A racist narrative unwinds…and falls off the spool.

Martese Johnson (above) is a junior at the University of Virginia: a member of the Honor Society, a leadership coach, an all-round good student.

He was beaten bloody by liquor cops this past Wednesday, the aftermath recorded on camera. He now faces charges of obstruction of justice “without force” and “public swearing and intoxication.”

A seemingly simple-enough narrative: this young Black man was drunk, tried to use a fake document to get into a drinking establishment, and some cops over-reacted. Nothing much to see here—move along.

But wary of recent (and lethal) police behaviour in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere, the Governor of the state has ordered a full investigation. Politics, eh?

The honour student stuff just makes it that much worse. His wild nature asserted itself, despite all that civilizational overlay. As the racist comment goes, “You can take the Black out of the jungle…”

He was a thug. Check out the comments thread here.

But wait. he was never charged with possession of a false ID: it was genuine. Nor was he intoxicated, as a breathalyser proved. Public swearing? Oh, yeah, for sure—he swore a blue streak after the officers had thrown him to the ground, opened a gash in his head that required ten stitches to close, and handcuffed him. Witnesses say that he had not earlier resisted questioning or arrest. But one can see, from the video, that he was resisting, maybe a little bit.

As would you or I.

The usual subjects are even now combing through Johnson’s background. (They’re going to come up empty this time, though, I suspect.) And the media ran far and wide with the false account, until unquestionable facts began to come out. It just made so much sense. White supremacy is a subtle and complex syndrome: sometimes it merely involves an unquestioning acceptance of a dominant racial narrative.

Will the stunning counter-narrative now emerging change that? Don’t hold your breath.