A 'Racialist' Massacre?
Who are prominent conservatives taking their cues on racial matters from? A guy the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a "white supremacist."
By Terry Krepel
A crime occurs. The perpetrators are people who, as a class, conservatives have a reputation for being less than friendly to. Conservatives try to make the crime into something it's not to gain publicity for their causes.
Sound familiar? It's what conservatives tried in the death of Jesse Dirkhising at the hands of two homosexuals. And they tried it again in the so-called "Wichita Massacre," attempting to trump up the deaths of four whites at the hands of two blacks into a hate crime despite a lack of any evidence pointing that way.
Hyping it as a "massacre" sounds over the top, but the details are brutal enough to warrant the tag. In December 2000, four people were shot to death on a soccer field in Wichita, Kan. A fifth person was also shot in the head but survived made it to a residence a mile away to get help. The survivor said she and the other four, all friends, were at a residence when two intruders broke in, forced them at gunpoint to withdraw money from a ATM, then beat and sexually assaulted them for three hours before being taken to the field and shot. Two brothers, Reginald and Jonathan Carr were arrested and charged with 113 counts including murder. After a monthlong trial that concluded in November, the brothers were found guilty and sentenced to death. The Carrs have also been accused of killing another woman and carjacking another vehicle.
But that wasn't enough for some conservatives. Despite the facts that prosecutors said the Carr brothers were motivated only by greed and that Kansas has no hate-crimes law, conservatives said the Carrs should have faced hate crime charges as well. CNSNews.com had a small spate of stories pushing that point before and during the trial -- though little day-to-day coverage of the trial itself. (That's a familiar pattern; after hyping the Dirkhising death, the ConWeb couldn't be bothered to offer coverage of the trial of one of his killers.) An Oct. 10 article, written like the rest by Jim Burns, cited the opinion of a letter writer to the local newspaper as its only evidence that the Carrs were racially motivated.
This was followed four days later by a pair of articles: one containing the utterly un-newsworthy nugget that the mayor of Wichita favored the death penalty for the Carrs, the other the ConWeb-standard liberal-media-is-ignoring-this-story story. The letter-to-the-editor guy gets another mention, as does Ken Hamblin, a black conservative radio host and columnist. Another black conservative, Akbar Shabazz of a group called Project 21, disagreed with the hate-crime angle but blamed political correctness for the lack of widespread coverage of the case.
It's another three weeks before CNSNews.com offers a report on the case again (remember, a trial has been going on all that time) with a Nov. 4 story on jury deliberations. Coverage was capped Nov. 15 with a story on the brothers' death sentence, in which Burns cites the letter-to-the-editor guy once again.
NewsMax ran several CNS stories, as well as a March 2001 piece by Wes Vernon in which he claims "the inescapable conclusion of a NewsMax.com survey of events over a period of months" is that there is a "news blackout of reverse 'hate crimes.'" and that the Wichita case is a prime example. The apparent lack of an investigation into a hate motive, Vernon says, is troubling: "The question is relevant in light of the coast-to-coast, wall-to-wall, night-after-night coverage of the outrageous murders of Matthew Shepherd, a gay man in Wyoming, and James Byrd Jr., a black man in Texas." Vernon's lack-of-evidence-is-evidence angle sounds a lot like the NewsMax conviction that Clinton staffers vandalized the White House despite the lack of any solid evidence to support it.
That kind of spotty, slanted coverage is par for the course on the ConWeb. What Accuracy in Media did, though, is a little more disturbing.
AIM's Reed Irvine devoted a "AIM Report" in October to rehashing the case and a few others he considers related, including that of Dirkhising. In addition to railing against violent rap music lyrics, Irvine states that "I don’t think there is much doubt that if the Carr brothers had been white and their victims black it would be called a hate crime and the coverage would have been comparable, if not exceeding, to that given to the terrible murder of James Byrd."
When blacks commit outrages against whites, media executives not only downplay black misbehavior but believe they must protect whites from "negative stereotypes" about blacks. If they must report such crimes, they are likely to link them to editorials calling for tolerance, and pointing out that the criminals were individuals, not a race. When whites commit outrages against blacks there are no such cautions; white society at large is to blame.
Webster offers no evidence of any racial motive but reports that one of the Carr brothers was wearing a FUBU brand swewatshirt, "a brand popular with black rappers that is said to stand for 'For Us, By Us.' Some blacks wear FUBU clothing as a statement of black solidarity if not outright rejection of whites." A lot of white surburban teenagers wearing FUBU duds might be surprised to learn that.
American Renaissance, as you might have gathered, is all about race and whites running things, though not quite in a Ku Klux Klan kind of way. David Horowitz got pulled into parsing exactly what AmRen is when his FrontPage Magazine ran a version of Webster's story. A Horowitz commentary praises the article as an example of "the present atmosphere of racial hypocrisy, where the mere expression of concern over attacks on white people would itself make an individual a ripe target for racial witch-hunters." But elsewhere, he takes pains to describe AmRen leader Jared Taylor as a "racialist" instead of a racist -- though "no more 'racist' in this sense than any university Afro-centrist or virtually any black pundit of the left" -- and that he disagreed with Taylor's ultimate intentions. Taylor responded by saying:
I am certain that if all the prominent Americans I have quoted could rise from their graves, they would endorse the American Renaissance view of race and nation, and would be shocked at the idea of a multi-hued America in which we are to pretend race can be made not to matter. It is American Renaissance that is faithful to the original vision of America. Walt Whitman perhaps put it most succinctly when he wrote, "[I]s not America for the Whites? And is it not better so?" Yes, it is.
That, of course, would be the nice way of putting what AmRen is about. The other way comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center, who calls Taylor a "white separatist" and notes that his group hosts conferences in which various racial theories are advanced -- like the forced repatriation of "genetically inferior" minorities, pro-European immigration reform, aggressive resegregation as an intellectual platform for white nationalism and an inverse relationship between brain and penis size.
These are the folks that prominent conservatives are going to for ideas on racial issues. Kinda puts the whole Trent Lott thing in a little better perspective, doesn't it?