Friday, April 13, 2007

All The News That's Fit To Print

Slublog has an excellent point over at his blog:

Think about how much coverage the non-rape in Duke received. Imagine the amount of coverage this story would have gotten if the races had been reversed - if it had been a young African-American couple who were kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered by four white men.

We'd never hear the end of it.

It's no secret that America has a problem with race. That problem is not helped when the media intently focuses on race in one crime, but completely ignores it in another. There are times when race is central to a crime, but viewing all crime through the prism of race is not always appropriate.

I hate to say it, though, but part of the reason this sells is it's "titillating." It's the kind of "man bites dog" story the media loves and our culture loves, too. It's an opportunity for the race-baiters and the PC-blabbermouths to cry from the roof tops about the evils of white men and so forth.

Take this an as example: The next time a white, non-Islamic person attempts to commit an act of terrorism in the US, watch the media reaction. I guarantee you'll see much of the same type of coverage as you did with the Duke case.

4 comments:

-Murphy said...

Take this an as example: The next time a white, non-Islamic person attempts to commit an act of terrorism in the US, watch the media reaction. I guarantee you'll see much of the same type of coverage as you did with the Duke case.

You're suggesting that when non-white, Islamic people commit acts of terrorism in the US, it's not covered? And that if a white person were to commit an act of terrorism in the United States, it would likely be overcovered because the person who committed terrorism in the United States would be white, and not because, you know, they committed an act of terrorism?

Really?

I'm absolutely stunned.

What do you think the outcome of the Duke case would have been if the defendants were poor black men and the accuser was a wealthy white woman? Would you have been as certain that no wrong had been committed?

Hal said...

I guess I should have been more clear. I seem to have that problem a lot anymore. I must be getting sloppy.

Notice that I didn't say "commits." I said "attempts to commit."

There've actually been several attempts (some successful) by people to commit acts of terrorism in the last few years, but their lifespan in the news was short-lived.

My thought was that let's say you have some white guy get caught trying to blow up a building in Chicago (or NYC or LA, pick your favorite big city). Y'know, he doesn't even have to get caught in the act, he just has to be found planning it.

First, we'll hear all this talk about how Christians are no different than Muslims when it comes to terrorism. The guy doesn't have to be a Christian for this comparison to be made (think Tim McVeigh). Next, we'll hear all about how Muslim terrorists are just the government appointed boogey-men when there are real threats out there.

I don't discount that acts of terrorism will be covered as acts of terrorism, but some types of acts will give people great opportunity to stand up and voice opinions that would look fairly silly otherwise (and either way).

In the Duke case, had the identities been reversed, who know s what would have happened? It's hard to say, but there were a lot of people ready to declare guilt on the part of the men involved without waiting for a trial. Even with their innocence established, there are still people who think that, since they weren't exactly angels in other areas of their lives, we shouldn't have gone so "easy" on them.

I don't care for the racial politics. Rape, terrorism . . . both are wrong regardless of the race of victim, and the accused deserve fair trials regardless of their race. But when these "man bites dog" scenarios crop up, there are too many people given a chance to declare guilt, sometimes over something as silly as a "legacy of racism" or something equally irrelevant.

Did that make any sense?

meera said...

First, we'll hear all this talk about how Christians are no different than Muslims when it comes to terrorism.

i'd love to hear why you don't think this is a true statement.

-Murphy said...

There've actually been several attempts (some successful) by people to commit acts of terrorism in the last few years, but their lifespan in the news was short-lived.

Which acts of terrorism have occurred in the United States in the last few years? The guy with the SUV? How did the coverage of the guy with the SUV compare to, say, Dominick Maldonado, who shot up people in a Tacoma Mall (he's white and non-Muslim, and without a definition, shooting random people in a mall might qualify as terrorism)? The Beltway Sniper attacks were committed by members or the Nation of Islam who are both black. Did that get diminished coverage because "Oh, well that doesn't advance our white men are awful agenda"?

Hell, we barely even discuss school shootings anymore, and certainly not for more than, like, a week. The longest lived school shooting story in the past year was unique in that the people who were attacked were Amish.

In the Duke case, had the identities been reversed, who know s what would have happened?

So we can know definitively what the media would do in the hypothetical situation that white, Christian terrorists were discovered planning to blow up a city, and that the coverage would be exacerbated by the fact that we could tear down white men, but we can't speculate what would happen if the races were reversed in the Duke rape case?

It's hard to say, but there were a lot of people ready to declare guilt on the part of the men involved without waiting for a trial. Even with their innocence established, there are still people who think that, since they weren't exactly angels in other areas of their lives, we shouldn't have gone so "easy" on them.

Who? The only people I ever heard really railing on about how the kids were guilty were the accuser, perhaps some people in that community, Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson and Al "Jogging Suit" Sharpton, and Mike Nifong. The accuser and Nifong were liars, Nifong was playing the criminal justice system for votes and I don't think Jackson or Sharpton really reflect the attitudes of most people.

Next, we'll hear all about how Muslim terrorists are just the government appointed boogey-men when there are real threats out there.

Alternately, "Not all people who wish to hurt people look exactly alike. Not all people who look like those people who have more often hurt people are terrorists. Perhaps we'd be better off if we remembered that and didn't let our guard down just because Jimmy McBomber is white."

Incidentally, as far as the American government not covering terrorism perpetuated by white non-Muslims, how much did you hear about the daily violence in Northern Ireland growing up?

Rape, terrorism . . . both are wrong regardless of the race of victim, and the accused deserve fair trials regardless of their race.

Of course. But you're arguing inconsistent things here I think.

But when these "man bites dog" scenarios crop up, there are too many people given a chance to declare guilt, sometimes over something as silly as a "legacy of racism" or something equally irrelevant.

You keep saying "man bites dog". The reason that it's news when priveliged white youths are accused of doing something repulsive is that it's unexpected. The reason that it's underreported, if it is, when young black men are accused of doing something repulsive is, you could interpret that as being because we as a nation expect young black men to murder and rape, and it's less of a surprise, and therefore less newsworthy. Rather than presuming that the media wants to heap guilt on white people.

My point is not that the Duke case got more coverage than the other case (though I think the fact that it took place at an expensive university and involved a Div I sports team might have had something to do with it; I doubt it would have gotten the same coverage if it were the same scenario, but the accused were three white kids from Nowheresville, PA,) but that the reason for the lack of coverage on the more brutal crime might not be, as you seem to suggest, trying to either placate minority populations by not reporting transgressions committed by minorities or make majority populations feel bad by overreporting majority transgressions. I think it might be that we, as a nation, are simply more surprised by things that don't play into stereotypes of racial behavior.

How about this.

John Walker Lindh. Was his story covered widely by the American media because:

a) He was a former Catholic boy from Maryland who became a radical Muslim and joined the Taliban's Army, and stuck out against the backdrop of those who joined the Taliban's Army in Afghanistan, but were born there and were born Muslim. His appearance there was a bit of a surprise, and was reported because it was news as something out of the ordinary.

b) He's white, and the white people in the US need to be reminded that they're just as bad as terrorists. The media wants to tear down white people by showing one of their own as a terrorist, while simultaneously trying to make Arab-Americans feel better by downplaying the fact that most of those who were in the Talibani army were Arabs, even though Lindh never actually killed anyone and others in the Talibani army who were Arabs did.

I think it's A.