America is not a racist country. But, if you read newspapers, watch television, listen to the radio – or listen to politicians – it’s understandable that you might think we are a nation of rednecks who hate all black people.
It has become an article of faith among “liberals” and others on the Left: Police departments all across America need to be reformed. “Defund the cops” has kept picket sign printers busy. The Seattle city council voted to do just that: Strip their own police department of funds. “Liberals” want all police officers to enroll in “sensitivity training” courses. New rules restrict when and even if officers are authorized to pursue suspects on foot, leading to the obvious: All a criminal needs to do is run and the cops will be forced to let him go.
If you’re going to cripple the police, you better make friends with the criminals.
All of this lunacy is the result of race baiting, and the media have grown quite adept at this. There’s nothing new about it. The first documented use of the term goes back to a New York Times article 101 years ago. Then it referred to white people stirring up hatred against black people. Here’s how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it:
“The unfair use of statements about race to try to influence the actions or attitudes of a particular group of people.”
The Cambridge Dictionary defines it similarly: “. . . intentionally encouraging racism or anger about issues relating to race, often to gain political advantage . . . to fan racial hatred.”
Obviously the American news media have advanced beyond race baiting to negatively influence attitudes toward black people. You will never find news stories with lines like these: “Thirteen people were shot and killed over the weekend. All of the killers were black.” Or, “The suspect, a black man, was first to hurl a brick through the store window.” Or, “All of the looters were black.” Or, “The police car was overturned and set on fire by a mob of black men.” Or, “Black cop kills white man.”
These are clearly attempts to encourage racism, to portray black Americans as mindless criminals, “to fan racial hatred” against black Americans. Even if it was true that all the criminals cited here were black, it makes no difference. It’s still race baiting. It goes back to a Journalism Ethics 101 edict: Never mention race in a news story unless race is relevant to that story.
Appropriately, today’s news media are at pains to never publish or air such anti-black race baiting. For example, in May, 2019, a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed an unarmed woman. During the ABC News television report on this story the races of the officer and his victim were never mentioned. In keeping with the J-101 Ethics edict, race was not relevant, so it wasn’t brought up. It was simply a tragic story in which a police officer mistakenly shot and killed an innocent, unarmed woman. It wasn’t until near the end of the report, when pictures of the officer and victim were shown, that it became clear why their races weren’t pointed out: The officer was black and the woman he killed was white.
To have framed the story as “black cop kills white woman” would have been universally condemned as racist and a clear violation of journalistic ethics.
Alas, ethics go by the boards when the cop is white and the victim is black. Then a double standard applies. Here’s an example of an ethical headline that might appear over the story of a police officer killing a civilian by mistake: “Cop kills man.” Here’s the headline over the same story with a race baiting slant: “White cop kills black man.” This can be nothing but an attempt to portray the white officer as a black-hating racist, to “intentionally encourage racism or anger about issues relating to race . . . to fan racial hatred” against white people in general, and the police in particular.
Such race-baiting headlines and stories have become so commonplace that large numbers of Americans have come to hate and even fear police. I have a friend, a black man, whose wife is genuinely terrified every time he leaves their home to go to work or to the store. She is afraid he might run afoul of the police and be killed.
Even syndicated advice columnist Amy Dickinson acknowledges this hate and fear of police. A reader sought her advice on what she should have done when she saw two teenage boys stealing plants from her garden. Amy told her she should have called the police. Subsequently another, near hysterical, reader chastised Amy: “I cannot believe that you suggested this homeowner should call the police! That advice could get those boys killed!”
Amy responded that she’d gotten similar reactions from many people: “This assumption – that police kill teenagers – reflects the . . . shocking truth that many Americans . . . have lost their faith in the police. I admit to underestimating the magnitude of how afraid many people are of the police . . .”
How did this come to be? Have the ranks of police departments always been filled with murdering monsters? Have 21st Century police departments begun recruiting homicidal maniacs? Do police departments now train officers to murder at will? Are many, most, or all cops racists who gleefully murder black Americans because they believe that black lives don’t matter?
On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck, ultimately strangling him. The video of the killing makes clear it’s impossible to justify what Chauvin did. About a year later a jury agreed, finding him guilty of 2nd degree unintentional murder, 3rd degree murder, and 2nd degree manslaughter.
Why wasn’t he charged with a hate crime? From that day in May to today Floyd’s death has been portrayed by the news media as just that, a hate crime; as “white cop kills black man.” The Minnesota legal system found no evidence to justify adding hate crime to the charges; that Chauvin killed Floyd because he was black; because Chauvin didn’t think black lives mattered. It was strictly the news media that kept beating the drum: “It was a racial killing. Chauvin killed Floyd because he was black.” The mob took up the cry. Riots, looting, and arson ensued. Chauvin didn’t cause that. The news media did.
So why did he murder him? We’ll never know for certain, but one theory seems blindingly clear: Chauvin killed Floyd because he’s an arrogant turd. In the privacy of his mind Chauvin determined there was no way he’d get off Floyd’s neck – as the crowd was urging him to – because the crowd was urging him to. If he didn’t say it out loud, Chauvin probably thought, “I’ll get off his neck when I get good and ready, not when you damn civilians tell me to.”
The news media’s eagerness to cast the police as black-hating racists is not a conspiracy. There is no cabal of journalists banded together for the purpose of causing riots; of undermining our trust in, and support of, our police. It’s simply that irresponsible, unethical reporters and editors, independent of other news organizations, realize what gets people excited; what gets people to watch their TV news shows; what gets people to read their newspapers; and what generates the most internet clicks. “Cop kills man”? Big deal. Cops have been killing criminals and criminal suspects for centuries. It’s an unavoidable part of their job. But “white cop kills black man” – now that story has legs.
Editors and reporters have simply accepted a philosophy of news gathering and reporting called “interpretive reporting” which leads inevitably to its offshoot “advocacy journalism.” It proceeds from the arrogant assumption that editors and reporters are smarter than consumers of their product. The “interpretive” reporter’s thought process goes something like this: “I know what makes this story newsworthy, why it’s important; my readers will never figure it out for themselves if I just tell them what happened. I’ll have to interpret it for them, telling them flat out: This isn’t simply about a cop killing a man. This is about a white cop killing a black man.”
Don Frost blogs at www.commonsense931.wordpress.com