Racial murder and dereliction of duty by the press

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.

13 thoughts on “Racial murder and dereliction of duty by the press

    • I found Chateau Heartiste through a link that Fabius Maximus provided to one of its posts laying out alleged scientific truths behind pickup artistry. It routinely presents blustery amateur analyses of cherry-picked scientific research supporting its version of biological determinism, usually with noisy assertions that it has again been vindicated by science.

      Fabius regards CH as an exemplar of the barbarians within the gates, and I tend to agree. I suspect that its views are a lot more popular than most people of other political persuasions would care to imagine; most of its economic positions and a number of its positions on formal sex roles, for example, aren’t far from the present-day GOP mainstream, and its type of racism has been banished from the GOP much more in name than in practice. One of my great fears is that even though a lot of this stuff is marginal and ridiculous, it may give rise to a viable political movement like the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War, the interwar fascist and imperialist parties, or Golden Dawn today. It’s probably dangerous to dismiss the viability of factions like the Chateau Heartiste community out of hand just because they’re marginal and ridiculous. Angry people on the margins tend to punch much more than their own weight. Their voices get amplified by the Pareto Principle in a big way. They can swamp silent majorities.

      You’re right, though: a lot of the stuff on CH is totally nuts. I’ve found a fair number of the arguments there to be insightful, or at least provocative and worthwhile counterpoints, and the writing is excellent, but the good stuff is mixed in with out-of-this-world nuttery. It feels like a mental ward where all the patients were remanded over from the John Birch Society and the Klan.

    • Interesting, thanks.

      The writing is definitely good, but I just can’t bring myself to take it seriously. Perhaps I should note that the writing is good, and that I should therefore keep an eye on it in the future.

  1. CH is one of the few places you will get the unvarnished facts without the necessary PC sanitization required for consumption by the masses.

    • Me:

      An interesting assessment but I’m not sure you know what “facts” are. For instance, I typed “GDP per capita” into the blog’s search bar and I got two posts.

      You’d think that a blog with more than five years’ worth of material and purportedly based around facts would have more than two posts on GDP per capita

  2. Me:

    CH is not devoted to objective facts. This should be clear from a cursory reading of the extreme hyperbole and slur-hurling that is rampant in both its main posts and its comment threads. And there’s clearly nothing objective about GBFM’s Bernankified asscocking butthexter riffs. That’s the stuff of opinion, not fact.

    You’re right that CH doesn’t sanitize sensitive topics the way the mainstream media do as a matter of course, but this candor alone doesn’t inherently make it any more credible than mainstream outlets. Going off the deep end with a stream of racial and sexual slurs and sweeping generalizations is an improvement over mainstream reportage ONLY if the mainstream is utterly failing to do its job. I believe that this was the case in the early days after Lane’s murder, but that it has been largely corrected. I’d much rather have readers disaffected by mainstream coverage of these racially motivated beatings and murders turn to someone responsible like Fred Reed than to Stormfront/MRA-continuum sites whose language amounts to incitement to communal violence.

    Brandon:

    I’d be happier with Chateau Heartiste if it stopped abusing quantitative data to manipulate its more gullible readers and instead admitted to being qualitative in temperament. Qualitative assessments are valid complements to quantitative ones, and I think CH sometimes does a great job with them, but too often it peddles distorted meta-science in furtherance of its extreme positions.

    I find that the main thing to keep in mind about CH’s economic politics is that they’re informed by all the crude memes one would expect in a right-wing chain e-mail: bitchy, vindictive ex-wife got the court to take my hard-earned money, gubbyment took my hard-earned money and gave it to welfare cheats, gubbyment took my hard-earned money and gave it to useless lazy bureaucrats, fucking bums deserve to starve and shiver under a freeway overpass all winter if they won’t get a job, that kind of thing. It’s pretty much pandering to and carping by butthurt self-proclaimed “makers” who are consumed by a visceral anger that their very tax dollars are used to support freeloaders. They consider this a personal affront, and they are so consumed by their righteous indignation that they do not fully understand that tax money is pooled and disbursed from a general fund, much of it to programs that they or their relatives use (schools, roads, water infrastructure, etc.). All they can see is some degenerate using the government to steal from them.

    They’re paranoid and economically illiterate. They aren’t even honest deficit hawks. They’re just pissed off reactionaries who don’t want blacks, poors, single mothers, and the like benefiting from any kind of government help. CH throws them red meat all the time.

  3. Another thing I meant to mention in previous comments:

    Chateau Heartiste shitcans users’ comments in order to mold the discussion to its liking. I’m almost certain of this. I’ve had comments of my own denied approval for no apparent reason except that they challenged the publisher in a tone that he didn’t like for some reason. I consider this aspect of his online presence unethical.

    • Interestingly enough, Sue’s comment may actually help us to understand why race is a cultural construction and not a biological one. The ramifications for looking at race through this type of lens are huge: if race is culturally constructed, then we’d have to start looking at institutional influences to better understand why the US has lots of (relatively) poor people with black skin, rather than non-existent “cultural” or “biological” influences.

      For example, chattel slavery – the institution – could be reexamined instead of focusing on skin color or cultural attributes as a way to pursue justice (rather than revenge).

  4. “the present-day GOP mainstream, and its type of racism has been banished from the GOP much more in name than in practice.”

    And Terry.

    Who is batshit crazy again?

    • “And Terry. Who is batshit crazy again?”

      Apparently, something called Chateau Heartiste.

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