Travis Rowley: Cure for Social Unrest Is to Make Facts Matter


I guess I should say this upfront:  I don’t know why ex-cop Gregory McMichael and his son Travis felt compelled to pursue Ahmaud Arbery and attempt a citizen’s arrest in Georgia. Just as I don’t know why Arbery was walking (when we were told he was jogging) through that particular neighborhood or why he decided to enter a home that didn’t belong to him or why he quickly fled the scene after being spotted or why he thought it was a good idea to grapple with a man armed with a shotgun.

An honest mind is consumed by questions, not answers.

So in response to this news out of Georgia, you may have noticed Republican-types across the country — once again — urging people to reserve their judgment rather than blanket their passions and prejudices across another viral video offering mere seconds of context.

You won’t find Democrat-types exercising such a steady and disciplined approach. Instead, concerning a situation in which everyone involved seems to have made some poor decisions, you’ll only witness the same race-rattling hyperbole we have become accustomed to.

Providence City Councilwoman Kat Kerwin (D) has already decided that Arbery was an “innocent” man who lost his life “at the hands of white violence.” NBA star Lebron James told the world in a tweet that black people are “literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! Can’t even go for a damn jog man!” And Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) has concluded that “this was a lynching of an African American man.”

Bottoms also discovered a connection between Arbery’s death and the influence of President Trump:  “With the rhetoric we hear coming out of the White House in so many ways, I think that many who are prone to being racist are given permission to do it in an overt way that we otherwise would not see in 2020.”

Or maybe the McMichaels just don’t like robbers.

Again, I don’t know.

What I do know is that quick and reckless moral certainty at the outset of such incidents has become a progressive pastime.

You might recall (or you might not, since grave liberal errors never seem to receive the attention they deserve) that in 2012 it took the full weight of the activist Left to overturn local law enforcement’s initial decision not to prosecute George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was ultimately forced before a jury, where progressives were certain he would receive the justice he deserved.

But a deliberative fact-finding procedure always spells doom for a liberal narrative. It was a diligent and civilized court proceeding that handed Zimmerman a not-guilty verdict, disappointing left-wing commentators across the country who all suddenly coalesced around the idea that Zimmerman had probably been “over-charged.”

Whoopsie. Oh well, just another national race riot. Moving on.

And move on progressives did.

Since then, there has been no shortage of dubious incidents that they regarded as opportunities to validate their collectivist worldview — i.e. an America that has been so obviously horrible to all types of victim groups that it only makes sense to tilt the scales of justice in their favor (read: social justice).

First, jump back to 2006. You’ll notice that the “Justice for Trayvon” crowd had learned nothing from the highly contentious Duke Lacrosse Case, when the Democratic universe savaged three white college athletes accused of raping a young black woman — only to see them entirely vindicated and compensated with millions of dollars in settlement money from the university.

But facts of matters don’t live long within the progressive memory.

In 2014 protesters practically burned the City of Ferguson, Missouri, to the ground before any of them even bothered to wonder why a grand jury would refuse to bring charges against Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. For weeks they had coddled their righteous indignation with a narrative of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” But after carefully examining all the evidence and dozens of witnesses, jurors found that Brown’s hands were anything but “up” as he attacked Wilson just minutes after robbing a convenience store and assaulting the clerk.

Progressives would soon forget that “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” turned out to be nothing more than progressive propaganda.

Attending the 2019 March for Life in Washington, D.C., Catholic high school students were reported to have harassed an elderly Native American man participating in a separate protest. Additionally, the activist media believed it was in possession of a priceless snapshot that conveyed “real America” — a smug white teenager in a MAGA hat smirking with “racist disrespect” toward Nathan Phillips, an aging and helpless ancestor of the indigenous. One year later, CNN was settling a $275 million lawsuit brought by the young man at the center of the controversy for “[bringing] down the full force of its corporate power, influence, and wealth on Nicholas [Sandmann] by falsely attacking, vilifying, and bullying him despite the fact that he was a minor child.”

Phillips turned out to be a seasoned political agitator who originally reported that he was confronted by the boys, “but later admitted that he walked into their group after a video emerged disproving his initial claim.” That video revealed that Phillips had “approached the Covington students and begun drumming in their faces, prompting them to respond with school chants” — mind you, while also having “racial and homophobic slurs” slung at them by the radical Black Hebrew Israelites.

But I guess that’s what you get for defending unborn children from inside the Washington cesspool.

And finally, regarding the judicial nomination of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, let’s face it:  It won’t long concern “Believe-All-Women Democrats” that their disregard for due process has come back to bite them in the form of a decades-old sexual assault allegation against their own presidential nominee. It’s clear now that the very ruins of civilization aren’t enough to temper their passions.

Modern liberals believe that men rape and oppress women, that whites hunt black people, and that the majority wakes up in the morning for the sole purpose of making minorities miserable. It’s all part of their relentless crusade to — well, not necessarily prove it — but certainly perpetuate the premise.

Specifics ultimately don’t matter to leftists, only larger narratives that can validate their activism and justify their own governmental authority. And leftists believe that the total of human history is defined by an unjust power imbalance that they have licensed themselves to correct.

Believe it or not, what you have just reviewed above is primarily how the Left persuades people. And the entire progressive industry relies on that barbarian protocol.

That’s how we know this will all occur again.


Travis Rowley ( is a former Tea Party/Republican activist.

  • Mario

    It takes a particular type of steady and disciplined mind to hear a story about a man killed sitting on his own couch when a police officer broke in the front door and stop to wonder if the man might have had a record. And casually kneeling on someone’s throat until he dies isn’t *necessarily* bad, you really have to know everything that led up to it, and even then can we ever know the full story?

    And it’s a shame we’ll never get the full story from Ahmaud Arbery. If only he were around to answer questions, right? I mean, to me, fighting back when three guys in pickup trucks corner you brandishing weapons seems like a defensible course of action, but maybe “stand your ground” is only for people like me, and people like him have a “duty to retreat.” I don’t know all of the rules Then again, if he ran, wouldn’t that have been evidence that he was extra guilty? It’s almost like you can’t win.

    • Justin Katz

      Which incident involved “a man killed sitting on his own couch”?

      • Mario

        Amber Guyger was who I was thinking of (because of the reaction), but there are many similar cases involving no-knock warrants.

        • Justin Katz

          I don’t see that case in Travis’s essay, nor the Minneapolis case, so I’m not sure your comment is responsive.

          I point that out mainly because I agree with your conclusion that “it’s almost like you can’t win.” As the evidence stands right now, the Arbery killing strikes me as the end of a series of bad decisions all around, making it a tragedy in the true sense. I don’t mean, by that, to blame him or absolve the other parties, but only to try to describe the incident in an objective way that might get us to the key question: How do we make these events less likely?

          One way is to create an environment in which better decisions are made, and I think the way we make all these stories nationally divisive events along a strict racial narrative is harmful in that regard.

          From the evidence I’ve seen around the death of George Floyd, the officers’ actions were inexcusable but did not necessarily result from direct racism that says “this person has no value because of the color of his skin.” It is at least as plausible that it resulted from really, really bad decisions, and again, I think our handling of these incidents historically makes these bad decisions more likely, not less.

          Reasonable people among those who believe in the racial narrative might go so far as to agree that it’s about bad decisions and then suggest that the conditions for those bad decisions are precisely the “institutional racism” we hear so much about. Maybe so, but then it is this tendency to make everything about race and simplistic power dynamics for a media narrative that defines institutional racism.

          • Mario

            They weren’t included because the popular acceptance of the facts ultimately went the other way. His list is cherry-picked to provide his conclusion. The instinct on so many to side with one group or the other before the facts are available is the real issue. I find one of those instincts rather understandable, maybe even important given the history, and the other nearly unfathomable. But limiting myself to his examples would mean (correctly) explaining how the people who immediately sided in favor of the Duke lacrosse team were bad people even when they were ultimately proven correct. I don’t mind making the argument, it’s just messy.

            People divide into teams based on the race of the people involved in a case, and then fight to make their team win. They shouldn’t, for either side. But, frankly, people are always wrong to root for the white team. When you hear a story about three men in trucks brandishing weapons and chasing down and killing a unarmed jogger, your first instinct just shouldn’t be “I need more details,” regardless of the races of the people involved. If, after hearing the races, your first thought changes from “I hope they catch those guys” to “there must be more to the story” that’s another problem. This just isn’t a symmetrical relationship, and the “Republican-type” desire reserving judgment is not equally applied. You don’t have to buy into the racial narrative, but the instinct to fight the racial narrative quickly devolves into white tribalism, and that’s what Mr. Rowley’s essay amounts to. If I am ever accused of a crime I didn’t commit, I wouldn’t want those people on my side.

          • ShannonEntropy

            It’s the liberal media narrative that fans these flames. The fact is: if George Floyd was white, you’d never even have heard his name

            This is explained in much more detail in this essay of the matter:


          • Justin Katz

            Sorry for the delayed response. I’m behind on things. This essay was written before Minneapolis, so at least on that one, your assumption was incorrect.

            As to your second paragraph, I can only say that the devolution into tribalism is definitely a problem, but it’s not one that’s going to be solved by insisting that everybody else gets to have a tribe. The more you try to maintain that rule, the more pressure you’re building up for the explosion to come. And it just so happens that the attitude that the white guys, or the cops, or the Republicans must be at fault, as a default, is more than amply applied, requiring a counterbalance.

            I’d add that people whose first instinct is ALWAYS “I need more details” shouldn’t selectively curtail that instinct. The correct response isn’t, “Stop doubting the mainstream narrative.” It’s, “Make sure you apply your doubts to every narrative.”

  • ShannonEntropy

    I find a lot of this “Identity Politics” confusing cuz of all the “virtue signaling” done by non-members of whatever group claims the outrage-du-jour

    Fer ex… both Lebron James and Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms are fellow joggers, so their unquestioning support of Arbery makes sense from a pure identity standpoint. But to judge from her twitter feed
    [ @KatKerwinPVD ], Kerwin is not a jogger, even if she does look like she might enjoy a good jog now and then, if you catch my drift

    And the really weird thing about the Zimmerman / Trayvon case is: Zimmerman is actually Hispanic, not white, so why is he constantly portrayed as white ?? Can’t Hispanics be racist too ??

    Another thing that bugs me is the media’s use of portrait photographs. Why do they always use Arbery’s high school yearbook photo, and not the much more menacing mug shot of him at age 25 ?? Same when they used grade school photos of a smiling Travyon Martin, not late-teen gangsta thug photos of him flipping off the camera

    Conversely, they always use a recent photo of the old & obese Tara Reade in stories about Joe Biden finger-diddling her, and not a photo from back when was a mega-hottie in her twenties when the alleged incident occurred

    Actually, I think I know the answers to all these questions. And you do too, Mario, if yer ever really honest with yourself

    • Mario

      I can’t tell if you want them to do more editorializing through photo selection or less. There’s no such thing as a neutral photo, so all you are really saying is that you want them to reinforce your version of events rather than their own. It’s not very persuasive. The real question for me is why this knee-jerk skepticism (and credulity) about crimes comes in these particular cases, long before any good evidence is available.

      Actually, I think I know the answer that question.

      • ShannonEntropy

        They should pick photos that illuminate, not obfuscate simply to make their narrative more believable

        They want you to believe that Trayvon & Aubrey are “innocent joggers”, so they pick yrs-old photos that make them look young and innocent, instead of recent menacing mug shots that would muddy up their narrative

        And they don’t want you to believe Reade, so they use recent photos of her old & obese, so you’ll think “Nobody in their right mind would sexually assault that walrus”, rather than photos from the time in question, when she was hot & in her twenties when a typical male’s reaction would be quite different

        You can’t be stoopid enough not to understand this, so you must be simply parroting the ‘party line’ to show how ‘woke’ you are. With any luck you’ll end up like “Central Park Karen”, learning that a history of virtue-signaling is no protection when the Woke Crowd decides that YOU are going to be their next Cancel Culture victim

  • Rhett Hardwick

    A couple of reasons for cynicism on the part of a middle aged, white, suburban, male. 3 years ago a 55 year old, white, business owner of my acquaintance was stopped by police (on foot) on a claim he had damaged something in a store. Told not to move, he attempted to pull up his pants leg to show police he wore a leg brace and wasn’t running anywhere. He was tazed, knocked to the ground, and significantly roughed up. About the same time I allowed a guy and his girlfriend to live in an unused portion of my house in exchange for assisting in the renovation of my barn. I am not sure what happened, but assume he hit his girlfriend. The police arrived in force, and I imagine he had “attitude”. He was not a big guy and the there were four large police officers. They beat him unconscious and he had to be removed from my house on a gurney. The paramedics managed to note there was not a smoke detector in that portion of the house and I was cited.

  • bagida’wewinini

    “Believe it or not, what you have just reviewed above is primarily how the Left persuades people. And the entire progressive industry relies on that barbarian protocol.”

    Let us review:
    Citizen arrest in Georgia

    Gregory and Travis McMichael charged with murder after the video of their interaction with Ahmaud Arbery, who was KILLED.

    George Zimmerman tried and found not guilty
    Trayvon Martin was KILLED.

    Duke lacrosse case

    Three students charged with rape and acquitted. No one
    was killed.

    The police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo

    Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown twelve times. He never faced charges
    Michael Brown was KILLED

    Catholic High School students in Washington DC for March for Life

    The students got unfavorable social media attention. No one was killed.

    Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing

    Judge Kavanaugh confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. He was not killed.

    As you all know I could add many more cases to the list of police and vigilante killings of unarmed people but I don’t want to be labelled as “unresponsive”.
    This essay does not address what I consider the most compelling issue ,which is the police response to the public. Rhett’s comments points to some incidents he has knowledge of that leaves one wondering if the use of force is appropriate or professional. The author of the essay does in his first paragraph what so many do after yet another person is killed by police and that is to question the actions of the dead person, as though its up to them to prevent their own killing. The police response to the public should be a concern to all of us if we are being honest about finding ways to get better outcomes.
    As I write today riots and demonstrations are happening across the country. We now have to add two more names to the growing list of people killed by police recently. Breonna Taylor was killed in Louisville and George Floyd died in Minneapolis.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      Considering the nature of many interactions between police and “civilians”, a certain number of deaths have to be anticipated. What I fear from the police is the nature of “boys and their toys”. And, “If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.

    • Justin Katz

      Don’t forget to add the names of the police (and others) who’ve been killed in the riots.

      I agree we’ve created a policing problem in the United States, and it starts with the creation of so many laws that need enforcing.

      • bagida’wewinini

        Retired police captain David Dorn was murdered in Louisville by a young man who has been arrested and now charged .
        The war on drugs waged by the government relied mostly on police forces. During the 1980’s there was little interest in spending money in urban black neighborhoods. Welfare programs were under relentless attack in Congress. Reagan ran for President and railed against “welfare queens “ and “strapping young bucks”. After being elected, he pushed for big tax cuts but little for efforts to lift urban black Americans out of poverty. What they did get was increased police presence and mass incarceration leaving those communities worse off than the benign neglect that had preceded it. It’s not that hard to understand why anger and distrust existed between blacks and the police in equal measure. The money and assets confiscated by the government from suspected drug smuggling operations was directed back to police departments nationwide but only to purchase weapons and equipment. Nothing went to policing that didn’t result in arrests, convictions and more money for their departments It’s easy to see now why the police in riot gear and the presence of specialized vehicles they employ seem normal. I think it shouldn’t be normal that the police and the people they are said to be protecting are separated in a democracy like ours. The image of Derek Chauvin casually kneeling with his hand in his pocket on the handcuffed George Floyd’s neck is consistent with how our government has treated its black citizens for decades.

        As our country has seen the proliferation of firearms, the police forces have steadily become more and more militaristic. With the inability for Congress to pass gun control measures, the police were finding themselves out gunned. Not so anymore. The realistic fear that police officers face in being shot has created an environment that is not conducive to using less aggressive forms of making arrests or interacting with the public. This too needs to change. It is not just blacks that need to fear any interaction with police . It’s all of us

  • Rhett Hardwick

    “A man interviewed on camera during last night’s chaos in Minneapolis warned that rioters are planning on “coming to the suburbs” if they don’t get what they want.”
    Well, here it is,
    “fair warning”
    We don’t dial 911.

    • Christopher C. Reed

      Cool yer jets compadre,. not gonna happen in Lil Rhody. Remember the last time the antifagoons came here to party? Staties were racing up and down 95 like excited kids, PPD got all ‘not-in-our-town’. They couldn’t block a street here, much less burn a police station. Sheesh. If there’s one thing law enforcement is jealous of, it’s their monopoly on force. Don’t know what the problem is in the twin cities–estrogen pollution in the water supply?
      These fagoons are a long ways from the Weather Underground level.
      All hat, no cattle.
      But if they do pull off the revolution, it will be televised, and I’ve got dibs on one of those 42″ flatscreens from Target.

      • Christopher C. Reed

        I had considered this revolution to be more Lennonist than Leninist, but events force me to reconsider. PPD really did wimp out, but the blame is all on Gina & Jorge. Maybe they can bust up some forbidden minyan. Meanwhile, Andrew Stuttaford provides the most cogent analysis I’ve found.