Oh dear FSM: Megyn Kelly has decided to do “Hopeful Holidays” stories, and what has she decided to cover? White officers framing Black community members for crimes those persons did not commit.
As her guests she invited 2 men, one a white former cop who corruptly invented evidence when asking courts for search and arrest warrants and then turned that fraudulent evidence over to prosecutors to use to incarcerate innocent people. The other man is a Black man who was convicted and sentenced to 10 years incarceration (though only 4 would typically be served inside, the rest on parole) for possessing drugs that never existed.
The two men wrote a book together about their reconciliation, and though it’s apparently full of statements that give the Christian god responsibility for all of the good parts of their story there is some value in what they wrote and in hearing the story told. For instance Andrew Collins, the white cop who invented evidence against Black man Jameel McGee, speaks of being convinced that McGee was guilty because McGee “looked like a drug dealer” to Collins.
There’s even a good question from Kelly, who framed the situation facing McGee and then, speaking of the prosecution for the crime of possessing drugs he’d never possessed, asked, “Did you feel powerless to stop it?” McGee answers yes, of course, because of the structural barriers in place that make access to justice so damn difficult. The way McGee tells the story, the jury did not even deliberate privately: as the last juror was leaving the courtroom, the judge “said something and they all came back”.
Many aspects of the story, even as told on Kelly’s show, are in fact useful. Apparently their book on reconciliation has led to a speaking tour of sorts and frequently the two are approached by audience members who want to know more about the process of forgiving others (from McGee) or themselves (from Collins).
Those are serious topics and discussing them is positive, but I could not help but resent Kelly’s interview of the two men. Collins asserts that “God” has saved their story for a special time in US history, a time when innocent Black men are abused by white men given lawful authority. Instead of challenging Collins on the bullshit premise that only now are innocent Black men being victimized by white cops, Kelly simply moves on, seemingly accepting the idea that this treatment of Black men is “special”, somehow different from how law enforcement has treated Black men in the United States since before the constitution was ratified.
Kelly’s next question seems clearly to be directed at McGee, “What’s been the reaction, um, from the African American community?” Despite what seems to me to be body language and eye context and the content of the question all indicating that she’s seeking to draw an answer from McGee, the white Collins speaks up and over McGee as his Black victim begins to answer. McGee is quieted by Collins and the (formerly?) corrupt, former officer continues saying that the reaction is mixed. This isn’t terribly surprising, though I had suspected from the prominence that they give to Christianity in their interview that perhaps they had kept their speaking mostly to a more receptive church circuit. What is equally unsurprising but far more inappropriate than Christians deciding to speak primarily to other Christians is Collins’ assertion about who reacts negatively, and why:
There’s always going to be people who don’t want progress. They say bad things about both of us: I should have gotten a longer prison sentence; he forgives too easily and that’s the problem with him.
Ugh. Really? Apparently in Collins’ mind the only reason why some might want corrupt cops to get longer sentences is “opposition to progress”. And yet, if we “forgive” corrupt cops rather than punish their law breaking, we provide no incentive for cops to resist the institutional calls to corruption already embedded in the war on drugs. In short, unconditional forgiveness (or forgiveness conditioned only on “grace” which is very near to the same thing) guarantees that the system doesn’t change. It is the easy escape from consequence that currently impedes progress towards a less corrupt law enforcement system.
So does Kelly interrupt that narrative? No, of course not. She’s Megyn Kelly.
The net effect of the interview is to paint those who want cops to be held accountable as opponents to progress, to paint those who credit the Christian god with good in the world as heroically humble and truth-tellers, and to allow a white, corrupt cop to speak more about the state of the Black community than either McGee is able to speak or than Collins speaks about the state of law enforcement.
The interview repeatedly causes discomfort in anyone remotely familiar with the dynamics of white supremacy’s attempts at self-legitimization and opposes progress in the name of moving forward. This is only the second Kelly interview I’ve watched, but if it’s at all representative of her work, I can easily see why she would receive bad reviews and low ratings.