In the South Dallas Kwik Stop Story, Telling the Truth Does Not Make a Reporter an Uncle Tom
Dear Friends Among Dallas Black Activists:
Some of you have contacted me to ask me who this Uncle Tom son of a bitch Greg Howard is working for the Observer. One of you --- a guy with a long history of responsible activism -- called me from the picket line at the Shamrock Kwik-Stop on MLK Boulevard this weekend and told me how the Korean owner there had shot a black guy in the back for stealing a couple cans of beer.
Look, this is a simple matter. Greg Howard isn't an Uncle Tom. He's an Uncle Reporter. Uncle reporters are stuck on the dime. They cannot, must not, will not put stuff in the paper they know to untrue. They absolutely cannot put things in the paper they know to be lies, no matter how much somebody may want them to.
Here's your problem. Jeffery Muhammad, student minister of the Nation of Islam Mosque in southern Dallas, is a liar. He's an anti-Semitic, immigrant-hating, black-hating, self-seeking liar who is making a fool of all of you. His mobilization against the Korean owner of the Shamrock gas station is a sham.
At one point during this thing, Muhammad told a gathering of Koreans: "The Jews have always wanted a relationship with the black community, and they have sucked the resources out of the black community, and after them, the Pakistanis have done it, and after them the Indians have done it, the Arabs have done it, the Italians have done it in our community, and now the Vietnamese did it, the Koreans. You are now the next person in a line of people who has come to the black community and taken advantage of a people."
Muhammad's vicious race-baiting is why stalwarts of Dallas civil rights activism -- people like the Reverend Peter Johnson and the Reverend Ronald Wright -- have turned their backs on him and on this protest. That's why Anthony Bond, founder of the Irving NAACP, basically called him "the devil." Greg Howard didn't call him the devil. Bond did. And the leadership of the black community has turned its back on him.
And not the Uncle Tom leadership. Come on. We all know what we're talking about here, right? Yes, black Dallas has a certain cadre of leaders among the old-school preachers who have leaned too far toward accommodation over the years. That's not who we're talking about. That sure ain't Peter Johnson.
We all get this, right? Muhammad has been dumped by the tough guys, the soldiers, the clean guys, the ones who have fought and continue to fight the good fight.
So what did you want our reporter to report, exactly? Oh, everybody thinks Muhammad is great? He's got solid support in the black community? But see, that would not have been true. People think Muhammad is a chump and a liar.
At the bloody heart of Muhammad's lurid story is a tale about the owner of the Shamrock chasing down some "kid" who had pocketed something small -- in some versions a candy bar, in others a can of soda -- and brutally gunning the kid down, shooting him in the back and leaving him to die on the street.
Early on in this affair, Muhammad went to City Hall and said, "A man was killed in the store who was chased down the street from the store. And this is something that has re-emerged as a result of the protest. The man was shot in the back, and we're still waiting for information from our councilperson, who is looking into it."
One of you who called me this weekend retold this tale, so I know it's still being stirred. But as Howard reported in his piece, Steve Thompson of The Dallas Morning News thoroughly debunked this urban legend in a story published two months ago based on police reports: The thief who got shot was trying to run out of the Shamrock with the entire cash register. He threw the cash register at a clerk who was chasing him with a shotgun. The cash drawer fell out. The thief was grabbing for cash drawer. The clerk fired a warning shot into the ground. The thief then went for the clerk's gun. The clerk shot him. And the clerk wasn't even Tommy Pak, the alleged gunman-store owner. It was just the clerk who happened to be working that day.
A thief stealing the whole cash register, trying to brain the clerk with it and then going for the clerk's gun: That's not a civil rights issue. Who was going to be dead in a pool of blood if that guy had gotten the gun? Some dude working in a convenience store for a living. You don't want that. I know you don't.
But Muhammad has a problem. His credibility is now shit. His stroke as a leader, if he ever had any, is in the toilet. So in desperation now he turns his weapon of vile bigotry against his ultimate target: black people. He screams that a black man, Howard, who dares tell the truth about this incident is an Uncle Tom. He uses blackness itself as a weapon to get what he wants out of this -- personal power based on a lie.
So how about this, people? This is easy. Muhammad has been cowering from the light of day since this began, refusing to meet with any reporters who might challenge him directly. So you need to tell Muhammad to hike up his shorts and get out there and meet this thing head-on. You need to tell Jefferey Muhammad to step out into the full daylight of tough media scrutiny, appear before reporters and cameras and give his version of the Shamrock shooting? Let's hear it, for once and for all.
Would that be so difficult? It's a simple challenge. Jefferey Muhammad, I call you a chicken-shit liar. Prove me wrong.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.