Many of us, myself included, regard Shelby Steele—the Hoover Institute scholar and author of the seminal “White Guilt”—as the leading thinker on matters of race in our time.
He and his son Eli have made a feature-length documentary—“What Killed Michael Brown?”—that, incredibly because of Steele’s reputation and because of the intelligence and sophistication of the work—has been rejected for its “content” (really censored or banned) by Amazon, where it was initially supposed to debut by streaming on Oct. 16.
Who the junior league Torquemadas are who did this is unclear, but it’s a blot on Jeff Bezos’s reputation that he should never outlive. Although the First Amendment doesn’t necessarily apply to private companies, the tech behemoths have already transcended the wildest dreams of the founders in their global reach and need to be reined in significantly.
But enough about the well-known malfeasance of the technology giants who have a habit of suppressing information they don’t like. What about the movie, which, fortunately, will be available on Vimeo on the premiere date?
The documentary—written and narrated by Shelby, and directed and photographed by Eli—is exceptionally well-made, powerful, moving, sometimes searing, and, in its inevitable conclusion, ineffably sad.
Although it deals with the subject, this film isn’t just the umpteenth retelling of how so many people, led by the media and exploitative political leaders of the Sharpton ilk, began to believe the supposedly cop-as-racist-murderer lie of “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” in the Ferguson/Michael Brown affair.
It’s far more than that. It places this tragedy in the context of a retelling of the history of the civil rights movement from the positive and productive days of Martin Luther King Jr. through the era of Black Power and the Panthers that the young Shelby himself participated in, to the violent, self-destructive desecrations of Black Lives Matter we are living through today. BLM was created out of the Ferguson riots.
The film is in many ways a visual version of Steele’s “White Guilt.” It’s the outgrowth of that liberal guilt, largely about the whites themselves because its real intention was and is to exonerate themselves, to shield them from accusations of racism, Shelby avers, that has led to the downfall of black society.