I’ve respected conservative nationally-syndicated radio talk show host Mike Gallagher (pictured) for his willingness to take tough stands, such as during the Elian Gonzalez saga in 2000, when Gallagher was one of the few conservatives in the country who said plainly and clearly that Elian belonged with his father, Juan Gonzalez.

During the Clara Harris trial, Mike hosted a debate between myself and one of Clara’s defenders, and, unlike many, Gallagher saw through Clara’s “betrayed wife” shtick.

Gallagher also got it right about Mary Winkler, panning her performance on Oprah and criticizing the legal system’s slap on the wrist for Winkler. I’ve been on his show a few times and always found him to be fair and courteous.

I was surprised and disappointed this morning with a point Gallagher made during a polemic against McCain/Palin’s favorite bogeyman, William Ayers. Gallagher said that when a reporter recently spoke with Ayers near his office at University of Illinois at Chicago, the reporter noted that there were “Free Mumia” stickers all over his door.

For those who don’t know, Mumia Abu-Jamal is a black activist who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner. His hotly debated case has received international attention, and Abu-Jamal has been made an honorary citizen of a couple dozen cities around the world, including Paris, Montreal and Palermo. His opponents, centered around Faulkner’s widow, assert that Abu-Jamal is guilty.

I was involved in groups that worked on behalf of Jamal back in the mid to late 1980s. There was prima facie evidence that he was framed, though I was always somewhat skeptical about his actual innocence.

Then (as now) I opposed the Death Penalty, and being in Los Angeles I was mindful of the frame-up of former Black Panther Geronimo Pratt, with which Jamal’s case was often superficially linked.

Pratt spent 27 years in prison (eight in solitary confinement) but was freed in 1997 when his conviction was vacated. While I was involved in protests on Pratt’s behalf I worked for a very conservative newspaper editor who was also one of the attorneys who first represented Pratt. The guy as a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, so when I asked him about Pratt I expected him to tell me Pratt was guilty. Instead, he told me, “There was no question Pratt was framed.”

Anyway, this morning Gallagher depicted Ayres and the Mumia protesters as people who hail Jamal as a hero despite knowing, or even because, he killed police officer Daniel Faulkner. He also linked the protesters to Obama.

This is, in a word, outrageous. The protesters have supported Abu-Jamal because they believe he was framed and because they oppose the Death Penalty. I’m sure someone on the right could drag up a loony or two who supports Mumia because he thinks he’s a cop-killer but Mumia’s supporters don’t support him because they think he’s a cop-killer but because they believe he isn’t.

I was very surprised and disappointed to see Gallagher taking this position. Maybe things just ran away from the man–I don’t know.

As to Mumia’s actual guilt or innocence, I haven’t followed all the arguments back and forth overt the past 20 years and have little desire to. Back in the 1980s I knew intelligent, knowledgeable people who were very convincing in their assertion that Jamal was framed. On the other hand, Michael Moore says Mumia is “probably” guilty, which seems pretty significant to me since he’s such a committed leftist. But regardless, Gallagher’s statement is very unfair to the left.

Wikipedia biography of Jamal, including a discussion of his guilt or innocence, is here.

Be Sociable, Share!