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A Case of Selective Justice

An FBI police K-9. (FBI / Wikimedia)

The FBI is busy.

Over the last year, the feds have been conducting two big investigations. One involves NCAA basketball violations and dozens of high-profile characters (players, schools, agents and businesses) exchanging money, which breaks college sports’ amateurism rules. The other involves allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Both stories are treated as A-1 scandals of biblical proportions. They make mere mortals wonder where these superhero crime fighters find the time. Perhaps not investigating potential mass shooters frees up some hours?

In the NCAA case, the news that college basketball players are getting under-the-table benefits is not a groundbreaking revelation. Everybody knows everybody is getting paid in college basketball.

In the Russia meddling case, the idea of foreign electoral intervention is not the scoop of the century. The United States itself has been interfering with elections in other countries for at least 70 years, and to date, the charge of Russian hacking is short on evidence and long on propaganda.

Look, Donald Trump is no Abraham Lincoln, but the Russians didn’t elect him. Liberals did, along with some Republican gerrymandering. At a time when millions of Americans are suffering because of the status quo, the Democratic Party chose to run an uninspiring establishment candidate (who won the popular vote but still remains unpopular), and the U.S. political duopoly prevented any alternative voices from being part of the two-party horse race.

Instead of self-reflection as a nation, we get a dangerous game of chicken with a nuclear superpower. The real goal of “Russiagate” has nothing to do with protecting “democracy.” As Black Agenda Report Editor Glen Ford explains, Big Capital is preparing the landscape for a regime of permanent austerity and war, with the broad purpose of repressing dissent.

Support the official Russia narrative, get rich and famous. Oppose the groupthink and you’re a pro-Putin, pinko commie. But just as Russiagate has become a cottage industry, so will be the NCAA probe.

“Let’s be clear on exactly what’s happening here,” Barry Petchesky explains on Deadspin. “Yahoo! Sports is pushing out a press release for the FBI, which is acting as the enforcement arm of the NCAA. That all feels like a bigger scandal than a spreadsheet that shows, among other things, a basketball recruit’s mom receiving ‘hundreds of dollars in advances’ from an agent.”

The bigger the issue, the more blatant the hypocrisy.

“There are criminals here,” Petchesky admits, “and it’s not the kids getting a few thousand dollars, and it’s not the recruiters working under terrific market pressures and being kept in check by historically lax enforcement. This is the game. Let’s not pretend the game is a scandal. And let’s sure as hell not pretend this particular story is going to lead to anything more than a few uncareful scapegoats getting busted, a few banners coming down, life going on as normal, and the system that allows and encourages this stuff being propped up even further, this time with federal backing.”

The same can be said about Russian election meddling, which has been sold to the American people as the gospel truth since the 2016 Democratic National Convention, when emails released by WikiLeaks revealed actual collusion in the presidential election—in the Democratic primary.

Trust us, say the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies, it was the Russians.

When did the FBI, or any U.S. intelligence agency, become Veritas, the virtue of truthfulness and model of integrity?

We already have questions of political bias inside the FBI during the 2016 election, and Robert Mueller, the special Russiagate prosecutor, and James Comey, the fired FBI director, have long histories as pliable political operatives.

Remember, the FBI headquarters are named after J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the bureau and the original G-man, or Government Man. Hoover, who never met a civil liberty he couldn’t abuse, had a bag of dirty tricks to hunt “subversives” and “deviants” and turned the FBI into his own private secret police to secure his power. Throughout his career, he interfered with many presidential elections, and his influence created the modern surveillance state of America.

One of Hoover’s most notorious FBI operations was COINTELPRO—short for COunter INTELigence PROgram—a series of covert, sometimes illegal, projects meant to infiltrate, discredit and disrupt the activities of domestic political groups from 1956 to 1971. According to the FBI website, COINTELPRO was “limited in scope (about two-tenths of 1 percent of the FBI’s workload over a 15-year period) and “later rightfully criticized by Congress and the American people for abridging first amendment rights and for other reasons.”

In 1969, the FBI conspired with the Cook County (Illinois) State’s Attorney’s Office and the Chicago police to assassinate Fred Hampton, a rising leader in the Black Panther Party.

Before his murder at the age of 21, Hampton was making progress in the civil rights movement. He was a galvanizing, charismatic, intelligent force who could effect change and believed in equity and justice for all people.

I don’t want myself on your mind, if you’re not going to work for the people. Like we always said, if you’re asked to make a commitment at the age of 20 and you say, I don’t want to make a commitment only because of the simple reason that I’m too young to die, I want to live a little bit longer. What you did is, you’re dead already. You have to understand that people have to pay the price for peace. If you dare to struggle, you dare to win. If you dare not struggle then dammit—you don’t deserve to win. Let me say peace to you if you’re willing to fight for it.

Anyone opposed to oppression is a threat to the power structure. Hampton was fighting to right the wrongs in American society and culture. For that mission, he was killed.

Almost 50 years after Hampton’s death, his spirit and the spirit of liberation is needed today. If we the people continue to divide, they—the powers that be—will conquer.

We are living in interesting times. Progressives used to stand up for civil liberties. Now, they’ve reverted to the J. Edgar Hoover era.

 

Times like these demand that we put current events in proper perspective. Next time you see a report on NCAA corruption or Russian election meddling, think about Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” Act 5, Scene 5:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

The Russians aren’t coming. And the college sports system in America is not on the verge of collapse.

The feds are going after the wrong crooks. If they want to find their true north and mete out actual justice, a battle with another organization would be worth fighting. This group has domestic terrorist tendencies and way too much power.

Then again, a war with the NRA might lead to some real change.

Eric Ortiz
Contributor
Eric Ortiz is a journalist and innovator with two decades in digital media, Ortiz founded the mobile app startup Evrybit, a live storytelling and reporting tool, as a 2014 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at…
Eric Ortiz

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