In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson or the suspicious death of Victor White III while in the back seat of a police car here in Acadiana, the typical response from the Fox News crowd is to deny and deflect the fact that racism is still alive and well in America.
Instead of acknowledging the fact that a disproportionate number of black men make up the prison population in the United States, they blame groups like the NAACP for stirring up racial tensions. Rather than accepting that “stop and frisk” police activity was heavily targeting minorities, they pretend it’s necessary to prevent crime – all while claiming that President Obama is trying to take away their freedoms.
Yes, grasp the utter hypocrisy for a moment; they’re complaining about violations (real or imagined) of their 2nd and 4th Amendment rights. At the same time, you have right-wing pundits and politicians advocating for unconstitutional violations of the 4th Amendment and heavy-handed police tactics, just so long as they’re aimed at minorities. Here’s what the 4th Amendment says:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. (Source)
Remember how all of those people who supported Cliven Bundy in his defiance of the federal government showed up in Ferguson to protest the excessive force used against protesters? Oh yeah, that’s right – they didn’t.
As I said before, it’s proof positive to the likes of Sean Hannity that Obama is a ruthless (and at the same time utterly incompetent) dictator who hates America and white people when the Bureau of Land Management tries to kick a rich squatter off federal land. To hear the conservative media tell it, those who joined Bundy and even threatened to shoot federal agents are heroes and American patriots. You know, because there is a war on conservative values and against white people. On the other hand, when the death of an unarmed black teenager is protested, you’ll actually see comments on conservative websites and Facebook pages wishing the police would massacre the crowd and that a black teenager deserved to die for alleged shoplifting and jaywalking.
In fact, conservative media even went so far as to make the false claim that he was facing a murder charge at the time of his death, which was proven false by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Not to be deterred, others circulated this image of the now-deceased motocross rider Jim McNeil, claiming it was Officer Darren Wilson in the hospital with injuries inflicted by the teenager that he shot.
At the time I had taken the screenshot, over 44,000 people shared this picture just from this one individual profile and many claimed it as triumphant proof that Michael Brown indeed deserved to take 6 bullets from Officer Wilson’s service weapon. The fact that Jim McNeil and Officer Wilson shared no physical similarities other than being Caucasian males around the same age didn’t seem to register with those who shared the picture. After all, this validated their belief that Michael Brown deserved what happened to him, actual facts be damned.
When confronted with news stories like the shooting of Michael Brown, conservative media will almost invariably make excuses for institutionalized racism, will make disingenuous statements about “black on black crime” and produce allegations of racism by blacks against whites. For example, this video posted on the website Conservative Outfitters shows a white couple being attacked by black teenagers as proof that black on white hate crimes exist. The comments that followed are unimaginably racist and hateful; here’s just one of them that jumped out at me.
Are there black people out there who hate white people? Sure there are. There’s black separatists and folks like Louis Farrakhan who promote hatred toward whites, and there’s the likes of Al Sharpton who can’t throw himself in front of the TV cameras fast enough every times there’s a tragedy like Ferguson or New Iberia. However, comparing black on white hatred or violence to the centuries of racism in the United States is a ridiculously false equivalency sold by conservative media and meant only to make excuses for members of their audience who want to absolve themselves of any racist feelings. Perhaps you as an older white person who remembers the days of segregation feel somewhat guilty for using racist language now or in the past. Guess what? Fox News or some even further right-wing website tells you that it’s OK, because blacks, hispanics or Asians are just as prejudiced as you and that makes it alright.
However, you cannot honestly pretend that occasional, isolated incidents of whites being the victims of racism is justification for a conservative media that rushed to smear Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and the countless other young black men who have been gunned down over the years.
For these anti-anti-racists, accusations of racism are a greater concern than actual discrimination and prejudice against blacks and other minorities. It’s not that they support racism, but that they see it as largely irrelevant to contemporary life—any problems with minority communities, in their eyes, have more to do with cultural dysfunction, not racial inequality. Moreover, if there’s a racial problem in America, it’s not against minorities, it’s against whites: “Caucasian is not one of the colors getting helped,” said Fox contributor Todd Starnes, attacking the president’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. (Source)
Racism is indeed alive and well in America, and conservative media would have you believe otherwise. Whether it’s mis-identifying a Sikh as a Muslim, or pretending there is a war on white people or even Christmas, they’re selling fear and excuses for prejudice at every opportunity.
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