I normally agree with Brian Beutler, but I think he fell short with The right’s black crime obsession. Which is not to say that the Right doesn’t have a black crime obsession; it certainly does. And I agree with some of Beutler’s points. But overall I’d say he falls short.
For example, in his analysis of why the killing of Chris Lane is not parallel to Trayvon Martin’s death, he leaves out the primary reason Trayvon Martin’s death became a national issue. Josh Martin explains,
For the last week or so, the right-wing racial resentment-o-sphere has been aghast about the horrific murder of Chris Lane, 22, a young Australian in the United States on a baseball scholarship. Lane was jogging when three young kids (two black, one either mixed race or white) decided to follow and kill him. The really sociopathic nature of the crime was brought home by the fact that one of the accused assailants allegedly told the police, “We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.”
In other words, it’s the Trayvon Martin case in reverse but now the liberal media is mum and President Obama isn’t rallying his gangbanger peeps to get all up in arms about it. Except of course when you consider that unlike the Martin case — where the press buzz and scandal was basically exclusively tied to the fact that George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested let alone charged with anything — two of the three boys allegedly behind Lane’s killing were arrested and immediately charged with capital murder. So young thugs kill an innocent man in cold blood and then get to walk free to death row or life imprisonment in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
Yeah, except that.
One more time — more than a month had passed after Trayvon Martin was killed, a month in which local police made it clear they were not going to investigate or charge Zimmerman with anything, before national media began to report on it. And what was reported was not that a white man (sort of) killed a black teenager, but that a white man had killed a black teenager and then walked out of the police station with a smile and a handshake, case closed. Had Zimmerman been charged with something within a reasonable amount of time, or if Trayvon Martin’s parents had received a reasonable explanation as to why no charges were being made, we never would have heard of Martin or Zimmerman.
Steve M has another quibble with what Beutler wrote.
Beutler is overlooking the fact that the angry right approves of the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The angry right doesn’t wish Martin were alive today. We know angry right-wingers don’t think it was an outrage, but they don’t think it was a horrible misunderstanding that led to tragedy, either. They interpret everything piece of evidence about Martin in the worst possible light, to portray him as a thug-in-development. They absolutely believe he was on the verge of killing George Zimmerman before Zimmerman killed him.
The allegedly angry left, on the other hand, does not approve of the shooting of Chris Lane. That he is dead is an outrage. I don’t know of anyone who says otherwise.
Steve M also nails it when he says RIGHT-WINGERS ARE WORKING REALLY HARD TO START A RACE WAR AND BLAME IT ON OBAMA. Apparently Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media machine has been pushing the belief that there is some kind of rising epidemic of black-on-white violent crime, and they are stoking fear and resentment of the black guy in the Oval Office as hard and as fast as they can stoke. They’ve even got the post-dementia Pat Robertson saying that President Obama is inciting black-on-white violence.
Of course, there is no rising tide of black-on-white violence. Rates of violent crime are going down, Josh Marshall also says,
Young black men commit murders in this country at a vastly disproportionate rate to young white men. But murder victims of both races are overwhelming killed by members of their own race. 86% of white murder victims were killed by other whites and 94% of blacks were killed by blacks. Those numbers are from 1976 to 2005, a period that includes the highest murder rate era of the late 20th century. The differential today is likely lower today since as murder rates have declined to historic levels over the last 20 years, the fall has been particularly sharp among black men – a small data point that among other things lends some additional credence to the theory that lead poisoning was a significant driver of crime rates in the late 20th century.
I’ve found that the hard racists can’t get past that first sentence in the paragraph above. You can tell them that, statistically, whites are far more likely to be murdered or raped by other whites. You can show them the data. It bounces right off them. I can’t tell if they think it’s a lie or if their brains just can’t process it at all.
I grew up with legal segregation, and I used to think I knew white racism pretty well. But now they are just unfathomable to me. I have no sense of why they think it was so outrageous for the President to say that if he had a son, he might have looked like Trayvon Martin, for example.
The thing is — most whites in the U.S. can be insensitive and oblivious about race, at least part of the time. But this element obsessed with black thugs in hoodies is way outside the current white racial oblivion norm. They’re more like relics of a bygone age; segregationist bitter enders. I believe most whites, on some level, recognize their knee-jerk hatred is irrational. And while there still are a lot of them left, I’d like to believe they’re now enjoying a last hurrah before white supremacy begins its slow fade into socio-cultural history.