It will be interesting to see if the news media discusses the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 any more this May 31 than it has in the past. Discussing this horrible mass murder of blacks in Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend has always been seen as sufficiently tasteless that the story has suffered the equivalent of a historical airbrushing. When did you first learn about it? I didn’t encounter the episode in elementary school, high school, college or law school. I was 50, and furiously researching the life of Clarence Darrow so I could churn out a one man show (that was already in rehearsal) after Leslie Nielsen pulled the rights we had paid for on the Darrow show performed on Broadway by Henry Fonda. I was looking for the context of Darrow’s epic closing argument in the Sweet case (1925), in which he referenced examples of white mob violence against blacks. That was my introduction to the tragedy. How was this possible? I was and am a voracious consumer of American history, movies, and television. Yet the facts of the Tulsa Race Massacre never entered my consciousness.
Here’s one useful resource…there are many others available online. A brief summary: After World War I, Tulsa’s African American community was notable for its affluence. The Greenwood District was known as “Black Wall Street.” But on May 30, 1921, an incident between a white woman and a black man on an elevator—nobody knows exactly what happened—was reported in the Tulsa newspapers as an attempted rape. The young African-American, Dick Rowland, had been arrested, and members of the community believed that he might be lynched. When an angry white mob gathered in front of the courthouse, a group of over 70 back men, some of them World War I veterans with weapons, confronted them. A gun went off in a struggled, and chaos descended on Greenwood. A white mob of thousands overran the Greenwood District, shooting unarmed black citizens in the streets. It burned an area of some 35 city blocks, and more than 1,200 houses, numerous businesses, a school, a hospital and a dozen churches. It is estimated that 300 people were killed in the rampage, though official counts at the time were much lower. 300 is the same death toll as the 1871 Chicago fire. I knew about that tragedy by the time I was 8.
1. IIPTDXTTNMIAFB! That’s short for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden…”, introduced here. The current example: during a speech at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Langley,Virginia two days ago, President Biden began spontaneously complimenting a pre-teen girl who had joined her parents and two older brothers on the stage after her mother had introduced Biden to the crowd. Biden said, inappropriately and creepily, “ I love those barrettes in your hair, man. I tell you what, look at her. She looks like she’s 19 years old sitting there like a little lady with her legs crossed.” Republicans pounced, as the MSM cliche goes whenever Democrats are legitimately criticized. The episode was barely mentioned by the media dedicated to propping up Biden—that is, almost all of it—at all. IIPTDXTTNMIAFB…and President Trump didn’t even have a photographically preserved series of encounters like this:
2. AHHHH! It’s a virus ! Get a gun!!! The headline on the front page of the NYT website yesterday read, “Pandemic Fuels Surge in U.S. Gun Sales ‘Unlike Anything We’ve Ever Seen.'” Incredible. People bought guns for the first time because rioting was going on all over the country, and in many places the police were doing little or nothing to stop it. Buildings were burning and being looted; citizens were being threatened. Who gets a gun to fight a pandemic? (There was never any threat of the kind of civic breakdown from the virus like that portrayed in the movie “Contagion.” Toilet paper riots?)
The degree to which the Times—the “paper of record’!—continues to distort reality to mislead the public and warp public opinion is astounding. Later in the same article, the Times said, “While gun sales have been climbing for decades — they often spike in election years and after high-profile crimes — Americans have been on an unusual, prolonged buying spree fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, the protests last summer and the fears they both stoked.”
Nice. The protests didn’t stoke fears, the rioting and violence did, and they were real, as well as being encouraged by some high elected officials. Americans bought guns to protect themselves against ideas they may have disagreed with? Baloney. They bought guns because they didn’t want their businesses and homes to be attacked. It is also astounding that so many can see and hear this kind of deliberate disinformation every day and still claim that the mainstream news media hasn’t become a propaganda organ and little else. Crazy hysterical right wingers bought guns to protect themselves from a virus and peaceful, harmless people carrying signs! Sure, that’s what was going on.
3. Back about 50 years, when people cared about tennis, this would have been a big story. Three-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka announced that she would not speak with reporters during the French Open. In a long statement (ending with the mysterious hanging sentence, “However, if the organizations think that they can just keep…”), Osaka explained her decision in part this way:
“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes [sic] mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one. We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”
Thus she will deliberately violate the 2021 official Grand Slam rulebook, which explicitly requires a player or team to participate in post-match news conferences organized within 30 minutes of the end of a match, unless physically unable to appear. Violations result in fines of up to $20,000. But since Osaka made an estimated $55.2 million last year, $20,000 is pocket change to her. This is literally an example of a star announcing that rules are for lesser mortals.
Verdict: Ethics Dunce. The reason Osaka makes so much money is that athletes are paid heroes and entertainers, and submitting to the idiocy of reporters is part of their job. Fines obviously aren’t enough: a tennis player who refuses to fulfill her obligations to the sport should be banned from competing until she does.
4.Today’s baseball ethics note: The word out of Major League Baseball is that a electronically-called balls and strikes will be implemented no later than three years from now. Good. I’ve already seen at least two games where the winner was determined by an obviously mistaken strike call by the umpire. How anyone can say that’s a “part of the game” that should be preserved is beyond my comprehension. Wouldn’t it be more fun if police were required to estimate the speed cars were traveling? Botched calls were “part of the game” when there was no way to do better. The sooner baseball has “robocalls,” the more ethical the game will be.
5. Also “Good”: Senate Republicans blocking a “January 6 Insurrection Commission.” Democrats and Trump-haters have warped American elections with partisan investigations and hysterical characterizations too often already. There is nothing inherently wrong with any Congressional inquiry, of course: Congress investigates the grand and the trivial as a matter of course. This proposed commission, however, was obviously a ploy to keep banging the “insurrection” tom-toms and repeating the false “attack on democracy” theme in the hopes that they could help the Democrats survive the 2022 elections and keep Donald Trump at bay. Democrats and the Trump Deranged have lied about the January 6 riot so often and so outrageously. that they are estopped from claiming they are capable of a fair investigation. It wasn’t an insurrection; the government was never endangered or interrupted; and no police officers were killed. President Trump did not “incite” anything. The 2017 protests and riots during the 2017 Trump inauguration were more violent and more consequential. This was a cynical proposal designed to benefit the Democratic Party at the expense of civic discourse. The Republicans who voted for it are incompetent and irresponsible.