CJ Pearson’s recent YouTube video criticizing President Obama.
President Obama, CJ feared, didn’t have his White House in order. It was a lot to distill into a short message — one that would catch fire among CJ’s 35,000 Twitter followers and large YouTube audience. But CJ was determined to make this quick — and needed little more than two minutes to make his point.
“Mr. President,” he began, speaking with a Southern twang. “When Kate Steinle was gunned down by an illegal immigrant, you didn’t do anything. You didn’t even call the family. You didn’t invite them to the White House. Is that okay? I don’t think so, Mr. President.”
Twenty seconds had gone by — but CJ was just getting warmed up.
“When cops are being gunned down, you don’t invite their family to the White House,” he said. “You never did.”
This was just the set-up. Then came the punch.
“When a Muslim kid builds a clock?” CJ said. “Well, come on by. What is this world that you are living in?”
As smoothly as a seasoned commentator three or four times his age, CJ then pivoted. He pointed out that it took Obama longer to lower the White House flags to half-staff than it did to light 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with rainbow colors after the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. He blamed Obama for the immigration policies that allowed Steinle’s killer in the country. He blamed Obama for rules that prevented Marines from carrying their own firearms in Chattanooga. He said Obama was trying to appease “domestic terrorists” — that is, Black Lives Matters protesters.
“Mr. President, what are your priorities here?” he said. “Because in all honesty, I think you’re being ignorant, I think you’re incompetent, and I don’t think you understand reality.”
CJ’s conclusion: “You don’t get invited to the White House for building a clock.”
As is probably apparent, CJ is not the average teenager. He is not the average YouTube sensation. And he is not the average conservative. He’s just a really passionate young man who really thinks that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex) should be president.
And, of course, CJ is African American — indeed, the national chairman of Teens for Ted, a national group backing a candidate who enjoys only marginal support among black voters.
“I strongly believe that Senator Cruz is truly what America needs to make America the shining city on a hill it once was,” CJ wrote in an e-mail to The Washington Post, saying Cruz would challenge the “Washington cartel.” “To allude to the Hunger Games, he’s the face of the rebellion. Being a teenager, I am definitely a big fan of that haha!”
CJ’s video missives have had him in the news at least since he was 12. He said he was suspended from Facebook after making another video critical of Obama. (Facebook said children under 13 are not permitted to have accounts, which CJ called “complete malarkey.”) And earlier this year, he reportedly sued a liberal activist he claimed threatened him.
His videos have gone viral in conservative circles, where commentators and media accounts again and again cite CJ’s race.
“It isn’t everyday you see a 12 year old black kid articulately advocating for conservative principles on the internet,” wrote one commentator on the conservative Web site Redstate.com.
CJ also reports getting criticized for his positions on account of his race. “I was completely appalled to receive a message on Twitter saying that it’s ‘not okay for blacks to support Ted Cruz’ and that if I do, I’m a ‘self hating Uncle Tom’ ” he recently wrote. According to this particular gentlemen, it’s not okay for blacks to hold different political views. It’s not okay for blacks to think for themselves.”
CJ gets attention.
“The Internet allows really anyone to have a voice and build a following, and CJ is a great example,” Cruz campaign spokesman Rick Tyler told the Dallas Morning News. “He can make a real difference. He’s kind of the model that we want others to follow.”
CJ lives in Grovetown with his grandparents — though he says his parents are “actively involved.” His grandfather, he said, is a retired First Sergeant of the Army who works at the Department of Energy. Coming from a military family is what inspired CJ to go into politics in the first place.
This was in 2008, when he was in second grade.
“Senator McCain’s life story resonated with me and I was honored to support a man who was willing to give it all up, including his life, while serving his country in the Vietnam War,” he wrote.
CJ pointed YouTube rants against, among many other targets, gun control, Hillary Clinton and George Takei, are issued when he’s not doing time in the eighth grade at Columbia Middle School. He wasn’t the only one on the right criticizing the invite Obama extended to clock-maker Ahmed Mohamed. Bristol Palin, for example, got in on the act. So did Pamela Geller — she of the “prophet Muhammad cartoon contest.”
“This whole thing smells like a setup,” Geller wrote at Breitbart. “With ISIS in America, and young moderate Muslims fleeing to Syria to join the terror group, the response of MacArthur High School officials was rational and reasonable.”
But CJ was perhaps the youngest to criticize Obama’s invitation — and almost certainly the only one who appeared on Fox News before he was a teenager.
“I think I’m one of the few voices who has taken such a public stand condemning this decision, but I do believe many people agree with the sentiment I expressed in my video,” Pearson wrote. “Ahmed is being used as a political prop, and to be quite frank, it’s quite disgusting. It’s even more disgusting that he’s enjoying it.”
This point raised an uncomfortable comparison. If Ahmed — a young man of color embraced by the White House for its own reasons — is a political prop, isn’t CJ?
“Not at all,” CJ wrote. “At the end of the day, I’m not beholden to the Republican Party. They don’t own me and they never will. My political involvement is based on fighting for the conservative principles I believe in and fighting for the future of my generation.”
He added: “I’m not in it for the fame. I’m not in it for the fortune. I’m involved in politics because I strongly believe my generation deserves a voice.”