1. Is the mainstream media reporting on this incident a tipping point in which the public finally sees and recoils from the dishonesty and the manipulation it is routinely subjected to? Coming on the heels of the election, the biased reporting on the Chicago attack as well the take of many pundits and on-air personalities have been especially shameless. It has pulled other themes and events along with it, such as Meryl Streep’s grandstanding at the Golden Globe Awards. I hope it’s a tipping point. It is for me, I think.
2. Rod Dreher has a superb essay about the media’s spin on this story and its implications—spin or outright lies—and his analysis is excellent. I recommend reading it, and also the comments, which are erudite and probing as well. As an aside: what a pity it is the ideologies in this country have become so hostile that no liberal or progressive would ever venture onto a site called “American Conservative,” and even citing a post from such a site automatically opens someone like me to the accusation of pushing a partisan agenda. As I have written and will continue to (The recent Ethic Alarms posts covering the attack and the news media’s distortion of it are here and here), the fact that even now, after its coverage of the campaign was scandalously biased and many organizations have emitted loud mea culpas, this refusal to report facts and continued partisan team play is proof that what once was annoying is now an existential crisis. Democracy will not work if facts have no meaning, and the truth is parceled out according to a political agenda. What follows is totalitarianism. Unless liberals and progressives see the threat and join in demands for reform, the likely future is bleak.
3. From Dreher:
“Earlier today in New Orleans, I had been having lunch with some friends, both liberals and conservatives. The issue of how so many Americans now don’t have much interest in truth (as distinct from believing what they want to believe) came up. Of course there was the matter of Trump’s dishonesty, but also the matter of the media’s ethics. I said that I read and subscribe to the Times mostly for the same reason Soviets used to read Pravda back in the day: to know what the Official Story the ruling class wishes to tell itself is. That’s not to say that the Times doesn’t feature excellent reporting and good writing; it does. But I don’t trust it to tell me the truth. I trust it to reveal to me the narrative that the greater part of the ruling class (minus the Republican elites) tells itself. That’s a useful thing to know, as long as you know that you’re only getting a take.”
4. A lot came together for me after learning from Dreher that both the Times and Salon attempted to bypass the anti-white, anti-Trump aspect of the attack and represent it as an anti-handicapped hate crime. Dreher cites Steve Sailer, who wrote,
So, you have your marching orders, right? The video of blacks abusing a white kid has nothing to do with virulent prejudice against whites or Trump, it has to do with Society’s prejudice against the intellectually disabled minority.
Do you understand your mission?
As you know, it is a priori impossible for Victim-Americans to abuse American-Americans. So, the victim must have been a Victim-American.
5. Is it possible that this was what actress Meryl Streep was doing when she picked an old but horrible example of Trump at his worst during the campaign, his mockery of a handicapped reporter, to launch her Golden Globes attack on the election results, average Americans, football, immigration laws and the MMA?
(Aside: The National Review performed a perfect take-down of Streep’s grandstanding, finding the beating heart of its hypocrisy, writing,
If your message is, “we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy,” fine. Empathy is a good thing. Except . . . no one’s going to feel obligated to be more empathetic if the call for empathy comes from the walking embodiment of Hollywood royalty, and it’s immediately followed by a declaration that the general public’s tastes are cruddy: “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. If you kick ‘em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.” What did football players or mixed martial artists ever do to Meryl Streep? This isn’t just snide, it’s really inaccurate. Both UFC and Bellator have plenty of competitors born in other countries. The number of foreign-born NFL players is increasing as well. Such a gratuitous shot, and so counter to everything else Streep said. Her very next sentence is, “An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like.” Could she enter the lives of football or MMA fans at that moment? How does she think those folks would feel? Literally a minute later, Streep declares, “when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.” Does she have enough empathy to understand why millions of Americans might feel like a multimillionaire superstar snickering about their entertainment choices might come across as a bully at that moment?
Imagine if the President-Elect had the wit and depth to return fire with something like this (or the sense to get someone to compose it for him) instead of his sadly predictable tweeted response the Streep was “over-rated.” Personally, I was betting on “loser.”)
Why the choice of that particular outrage by Trump? I don’t know Streep well enough to be sure she is so diabolical a partisan attack dog, but it seemed like an effort to argue that the Chicago attack, like all the alleged (and mostly falsely reported) “hate crimes” occurring after the election, according to the official anti-Trump narrative, was also sparked by Trump’s words and bigotry.
6. Back to Dreher: He closes his article with this…
About a decade ago, as a working journalist, it became clear to me that when it came to some subjects, the media thought it’s job was more about managing the news than reporting it. If you read, for example, The New York Times as if we were the USSR and it was Pravda, you better understand its meaning. The comparison is certainly not one-to-one, but it’s closer than it ought to be.
It’s a good thing I’m not Dr. Bruce Banner, because this makes me very angry. How dare anyone “manage the news”? When journalists manage the news, you are managing my mind, my beliefs, my understanding of the world, my autonomy, my life. This is an abuse of position and influence and power. I resent it, and the fact that everyone doesn’t resent it is a troubling a symptom of vulnerability to totalitarian ideology as I know.
7. A commenter on Dreher’s piece, called kgasmart, wrote:
8. This is what I particularly find remarkable: the episode in Chicago had no special significance at all. It had to be reported accurately, that’s all. It was just four unsocialized, hateful individuals, bullying and abusing someone different from and weaker than themselves. Isolated incidents like that tell us nothing about race, youth, politics, social media, education, family or politics. But as with the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman incident, which also had nothing to teach us about race, youth, politics, social media, education, family or politics, it was the reaction by the news media, pundits and activists that exposed a deep and dangerous problem.
For another example, here’s most of the bile from a TIME essay by Tavis Smiley, the former BET commentator who seldom misses any opportunity to claw at the scabs of America’s racial divisions, and will open new wounds if the old ones seem to be healing. That my tax dollars help pay the salary of this bigot at PBS is like bedbugs in my soul. This time, he finds evidence of racism in the fact that the black torturers were arrested quickly, and boldly goes on from there to new worlds of propaganda and idiocy:
Smiley: All four suspects in the Chicago torture video now face charges of aggravated battery, hate crimes and kidnapping. See Jordon, Tesfaye, Brittany and Tanishia. See the crime they committed. See how swift justice is dispensed when the perpetrators, rather than the victims, are black.
Ethics Alarms: See how swiftly justice is dispensed when morons make their own smoking gun evidence by putting a video of their crime on Facebook! Tavis finds this suspicious. Dylann Roof, a white guy who gunned down blacks and was caught almost immediately, was sentenced to death yesterday. Smiley doesn’t care about reality, he just plays the same race cards, over and over, TV, radio and other news media keep giving him a forum as if he wasn’t an not-all-that-bright racialist, we keep paying him to do it.
Smiley: “How many fellow citizens who can’t stop their social media commentary about this sick incident have been just as outraged and outspoken about the regular harassment and abuse that black teenagers and other black fellow citizens endure daily at the hands of white cops?”
Ethics Alarms: 1) This is imaginary hypocrisy. First, we have to assume that there is a group of citizens who “can’t stop” their commentary on this episode, and then Smily rhetorically asks us to assume that this amorphous group—they must all be white, of coures— doesn’t care about unjust police conduct. What does one have to do with the other? 2) Do I need to point out that this is a false dichotomy of absurd dimensions? One is a single episode of utter depravity, the other is Smiley’s gross generalization of a complex phenomenon involving many different incidents that cannot be homogenized as race-baiters like Smiley find it convenient to pretend.
Smiley: “How do you think these kids came up with the idea to broadcast this wicked torture scenario? You think they just made this up in their heads? We all know from whence it came… the movies they watch and the video games they play. Mad money is being made off of selling degeneracy to young folk, black and white. The easy access they have to information allows them to make bombs that they take to school, get the guns that they kill each other with and to come up with this kind of torture scene. They see this stuff everyday, everywhere. And then we act surprised when they re-enact it—on Facebook Live. Really?”
Ethics Alarms: Wow, Tavis morphed into Tipper Gore so fast, I hardly noticed! Funny, the vast, vast majority of black kids in today’s culture don’t torture disabled white people and make them scream “Fuck white people” while the cameras roll….in fact, I don’t recall that video game. You’re right, Tavis, this was the fault of capitalist America and social media.
Will TIME magazine print anything?
Smiley: “The comments made just days ago by the former Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy about cops avoiding stops and arrests in certain parts of the city were more disturbing and damning than this one incident, tragic as this one incident may be. That’s what cops sign up for — to protect and serve all. Not to cherry-pick neighborhoods for justice. That far more revealing storyline barely had legs, but this story is headline news everywhere. What’s more germane to the citizens of Chicago — an ugly and vicious but rare story like this, or the fact that police stops and arrests decreased dramatically last year? The same year in which homicides in Chicago were more than double the homicides in New York City and Los Angeles combined.”
Ethics Alarms: Amazing: Smiley put this paragraph just one paragraph away from his attack on police for “regular harassment and abuse that black teenagers and other black fellow citizens endure daily at the hands of white cops.” Gee, I wonder why it is that Chicago police aren’t as pro-actively policing in neighborhoods where a confrontation with a citizen is likely to have them tarred as a racist brutes by people like Tavis Smiley, with Black Lives Matter demanding that officers be fired and imprisoned regardless of the facts? What a mystery Smiley has uncovered!
The police superintendent‘s statement is old news: it’s called the Ferguson Effect, and Tavis Smiley is one of the people responsible for it.
Smiley: “Why do we front like we really care about the mentally ill? Fake news, fake blues. We really don’t care about their plight, and the proof is in abundance. We don’t care enough to prioritize spending in our municipal and federal budgets to get them the help they need. Budgets are moral documents. We don’t care enough to enact and enforce legislation to keep guns out of their hands, even after they kill our babies and other loved ones. Repeatedly. We only pretend to care when their condition creates a convenient platform on which to stand and moralize about the menaces to society that maltreat and abuse them. Who are the real menaces in this sad situation, the kids who tortured the young victim, or all the rest of us who don’t demand that our leaders push mental health higher up on the American agenda?”
Ethics Alarms: Wow II. Now Smiley is also trying to shift the incident into a hate crime against the handicapped. It is his side of the ideological divide that insisted that it was unconstitutional to institutionalize the mentally ill against their wills, and now he’s citing the direct results of that position and all the unintended consequences it led to as proof that nobody “cares.” Smiley has no solutions, just throwing more money at the problem. This is an ignorant insult to everyone, and I know a lot of them, who struggles with this problem in their families and among their friends every day. We don’t care about the mentally ill? Almost 20% of the population is mentally ill, and if you add substance addiction and dementia to the mix, it’s much higher than that. I can’t think of a person I know who doesn’t have to care about a mentally ill family member, or several. This is just a phony—and despicable– deflection by Smiley, who is suffering himself from the partisan illness of believing that caring is measured by one’s eagerness to spend money on dubious government programs.
The main significance of the Chicago torture video is that it is serving as a catalyst, prompting journalists and others to pull off their masks, and reveal their shocking lack of integrity, decency, fairness and trustworthiness.