Media Stifling Racial Violence Coverage
Race matters if we want to understand the current wave of racial mob violence. Flash mobs have a lot of people talking, no thanks to PC journalists who have refused all along to help us understand this emerging social problem.
For those who care about language and the truth, Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune has done a great service. She openly admits that her newspaper refuses to report the race of violent criminals responsible for an outbreak of racial mob violence in Chicago, which mirrors similar violence around the country. So Schmich has proven the old adage that you don't need to muzzle sheep.
Schmich admits that there is a fact about the flash mob attackers that readers "haven't read in the Tribune or seen explicitly stated by most of the official media: The young men were black." Schmich wants to keep it that way. This resolute dishonesty is shared by the Tribune's editor, Gerould W. Kern. Kern wrote, "We do not reference race unless it is a fact that is central to telling the story." Of course, if you're PC, race is never central to a story when misbehavior by approved minorities is in question. Thus, the Tribune will evade race when whites are the victims of interracial crime. Kern and Schmich have demonstrated what self-censorship looks like in our Conversation about Race.
The title of Schmich's article asks, "When a news story omits race, do we really know any less?" with her instinctive response being no. She is wrong. Flash mobs are the product of attitudes which are directly connected to racial group membership in American society.
The racial mob violence is probably rooted in three factors arising from the post-Civil Rights-era black experience in America: a sense of entitlement, a sense of grievance, and fatherlessness. Those factors are neither exclusive to nor reflective upon the black community as a whole. The black community is not uniform or monolithic. That being said, the three factors are present in the black community to a greater degree than they are in other communities, with major consequences for group behavior.
A sense of entitlement makes people think that they deserve things they have not earned. A sense of grievance leads to anger and a greater willingness to use violence. Fatherlessness means that there will be few restraints on greedy, impulsive behavior. According to Popenoe, fathers are needed to teach self-control and empathy, tendencies which antisocial and criminal people lack (1). Taken together, these factors foster the propensity to commit crime. Those factors are not rooted in biology, and were not present in earlier generations of black Americans, as Bill Cosby pointed out.
The entitlement mentality and thug culture emerged relatively recently, beginning in the late 60s and early 70s. Former Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver wrote in "Soul on Ice" that racial injustice drove his desire to rape women (2). Professor Marvin E. Wolfgang, regarded as the most influential criminologist in the world, would write in 1973, "I am increasingly convinced that among many black teen-agers and young adults there is a systematic diffusion of the Soul on Ice ideology that ripping off whites as a kind of compensatory behavior is acceptable, tolerated and even encouraged" (3). Wolfgang was a brilliant scholar; he opposed the death penalty and was independent minded. His insight about criminal attitudes should be taken seriously, and the attitude he described is directly tied to race.
Contrary to Schmich, when a news story omits race, we know less -- less about our society, less about the mores shaping the lives of our fellow citizens, less about the identity of perpetrators of violent crimes, and less about the nature of a social problem that could affect any of us. The eminent University of Chicago political scientist Edward Banfield wrote in 1974 that the morality of lower-class culture is "preconventional" (4). This means that "the individual's actions are influenced not by conscience but by a sense of what he can get away with" and that "[i]nfliction of bodily injury is also sanctioned -- often inculcated- by lower-class culture." That analysis is still valid. Today, there is evidently a preconventional morality ingrained in a subset of our population of all races. The race of the attackers matters because the unique cultural roots of this problem are found predominantly in a subset of the black community. We're never going to find a solution unless we can identify and analyze the root of the problem.
Yet, Schmich and her ilk are not ready to have a conversation about race. Race matters because liberalism has fostered a sense of grievance and entitlement that could be driving this violence. Race matters because the worst acts of violent racism in America today are the black-on-white and black-on-Asian crimes exemplified by the Chicago mob attacks. Prof. Walter Williams has noticed this change in race relations.
Liberals can no longer say that these criminals are making a political statement, or expressing justified outrage at the system, as liberals in the 60s claimed in the Kerner Report and other officious excuses for bad behavior. Schmich can't say that race is not a factor in these attacks. Instead, she tries in vain to minimize race, which is self-censorship.
The state doesn't have to censor when the media voluntarily restricts its reporting within the welfare state ideology; minorities are permanent victims, and racism is essentially a white-on-black phenomenon. Hence, CNN produces a special about the murder of James Craig Anderson. CNN has not shown the same zeal in reporting on Hoang Nguyen, who was killed in a senseless "game" called the knock-out game, in which mostly black attackers attack mostly non-black victims. Nor will there be a special for Tian Sheng Yu, 59, who was punched and killed by two blacks, or Huan Chen, 83, killed by a "group of youths." There's no evidence that someone used a taboo racial epithet before attacking those men, so they don't count in the tally of societal hate. CNN had no special on the Wichita Massacre. Despite the body count and pure sadism, they sloughed the story off to Court TV. CNN had a special on the Knoxville horror -- to insinuate that only white supremacists think the murders have political significance. When the flash mobs emerged, the mainstream media was true to form.
In the Tribune, Schmich writes: "Race alone doesn't predict or explain behavior. Just because this mob was young and black hardly means that all young, black people in groups are a violent mob." Schmich is offering up a phony argument that no serious person is actually making. It is the classic straw man fallacy: There is nobody with a position of real influence in society who would say that "all young, black people in groups are a violent mob." Schmich's recitation of this drivel is unfortunately common, coming from devout multiculturalists. It's an attempt to impute racism to a non-existent segment of relevant public opinion. Schmich's insinuation is contemptible, and her style of argument is a shining example of the left's intellectual bankruptcy on racial matters.
Orwell would have recognized the stunning deception that lies behind the media's sheepish reporting on racial facts. Schmich fails to see how difficult it is to acknowledge simple facts about these attacks. Liberals at the Washington Post, New York Times, and L.A. Times will glibly admit that their own newspapers are refusing to report the race of the attackers. They are conceding that there is a problem with mob violence, and that blacks are causing it. Yet, the Tribune refuses to allow an open inquiry into the issue.
This is not because of state censorship; in a free society the media controls itself. The state doesn't have to censor when the media is infused with the welfare state ideology, meaning white guilt and denial about the growing trend of race riots, a number of which constitute anti-white hate crimes. The sheep at the Tribune have proven that they don't need a muzzle. Let us hope that the same will not be said about the rest of us.
(1) David Popenoe, Life Without Father 154 (1996).
(2) Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice 13-14 (1968).
(3) Personal communication from Wolfgang to Edward Banfield, March 19, 1973, cited in Edward C. Banfield, The Unheavenly City Revisited 195 (1974).
(4) Edward C. Banfield, The Unheavenly City Revisited 184-85 (1974).