The New York Post and other Murdoch media, which don’t actually maintain a presence in Panama, exploited some sensational videos to promote stories that misrepresent the context of what was happening and promote a meme about a white American hero with a gun bravely stepping forward to shoot two black men dead. Screenshot of the New York Post.
An attack on Panama
media criticism by Eric Jackson
I saw the body of the ASOPROF teachers’ union leader lying on the pavement while riding by on a bus. The photo I snapped didn’t come out very well. I saw protesters weeping, and the teary expressions on some of the cops’ faces, but it would to me — perhaps to Panamanian law as well — an obscene intrusion into their private emotions to try to photograph that stuff.
Step beyond the sensation of the moment. I am a survivor of gun violence, which happened when I was 12 and gave me nightmares for years. As a local political figure in a small Rust Belt town, I had occasion to discuss the symptoms with the leader of a police union, also studying law when I was, from his deadly gun encounter. As a concerned Panamanian, I think that public policy should address the effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome on its law enforcement people, and to victims and witnesses of violent incidents in general. Hiding it behind bravado may be the usual manly style, but it’s a genuine public health problem.
When I rode past that body with protesters and cops clustered apart, not screaming at one another but as Panamanians who had in common just witnessed a national tragedy, I didn’t know the details of exactly who and what. But it was like a change in atmospheric pressure, a wave of depression descending upon me.
It was awful, and it got worse the more I learned.
Lawyer blows away generic “enviros” blocking the road, disrupting the country and delaying his passage, the written elsewhere to fit a preconceived script went. Their stories generated the sort of comments they wanted:
They didn’t tell you that the gunman’s daughter was married to the ruling party presidential candidate’s brother, or that the gunman’s sister was married to the notorious Jürgen Mossack of Mossack Fonseca and Panama Papers infamy.
They didn’t tell you that the gunman had been consigliere for a criminal financial outfit, The Harris Organisation, whose boss Marc M. Harris fell into US hands and was ultimately imprisoned by the feds for laundering the proceeds of environmental crimes in the United States.
Gunman Kenneth Darlington. A guy who years ago had advised me of the risks of prison I was taking for writing unflattering things about his boss Marc Harris. Some of the stuff I wrote about him was erased in a 2013-2015 series of malicious hacks on The Panama News website, but some of that remained in The Wayback Machine Internet Archive and other stuff was “rescued” by pirates.
They didn’t tell you that Panamanian rose up against a contract that would allow a foreign company to take Panamanians’ homes. They didn’t tell you that this company bought part of a concession dating back to 1997, which the high court here had declared unconstitutional, and thus what the company had was a remainder of something that’s void. They didn’t tell you that even by the void original concessions terms, the company was cheating Panama left and right and paying no taxes. They didn’t tell you that to force through the revised deal the ruling party had threatened that if the foreign company didn’t get what it demanded then retirees wouldn’t get their pensions. They didn’t tell you about the prolonged and severe looting binge by the current administration, which left hospitals without critical supplies, teacher salaries in arrears and public construction projects slowed down, delayed or halted.
Yeah, there is that toxic gash in the land, with no serious thought of reclamation. The enviros ARE angry, reasonably so. But to the Murdoch media, those folks are just cutout villains to be portrayed as targets for the righteous.
The Brits have a special loathing for THIS Murdoch rag, which invented a riot when a soccer stadium management created a deadly crush. But hey, why should they care when it’s just Panamanians whom they defame?
So IS this guy actually an American? At first glance, British father, Panamanian mother, born in Panama — not an American. But then, upon further research:
Ken Darlington’s mother, Dalma Alicia Sala, died in Miami in 1991.
Darlington’s mother was a natural born US citizen because at least one of her parents was a US citizen and working for the US government at the time she was born in Ancon in the Panama Canal Zone.
So I guess that does make Darlington a US citizen, unless somewhere along the line he renounced it.
Because Zonians and gringos are the targets of vitriolic rhetoric about this — not actually from the protesters but from xenophobes and fascists — you’d think that the American Embassy would issue a statement about Darlington’s nationality. They have not seen fit to do so.
Ah but the good people of Liverpool, and their musical defender Billy Bragg, did respond to Murdoch-style defamation in a pretty good way:
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