What a surprise: the New York Times is lying again. It must be . . . well, it’s Friday.
The lie starts with a pun. Because dead cops are always the right occasion for lighthearted humor:
Judith Clark’s Radical Transformation
Judith Clark: a “ray of sunshine” who made some mistakes as a youth
The “radical” in the title refers to participating in the Brinks robbery that left two police and security guard dead. Wordplay: funny. The “transformation” is more of the usual claptrap about radical chic criminals — their in-prison AIDS activism that is actually about attacking the government, not a disease, and all the faked MFA degrees handed out like candy by PEN and other cop-hating syndicates and universities to talentless scum, including Clark’s colleagues Marilyn Buck, Laura Whitehorn, Susan Rosenberg, and so on.
The “lie” is that this article is about Judith Clark’s alleged rehabilitation. In reality, the Times published this sleazy mythopoesis to advance a very specific yet entirely unmentioned goal: to advance a rules change regarding parole for murderers and other offenders serving long sentences — in other words, to make all those knitting classes and fake poetry degrees grounds for release if you helped kill cops — like the sainted Ms. Clark — or raped and killed women, like several other “reformed” poets and knitter-activists eagerly awaiting the rules change.
Anyone care for another Kitty Genovese?
Tom Robbins should apologize for participating in an unusually ornate untruth. He should apologize to everyone who might see their loved one’s killer released because of his participation in this lie.
He should wear comfortable shoes: it’s going to be a long and extremely angry line.
I wonder why Times readers put up with this sort of manipulation. It doesn’t reflect well.
And then there’s the other lies within the lie.
An officer carrying a shotgun waved the U-Haul over. Clark drove past the ramp and stopped.
“I was in this terrified, frozen state,” she said. She considered just driving away. “I can’t do that,” she told herself. “I am not supposed to leave people.”
She heard gunfire behind her. Suddenly “two people jump into my car and scream at me to drive.” She quickly drove ahead, up a curving mountain road, no idea where she was headed. When a police car pursued them, she drove faster. “I am so out of my league,” she remembers thinking.
Clark claims she’s rehabilitated based on her ritual performance of several faux social justice causes, but she’s still lying about the gun, the strategy of using stupid white girls like her to lure police to their deaths that day, and everything else she knows and has done. She’s lying in very specific ways because she needs to say certain things and deny other things in order to meet the guidelines for parole. Now, that would make an interesting story. Not nonfiction, though.
Clark’s shoulder popped out of its socket — a chronic ailment since childhood. She was squirming in pain, trying to bang it back into place, when she heard a policeman barking orders to come out. The shouts came from the South Nyack police chief, Alan Colsey, who had chased Clark’s car over the mountain. After Clark and her passengers were taken into custody, a pistol was found behind the front seat and a clip of bullets in Clark’s purse. Colsey thought she was reaching for the gun as she twisted in her seat. Clark said she never knew it was there. “I sort of rolled out,” she said. “I didn’t want to be shot. I was scared but also relieved it was over.”
Yes, we’re supposed to believe she didn’t know about the gun in her purse (that happens to me all the time) and that she was only “squirming” towards the gun because she hurt herself playing volleyball some time back before she became a weaponized hate-moppet trying to off an innocent cop, and we’re supposed to believe that she has achieved some cosmic level of rehabilitative bliss while we’re also supposed to believe that she knew nothing of the purpose of the Brinks robbery, which was to secure funds to buy lots of other guns that Clark apparently knew nothing about — while believing that she is some sort of unique saint among all the other utterly unique saints who coincidentally happened to converge on one little bloody armed robbery in upstate New York.
You’d have to be Eric Holder to believe all that.
Holder, after all, has made it his personal mission to get cop-killers and terrorists like Susan Rosenberg out of prison. Judith Clark is the next in line for the Holder privilege: thus the Times clockwork encomium. If Obama loses the election, the grey cloud within the silver lining will be the inevitable pardons of fistfuls of violent thugs like Clark who had the good sense to choose the right types of people to murder.
In jail, all she could think was that she had let down her friends and had to make up for it. “I was not a good freedom fighter,” she told herself, “but I can be a good captivefreedom fighter.” Her role models were Puerto Rican radicals, linked to a group responsible for a string of deadly bombings, who declared themselves prisoners of war after being arrested.
Why does the Times leave out the rest of the story of these hale and hearty freedom fighters — the part about who they killed, and the part about Eric Holder orchestrating their releases? The part about the judge’s home firebombed while his children slept, about the prison guards tortured to death? Why does Tom Robbins so carefully choose to focus on Judith Clark’s knitting of baby clothes, clenching and unclenching of fists, etc., while he cannot be bothered to so much as mention the part about an Attorney General who has repeatedly sided with terrorists who blew away cops and judges and prison guards?
Why not tell the story, if you are going to tell it, if you are an “investigative journalist” teaching, of course, journalism, and of course at CUNY?
Here’s a who, what, when, where, why for Journalist Robbins: how inhumanely elitist do you have to be to weigh Judith Clark’s hobbies against the lives she and her fellow revolutionaries gleefully snuffed out? For this is precisely the goal of the not-reported campaign beneath this story: to make the hobbies trump the crime, to make a twenty-year pile of bad poetry and offensive radical chic win out over dead and buried men.
Inmate 83G0313, as Clark was known, was considered a major security risk, her every step carefully tracked. There was good cause for concern. Clark’s radical crew was known for plots like the 1979 prison breakout of Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army leader. At one point, the prison superintendent, Elaine Lord, was assigned a guard. Twice, Lord had to leave prison grounds as a precaution.
As a precaution against what? If you have room to count the stitches in Clark’s remorseful sweater-weaving, surely you have the column inches to tell the truth about the real threat these people posed, and the real consequences of their long, in-prison campaigns of terror. That’s part of the story, too.
In reality, people like Judith Clark become what they become because they are sociopaths, or just pure evil. As Theodore Dalrymple recently observed in the New English Review, privileging your subjective feeling of mercy for murderers over the rule of law is really no different from privileging a mob who wants to bypass justice in the other direction. The commenters praising Clark’s personality in the Times comment thread really should take a moment to look in that mirror.
How does the Times justify meddling in the justice system this way?
In December 2010, a few days before Governor Paterson’s term ended, he met with a small delegation of Clark’s supporters led by Bennett and Dennison. He told them that his staff advised against her release and that he was in agreement. Paterson wouldn’t talk to me about it, but he recently told Jim Dwyer, a Times columnist, that he feared being “tarred and feathered” if he released Clark.
Last June, I went to meet some of the people whose wrath the governor feared at a fund-raising breakfast in Nyack for a scholarship fund in memory of officers Brown and O’Grady. Most were still bitter over Boudin’s release and felt that Clark deserved to remain in prison. Did they believe such criminals could be rehabilitated? “I know, they’re all wonderful,” Bill Ryan, a former New York City Police lieutenant who lives nearby, responded sarcastically. “They’re teaching little children and working with the handicapped and unwed mothers.” His remarks brought knowing smiles around the table.
It’s a skepticism shared by many. When I first started visiting Clark, I also wondered whether her transformation was a calculated effort to get out of prison. Over time I’ve come to see her differently.
So Tom Robbins writes a long propaganda piece denying Judith Clark’s cruelty, while tarring her victims, who lost loved ones, with the term “wrath.” That’s an ugly stunt. Elsewhere, in places where people possess ordinary morals and judgment, it’s called prejudice. But not in the universe of the Times, where the Judith Clarks of the world are just more human than their victims.