Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

01 May 2012

Politically Incorrect: It's Not News When Black People Do It

Music to read by:

It's so hard to face that in this day and age
Somebody's race could trigger somebody's rage.
And somebody's preference can drive some total stranger
To make somebody, somehow feel the wrath of their anger.
Why were we put here?
What for? We're unsure.
We sure weren't put here to hate.

Wave after wave of young men surged forward to take turns punching and kicking their victim.

The victim's friend, a young woman, tried to pull him back into his car. Attackers came after her, pulling her hair, punching her head and causing a bloody scratch to the surface of her eye. She called 911. A recording told her all lines were busy. She called again. Busy. On her third try, she got through and, hysterical, could scream only their location.

Church and Brambleton. Church and Brambleton. Church and Brambleton.

It happened four blocks from where they work, here at The Virginian-Pilot.

Two weeks have passed since reporters Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami - friends to me and many others at the newspaper - were attacked on a Saturday night as they drove home from a show at the Attucks Theatre. They had stopped at a red light, in a crowd of at least 100 young people walking on the sidewalk. Rostami locked her car door. Someone threw a rock at her window. Forster got out to confront the rock-thrower, and that's when the beating began.

Neither suffered grave injuries, but both were out of work for a week. Forster's torso ached from blows to his ribs, and he retained a thumb-sized bump on his head. Rostami fears to be alone in her home. Forster wishes he'd stayed in the car.

Many stories that begin this way end much worse. Another colleague recently wrote about the final defendant to be sentenced in the beating death of 19-year-old James Robertson in East Ocean View five years ago. In that case, a swarm of gang members attacked Robertson and two friends. Robertson's friends got away and called for help; police arrived to find Robertson's stripped, swollen corpse.


Forster and Rostami's story has not, until today, appeared in this paper. The responding officer coded the incident as a simple assault, despite their assertions that at least 30 people had participated in the attack. A reporter making routine checks of police reports would see "simple assault" and, if the names were unfamiliar, would be unlikely to write about it. In this case, editors hesitated to assign a story about their own employees. Would it seem like the paper treated its employees differently from other crime victims?

More questions loomed.

Forster and Rostami wondered if the officer who answered their call treated all crime victims the same way. When Rostami, who admits she was hysterical, tried to describe what had happened, she says the officer told her to shut up and get in the car. Both said the officer did not record any names of witnesses who stopped to help. Rostami said the officer told them the attackers were "probably juveniles anyway. What are we going to do? Find their parents and tell them?"

The officer pointed to public housing in the area and said large groups of teenagers look for trouble on the weekends. "It's what they do," he told Forster.

Could that be true? Could violent mobs of teens be so commonplace in Norfolk that police and victims have no recourse?

Police spokesman Chris Amos said officers often respond to reports of crowds fighting; sirens are usually enough to disperse the group. On that night, he said, a report of gunfire in a nearby neighborhood prompted the officer to decide getting Forster and Rostami off the street quickly made more sense than remaining at the intersection. The officer gave them his card and told them to call later to file a report.

The next day, Forster searched Twitter for mention of the attack.

One post chilled him.

"I feel for the white man who got beat up at the light," wrote one person.

"I don't," wrote another, indicating laughter. "(do it for trayvon martin)"

Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen, died after being shot by a community watch captain with white and Hispanic parents, George Zimmerman, in Florida.

Forster and Rostami, both white, suffered a beating at the hands of a crowd of black teenagers.



Was either case racially motivated? Were Forster and Rostami beaten in some kind of warped, vigilante retribution for a killing 750 miles away, a person none of them knew? Was it just bombast? Is a beating funny, ever?

Here's why their story is in the paper today. We cannot allow such callousness to continue unremarked, from the irrational, senseless teenagers who attacked two people just trying to go home, from the police officer whose conduct may have been typical but certainly seems cold, from the tweeting nitwits who think beating a man in Norfolk will change the death of Trayvon Martin.

How can we change it if we don't know about it? How can we make it better if we look away?
Are we really no better than this?

Michelle Washington is a columnist for The Virginian-Pilot. Email:


I am reminded of a few quotes:
"There is (a) class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs -- partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs. ... There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don't want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public."
- Booker T. Washington, 1911
“It appears to me that this is in fact what we in the United States have been doing of late. I proffer the thesis that, over the past generation, since the time Erikson wrote, the amount of deviant behavior in American society has increased beyond the levels the community can "afford to recognize" and that, accordingly, we have been re-defining deviancy so as to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized, and also quietly raising the "normal" level in categories where behavior is now abnormal by any earlier standard. … defining deviancy down.”
"The steady expansion of welfare programs can be taken as a measure of the steady disintegration of the Negro family structure over the past generation in the United States."
- Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, (D-NY)
"From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century Eastern seaboard to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of national expectations about the future - that community asks for and gets chaos.”
- Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Family and Nation, 1965
 “The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an inverse function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country."
 - Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, (D-NY)
“I believe in freedom to manage and accountability to make sure everybody learns,” said Bush. 'It’s what I call challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations.'” 

- President George W. Bush
Here's an excerpt from Harry Stein's fabu new book,  "No Matter What ...They'll Call This Book Racist"  (Give it a tumble.):
Quite simply, the fear and unspoken prohibitions that have long governed the conversation about the single most important issue on the public agenda have served only to undermine genuine progress on the racial front. 

And the time has come to move past that. 

There are of course deeply compelling reasons that as a subject race is the extremely sensitive and awkward thing it is. As the historians aptly have it, slavery was America’s “original sin,” and in the century to follow, even second-class citizenship was a status denied to most of the nation’s blacks. The very terminology associated with the era—“separate but equal,” “poll taxes,” “lynching”—bespeaks a nightmarish state of affairs all but incomprehensible to the contemporary mind. It is wonderfully good (and quite remarkable) that, though that time was so recent that tens of millions living today vividly recall it, we almost universally look back upon it with shame and even incredulity. 

But shame is a psychologically complex thing, and never more so than when applied to Americans and race. For even as it has impelled us to examine our ugly past with unflinching honesty—with every elementary school kid nationwide versed in the horrors of the Middle Passage, and slave narratives all the rage with history grad students, and black oppression the leitmotif of every Ken Burns documentary—it has precluded anything approaching an honest view of race today; indeed, it has much to do with why such honesty has itself been routinely cast as racist. No one has written more compellingly about this deeply dispiriting phenomenon than the brilliant Hoover Institution scholar Shelby Steele. Since Steele is a conservative—and a black one, at that—people who read publications like the New York Times have mostly never heard of him, but he nailed the source of their racial attitudes more succinctly than anyone in the two-word title of his most important book: White Guilt. It is the widespread guilt over the terrible inequities of the past (and to a lesser extent, the obvious hardships faced by many blacks in the present) that causes white people, especially those who identify themselves as “enlightened” or “progressive,” to over and over, ad infinitum, give blacks a pass on behaviors and attitudes they would regard as unacceptable and even abhorrent in their own kind. This guilt has repeatedly, in fact, induced liberal whites—and even some not so liberal—to embrace policies that institutionalize not fairness but its opposite so as to appear to be on the right side of the racial divide. “The great ingenuity of interventions like affirmative action,” Steele writes, “has not been that they give Americans a way to identify with the struggle of blacks, but that they give them a way to identify with racial virtuousness quite apart from blacks.” 

Each of us, of course, has his own unique set of experiences with race, but having come of age during and in the immediate aftermath of the civil rights movement—that is, believing, as the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s most fundamental precept had it, that we should be seen as individuals rather than as members of a group—I suspect the ones that inform this book are representative of a great many well-intentioned Americans. That is why I raise Steele right up top. The moment I read him on white guilt, I experienced what certain feminists have taken to calling an “ah-ha moment.” I was in my late 30s at the time and, no question, he was describing not just me but pretty much every well-meaning white person I had ever known: All of us who had gone lazily along with the mainstream liberal racial flow. 
The ways in which this book will be anathema to the racial enforcers are many and varied. Start with double standards—the kind that may also be filed under “liberal-white bigotry,” i.e., the bigotry of low expectations, and how it cripples and demeans those it supposedly aims to help. It will look into the supposed sin of racial profiling—and the statistical evidence establishing that, in fact, the disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates of minorities usually reflect nothing more than disproportionate rates of criminality. Too, it will discuss how American business has long been subject to blackmail by the racial grievance industry in the name of social justice; as well as the many other ways in which the regime of racial preferences has sowed division, corruption, and resentment in this country. 

Speaking of double standards, nor can the role of the media be discounted in any of this. How is it okay for liberals to endlessly belittle Clarence Thomas as an Uncle Tom, or for liberal cartoonist Ted Rall to get away with calling Condoleeza Rice a “house nigga”? Why, even after the Duke University rape fiasco, does the media continue to give credence to every charge of racism? 

But beyond the manifold particulars, I aim to make a larger and overarching point: The idea that it is racism that has millions of underclass blacks mired generation after generation in physical and spiritual poverty is not just false, but the greatest impediment to fundamentally altering that dreadful state of affairs. What must be faced—above all, by its victims—is that the real problem is a culture of destructive attitudes and behaviors that denies those in its grip the means of escape. 

Alas, rather than fully confront the all-too-obvious deficiencies of underclass culture, we play an elaborate, multi-faceted game of let’s pretend; one that begins with the fiction that racism is the all-encompassing explanation for black (and other) social dysfunction and moves on seamlessly to the fraud that even the most soul-crushing anti-social behaviors can constitute “authenticity.” 

In the end, comforting lies are no better than any other kind—arguably worse, for being so seductive. Societies that invest too heavily in them invariably reap the whirlwind. (See former Soviet Union’s Five-Year Plans or Greece circa 2012.) 

In brief, this book aims to unequivocally say the sorts of things that for too long have been deemed unsayable in the public square—even when widely acknowledged in private among Americans of goodwill. Its intent is not to offend or shock, though it will likely do both, but to provoke the sort of serious thinking that liberal enforcers have heretofore rendered impossible; and by facing up to those difficult truths, to begin looking toward genuine solutions. 

For all the remarkable progress this country has made on race in the past half-century, unprecedented in human history, liberals insist, for their own political and psychological purposes, on clinging to the notion of America as irredeemably racist. We—and especially black people—for too long have been living with the terrible consequences of that cruel canard. 

This gets us back to where we started. One friend took me out to lunch to warn me off this book: It’s career suicide, he assured me, if not the regular kind. I’d get savaged, massacred— scalped, castrated, my body burned to such an unrecognizable crisp that no one but my dentist and that gorgeous forensic anthropologist on Bones will be able to identify it. Hadn’t I noticed that in the Age of Obama, the racism charge, rather than abating, has become more prevalent than ever? 

Yes, I’ve noticed. 

I’ll confess that did give me pause. So let me conclude, for safety’s sake, with a comment with which I wholeheartedly agree made by a reader called Extraneus on the excellent JustOneMinute website: 

“For the record, I have no problem with Obama’s black half. His white half is the most incompetent, anti-American asshole ever to inhabit the office of the presidency, but his black half is fine.”


Related Reading:

A National Travesty

Picture of the Day: If Obama Had A Son, He Would Not Look Like Trayvon

What Would Atticus Do?

Playing With Racial Fire

George Zimmerman's Black Roots:  Trayvon Shooter Had a Great-Grandfather Who Was "Afro-Peruvian," New Report Reveals 

Sympathy For The Devils, Race-Pimps, Grievance-Mongers, & Great, White Guilt-Trippers? 

From Tragedy to National Travesty

Pictures of the Day:  If Barack Obama & George Zimmerman's Maternal Great-Grandfathers Had Sons 

Let's Face It by the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones

It's so hard to face that in this day and age
Somebody's race could trigger somebody's rage.
And somebody's preference can drive some total stranger
To make somebody, somehow feel the wrath of their anger.
Why were we put here?
What for? We're unsure.
We sure weren't put here to hate.

Be racist, be sexist,
Be sure we won't stand for your hate.
Why so cut and dry? A simple concept missed.
Give tolerance a try, this confusion still exists.
Ignorant mongers, no area's gray.
Couldn't be any wronger in this age and day.
Why were we put here?
What for? We're unsure.
We sure weren't put here to hate.

Be racist, be sexist, be bigots
Be sure we won't stand for your hate.
Now how far have we come?
How come there are still some who won't let some march
To the beat of a different drum?
To face it, it's so hard, you must be on your guard.
It's not okay and you're not free to be a different way.
Let's try to erase it, it's time that we face it.
If we don't, then who will?
Shame on us.
Let's try to erase it, it's time that we face it.
Let's face it, the time is upon us.

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