Timing is everything.
Killer Mike inadvertently helped prove that old truism this weekend when his NRA-sponsored, pro-gun-ownership PSA went viral on Twitter — the same day as massive March For Our Lives protests took place nationwide.
Unfortunately for Mike, the NRA posted part of his video interview advocating Black Americans arming themselves in self-defense in a tweet designed and timed to try to undercut the outsized populist response to the recent Parkland, FL school shooting that left 17 dead and spurred a wave of political activism from the survivors.
No doubt, Mike made some mistakes. He made a miscalculation in trusting the NRA (which is at this point less a gun advocacy group than it is the propaganda and lobbying arm of the weapons manufacturing industry) to use the interview responsibly. He framed his arguments poorly, and his commentary made it seem as if he did not support the Parkland youths. Those kids have been fighting desperately to change their future and prevent another tragedy of the scale of the one that changed their lives forever.
After the video had gone viral, Mike was forced into defense mode, responding to angry replies from fans on Twitter, where he had more control over the delivery of the content. It seemed that, more than anything, users who reached out to him felt let down by his position and disappointed in his choice to allow the NRA to interview him in light of some of the organization’s less-scrupulous tactics in the past.
However, what got lost in the resulting wave of outraged backlash against Mike and the NRA were some important points he made in the course of his argument. It’s so important in these increasingly fractious times to look at the content of what’s being said rather than it’s inflammatory delivery. It’s especially important not to get caught up in the endless outrage cycle that demands we react to headlines before reading the articles they’re attached to, simply to have an opinion or keep up with the constantly agitating news cycle.
Of all the points Mike made both in the video and during the backlash, the one that cuts the deepest is this: It’s become increasingly clear over the last several years that Black Americans do not feel that they can rely on the police for protection. Sometimes, they even feel as though the police are the ones they need protection from.