The hypersensitive leftists who screamed in social media at The New York Times over using the term “no angel” to describe Michael Brown after he was shot dead in Ferguson ought to read Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple.
Wemple took the “no angel” term into a Nexis search of the Times archives and found that somehow black columnist Charles Blow wasn’t Twitter-harassed when he described convicted killer Clayton Lockett (also black) as “no angel,” underlining that the term can be a way of clearing the throat on the way to sympathy, a "yes, but" and not a vicious insult:
To be sure, Lockett was no angel. He was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting a young woman, Stephanie Neiman, and watching as accomplices buried her alive.
Blow spent the rest of the column ranting against Lockett’s botched execution and the death penalty as “an abhorrent attempt to sate an irrational cultural bloodlust, rooted in vengeance and barbarism and detached from data.” Leftists can apparently grasp the nuance in that usage.
Former Time reporter Ted Gup used the allegedly horrific “no angel” term to describe his own son, lost to suicide, underlining again that the term is often a tactic to shift criticism to society or some other social force:
My son was no angel (though he was to us) and he was known to trade in Adderall, to create a submarket in the drug among his classmates who were themselves all too eager to get their hands on it. What he did cannot be excused, but it should be understood. What he did was to create a market that perfectly mirrored the society in which he grew up, a culture where Big Pharma itself prospers from the off-label uses of drugs, often not tested in children and not approved for the many uses to which they are put.
Wemple even found that the Times used "no angel" to soften the blow against black Stalinist hack Paul Robeson, still being hailed by the Left as a cultural hero, including an actor and author named Daniel Beaty:
Despite all his accomplishments, fame (at times, he was the best-known black man in the world) and courage, Robeson was no angel: He had affairs, while playing Othello, with at least two of his Desdemonas; his integrity could become stubbornness; and he refused to criticize Stalin publicly despite awareness of his crimes.
In short, Robeson doesn’t fit into a “comfortable black history,” Mr. Beaty says in the play. But he remains on a short list of Mr. Beaty’s heroes, alongside Maria Callas, Nina Simone and Dr. King. “I believe it’s essential that we destroy this myth that heroes are perfect,” Mr. Beaty said. “I believe Paul Robeson was the godfather of the civil rights movement. And I believe America owes Robeson a huge apology.”