Good for young Mr. Pearson. Per CNN:
The 13-year-old Internet phenom who gained national attention criticizing President Barack Obama and briefly was a part of the Ted Cruz campaign is renouncing conservatism, saying he’s looking to be a voice unbound by party ideology.
CJ Pearson told CNN on Friday that concerns about the Republican Party’s viewpoints on racial and gender disparity as well as youth issues convinced him he could no longer be a mouthpiece for conservatism.
“I was tired of being a champion of a party that turned a blind eye to racial discrimination. Tired of being a champion of any cause that denies equal rights to every American. Tired of being a champion of a party that doesn’t care about the issues important to young people,” Pearson wrote in an email…
“Over the past few days, I thought about essentially how I don’t want people to follow me because I’m that anti-Obama kid, or who called out Hillary Clinton or who took Bernie Sanders to task,” Pearson said. “I don’t want to be the conservative wonder kid that people follow because I make them feel good and like young people are part of their movement. I want to be followed because I’m the voice of a generation that doesn’t have a voice at the table.”
He said the video of Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by a police officer in Chicago helped open his eyes to the systemic problems of racial discrimination in America and the need to look at the issues objectively…
Pearson commands a YouTube channel viewed by more than 5 million and a Facebook feed with more than 100,000 followers.
He told CNN he plans to continue to be a social media presence…
Yeah, like you had a choice about that last part, kid. Reason #32,587 why I’m grateful there was no YouTube back when I was a teenager with a big mouth and a spotty education!
Major Major Major Major
Gotta wonder about an ideology that keeps championing 13- and 14-year-olds as the new public intellectual face of the movement. And of course the kids inevitably leave when they wise up even a little.
@Major Major Major Major: Wasn’t there a ten or twelve year old a few years back who also wised up as he grew a little older?
You have to “admire” the fact that as the party’s base narrows, its megaphone grows louder. I wish the Democrats had anything close to that trick. I see nothing that forcefully and consistently counters the dominant right wing narratives.
On the other hand, the more articles like this that come out (with more subtle framing, so politically disengaged people don’t balk at the headline and avoid reading altogether), the more informed people get (I hope).
@Major Major Major Major: I think it’s more along the lines of “conservatism isn’t dying! Look at our new young adherents!” So it’s less that the kids are the “public intellectual face” (emphasis mine), and more that they’re the advertised future of the movement.
Which I guess makes it even more embarrassing when they flee.
Embarrassing for whom? Conservatives will just rationalize it away, if they even acknowledge that he was ever on their side. They will just say he wasn’t really a conservative after all, just a liberal plant. Growth and change aren’t two of their strong points.
so, who fed this kid all that con con? parents? friends? crazy uncle?
This is blatant manipulation of children for partisan political ends. I wonder why the parents, or whoever else is behind it, don’t get shamed for not shielding their kid from it.
Yeah, it’s the “we’re hip, daddy-o!” thing.
So the kid has millions of YouTube followers. How many of those is he gonna have in a week?
Why can’t they be like we were
Perfect in every way
Oh, what’s the matter with kids today?
@Felanius Kootea: Are you maybe thinking of Jonathan Krohn? He is an entirely different person as a young adult. Last I checked, he was a free-lance journalist based in Iraq; that’s doing journalism hard core. And I saw an exchange on Twitter a few months ago where he clearly had no interest in revisiting his teen wingnut years.
As a very young teen, CJ Pearson still has a lot of growing up to do, and I hope people let him get on with that, including the usual screwing up. But I’m (I think) with AL: I wish some concerned adult in his life would steer him toward better uses of his time than twitter taunts, which his latest tweets appear to be.
Reactionaries love using kids.
Having millions of Youtube views can provide a tidy little gravy train to abet regular income.
Not only does Youtube provide those with huge audiences free stuff (like video equipment), but also cash. Kid (or parents) might well have seen the opportunity for audience expansion outside of a constricted ideological niche.
@sharl: It looks like his former fans will eat him alive. They are accusing him of doing something bad to one of the candidates. Cruz?
Also, he’s being accused of being a liberal. The horror!
The fact that anyone cares about the political musings of a 13 year old is more than just a bit grievous. The Cruz campaign verifies how intellectually handicapped it is by its use of this pubescent prop.
I am truly glad the young man is interested in politics. To that end, I hope he spends maybe just a little less time on YouTube (although not enough to ruin his business model) and a bit more time in his community learning how the world outside of the Internet works.
@opiejeanne: Young though he is, I hope the kid wasn’t too surprised at that reaction. And some over in Weird/Irony Twitter have been happily screen-capturing the tweets of supposedly grown men raging at the kid, e.g., the photos that were attached to this tweet.
@sharl: the young man’s YouTube page lists many videos on topics he could have only the slightest surface knowledge about. So he has made a name for himself opining on complex issues using talking points he quickly cribbed from some other source, his parents?
I hope he gets it all sorted out and only faces enough blowback to teach him a lesson. Other than that, he bores me
@Keith G: Yeah, the kid himself ain’t very interesting.* Slightly more interesting – in a pathetic kinda way – have been the responses of the adults, especially that shitweasel Cruz and his crew, who were happy to use the kid until he decided to move on.
*A bit more interesting, in a troubling way, was when Pearson was caught flat out lying on at least one occasion – claiming he was blocked on Twitter by POTUS, when in fact some photoshopping was clearly used – by Weigel and other journalists who kept tabs on him. That was something that REALLY needed proper adult intervention, although that in turn raises the disturbing possibility that his parents/guardians let that happen to keep the gravy train rolling. That would be a matter for concern.
I wish the best for the young goofball.
@Keith G: From the little I’ve seen, it’s plain ol’ too-young-for-sexdrugs&rocknroll teenage rebellion:
Conservatives snatched him to their flabby bosoms as the Anti-Clock-Kid, a dark-skinned middle schooler they could proudly uphold as “one of the good ones”. And the Cruz campaign, of course, was happy to claim credit. Now they’re loudly outraged at being betrayed by a kid too young for drivers ed, but with all the other tsuris right now, I think (hope!) they’ll be too busy twitter-assaulting Planned Parenthood supporters and Parisian ‘eco-terrorists’ to seriously inconvenience Pearson.
There is an army of middle-aged and elderly white Americans who I wish were as thoughtful and insightful as this 13-year old!
First, “unbound by party ideology”? Pfft on that general statement, and I hope it was a bad choice of words specifically chosen to get CNN to laud him.
In today’s mediascape the phrase “no party ideology” often refers to Tea Baggers / True Murcans, or faux centrists. Either set manages to say everything that some branch of the right wing says. I hope I’m just too cynical at this hour of the morning.
Once this young fellow has something to say about the right-wing paratroopers rapelling down from his roof to investigate his parent’s kitchen countertops for granite, will CNN give a damn?
And bear in mind that adult conservative activists (optional air quotes around every word here) are the ones who never had a momento de verdad.
@MattF: None of the adult conservatives had that Mark Twain moment it sounds like.
I know it’s a bit off to apply directly in this case but the basic idea holds.
@MattF: Ugh. I can’t edit here–if “adolescent” doesn’t apply to the conservative base’s seemingly limitless appetite for bully talk (as long as it’s against the Other) by candidates, what does it describe?
Publicly admitting error takes stones. The kid shows promise.
McDonald’s execution is far from the first incident of police misconduct towards Blacks so I wonder why this one pushed Pearson over the edge. But it’s always good when people come to their senses. Wll be interesting to see how far away he gets from his Conservative past.
Damned hard when the megaphone itself is Republican.
I read the article. People like simple, binary – one good and the other bad – choices.
People get overwhelmed at the grocery picking out breakfast cereal because there are so many bright colorful boxes on the shelves demanding your attention and each advertising to be something wonderful for you.
Which cereal is good for you and which is bad for you? That is a had fucking decision that involves reading nutritional info and such, which many people do not have the time to do or ability (as serving sizes are unrealistically small, so some math is involved in converting to your cereal bowl at home).
Republicans get this. They make the decision making simple for people. We are good, they are bad.
Democrats need to articulate their message at this level, “Democrats good, Republicans bad”.
@Keith G: Agreed about how ludicrous it is that anyone cares what he thinks (outside the circle of people who care about him), except have you seen the dipshit adults who are paid millions of dollars to do the same thing in our national media? It’s not like their thoughts are particularly informed or reflect deep wells of experience…
Kid’s looking for another avenue to grift.
Twain, Einstein and Lincoln didn’t actually exist. They are fictional characters created as receptacles to legitimize internet quotations.
@carolus: Thanks for that link; quite the tangled web surrounding that kid. I wonder if he got in serious trouble for (if true) forging his mother’s signature on the contract paperwork? And I see that Ali Akbar was involved with him; my vague memories of reports on that guy suggested that he might be a bit skeevy.
I will note that the link goes to an early July post.
A very recent post at that site notes Pearson’s renouncement of conservatism to CNN. On the other hand, there is a link to his FB page (which I didn’t bother with) which says he is running for chairman of Georgia Teen Republicans. Unless GA Republican teens are a lot less conservative than their adult GOP neighbors, that move doesn’t make a lick of sense.
The use of cute or precocious kids for “out of the mouths of babes” political propaganda goes back long before YouTube, and conservatives are particularly fond of it, maybe in a bid to prove they have youth appeal.
I remember an alleged kid genius being profiled on Real People back in the early 1980s; he was a committed Reaganite and, if the show was to be believed, wore a three-piece suit all the time.
@Matt McIrvin: Are you thinking of Alex P. Keaton?
It’s entirely understandable for a 13 year old to not see the limits in the maturity of his philosophy, but what’s the excuse for adults to feel that a 13 year old is vindication for their political believes?
@Joey Maloney: No, this was an allegedly Real Person, not a fictional character. Alex P. Keaton was a satirical creation of liberals but got co-opted by conservatives anyway, in the usual manner of such things.
…And, to a much greater extent than today, there really was a conservative youth movement of sorts back in the 1980s. But I think most of them were kids with conservative parents, not rebelling against hippie parents.
Jonathan Krohn, Prussian Blue, and now CJ Pearson. They’re conservative until they grow up a bit and open their eyes. It reminds me of an old joke; this is the GWB version, although it far predates him:
George w. Bush is out jogging one morning, notices a little boy on the corner with a box.
Curious, he runs over to the child and says, “What’s in the box kid?”
The little boy says, “Kittens, they’re brand new kittens.”
George W. laughs and says, “What kind of kittens are they?”
“Republicans,” the child says.
“Oh that’s cute,” George W. says and he runs off.
A couple of days later George is running with his buddy Dick Cheney and he spies the same boy with his box just ahead.
George W. says to Dick, “You gotta check this out” and they both jog over to the boy with the box.
George W. says, “Look in the box Dick, isn’t that cute? Look at those little kittens. Hey kid tell my friend Dick what kind of kittens they are.”
The boy replies, “They’re Democrats.”
“Whoa!”, George W. says, “I came by here the other day and you said they were Republicans. What’s up?”
“Well,” the kid says, “Their eyes are open now”
Wut U sed.
Today’s right wing is nothing if not organized and on-message: a social-media “conservative kid” is soon going to find that no matter how loudly he was lauded as a wise-beyond-his-years wunderkind, as soon as he strays away from the prescribed talking points, the main reaction will be “What does he know, he’s just a punk kid…“
Some of the comments above assume the kid was being manipulated. I don’t consider it to be true. I remember when I discovered and became interested in politics. I was the same age. Of course, in my time there was limited access to learn about it. It was way less than what is available today. If I asked my friends about what I had read or seen on TV, they acted as if I had something terribly wrong with me.
Today if I ask my adult children did they vote, I get a mixed bag of results and I end up saying that is no excuse for not voting. At least some of them are listening and do vote. My grandchildren are active in social media. Sometimes I cringe at their focus on what I do not believe in and am grateful they do not use it as conversations in our family dinners.
Publicly admitting error takes stones. The kid shows promise.
I relate. I was a conservative in my teens too. (Would blame the post-9/11 national mood, but really, I just read too many Tom Clancy novels in that time period – my parents were liberal throughout). Plenty of people grow out of it.
“It’s so simple,
a caveman could do ita 13 year old kid can understand it!”
Gin & Tonic
@HRA: Some of the comments above assume the kid was being manipulated. I don’t consider it to be true.
Read the link provided by carolus at #28. At this point I wouldn’t believe the kid if he said the sky was blue.
@Gin & Tonic: Eh, I honestly don’t know how the kid will turn out, even with all that crap he has done, and in any event I’m never going to be invested in any kid’s political opinion, whether conservative or liberal or whatever.
But I hope the kid is learning from his mistakes and growing, which is what we all were doing at that age, some of us more slowly and clumsily than others, and some with greater “success” (however one measures that…). There has been a lot recently on the plasticity of the brains of adolescents. Until things level out, so to speak, there can be a whole lot of unpredictability. I hope the kid has decent parents and other loved ones around him. That offers no guarantees, but at least increases his odds.
@Patricia Kayden: That’s not really fair to him. Yes, McDonald’s murder was far from the only horrific example of police lethal force caught on camera, but you have to remember that the kid is only 13 years old. Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, all those were equally horrible. The kid was 12 when those happened. The case that really turned me on to the problem was Amadou Diallo. That was 1999, before this kid was even born, and I was 16. Diallo was likewise far from the first black man to be horribly executed for no reason by police, but I was a kid at the time and really hadn’t been paying attention. It’s not that far fetched to believe that a 13 year old kid, especially one who had been living in the conservative bubble, might have been genuinely unaware of this until one case broke through the bubble and got him to start looking up the others.
@Chris: As it’s been said, if a 13 year old can perfectly articulate your entire political belief system, that doesn’t mean the 13 year old is a genius, it means your political belief system has the maturity of a 13 year old.
@Gin & Tonic:
Wow! Thanks for pointing it out to me. Right now my mind is on why would parents allow this to happen to their child. I also agree with sharl at #42.
A long piece on the daily beast about ISIS but the takeaway is Knowing all that, and thinking of ISIL as a state, implies that “containment plus” indeed makes sense. We’re fighting a failed state in the making, one that will implode if merely contained, and will collapse even faster under coordinated economic and military pressure from its neighbors.
was that channel and those views ‘monetized’ as the financial types put it? Would explain any push by adults.
I find this profoundly unlikely. Other than that, interesting, informative, and thought-provoking article.
@D58826: In a related matter. I have been trying to find news on the effort to re-take Ramadi. From all the evidence there is a news blackout. I am puzzled.
I know he’s only a child, but just once I’d like to see a Republican see the light for reasons that affect other people’s respect, dignity and civil rights/liberties. It’s nice that a black kid finally wised up on the GOP’s dislike of black people. It’s great when gay Republicans figure out the party isn’t a friend to the LGBT community, and when winger women notice that people without Y chromes are second-class citizens in the GOP. But real wisdom and empathy come from caring about the rights of demographics to which one doesn’t belong.
@Patricia Kayden: I’m pretty sure a year’s worth of lying from everyone: the cop, the other cops on the scene, the chief, the union rep, IA, and DAs contradicted by the video that was finally released (along with evidence they deleted video from Burger King) would do it.
The police have done a very good job of training us that what we think we see in these videos isn’t really what we see. It lacks context, they say. We don’t know what happened before that. But this one was so clear cut – no chance to claim he went after them when they were so far away and he was walking away – and deleting footage at BK suggests they don’t want anyone to be able to see the context around the dash cam video released. What happened in Chicago is so egregious that even some who want to put their blinders on, can’t.
@Patricia Kayden: He is now claiming his words were taken out of context: he’s still a conservative, he says; he just doesn’t like what the GOP is doing re race issues.
Maybe the issue is that he needs to be the center of attention — that his various “positions” or point of view depends on how much, for example, exposure he gets on sites like this.
Who cares? Just another little confused narcissist in the making — a type of “idiot savant” with the defining characteristic being “idiot” — even though he is clearly not stupid, but his whole shtick drives idiocy from adults who as has been said upstring shouldn’t be so easily attracted to or convinced by this type of con.
I’m realistic enough to know we need to take support wherever we can get it, but I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment.
@gex: does anyone else see the possible conspiracy of McDonald being shot outside of a Burger King?
But seriously the real scandal around this shooting isn’t the one single cop that did the shooting. It’s the reaction of all the other cops to cover it up. The fact that some cop went, and deleted the BK video shows a systematic organizational corruption. Add to that the fact that all the other cops that were involved got together, and coordinated their stories, shows that this happens so often that there is a defacto policy that is established, and employed when shootings happen. If you’re a cop and something like this shooting happens, your first instinct isn’t ….”Lets go delete possible evidence,” unless you’ve dealt with this type of incident before.
The only way to try to solve this type of corruption is to prosecute every single cop that was on the scene, fire them for filing false reports, and strip their pensions from them. And do that every damn time something like this occurs. Faced with losing their livelihoods, and future income, and more cops might be less willing to cover for the blatant murder by one of their own.