Magic Negroes and Magic Numbers
You’ve probably heard of Jonathan Smith by now or seen his picture (above).
He’s the “based Black man” who is widely reported as having saved 30 people in the recent bloodbath in Vegas.
Here is the headline in the Independent:
Here is a headline at CNN:
Here’s the headline in the Washington Post:
Here’s the headline in Good Housekeeping (WTF?):
I could post hundreds more, all saying the same thing, and almost always with that magic number 30. By the way, that number is very, very important, because without it, the impact of these stories would be greatly diminished.
What you’re supposed to take away from these “news items” is the idea that when the Las Vegas massacre happened there was an altruistic and heroic Black man who stood up and somehow pulled 30 of his fellow citizens literally from the jaws of death.
You are not meant to look at the detail too closely or ask how he did this remarkable feat. He just did. That is why the number 30 is added. “Look, he saved 30 people, alright? What more do you need to know?”
This is why Benjamin Disraeli famously said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Putting a number on something is a short cut to easy plausibility and unthinking credence. I mean it’s not like we haven’t seen this before, amiright?
Now back to our “hero.” So what are the facts? What did he actually do?
Did he leap up to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and wrestle Stephen Paddock to the floor before he could shoot off another 30 bullets of death? Did he use his “Based Negro” super senses to hear the bullets coming and push 30 people to the ground just before their vital organs were hit?
Again why “30” and why “save”?
What the media is actually saying here is that 59 people died in the Vegas Massacre, but if Jonathan Smith had not been there, the death toll would definitely have been 89. That is exactly what they are saying and that is the narrative they are running with. Literally.
The story in the Washington Post is reasonably detailed and “upriver” of some of the other stories so I thought a closer reading might answer my questions. From this it seems Smith went to the concert with nine members of his extended family, including his brother Louis Rust (who somehow ended up with a different last name):
When the gunshots started, Smith initially thought they were fireworks… But the bullets kept coming… Rust realized what was really going on and told the entire extended family — all nine of them — to hold hands and run. By then, it was a stampede. Smith was focused on saving his nieces — 22, 18 and 17 years old — but they separated in the crowd. He says he turned back toward the stage to look for them, he saw people hunched behind a sheriff patrol car at the northwest edge of the concert lawn. Others were so frightened they didn’t know what to do. He kept shouting, “Active shooter, active shooter, let’s go! We have to run.” He grabbed people and told them to follow him toward a handicapped parking area in the direction of the airport, away from Las Vegas Boulevard. It was a large field with several rows of vehicles. Smith and the others crouched down behind one of the last rows of cars. “I got a few people out of there,” Smith said. “You could hear the shots. It sounded like it was coming from all over Las Vegas Boulevard.” A few young girls weren’t fully hidden. He stood up and moved toward them to urge them to get on the ground. That’s when a bullet struck him in the neck.
So, what did we just read there? Basically the shooter shoots, people panic, get down, stampede, run in various directions, and Smith is not clear about what is happening himself. He even admits he had no idea where the shooting was coming from.
He yells “active shooter” and “let’s go,” but he moves in different directions, and he is obviously focused on saving his own family members. Finally he ends up crouched behind a row of cars in a handicapped parking area with a lot of other people.
I don’t know about you, but I’m just not seeing the 30 saved people yet.
What these accounts imply is that nobody would have had the idea of sheltering behind those cars without Smith’s “leadership.” I find this highly unlikely. In fact, at one point he even tells people sheltering behind a sheriff patrol car to leave that position, basically exposing them to fire. From this I would say that heading for the other cars was probably not Smith’s idea. Instead, it looks like he was just part of a confused mob of people trying not to get themselves shot.
In fact there were probably thousands of people doing exactly what Smith was doing, running around, telling each other to stay down or get behind whatever cover there was, etc. Oddly none of them are credited with saving 30 lives and interviewed on CNN.
Maybe this is because of basic maths. If thousands of people did exactly what Smith did and you multiply that by the 30 lives supposedly saved in each case, then you reach the odd situation where there are no longer enough people at the concert for all the lifesaving going on. Or maybe it’s because magic Negroes and magic numbers go so well together, and Black heroes are so rare and so necessary that when they don’t exist they have to be invented from whatever materials are available.
Now, contrast Smith’s actions with those of the other man mentioned in the CNN story, Officer Tom McGrath. Unlike Smith’s actions, which didn’t demonstrably save a single life, McGrath’s actions clearly saved Smith’s live and that of at least one other person. Here is an account from his local paper because the big media companies are not particularly interested in this story, preferring to focus instead on the “based” Black man.
He was in the crowd with his wife and another off-duty officer when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a poker-playing accountant and real estate investor, started shooting from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Chaos erupted. Behind McGrath, a woman was shot in the chest. He immediately took off his shirt and he and his wife put pressure on the wound. The shooting began again and the couple was separated in the ensuing stampede. “A lot of people had gotten hit,” McGrath said. “I was checking them, one, to make sure they weren’t my wife and, two, to see if there was any aid I could lend them.” He managed to escape the area and found Smith injured in a nearby parking lot, McGrath told reporters Wednesday, speaking at San Diego police headquarters…McGrath was looking for his wife when he found Smith. The officer used Smith’s shirt to pack the bloody wound, all the while telling Smith he was going to be OK. “I told him, ‘We need to go. I’ll walk your pace. I’m not going to leave you,’” McGrath said. The officer managed to find a pickup carting other injured people and he put Smith inside. He also helped tie a tourniquet on the leg of a woman who had been shot in the knee, he said. McGrath got into the truck and told the driver to find a police outpost. They found one a couple miles away. McGrath told paramedics Smith needed to go to a hospital immediately. Reflecting on the ordeal afterward, McGrath assumed Smith had died of his injuries.
The CNN article mentions McGrath stanching the extremely dangerous wound in Smith’s neck with his own fingers to stop him bleeding to death, while the above account mentions two other people — complete strangers — for whom McGrath provided vital emergency care, all the while not knowing if his own wife was among the dead or not.
What a contrast with Smith’s ineffectual actions that seemed mainly motivated by his concern for his young nieces, who were 22, 18, and 17 years old, in case you needed reminding.