Reactions following journalist’s murder are revealing

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When I learned that Josh Kruger had been murdered in Philadelphia last week week, I felt the same sense of shock that most people experienced at hearing the news.

The media community in the Delaware Valley is fairly insular, even though we happen to be in a rather large market, and most of those who write either know personally, or have had some kind of interaction with, others who write.

Josh — I presume to use his first name even though we never actually met — was someone whose politics and personal affinities were diametrically opposed to my own.

We mixed it up sometimes on social media, usually with me criticizing something he’d written because I couldn’t believe he’d actually written it.

The most recent encounter involved Wawa: Josh had written an opinion piece attacking the convenience chain for “abandoning” Philadelphia, as if they had some obligation to continue subjecting their employees to shoplifters, drug addicts, aggression and homeless people.

Josh would have called them “unhoused people.”

He also would have rejected the term “drug addict,” possibly shaming me into submission by mentioning that he himself had once suffered from substance abuse.

In other words, we had no common words.

On Monday morning, when I heard that he had been shot to death in a home invasion, I could no longer feign ignorance. This was tragic, unbelievable, real life. I initially hesitated to say anything, because of my past criticisms. It didn’t seem appropriate.

But then I started seeing things in social media that made me sick to my stomach, and I realized that sometimes, silence is assent.

If I remained silent and didn’t point out what was happening among some of the people with whom I do share politics and personal affinities, I would be guilty of the same things they were doing.

And for all that I was not a friend to Josh in life, I owe him this in death.

Josh Kruger was a huge booster for the city of Philadelphia, as I am, but he was almost willfully blind to the gun crisis unfolding.

One of his very last public posts was a retweet of a tweet by former Dilbert illustrator Scott Adams who suggested to Josh that if Joe Biden were elected in 2020, he would be killed.

He called Adams, tongue in cheek, “Nostradamus.”

That night, he was shot to death.

Not one to let a tragedy go to waste, and in repellent bad taste, Adams actually posted this when he heard about the murder:

“Oops. Did not realize he was shot to death yesterday for not getting away from the hellhole in which he lived.”

This was tame, compared to some of the other things I saw posted on Josh’s timeline.

It’s amazing the cockroaches that crawl out of the woodwork when there is no possibility that you will get pushback.

The cowardice and the lack of taste are not unexpected. But they really are soul crushing when you realize that some of these people normally “like” your stuff and write emails to tell you what a great writer you are.

There is a line over which we do not step when someone dies in a tragic manner.

We do not blame them for their own death at the hands of a criminal, even if that victim supported policies that made his death more likely.

But here’s the thing. The little that we now know about the murder suggests that it was not a random shooting, another home invasion involving robbery or unrelated criminal acts.

It seems likely that the victim knew his murderer, and that it might have had something to do with a domestic matter.

In fact, in the days before his death, Josh had posted about vandalism at his home, and receiving strange mail.

This would not appear to be the kind of violence that he and I disagreed about, the nameless, nihilistic thuggery that occurs every day in the streets of Philadelphia and beyond.

That’s even more reason for the people on the right to just shut up with their snark and their schadenfreude.

And it is mostly people on the right, who somehow saw this death as an opportunity to make political points.

This includes national figures like Mike Cernovick, a right wing pundit who had the gall to say that people who were mocking his lisp had somehow, mysteriously died, as if this justified Josh Kruger’s shooting death because he had discredited the rising tide of gun deaths.

Death requires, if not sympathy, at the very least, sobriety.

As our grandmothers said, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Word to my tribe: You lose members when you show your inhumanity.

Copyright 2023 Christine Flowers, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at [email protected].

Christine Flowers is a Philadelphian who loves the Eagles but can leave the cheesesteaks. She writes about anything that will likely annoy the majority of people, and in her spare time practices immigration law (which is bound to annoy at least some people.)