January-February, 2019. Three Notorious Hate Crimes Rock America.
On December 30, 2018, at 7a.m., near Houston, Texas, Jazmine Barnes was riding in a car with her mother and her three sisters when she was shot to death by a stranger. LaPorsha Washington, Jazmine's mother, was on a morning coffee run. She too had been shot, but she survived.
Washington gave an interview from her hospital bed, describing the unique and precious life that was taken that day. Jazmine was "so much fun”, a seven-year-old who would "boss everyone around…..The teachers loved her…. She brought so much joy and happiness to everybody around her. When she walks into a room, Jazmine is gonna kiss and hug everybody, even if she didn't know you."
Chris Cevilla, Jazmine's father, mourned that the "precious moments a father is supposed to experience with his daughter have been stolen from me … I'm not going to be able to see her graduate. Prom. None of that."
Jazmine's sister, Alxis Dilbert, and their mother described the shooter to police as a blue-eyed white man, driving a red pick-up truck. The face in the police sketch could be the poster model for any nightmare vision of an Aryan Nations boogeyman. His skin is pale. His clear, blue eyes are cold and merciless. His long, straight nose is thin; his nostrils delicate. His pale cheeks are hollow. The red pickup truck is the very vehicle the stereotype would require for a Southern, white supremacist. The only missing accoutrements are a Confederate flag and a MAGA hat.
A "Justice for Jazmine" Go-Fund-Me page, begun by her father the day Jazmine was shot, raised $87,284. NFL wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins donated his $29,000 playoff check to the family. Shaquille O'Neal and a police officer chipped in to pay for Jazmine's funeral. Celebrities Jayda Pinkett Smith and Gabrielle Union tweeted that the "evil monster" who killed Jazmine must be found. Hundreds rallied in Jazmine's name. She was, to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, "everyone's child. The nation's child. Seen around the world … We are not going to be the do-nothing crowd. We are going to be the 'see-something-say-something' crowd … We need a national task force. Let the killer know that the heat is on and the heat is up."
Nation of Islam activist Deric Muhammad had insisted that a "white supremacist" murdered Jazmine. At a "Justice for Jazmine" rally, Muhammad asked, "Whose child?" In reply, the crowd chanted "Our child," multiple times. Rapper and activist A. J. McQueen demanded, "Let's talk about race! Imagine a baby girl. What if her first words were 'Please don't shoot'? Let's talk about race!"
Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King joined in. King is controversial. He claims to be biracial, but the parents listed on his birth certificate are white – thus his nickname "Talcum X." King has faced numerous other controversies. King tweeted a photograph of Jazmine's coffin with the caption, "A tiny little casket. My God." On January 4, 2019, on twitter, King named a man, Robert Cantrell, whom he believed to be Jazmine's killer. Cantrell did indeed look just like the man in the police sketch. "We've had 20 people call or email us and say he is a racist, violent asshole and always has been. Just tell me everything you know," King tweeted.
Cantrell received death threats. "They want to hurt anything you love, especially your kids and mother. I heard someone is gonna rape, torture, and murder the women and children in your family," read one threat. King pushed the white killer narrative even after receiving information that indicated that Jazmine's killer was no white supremacist at all, but rather a black man.
When Jazmine Barnes was the victim of a white man, she was front page news. After January 6, 2019, when a black man was charged with Jazmine's murder, her name disappeared from the national conversation. Malcolmxxx5, a man posting on Shaun King's twitter feed, wrote, "When some blk folk thought it was a white person they were tweeting their butts off, 1000's of tweets. Now that they know its blk thugs behind it, tweets dam near got cold. Thats sad in itself."
Malcolmxxx5's post generated no comments or retweets.
A Nexis Uni search of periodicals shows over 1,400 hits for "Jazmine Barnes" during the time period when the narrative insisted that Jazmine's killer was white. The international press covered her. After the arraignment of two black men in her death, her name appears in only 135 articles. These articles are no longer the impassioned, frontpage condemnations of "hate" that had appeared before, but rather brief, pro forma accounts of court proceedings, buried deep inside newspapers.
A Google search turns up 81 hits for Jazmine Barnes at taxpayer-funded National Public Radio before her killer was identified. I listen to a Manhattan NPR affiliate throughout the day and I remember Jazmine Barnes' name repeated in just about every news update and in much commentary. After Jazmine's killer was identified as black, Jazmine Barnes disappeared from NPR coverage. No new stories mention her.
Once Jazmine became the victim of a black shooter, there were no more rallies. The speakers, balloons, and podiums evaporated. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee's "See-something-say-something" national task force has reverted to "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Snitches get stitches and wind up in ditches." Deric Muhammad, who had chanted "Whose child? Our child!" with such insistence, has, if Google is any indication, gone silent about Jazmine Barnes.
A Google search of the names Jazmine Barnes and Deric Muhammad turns up no connection between the two since January 10, 2019, except for a CYA piece by Muhammad arguing that he was not wrong to suspect that her murder was committed by a white supremacist. "Nobody has to exaggerate the evils of White America done to Black people [sic]. The truth about it is bad enough. How many times has a Black man or woman been falsely accused, beaten, lynched, jailed and even killed for crimes committed by White men in this country? We have 464 years of content to draw from and we don’t have to fabricate one thing."
One might think that the social media moral panic devoted to Jazmine Barnes as the victim of a rampaging white supremacist would have taught panic participants a lesson. One would think wrong. A mere two weeks after Jazmine Barnes dropped down the memory hole, the ever-ready outrage machine kicked into gear again. Anyone on Facebook the weekend of January 19 remembers his or her page metaphorically bursting into flames. Schoolboys from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, the new panic alleged, had surrounded Nathan Phillips, a peaceful Native American Vietnam War veteran, mocked him, and chanted "Build the Wall."
Even after video emerged that completely exculpated the accused schoolboys of any wrongdoing, even after threats against the schoolboys became so serious that they required protection, even after Nathan Phillips was exposed as a lying con artist, leftists were still insisting that the boys were evil and needed to be punished in the worst way possible. As late as February 4, 2019, The Guardian (UK) published an article praising Phillips, the man whose lies lit the spark that endangered innocent schoolboys' lives.
Those who actually believed the utterly false and also quite stupid Covington narrative did not have to come to terms with their own folly, because, of course, a new social media moral panic provided these outrage addicts with the new jolt of a new fix.
On January 29, 2019, Jussie Smollett, an otherwise obscure actor, became the center of the latest panic. One version of Smollett's tale: two men, masked but wearing MAGA hats, physically attacked Smollett at 2 a.m. in Chicago, calling Smollett by offensive terms referencing his homosexuality and his African American identity. The attackers poured bleach on Smollett, and placed a noose around his neck.
Liberal Facebook friend Mark was jubilant after the Smollett story broke. Mark had invested in the phony Covington narrative. This new outrage was proof, he crowed, that Trump supporters are violent, racist, homophobic, intolerant, bigoted thugs. On February 21, the Chicago Police Department held a press conference where they demonstrated that Jussie Smollett's improbable tale was as false as it had always seemed to rational people.
Again, one might think that leftists would learn, and, again, one would think wrong. There was no need to apologize, to admit error, to regret the insult to Trump supporters or the waste of Chicago law enforcement resources. Rather, one must focus on the new outrage. (There is always a new outrage.) The new outrage is that those evil folk on the right might exploit the Smollett hoax to discount the real problem of American white supremacy.
Social Media Moral Panics as Ritual Behaviors.
These three social media moral panics, occurring back-to-back, are edifying. They demonstrate that such panics are not grounded in objective reality. There was no blue-eyed, white-supremacist shooter in a red pickup truck, no anti-Native-American schoolboys, no Trump supporters on the streets of a sub-zero Chicago at 2 a.m. managing to keep their bleach liquid when the polar vortex air was well below bleach's freezing point.
Those who participated in these social media moral panics were participating in myth. By "myth" I do not mean a false narrative, but, rather, a narrative that is sacred to a sect, that provides a sect's raison d'etre, and that informs its ritual.
Leftists reject conventional religion and Western Civilization's Judeo-Christian foundation as hopelessly corrupt and uncool. No "thou shalt nots" for the "if-it-feels-good-do-it" crowd. But even atheists require religion, and a new religion was built around race. White racism was the only sin. In this religion, racism is a valued commodity.
Monopoly possession of racism enriches and empowers its possessor, both black and white. If a black person can claim that he is a victim of racism, if a white person melodramatically condemns racism, they win valuable status and power. Outrage porn is the holy Eucharist of this religion. Outrage porn is the drug fix for leftist communicants. It provides a jolt that holds them over ‘til the next social media moral panic.
Symbolically destroying white American men is the new ritual. Imaginary white men, in the Barnes' shooting and the Smollett hoax, serve. The moral bankruptcy of these pagan rituals is revealed in leftists' willingness to sacrifice innocent schoolboys, for no other reason than that they represent the hated other: white, Christian, Southern, Trump-supporting males.
Participants in the ritual recommended that these schoolboys be destroyed using methods that reek of ancient human sacrifice: they should be fed into woodchippers; a Disney producer circulated an image of the boys' blood spurting luxuriously from just such a machine. They should be ritually humiliated, especially through blows to the face – Trevor Noah, Reza Aslan, and a Saturday Night Live writer all invoked facial blows as apt punishment. They should be burned alive.
Many of those expressing the most rabid hatred are themselves white. Mark, the previously mentioned liberal author on Facebook who mocks the boys as the "Holy Martyrs of Covington," has phosphorescent white skin. I suspect that he gets a sunburn if he stands less than three feet from a 60-watt bulb. He lives in a town, and a state, with an African American population of 4 percent. Why would a white man from a white town feel it so necessary to attack other white males? It's a purification ritual, designed to distance the participant from any association with hated whiteness and maleness, to clearly state, "I am of the elect, not the polluted and the damned." Repeating the ritual over and over communicates: There are two classes of white males. I am the superior kind. I prove it by dehumanizing the inferior kind. The MAGA hats marked the kids as damned."
The high priestess of this religion is perhaps the diminutive lesbian actress Ellen Page. On Stephen Colbert's February 1 talk show, Page began sermonizing at an eleven on the humorless self-righteousness meter and cranked it up from there. Her hands in a white-knuckle clench, her shoulders in a world-weary stoop, Page raged about homophobia, misogyny, "binary" heteronormative Hollywood movies, Climate Change and the environmental racism of placing garbage dumps near "First Nations" people. Then Page jumped into lambasting anyone who questioned whether or not Jussie Smollett's story was true. Page fingered Vice President Mike Pence as the culprit. "He has hurt LGBTQ people so badly!" Pence "is in a position of power and you hate people and you want to cause suffering to them. You spent your career trying to cause suffering."
Page burst into tears and the audience rose in a standing O. Page never said a single positive or loving thing about anyone. It was all attack, culminating on the arch enemy, Mike Pence, prototypical straight, white, Christian, American man, whose symbolic destruction entertained the crowd.
Participants in leftist social media panics announce their purpose as love. They love Jazmine Barnes, Nathan Phillips, and Jussie Smollett. They want the world to be a better place for oppressed people of color. The stories that ritual participants ignore gives the lie to their own stated purpose.
On Thursday, February 7, 2019, 24-year-old Nashville musician Kyle Yorlets was murdered by five children, three girls and two boys. Yorlets was white. His murderers, ages 12-16, are black. At a recent hearing, Yorlets' confessed killers laughed so much in court, behaving "as if they were on a playground," that the judge ordered them to leave.
Yorlets' murder has received virtually no media attention. Security cameras in New York City have been recording several assaults on Jews. In October, 2018, during daylight hours, in Crown Heights, a young black man beat a Jewish man over the head with a stick. In January, 2019, also in Crown Heights, a group of young black males approached a Jewish teenager and assaulted him. Though Jews constitute about two percent of the US population, "FBI data shows Jewish people and institutions were most frequently targeted [of religious-based hate crimes], accounting for 58.1 percent of religious-based hate crime incidents."
Assaults on Jews in Crown Heights gain virtually no media attention. One would think that they might, given that in 1991, a pogrom took place there. African Americans chanted "Kill the Jews." Yankel Rosenbaum, 29-years-old, was stabbed to death by 16-year-old Lemrick Nelson.
If social media moral panics had anything to do with love, participants would care about battered and endangered Jews; they would care about white victims like Kyle Yorlets. They don't. There's more people they don't care about; more on that, below.
The Real Victims of Fake Hate Crimes.
As long as Jazmine Barnes had been murdered by a white man, she was valuable. Once she was murdered by a black man, she wasn't even worth anything as a statistic. The pertinent statistics are daunting. "Guns kill about 10 times more black children than they do white children each year," reported TIME magazine in 2017. TIME summarized a Centers for Disease Control study. "Black children faced the highest rates of gun-related homicides … In many cases, researchers noted, gun-related deaths occur 'in multi-victim events and involved intimate partner or family conflict.'" Roughly ninety percent of black murder victims are killed by other blacks.
LaPorsha Washington, Jazmine Barnes' mother, might very well have contributed to that statistic. Washington has a decade of felony convictions, including theft, drugs, and hiding a felon. "When she was just 19, in a police probable cause document, a female victim robbed by Washington said the then-teen had a gun and threatened to shoot her," reports Heavy.com.
In 2014, 6,000 African Americans were murdered. Though they make up only 13% of the US population, there were more blacks mudered than whites and Hispanics combined. In the first six and a half months of 2016, 2,300 people were shot in Chicago alone. "That's a shooting an hour during some weekends," says researcher Heather MacDonald.
"Say his name: Trayvon!" Black Lives Matter protesters like to shout. Here's a name for them to shout: Genesis Rincon. Genesis was a 12-year-old girl who, while she was playing outside on a warm summer night in 2014, was shot to death on the streets of Paterson, NJ, a mile from my home. Genesis's killer was 19-year-old Jhymiere Moore. Moore had also killed another black boy, Ragee Clark, age 15. Moore, now in prison, is the father of a son, another African American boy who will grow up without a father.
Illegitimacy rates among African Americans hover around 70%. A 2018 review reports that
"The more opportunities a child has to interact with his or her biological father, the less likely he or she is to commit a crime or have contact with the juvenile justice system …Youths who never had a father living with them have the highest incarceration rates … children who come from father-absent homes are at a greater risk for using illicit substances at a younger age…A high percentage of gang members come from father-absent homes."
Where is the "see-something-say-something" national task force when it comes to the facts of blacks killing other blacks, and black children growing up without fathers? That national task force's potential members, white and black, are, like addicts, sniffing around for their next fix of outrage porn followed by the ritualistic destruction of another white male.
Black Lives Matter activists do not chant Genesis's name. Genesis's killer was black and leftists gain zero profit from addressing black-on-black crime. The only reason Black Lives Matter repeats Trayvon Martin's name is because they have been able to pretend that George Zimmerman, who shot Martin in self-defense, was a white man. In fact Zimmerman's facial features announce his own significant Afro-Peruvian ancestry. Chanting Trayvon's name is about hating alleged white man George Zimmerman, not about loving Trayvon.
There are other victims of faked hate crimes, and in all the verbiage around the Smollett hoax, I have heard not a whisper of these victims. One of them has been weighing heavily on my mind and heart throughout this entire diabolical farce. I've lived with his story for years, the way you live with the low-throbbing pain of an arthritic joint. I've always thought I would take it to my grave. I'm telling it now, for the first time. I'll disguise his name. Let's call him "Andrzej," and also "Andy."
Andrzej (pronounced ON jay), was a child of Polish immigrants. His father was a coal miner before he moved to Newark, NJ, in hopes of a better life above ground. His mother worked in a factory. Andrzej's family was poor, but always clean, and church-going. I wish I could report that they were also always law-abiding but there was the occasional night in the klink for the occasional fist fight or public drinking – these activities are not unknown among Poles. Andrzej was that son that immigrant parents pray for but also fear. He was a genius. On the basis of his standardized tests results, teachers were in awe of him. They insisted that he must do something with this miraculous gift. Other kids didn't much like him. He grew up in Newark, not the easiest place to be in the 1950s. He got beat up a lot. Though he lived in the same cold-water walk-up flat as the black kids, they showed him no mercy.
Andrzej could walk right past you and not say "Hello," even if you said hello to him. When he did speak to you, his words came out as spurts of non-sequiturs – eager, maybe even sweet, but you never knew quite how to respond, except to smile and nod and laugh about him later with other, normal people. Everyone realized what was going on. Andrzej existed in his own world of ideas. He also faced the culture shock of being Polish at home, speaking one language, and being American, being "Andy," in the wider world. Good-hearted people just tolerated Andy's difference.
Andy got a great job at a university. The demographics of the university were complex. The faculty, for the most part, were WASP graduates of Ivy League schools. The students were an ethnic mix, as is so often the case in New Jersey. Andrzej noticed that the Ivy League professors, the more elite they were, the more obsequious they were to the black students. They forced smiles. They tried to talk in hip slang. They wanted to be "down" with the "brothers." They wrote scholarship recommendations for students that bore no relation to neutral standards of academic performance. These same liberal, Ivy League professors showed no such deference to the white kids. Poor, white ethnic kids, children of working class, immigrant parents, a bit lost on a college campus, these the Ivy League professors mocked as "trailer trash." This class bigotry, this skin color triage, disgusted Andrzej. But he didn't get involved. He was there to do science.
A black woman didn't like the way Andy looked at her. She felt slighted. Here was this privileged white man, not going out of his way to communicate approval to her. She registered a complaint with a dean, who took the complaint to a committee.
None of us who knew him ever heard Andrzej use racial slurs. He treated everyone the same – awkwardly. Andrzej was only at home in books and hovering over a microscope, a scholarly article, or a test tube.
Just as he had been bullied as a kid because he was different, he was victimized as an adult by people who refused to understand him. The committee said that he hadn't smiled at his accuser. His lack of smiles offended and hurt her and made her feel excluded. This aspect of Andrzej's show trial fills me with rage every time I think about it. Polish people of Andrej's parents' World-War-II generation, and their first-generation kids, don't smile casually. Smiles are intimate, sincere, and never forced. If these liberals, with their insistence on their own multicultural tolerance, had factored into their assessment Andrzej's culture, they would realize what intolerant bigots they were.
The committee said, further, that Andrzej needed training in understanding and accepting African American culture. Andrzej's accusers were, again, privileged whites. Andrzej had grown up in Newark. Who was going to train whom? A professor who had a Harvard degree told Andrzej that he needed to understand his, Andrzej's own "privilege" as a "straight, white male." Andrzej needed to understand his accuser's history of slavery and racism.
Andrzej's parents were Slavs. The people who gave the world the word "slave" because of their own long history of enslavement, including by African Muslims.
Andrzej had a distant cousin who had been enslaved by Nazis during WW II. Andrzej's straight, white male privilege? He was a nerd and bait for bullies. A professor who descended from Mayflower passengers was lecturing Andrzej about privilege and slavery. Andrzej didn't like it. He didn't like any of it. Andrzej was fired.
After a bit of a retreat to lick his wounds and hide his shame, Andrzej found less rewarding, less remunerative, less cutting-edge science work on other, less prestigious, campuses. But the wound never healed. Andrzej had hit a glass ceiling. That bang on the top of his head left an impression he never forgot.
The Chicago Police Department devoted hundreds of man hours and princely sums to uncover the truth in the Smollett case. Internet sleuths spent hours watching video to expose the truth in the Covington Catholic case. Eventually Jazmine's real killer confessed.
Andrzej was just one man, with few natural allies on a college campus with cliques of Ivy League WASP professors, and cliques of black activists, but no cliques of first-generation geniuses with coal miner fathers. When his version of Jussie Smollett, a black woman with an ax to grind, falsely accused him of racism, there was no one to rescue Andrzej. And he was sacrificed.
How many Andrzejs are there out there? How many folks who are just getting by, living paycheck to paycheck, already dealing with all the annoyances of everyday life, suddenly falsely accused of racism? Facing, rather than honest efforts to get to the truth, mobs of virtue signaling outrage addicts eager to exploit the falsely accused as scapegoats in their own mythic, ritualized human sacrifice? My guess? There are many such people. Neither Andrzej nor his accuser were famous. She got away with it, and he lived with the wound.