A collegiate baseball player from Australia by the name of Christopher Lane was recently murdered by three black teenagers in Duncan, Oklahoma. One of these teens, James Edwards, Jr., had previously posted violent, racist language on his Twitter account. According to police, Lane was jogging near his girlfriend’s house in Duncan when Edwards and two accomplices, Michael Jones and Chancey Luna, followed him out of their house and shot him in the back. Edwards and Luna have been charged as adults with first-degree murder, and Jones, their getaway driver, has been charged as an accessory after the fact.
The racial angle to Lane’s murder has become extremely inflammatory, and the police and the media have been slow to face it. Jones has been identified in police and media reports as white. In a strange sense, this is at once true and false; he’s apparently mostly white and part black. Luna and Edwards are indisputably black, and Edwards is fairly dark-skinned. Questions about the precise race of any of these young men, however, are red herrings. Edwards proudly cast his lot with the black underclass, and Luna and Jones joined him in the racially motivated murder of an innocent white man who happened to be in their neighborhood. They were three racists who tried to assuage their festering boredom and grievance by shooting an innocent stranger in the back because he was white and within range. This was by all appearances a racial crime. Even had they somehow brought a dead ringer for John Denver into their gang and used him as an accomplice, the crime would still be a racially motivated murder of a total innocent in cold blood.
There appears to have been at least an incipient campaign by police and media outlets to sanitize the racial angle of this murder. Early on, at least two Duncan police officials fastidiously described the murder as “random.” According to a commentator at Chateau Heartiste, the CNN website aggressively censored users’ comments about the racial angle of the murder and the subsequent coverup:
I was following the story yesterday on the CNN website. The comments section was going crazy. I’d never seen anything like it. Literally every thirty seconds there were fifty or sixty new comments posted. This went on for hours. And I’d say 90% were SERIOUSLY pissed off white people questioning why CNN hadn’t posted pictures of the perps, why they hadn’t mentioned race, why Obama hadn’t gone on TV to discuss the case, pointing out that these three boys “could be Obama’s sons”, etc. The moderators couldn’t keep up with deleting all the “crime think”. The comment count would go up to 19,000. Then it would be down to 18.000. Then back up to 19.000. And on and on. It was quite a site to behold. The funny thing is that, by the time they’re done, all the comments that will be left will be those calling for more gun control laws. The comments section will have been scrubbed as clean of any mention of race as the original article. Reminds me of the Ministry of Truth in 1984. Anything conflicting with the narrative just ceases to exist.
CNN has since extensively edited its main article about the Lane murder to include discussion of the racial angle. I assume that pressure from readers and scoops from competing independent bloggers persuaded CNN’s editors to provide more honest and thorough coverage. They must have been embarrassed and, more importantly, worried about their company’s viability when they realized that they were losing credibility and their audience to marginal outlets that they normally wouldn’t even conceive of as their competitors. If I’m correct about this, it means that American journalism is healthy, resilient and competitive enough to force even craven and cowardly outlets with huge market shares and ulterior motives to behave responsibly.
Sometimes, that is. CNN is still prone to rampant journalistic corruption and dishonesty. The trouble doesn’t take root when news organizations try to execute blatant snow jobs on major news stories; it takes root when they execute subtle snow jobs on relatively minor stories. In other words, most of the time.
And who are these marginal players that scoop big outlets like CNN? You probably don’t want to know. CNN can be disingenuous and slippery, but it has the decency–the responsibility, really–not to aggressively traffic slurs about “orcs,” “pavement apes,” “uruk-hais,” and “mudsharking.” I assume that Chateau Heartiste is not operating at the lower bound of this kind of racial incitement, either; it is only incidentally a racist site, not a dedicated white supremacist organ like Stormfront. Even so, it is all too reminiscent of Radio Mille Collines on the eve of the Rwandan genocide; it’s much closer to Georges Riggiu than to George Wallace, who merely demanded that the races live separately, and did so with much more restrained public language.
If the rabid peanut galleries on these sites are just loners masturbating to revenge fantasies in their parents’ basements, perhaps no harm will come of the inflammatory language. My concern is that some of them weapons, military training, sympathetic military or police contacts, and the physical fitness and organizational acumen to act on their hatred. It is not safe to assume that they’re all a bunch of goosestepping potbellied clowns like the most ridiculous “citizen militias” of the 1990’s. We forget at our peril that Timothy McVeigh ran in those circles, too.
If this racist constituency can’t get honest, responsible news about racial violence from mainstream outlets, it will turn to abettors of communal bloodletting. Mainstream news organizations absolutely need to reestablish their credibility and reclaim their audiences from marginal provocateurs who encourage their peanut gallery proxies to call for genocide.