Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Types of Racism: Fear

In my last post I talked about people being whipped into a frenzy of hate and violence towards blacks through orchestrated propaganda campaigns.  But in the process, I glossed over a subtlety involved in the process. That is, the process of demonizing another person and getting them hated usually involves another key element: fear. And if you look at the the clips I showed from the seminal movie "Birth of a Nation", you can see this process at play. Whites were afraid that if blacks held onto the vote they'd destroy the state through bad government, if they were allowed to bear arms, they'd act like savages towards the general public, and, if they weren't kept "under thumb", they'd rape white women.  And, in the clip supporting "White Girl Bleed A Lot", the modern fear is that black "thugs" will create mayhem through random acts of violence.

Fear can lead to hate. Mind you, this isn't to say that fear and hate are the same things. We can fear wolves, grizzly bears, heights, water, clowns, spiders, etc, but that doesn't mean that we necessarily hate them.  This distinction is tremendously important, as many people that I believe are manifesting racist behavior would be shocked to be so identified. The point is that different people are using different definitions of the term.  For some people "racist" simply means "hatred of other races", whereas for me it can also include "irrational fear of other races". The important issue isn't what particular type of emotion is being felt, but whether or not it changes our behavior in ways that causes problems for one particular group of people who are identified by their skin color.

I had an elderly relative who in her youth was quite militant about race issues. She volunteered and took part in "sit ins" to encourage racial integration. When she was a young mother, she insisted on moving to a integrated area of a city that was profoundly segregated.  She sent her two white daughters to schools that were majority black. She was a girl scout leader who took her mixed race troupe into rural areas where people overtly and nastily racist, and forced them to accept it. In short, she was very liberal on race issues. But later on in life she became someone who was terrified of crime and made a big deal about the so-called "knockout game". An analysis of this urban myth will go a long way to explaining what I am talking about.

This "phenomenon" supposedly involves a wide-spread game among black teens who go around choosing non-blacks at random and then beating the crap out of them (ideally, knocking the person out with one punch.) In support of this idea, there are very many video tapes posted on YouTube.  Check out this one:

Listen to how the commentator characterizes the videos he plays in the background.  The first thing to notice is that he says that people are recording video images of these events and then comparing them, "like Pokemon". Looking at the video images, however, I notice a couple things.

First of all, some of the events do not look like they are totally random. A couple of the people who get punched out seem to be engaged in verbal arguments with the people who hit them. This isn't a "totally at random" attack, but rather yet another example of the sort of violence that happens on any given day. What if the person who got punched out made a racial slur against the person who punched them out? Would that count as an example of the "knockout game"?

Secondly, if you look at the camera angle it is obvious that many of the videos were taken from above head height. This means that the attack wasn't recorded by a cell phone, but rather a security camera. This means that the video wasn't recorded to upload to YouTube where it could be compared "like Pokemon" for street cred.  Instead, it probably was broadcast by the police in order to try and apprehend the person who performed the assault.

And, if you look at the YouTube posts of these sorts of videos, it looks obvious to me that the majority of them have been posted by either the news media or right-wing groups that are pushing the agenda that there is some sort of epidemic of random black on white crime.  Moreover, even though there are a great many YouTube postings, what they seem to consist of are are small number of specific incidents that have been posted over and over again.

A key point to remember about this issue is that the USA is a huge nation, with something like 300 million citizens. This means that at any given time there are a large number of incidents involving young men doing violent things.  Here's a totally random one from my local area that I quickly found with Google:
Man thrown off tricycle in random assault
A Hamilton man is facing an assault charge after allegedly knocking a stranger off his adult tricycle and yelling at the injured man lying on the ground.The incident happened Friday around 8:30 p.m. in the area of King Street East and John Street North. Concerned bystanders called police and members of the ACTION team responded. The accused was arrested without incident.The 58-year-old victim was treated in hospital for serious, but non life-threatening injuries. Ross Roberts is charged with assault and failing to comply with probation.

We also hear about this stuff from friends. For example, a friend of my ex was at a stop sign and she saw a young man doing something that he shouldn't have been doing and she complained about it. The next thing she remembered was waking up in a hospital with her jaw wired shut. This was in the the safest city in Canada, which is universally considered one of the safest countries in the world.

Another example. My ex's daughter, who is obviously mixed race and could be viewed as "Arab Muslim" by some idiot (even though her mother is a Catholic from India), was punched by a complete stranger after 9/11.

At any given time there are young men in our society who barely have any control over their emotions and who are liable to explode in violence at any given moment.  There are also a very small number of people suffering from psychiatric disorders who have voices and hallucinations that drive them towards committing random acts of violence. We also need to remember that in some cases the "random" act of violence could be a potential robbery where the criminal lost his nerve before taking anything, or, a situation where the victim was not as random as he says, but doesn't want the police to know why he was targeted by his assailant. The issue at hand is whether a specific example is part of a new, larger trend that is evidence of a specific problem within a given racial sub-community, or, whether it is just the "same old, same old" problem that involves all racial groups. Everything hinges on the narrative that we choose to frame the specific event.

Where racism comes in is when our irrational fears of a specific group blinds our ability to think critically and objectively about the issue. Consider the following clip from a major television "news" show:

The first thing to realize about this clip is how much it is dominated by "hearsay" evidence. In a legal trial "hearsay evidence" is not allowed because it is evidence that doesn't allow anyone ask the witness pertinent questions to find out exactly what happened. So the voice over commentator who talks about the clips says things like "videos have exploded over the internet" (even though all they show are only three clips that have been repeated over and over again in other YouTube videos) without making any effort to identify the specific incidents, individuals or contexts of the videos. Moreover, in the interview with the woman the reporter seems to have made no effort to interview the police to see if there were more incidents involved, but instead just takes what the woman says that the police said at face value. Moreover, the news cast seems to just take at face value the "friend"'s characterization of the incident as the "knockout game" in action. This is tremendously sloppy, unprofessional reporting.

Now lets concentrate on what Bill O'Reilly and Bernie Goldberg are saying and how they say it. They just assume from the get go that this is an unprecedented epidemic of violence, that it is overwhelmingly done by black teens, and, that is totally done at random for no other reason than to get "kicks".  There is absolutely no evidence presented for this point of view.  Instead, they show the same three violent clips over, and over, and over, again.  It's no mystery why they are doing this. It is an attempt to bypass the faculty of reason in the minds of viewers and go straight to the most primitive elements of the mind. It is very much the same sort of thing that D. W. Griffith was doing in "Birth of a Nation" when he showed black-face actors running amok.

Once these two morons get the bit between their teeth, they start to run with it. They then go on to say that the reason why the so-called "liberal media" aren't reporting this "trend" isn't because competent reporters (i.e. who actually do some research) have concluded there there is no such thing as the "knockout game", but rather because they are afraid to report it because of "political correctness".  In effect, they turn the question "why aren't any other news agencies reporting on this thing?" onto it's head.  The journalist integrity issue comes down not to "why is Fox not following proper reporting techniques?" but rather "why is the lame-stream media not reporting about this major problem?".

What follows after this attempt to disassociate itself from the "paternalistic liberal media" that simply don't believe that there is a real problem, Goldberg and O'Reilly raise the fig leaf that says "we know most black teens don't do this----but a disproportionate number do".  This allows them to say "but I'm not a racist, because I didn't say all blacks do so and so, just a large minority".  Which assumes that racism is only possible when someone says that every single member of a minority is bad.  (By this logic Hitler wasn't anti-Jewish because he ordered a visa and free passage out of the country for his childhood family doctor---who was a "good Jew" in his eyes.)

After this point, the door has been opened and then several other racist statements begin to parade themselves.  Goldberg goes on from saying that "knockout game" exists to making a totally gratuitous statement about young blacks routinely looting stores, then starts comparing the behavior of blacks to "the Lord of the Flies". Then O'Reilly starts to opine psychologically about young black males being angry because they didn't have a proper family background in their childhood because their fathers were absent. Then the attack moves to the civil rights leadership who "blame all problems on white society".

Really?  Really?  A major television "news" cast in the USA is allowed to do this sort of thing?  How much progress has America really made since the days of "Birth of a Nation"?  

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