Huffington Post Attacks Victim of Dallas Police Ambush
When the Dallas PD officers who died in last week’s ambush were publicly identified, one of them, Lorne Ahrens, looked familiar. I thought he must have been a friend of a friend on Facebook, or maybe we knew each other from the military, but I looked into those possibilities and found nothing. Two days later it hit me: Lorne and I attended a five-day firearms course together in Waco ten years ago.
I was already angry about the Dallas ambush, but finding out I had a personal connection made it worse. At work on Monday my sergeant and I made plans to go to Lorne’s funeral. Another friend we used to run patrol with joined us, and on Wednesday July 13th we sat in the pews in a huge church’s highest balcony, with officers from all over America plus two foreign countries, honoring Lorne’s life and grieving his death.
After the service we sat in our patrol car in the church parking lot, in a sea of patrol cars, waiting for the procession to start. My phone vibrated. I picked it up and read a message.
Have you seen this?
A link was attached. I clicked it. And was taken to a Huffington Post article titled Slain Dallas Cop Might’ve Been A White Supremacist: Still A Hero?
What the hell?, I thought. I quickly read the article‘s first paragraph :
“Last week five Dallas cops were killed by Micah Xavier Johnson, a Black man who was allegedly motivated to take such drastic action after continually watching the US legal system refuse to hold killer cops to account. Naturally, bootlickers across the globe are unquestioningly celebrating the slain officers as heroes, innocents, and protectors. But what if one of those dead cops was a white supremacist—is he still a hero? And I don’t mean a white supremacist in the sense that all cops are enforcers of a classist white supremacist order, which they are. No, I mean the more common use of the term. The one we associate with Klansmen, neo-Nazis, Skinheads, and your average Brownshirt wannabe.
Meet Lorne Ahrens.”
I told my friend I was at Lorne’s funeral. He called me a liar. I sent him a picture of the long line of police cars ahead of us. Then I read the entire article.
I was familiar with the author, Jesse Benn. He recently wrote an essay justifying violence against Trump supporters just for being Trump supporters. As soon as I read the first paragraph and realized Benn was the author, I knew I was in for a hysterical rant.
Benn didn’t say he’s certain Ahrens was a white supremacist, but laid out what he considered strong circumstantial evidence:
1) Lorne had a Maltese Cross tattoo on a finger;
2) he had a “Crusader’s shield” tattoo on one forearm;
3) a California police department where he previously worked as a civilian was reportedly found to have white supremacist officers;
4) a white supremacist blogged that Lorne was a “white nationalist”; and
5) Lorne’s Facebook cover photo was a “Thor’s Hammer” symbol in front of an American flag;
Benn didn’t offer as “evidence” one single racist quote, one single racist act, or even one unquestionable symbol of racism, like a swastika tattoo. To be fair, regarding his evidence he did admit, “Is all of that convincing beyond a reasonable doubt, probably not.” But that lack of proof didn’t stop him from slandering Lorne’s memory. For whatever reason Benn chose to attack Lorne, who was doing literally nothing wrong when he was targeted by a violent racist mass murderer, rather than attacking the racist mass murderer.
Many of HuffPo’s readers, of course, loved the article and used it to confirm what they already believed. Since HuffPo published this inflammatory nonsense and obviously won’t defend an innocent murder victim, I’m standing up for Lorne.
If Lorne Ahrens was trying to establish white supremacy, he did a pretty bad job of it during the week we trained together. Only eight of us were in the class, and nearly half were minorities; I’m Hispanic, a friend from my department in the class is ethnically Chinese, and there was a black officer from Louisiana. I didn’t notice any signs of prejudice from Lorne, nor did my coworker, and if the black officer noticed anything he didn’t tell us about it.
Lorne didn’t act any differently than anyone else. He did what most cops do when we’re among our own: tell war stories, make fun of each other, and compete to see who’s the best shooter/driver/whatever. After class Lorne hung out with the instructor, my coworker and me, talking about guns and comparing police departments over dinner. Some of the other students kept to themselves and didn’t join us after hours (I didn’t even remember some of them until my coworker sent me the class picture), but Lorne was outgoing and friendly.
So my gut reaction was that Benn was full of crap. Of course, I thought Benn was full of crap before he attacked Lorne, but that’s beside the point. His accusation that Lorne was a white supremacist didn’t fit with the little bit I knew of Lorne.
Then I examined each of Benn’s pieces of alleged evidence. And I found out Benn is even more full of it than I first thought.
The Maltese Cross tattoo
Benn points out that the Maltese Cross (he calls it an Iron Cross, but it looks more like the 8-pointed Maltese Cross) is used by white supremacists; however, he points out that it’s also “popular amongst bikers, skaters, and a host of other groups in the United States.” He goes on to say there’s no indication Lorne was a biker or skater. However, I was a motorcycle enthusiast when I met Lorne, and I recall talking about motorcycles and outlaw bike gangs with him.
Then when I saw our class picture I noticed Lorne was wearing an Orange County Choppers shirt.
Maltese Crosses are rife in the motorcycle world. But more than that, they’re a centuries-old symbol of bravery, and have been adopted by many fire departments. The New York City Fire Department’s web page explains why:
“As the crusaders [Knights of St. John, based in Malta] advanced on the walls of the city [presumably Jerusalem], they were struck by glass bombs containing naphtha. When they became saturated with the highly flammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming torch into their midst. Hundreds of the knights were burned alive; others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying painful, fiery deaths.
Thus, these men became our first firefighter and the first of a long list of courageous firefighters…The Maltese Cross is your symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter who wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for you just as the crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago.”
After 9/11, when hundreds of firefighters died trying to save others, many across the nation embraced firefighters’ symbols of courage and sacrifice. I find it far more likely that Lorne got the Maltese Cross tattoo in that spirit, rather than anything racial.
The Crusader’s Cross tattoo
I’m certain this never occurred to Benn because he’s never believed it, but some people (like Lorne, and me) actually believe our culture and country are worth defending from radical Islamic terrorism. Our enemy often refers to American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as “crusaders”, and some people proudly adopt that intended insult as a “screw you” back at Islamic terrorists. Again, I’m sure in Benn’s view the Crusades are just another example of White Evil, but some people look at things called “facts” and come to a different conclusion. It’s kind of hard to view the Crusades as pure European aggression against innocent Muslims when you consider that Muslim armies first raided Christian lands 400 years before the first crusade, and that Jerusalem was Christian before conquest by Muslim invaders (and that the historic Blue Mosque in Istanbul used to be a Christian cathedral, and Muslim Istanbul used to be the Constantinople, seat of the Christian Byzantine Empire, and for a time under Ottoman rule even the Parthenon in Greece was converted into a mosque, and so on). If the situation was reversed, and Muslims had embarked on crusades to free their land from Christian invaders, I’m fairly certain Benn wouldn’t be rallying against the evils of Muslim crusaders.
After 9/11, the Beslan school attack in Russia and other major Islamic terrorist attacks, many American cops adopted the “sheepdog” or “warrior” mindsets and crusader symbols.
Sometimes it made sense, like when we trained for the school shootings that have become so common. Sometimes it got stupid, like when cops told people they were sheepdogs and wore t-shirts with crap like “a sheepdog doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of the sheep” or “to the sheep, the wolf and sheepdog look alike”. I found a lot of that irritating, especially after coming home from Iraq. But it’s there, and it’s not uncommon among cops. Benn admits that the crusader shield tattoo “might just be the mark of a hyper-masculine Christian, who believes his faith shields him from evil in some sort of ongoing biblical conflict”, but says when added to other “evidence” indicates Lorne was a white supremacist. What’s far more likely is that Lorne adopted the symbols of the fight against Islamic aggression, as many other cops have since 9/11.
Lorne’s previous department reportedly had white supremacist police officers
Benn cites two reports of white supremacist officers at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, where Lorne worked as a technician from (as near as I can tell) 1992 to 2002, when he came to Dallas. One report is from 1991, when a judge reviewing police brutality complaints accused white supremacist officers of violating suspects’ rights. That was before Lorne was hired. The second is from 2013, when two deputies filed a lawsuit accusing fellow deputies of being white supremacists (one of those officers had been arrested for DWI after “turning to alcohol to cope with the pressure” and was trying to clear his name, so his accusation is slightly suspect). Lorne had been gone more than ten years before that lawsuit was filed. And he wasn’t a cop there anyway, he was a technician, which means he wouldn’t have been out beating or killing minorities.
If Benn has actual evidence about Lorne, rather than unfounded allegations about other officers before and after Lorne worked at LASD, he should list it. But he didn’t list it, because he doesn’t have it.
A white supremacist blogger claimed Lorne was a “white nationalist”
Who cares? The blogger operated under the same lack of evidence Benn did. He didn’t claim Lorne belonged to any organizations, took any actions, or said anything to indicate he’s a white supremacist. The blogger cited the tattoos and Facebook cover photo, and Lorne’s baldness, and concluded he was a white nationalist. I’d like to think Benn and the Huffington Post have a higher standard of proof than an anonymous white power blogger, but obviously they don’t.
Lorne’s Facebook cover photo was “Thor’s Hammer”, another racist symbol
Here’s the picture in question.
It comes from a t-shirt marketed to “real Vikings”, and most likely was designed to appeal to white racists. The picture, however, has floated around the net independently of the shirt. Again, the symbol isn’t inherently racist; Thor’s Hammer indicates strength, courage and toughness, none of which Benn would have the slightest understanding of.
However, Thor’s Hammer could indicate something that would horrify Benn. I’m going to write what that is, but you have to whisper when you read it.
Lorne might have been proud to be white.
It’s true. Lorne may have been proud of his roots. He may have had the gall to feel pride in his ancestors’ scientific and cultural achievements. I know, I know: pride in whiteness is automatically racist because all whites have ever done is oppress and conquer. It’s fine to be proud of, oh, Aztec heritage, because Aztecs were very kind when they raided neighboring tribes for prisoners to cut hearts out of during religious rituals. It’s also fine to be proud of, say, Zulu heritage, because the Zulus had the utmost respect for the numerous other African tribes they conquered and enslaved. It’s just fine to celebrate Mongolian heritage because they never hurt anyone. But pride in any white heritage? Racist.
Oh yeah, did I mention the name Ahrens could be Jewish?
Benn says, “…if someone wants to target white supremacists, starting with cops is a good bet.” He didn’t so much as mildly criticize the actions of the actual racist murderer in Dallas, who said he wanted to kill white people and white cops; no, he chose to attack Lorne, an innocent victim. Benn didn’t mention that one of the slain Dallas police officers, like me, was Hispanic, which would sort of suggests he wasn’t a white supremacist. He doesn’t mention DPD Chief David Brown, a black man who probably isn’t a white supremacist either. But for some reason he attacked Lorne, without offering evidence that Lorne ever said or did one single thing in furtherance of an imaginary white supremacist plot.
I didn’t know Lorne well. I can’t say he was or wasn’t anything except a cop. I can say there is no actual evidence he was a white supremacist. And I can also say there is plenty of evidence Jesse Benn is a gutless coward, who justifies racist mass murder while attacking innocent victims.
Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and recently retired National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published three military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve, Line in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).
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