What's Up With the 'Scary Black People' Narrative?
Salon's Alex Pareene has noticed that ever since Matt Drudge latched onto the made-up story of Ashley Todd (the McCain supporter who claimed she was attacked by a black Obama supporter), the Drudge Report creator seems to have a new fixation: making whites terrified of blacks by providing a platform for stories about "scary black people," from kids fighting on buses to participants in "urban melees." Meanwhile, similar crimes by white kids (and nonurban melees) mysteriously get skipped over.
Pareene is adamant that this is intentional and political. We agree and would add that it's also probably quite effective. So brace yourself for even more stoking of racial fears -- from the Drudge Report and elsewhere -- as the race for the 2012 White House heats up.
Read some excerpts here:
It sort of started with the tale of Ashley Todd, the 20-year-old McCain campaign volunteer who claimed she was attacked by a savage, black Obama supporter, who supposedly carved the letter "B" into her face. She made the whole thing up, but her story's many inconsistencies and unlikely elements did not stop Drudge from heavily publicizing it, until it all fell apart.
... Since Obama actually took office, though, Drudge has seriously stepped up his "scary black people" coverage. There was, in September of 2009, the story he heavily publicized of a kid on a bus in Illinois getting beaten up. A kid on a bus in Illinois getting beaten up is not really national news -- until Drudge makes it so. The fact that the beater was black and the victim white is why Drudge made it national news. Rush Limbaugh made the subtext explicit: "In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering."
This is the narrative that Drudge is trying to create, especially on slow news weekends when there's nothing real to aggregate and post: The blacks are rising up and attacking the whites. If that sounds a bit crazy, in a Charles Manson way, then you're obviously not paying attention. Black people are angry and they're taking over! When Barack Obama was campaigning to win Chicago the Olympic games, Matt Drudge led with a terrifying photo of (black) gang violence and the breathless, all-caps headline, "OLYMPIC SPIRIT."
... It all came to a head, as John Cook noted, this Memorial Day weekend when Drudge posted 10 separate headlines -- including the massive, above-the-logo one -- related to violent incidents involving "urban" people at venues like "Black Bike Week" in Miami and "Rib Fest" in Rochester, N.Y. There was an "Urban Melee in Charlotte," for example. Do you know what makes an "urban melee" different from a regular "melee"? It's not that it takes place within the city limits of a major metropolitan area. It's that it involves the world's most obvious code term for "scary black people."
Drudge does not collect and attempt to tie together disparate, unrelated stories of crimes committed by drunk, rowdy white kids. And for the record, drunk, rowdy white kids commit a lot of crimes, in a lot of places!
... Stoking those racial fears goes beyond cynical political point-scoring. To devote so much energy to attempting to make whites terrified of blacks is just vile.
Read more at Salon.
In other news: Cosby Show Actress Clarice Taylor Dies at 93.