We have been discussing the controversy after a Rhode Island Professor Eric Loomis declared that there was “nothing wrong” with the killing of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, the member of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer by Michael Reinoehl, an Antifa member. He insisted that the decision of whether to take the life of a “fascist” is purely a tactical, not moral, decision. Connecticut History Professor Manisha Sinha also weighed in on the issue. She referred to the killing of Reinoehl a “hit job” by police while using the same language of the killing of Danielson as a matter of tactics. She was cited by Loomis in a post.
Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice flagged the tweet because he disagreed with the thrust of her objection to the police account:
Greenfield correctly notes that the police report is disturbingly vague about how “there was gunfire” when they attempted to arrest Reinoehl on a charge of second degree murder. I would also like more information on whether Reinoehl fired his weapon. Witnesses have said that no warnings were given before the gunfire.
I agree that more details are needed though the labeling of the killing of as a “hit job” and “an extrajudicial killing ordered by Trumpsters” is wildly unjustified. The contrast in the two killing however is astonishing. Killing a conservative protester is a matter of “tactics,” but Sinha treats the killing of a suspected murderer on the run in an arrest is clearly murder. Indeed, she leaves it as an open question “whether you disagree with Michael Reinoehl’s tactics.” Thus, people like Loomis could be right that the question of taking the life of this individual was merely a matter of tactics not morality.
Putting aside the Reinoehl shooting which is being investigated, it is Sinha’s dismissal of the first killing as a tactical question that is so troubling. Danielson did not have a gun. Reinoehl gave an interview on the run in which he admitted to killing him. Rienoehl had a criminal record involving gun charges before the killing.
As I stated in the earlier blog post, what is so striking is how Danielson is no longer treated as a human being with family or even individual worth. This is just a question of tactics. I am sure that there are conservative students, even far right people, at the University of Connecticut. Would the killing of any of those students also be just a tactical concern for Professor Sinha or others?
The dismissal of the immorality of such killings is deeply troubling, particularly when espoused by academics. Simply calling someone a “fascist” does not make them fungible and worthless. Again, I support the free speech rights of both Professors Loomis and Sinha in espousing such views, but the silence of other academics to condemn such remarks is troubling.