silenced.

Don’t let Amazon or anybody else deter you from seeing the film. Alternate ways to view it are provided here.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

Subscribe
Notify of
25 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Illinois Entrepreneur
7 days ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

It’s rather surprising that these tech/social media companies seem so reactionary. It’s as if they are unaware that information travels around them, not just through them, so controversies like this will continue as long as they continue behavior like this.

If it were my company, I would just leave it alone and publish it. Since when is a book or a movie on Amazon considered the opinion of Amazon? Too many special interest groups have penetrated their decision-making, which is bad for a company’s long-term interests.

Poor Taxpayer
8 days ago

Michael was not within arms reach when he was shot down like a dog.
He had his arms up and said do not shoot me. He was unarmed, no gun.
The cop was inside a car, he could have pulled away with ease.
Cops always lie and cover up for each other. It is called the BLUE LINE and is a real thing.

Susan
9 days ago

There are new, non-censorable, decentralized publication resources available thanks to blockchain technology/economy. These offer unpopular opinions a safe harbor venue of expression.
With this we can re-classify what it means to be “woke”: either an individual is willing to make the tiny bit of effort it takes to consider uncensored data sources, or not.

9 days ago

It’s an excellent, necessary, provocative film, and Amazon shouldn’t have nixed it. But it’s wrong, and even intellectually dishonest, on a critical point. The first DOJ report, on the shooting of MIchael Brown, does indeed establish, through scrupulous evaluation of the available facts, that Brown charged Wilson; that Wilson shot him in a measured way, in self-defense; and that Brown is thus responsible for his own death. (It was six black witnesses who helped the DOJ establish this.) To this extent, Holder’s (and Obama’s) DOJ did terrific work and showed great integrity–an integrity that was remarkable under the pressured circumstances,… Read more »

Eddie
9 days ago
Reply to  Adam Gussow

At that time in 2014, Ferguson’s mayor and 5 of the 6 city council members were White, in a town that was 67% Black, with a voter turnout rate of 12%. 😐

Last edited 9 days ago by Eddie
Heyjude
8 days ago
Reply to  Adam Gussow

But how does rioting and burning their own city help the situation as described?

7 days ago
Reply to  Heyjude

Good question. My theory about that is that BLM and the rioting and burning that happened helped force the DOJ’s hand. It led them to say, in effect, “Yikes! We’ve got to go in there and do a serious investigation.” Just imagine for the sake of argument that exactly the same things–the same Brown/Wilson killing, the same demonstrations and riots–happened during the Trump administration, with the Bill Barr DOJ. Do you think for one minute that we would ever have known the truth of what happened? Do you think that Barr’s DOJ would have done the same two investiagations? Do… Read more »

MaggieInChicago
8 days ago
Reply to  Adam Gussow

Thank you for this response. It is what actually allowed me to consider the value of this film. I also read the DOJ report and admittedly struggle to accept opinions that are contrary to my existing beliefs. I work against those tendencies but it can be challenging when I see a portion of the content is inaccurate. This reminded me that getting it wrong on one piece (albeit an important one) does not invalidate all the rest of the content. I will be able to approach this again now with a renewed commitment to listen and to question my preconceived… Read more »

M.H. Deal
10 days ago

My trigger words are conversation [or, dialogue] and comprehensive. Comprehensive purports to be all inclusive, all encompassing. No thing, or nothing, is overlooked. Except something’s always overlooked, even if that something’s apparent much later. Beware of any one at any time who extolls a condition or scheme as comprehensive. Ain’t no such animal. Conversation, or its first cousin once removed, dialogue, offers an equal opportunity to entrap the unwary. Who can resist the Siren’s song of conversation, or dialogue? Better resist. Not to resist is to become handicapped because you’ve implicitly let the other set the conditions for the faux… Read more »

Illinois Entrepreneur
10 days ago

Free speech, and the proliferation of varied ideas made this nation great for many years. I get the growing sense, however, that we are entering a very dark era, in which Orwell’s nightmare is coming to be. First, Big Tech needs to be leashed and stripped of immunity. Second, conservatives need to make their voices of reason louder, and need to remind people of the perils of communism and Big government. We have to explain to our young people how America got it right, and why cancel culture and censorship is so dangerous. I worry about the future of this… Read more »

NoHope4Illinois
10 days ago

It looks as if so many ‘progessives’ are not in favor of the 1rst Amendment for those who have a differing view. The recent election interference by FB and Twitter in regards to the NYPost revealing Joe Biden’s decades of corruption is the latest, and most egregious example of censorship.

Thank you for the link!

Poor Taxpayer
10 days ago

He was murdered and the cops got away with it. Just like they have for many years.
If his last name had been Pritzker how would have it played out.
Rich white boy cop goes to jail, poor black they get a paid vacation and a Promotion.

Platinum Goose
10 days ago
Reply to  Poor Taxpayer

You’re just a racist fool that can’t see things objectively. Shouldn’t you be logged in to class right now instead of posting here.

Eddie
10 days ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

One thing rarely mentioned is Michael Brown’s parents. He had two sets of parents: mom & stepdad AND dad & stepmom. 😐

Instead of behaving and being productive, he was evil-a freewill choice. ☹️

Where are the Black community experts that blame absentee fathers? Michael Brown had two. 😐

Last edited 10 days ago by Eddie
Joey Zamboni
10 days ago
Reply to  Poor Taxpayer

BHO’s administration tried mightily to prove your allegation…

They failed to…

Thomas Fleming
10 days ago

I look forward to watching. Starting, or maybe continuing with Holder, it strikes me that these movements are not about racism, but about victimization and a desperate political class trying to maintain control of purported victims. By creating more dire circumstances for the victims, the leftist elite “control” plan continues to unfold as intended.

accept reality
10 days ago

….and just who is surprised that Amazon is doing guard duty on the Democrat plantation. Can’t have the political servants thinking for themselves.

Joey Zamboni
10 days ago
Reply to  accept reality

They must be trying to give cover to FB & Twitter….

10 days ago

Shelby Steele presents reason with facts to back it up, and these are things that today’s culture just cannot process. Violence and anger are easier, sexier clickbait, cheap shots that will harm those it claims to want to help.

7 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Thorn

Have you watched the documentary? I’m not sure of that. If so, what part did you find most compelling?