Media, Obama MIA on Racial Mob Mayhem

Cowardice abounds where leadership is needed.

It is no secret that a substantial portion of the public no longer trusts the mainstream media. And while there are innumerable issues which could be used to illustrate why, one issue in particular stands out. Over the past several months, America has been subjected to a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored. Several areas around the country have been subjected to flash mob mayhem. Flash mobs whose racial composition is overwhelmingly black, even as that racial composition has been determinedly ignored by the mainstream media.

How determined? Consider the story of black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who was stopped from entering his house by white Police Sgt. James Crowley, after Crowley had received a call to investigate a burglary at Gates' house. Gates became verbally abusive and Crowley arrested him for disorderly conduct. President Obama accused the Cambridge police of "acting stupidly." From that point on, according to several mainstream media sources, the story, along with the ensuing "beer summit," became "a national uproar over race," "an eye-opening dialogue on race," "a glass of racial politics, with an aftertaste of class warfare," and, according to The New York Times, an issue which generated "10 days of near nonstop news coverage of a case that prompted a thousand news stories about race..."

Contrast that reality with the mainstream media's determination to avoid race in their coverage of flash mob violence. Chicago Tribune editor Gerould W. Kern notes that his paper does not mention race "unless it is a fact that is central to telling the story." New York Times' public editor, Arthur Brisbane, says his paper "has had clear policies warning reporters and editors to be careful about using ethnic, racial and religious labels," adding that the paper's stylebook uses the word "pertinent" as the determining factor. Using "common descriptors," he opines, is "playing with fire." The LA Times contends that while racial information "was once routinely included in news stories about crimes...newspapers and other media outlets stopped mentioning suspects' or victims' race or ethnicity because of public criticism. Newspapers came to embrace the idea that such information is irrelevant to the reporting of crimes and may unfairly stigmatize racial groups."

On the other hand, many media outlets have no problem condemning those who point out race as a relevant factor. The Drudge Report has received copious amounts of criticism for linking stories together about black flash mobs. The website Gawker accused the news aggregator of launching a "Black Teen Crime News Service," further noting that Drudge is "usually more elegant in his efforts to stoke white rage." Salon columnist Alex Pareene contends "this world of race riots and constant violent attacks on innocent Caucasians exists only in the imaginations of Matt Drudge and the paranoid suburban and exurban white people he wants to keep terrified." The Village Voice maintains that "rightbloggers" have "taken to telling readers that crime in America is actually spinning out of control--and it's all the fault of black people."

Perhaps such a "kill the messenger strategy" might be successful were it not for a couple of inconvenient truths. First, if black flash mobs are nothing more than anecdotal incidents collected together to stoke white fear, one might be inclined to think that such incidents are relatively few and far between. One would be wrong. Here is a partial video compilation of black teens engaging in unlawful behavior, many of them captured, not by people with an "agenda," but by store and street security cameras. One can only wonder at what point the ongoing stream of "anecdotes" constitutes something larger than suburban and urban "white paranoia" in the minds of progressive racial apologists.

Second, how do the apologists explain Philadelphia Mayor Micheal Nutter telling black teen flash mobs in that city “you have damaged your own race,” even as he exhorted them to “take those God-darn hoodies down, especially in the summer, pull your pants up and buy a belt ‘cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt”? How do they explain J. Whyatt Mondesire, the head of Philadelphia's NAACP chapter, contending that “these are majority African-American youths and they need to be called on it”?

Both men are black Americans. Are they paranoiacs "stoking white rage" as well?

Nor is the media alone in their attempt to turn a blind eye to the racial element involved in several of these incidents. Police departments are equally reluctant to pursue anything related to hate crime charges in connection with some of these assaults. In Wisconsin, where more than 100 black youths went on a rampage during the state fair, police initially issued a statement saying that "none of these incidents possessed elements that would compel the pursuance of a 'hate crime' prosecution," despite several eyewitness accounts to the contrary. They were forced to reconsider when one of the teens arrested admitted focusing on white people, because they were "easy targets." As of now, it remains the only flash mob incident where hate crimes charges are being sought.

Philadelphia Police Department First Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross explains the difficulty in pursuing such charges. "You can’t just simply look at the race of the offender and the race of the victim and say it’s ethnic intimidation," he noted. "It may be, but we’re not sure. Does it give us pause? Yes it does." He went further. "If we don’t know and can’t prove it, we can’t charge it,” he said. "We’re in the business of what we can prove, not what we think,” he added.

Fair enough. Hate crime legislation is problematic in its own right in that it gives the government a questionable expansion of power to prosecute someone based on what they say or believe, rather than what they do. As such, it makes such legislation difficult to reconcile with the constitutional guarantee of free speech. Yet that didn't stop a Democratically-controlled Congress from passing an expanded version of a hate crime bill in 2009, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of prosecutable offenses. "After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are," said president Obama, when he signed the legislation.

Which brings us to another inexplicable determination to ignore reality by the president himself. How is it possible that the same man who helped make a national issue out of a confrontation between a single black college professor and a single white police sergeant remains conspicuously silent on the issue of black teen flash mobs? Isn't this precisely the kind of issue in which a "post-racial" president would want to take the lead?

Mr. Obama has never demonstrated a reticence to criticize any group of people or individuals whose behavior displeases him. Certainly he or someone within his circle of advisors must understand his silence creates a vacuum; one which can be filled by anyone looking to advance an agenda, no matter how pernicious. Wasn't the so-called "beer summit" exactly an effort to preempt such perniciousness?

Why then -- but not now?

Like it or not, that vacuum will be filled. It will be filled by apologists on the Left who once again blame society rather than the perpetrators of the violence themselves for the ongoing mayhem, as well as those on the Right who accuse the president of "inciting racial division" in "an attempt at establishing a liberal fascist regime." It will be filled by an American public in general, 80 percent of whom believe the country is headed "down the wrong track," and whose belief that racial problems can be worked out has declined from 67 percent in 2008, to 52 percent currently.

And it will be filled by troubling statistics complied by Eric Holder's see-no-black-evil Justice Department, which show, "despite underreporting, blacks commit a disproportionate share of hate crimes. In 2009, almost 20% of known offenders of hate crimes were black, even though blacks make up just 13% of the population."

Where is the same mainstream media, so quick to praise the president's 2008 speech on race, given when the racism of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, could no longer be kept under the radar? Times columnist Nicholas Kristof called that speech "a masterpiece to go down in history." ABC anchor Charles Gibson called it a "seminal speech" on race that was "extraordinary." Where are the calls for something similar, especially when it involves a phenomenon afflicting the nation as a whole, as opposed to one afflicting the president personally?

Likely most Americans consider such silence by the mainstream media to be evidence of their overall leftist bias, in which protecting this president in the face of news, not just regarding race, but a number of other issues as well, to be their number one priority. Perhaps it is. But there may be another factor involved. Perhaps, as initially noted by an "exhausted" Velma Hart in 2010, and forcefully reiterated last week by a "tired" Maxine Waters (D-CA), the mainstream media has lowered its own expectations with respect to this president's leadership capabilities.

Yet despite their best efforts, the racial aspect of the flash mobs can no longer be contained. Thus, it is only a matter of time before it becomes necessary for the Fourth Estate to wonder aloud how the president can maintain his silence on the issue. What little credibility they have left in the eyes of many Americans may depend on it.

For a substantial number of Americans, it is already too late.