Anthea Butler, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, takes to the pages of the Washington Post to advance the proposition that “racial hatred and white supremacy. . .continue to pervade our society.” She relies mainly on media coverage of the Charleston massacre and other instances of racial violence. In doing so, she commits a series of howlers.
For example, Butler argues that “Michael Brown stole cigars. . .and many. . .somehow used [this] to justify [his death.” Who argued this?
Brown’s death was justified because he rushed at a police officer he previously had attacked. The Obama-Holder Justice Department so found. Does Butler deem it “pervaded by racial hatred and white supremacy?”
Butler also finds “systemic [racial] prejudice” in the fact that the Tea Party issued a call to “take back our country.” She concludes, without evidence or analysis, that this somehow is a racially-based rallying call, as opposed to an ideologically-based plea to take the country back from liberals who are overtaxing and over-regulating the citizenry.
The claim that “our country” has been hijacked is a familiar political theme for those on both sides of the political spectrum. Left-winger Michael Moore once wrote a screed called “Dude, Where’s My Country?”
To someone like Butler, who apparently thinks that America is, and always has been, rotten to the core, the “take back America theme” has no meaning except as a racist rallying cry. But to the rest of us, it can have a powerful appeal for reasons having nothing to do with race.
Butler also complains that the mainstream media didn’t describe Dylann Roof as a terrorist because he is white. Another example of systemic racial prejudice, the professor wants us to believe.
But there’s a very good, non-racial explanation for the reluctance to describe Roof as a terrorist: initially, there was no solid evidence that he committed an act of terrorism.
Butler can’t be bothered to formulate a definition of terrorism. She’s a professor, after all. But a definition is required before the media can persuasively be accused of improperly using or not using the term.
It is a hate crime, but not terrorism, to kill people because they are of a different race. Terrorism occurs when the act of violence has a political component other than simple racial animus.
When someone plans to shoot Pamela Geller at a “draw Mohammad” festival, he’s acting for a political reason, and therefore is a terrorist. If he planned to shoot her on the street simply because she’s Jewish, he wouldn’t be a terrorist.
At first, there was no hard evidence that Dylann Roof wanted to do more than kill lots of African-Americans. Thus, while he clearly committed a hate crime, it was premature to suggest that he engaged in terrorism.
Now that Roof has said he wanted to “start a race war,” there is good evidence that this was a political act that transcended simple racial hatred. Additional evidence apparently can be found on his website to support this conclusion.
Accordingly, as Butler acknowledges, the media has recognized that Roof arguably is a terrorist. And not just the media. I did so here.
Finally, Butler asserts that “white suspects are [called] lone wolves,” whereas “violence by black and Muslim people is systemic.” This is false. The “lone wolf” label is applied, for better or for worse, to anyone who engages in terrorism on his own.
Here is a partial list of blacks and/or Muslims who have been described as “lone wolf terrorists.”
Mir Aimal Kansi
Ali Hassan Abakamal
Hesham Mohamed Hadeyet
Mohamed Reza Taheri-agar
Naveed Afzal Haq
Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad
Nidal Malik Hasan
Mohamed Osman Mohamed
The Tsarnaev brothers
Zale F. Thompson
Why did the Washington Post publish a race-baiting piece as full of holes and untruths as Prof. Butler’s? I suspect pervasive, systemic media bias, and not the kind Butler tries to describe.