Plane Hijacker Led Life of Irony–LAT Obituary

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Jocelyn Stewart is on the job again in the LA Times Obituary section. Today, she’s tidying up the life of one-time Black Panther William Lee Brent:

The irony of Brent’s life was that he was deeply committed to a cause many viewed as just, yet engaged in acts that many also considered criminal. Brent was with other party members in 1969 when he robbed a gas station and then shot and wounded two police officers. After his arrest and release on bail, he stepped onto a Boeing 707 in Oakland, pulled out a .38-caliber revolver and ordered pilots to take him to Cuba.

Irony? Many considered criminal? Like all those pesky judges? She later quotes Steve Wasserman, former editor of the Times’ Book section, who must not have been quite so picky about what he considered criminal acts, as he edited Brent’s autobiography.


The Washington Post has a rather more level-headed view of Brent’s deeds, while giving a humanistic portrait of the man.

And Matt Welch posts about his encounter with Brent on the LAT’s Opinion blog.

Long-time LA Times readers know of the paper’s prediliction for cleaning up lives of those of whom it approves and waddling in late on others.