Liberal Media Bias and the Myth of White Racism By Ian Jobling

From web site By Ian Jobling •  5/15/09

Liberal Media Bias and the Myth of White Racism

By Ian Jobling •  5/15/09

Coloring the News McGowan
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[I posted the first version of this article last August. However, since someone recently offered to publish it, I decided to add material about the Duke lacrosse rape scandal and the Jena Six case to the article. The revised article is below.]

Several White America articles have dealt with anti-white, or “leukophobic,” bias in the media. However, a comprehensive perspective on liberal media bias on race has been lacking. Fortunately, William McGowan’s Coloring the News: How Crusading for Diversity Has Corrupted American Journalism, by far the most penetrating and thorough treatment of liberal bias in the news media, provides the basis for such a perspective. Since the book was published in 2001, McGowan’s examples are now dated, but media bias is plainly as egregious today as it was in the 1990s, as examinations of the coverage of the Duke lacrosse rape scandal and the Jena Six case will show.

McGowan paints a portrait of a media establishment that obsessively promulgates what I will call “the myth of white racism” at the expense of objectivity and accuracy. According to the myth, irrational hatred and fear of non-whites is rampant among white Americans and causes whites to subject non-whites to discrimination and abuse. To bolster this myth, the media establishment eagerly seeks out incidents that reveal white racism. This eagerness often causes journalists to fall for hoaxes and poorly supported accusations of racist treatment. The media establishment also believes that white racism is the primary reason for high rates of poverty, incarceration, and other types of social dysfunction among non-whites. Consequently, the establishment censors and silences journalists who suggest non-whites themselves might be responsible for their failings. Finally, the media establishment is convinced that pervasive and profound racism is unique to whites and, therefore, downplays and apologizes for manifestations of racial hatred among non-whites.

McGowan gives several examples of incidents in which the press, eager to expose white racism, leapt to conclusions that were later proved false. The most flagrant is the 1996 black church burning hysteria. The story began with a report from Center for Democratic Renewal, a leftist activist group, that claimed there had been a surge in arson attacks against black churches in the South. The attacks were supposedly perpetrated by “night riders,” recruited from among the ranks of white supremacist groups like the KKK and the Aryan Brotherhood.

The story appealed so deeply to journalists’ stereotypes about race that the church burnings became one of the major stories of the year, generating over 2200 newspaper articles. Earnest editorialists scorched readers with the full heat of their liberal outrage. USA Today said the fires were an “attempt to murder the spirit of black America.” The New York Times called the attacks an “epidemic of racial terror.” The media establishment interpreted the burnings as a manifestation of widespread anti-black racial hatred among whites. As Jack White of Time fumed, “the coded phrases” of Republican leaders “who build their careers George Wallace-style on a foundation of race-baiting” were “encouraging the arsonists.” New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote, “The fuel for these fires can be traced to a carefully crafted environment of bigotry and hatred that was developed over the past quarter century.”

After all of this, investigations finally revealed that the whole story was false and perhaps even a deliberate hoax. There had been no increase in church burnings in recent years—there had, in fact, been a decline. Arsonists burned down more white churches than black ones. An investigation by the Alabama government found not a single instance of racial motivation in arson attacks on churches in the state, and such attacks were also extremely rare elsewhere. The media had been led astray by its eagerness to crusade against white racism.1

The second prejudice that slants media coverage of race is that white racism is the primary explanation for the failings of non-whites, such as high rates of incarceration and illegitimacy. The press has cast the war on drugs as a war on blacks that unfairly sentences them to illegitimate hardship. In 1996, Washington Post writer Courtland Millroy attacked three-strikes laws that sentence repeat offenders to long prison sentences as a manifestation of white hostility to blacks: “If you were writing a law to target blacks one could scarcely have done it more effectively than three strikes.” McGowan also cites evidence that the press ignores research that argues there is no racial bias in the criminal justice system.2 Similarly, a Newsday columnist named Les Payne improbably blamed the high black illegitimacy rate on the legacy of slavery, when slaves were deprived of the legal right to marry and forced to bear children out of wedlock.3

The media establishment tends to be hostile to work that threatens the dogma that white racism is responsible for black failings. Thus, Dinesh D’Souza’s 1995 book The End of Racism, which argued that black poverty was blacks’ own fault, was greeted with hysterical and unfair abuse from a Time magazine reviewer, who said it was “full of obscene ideas” and proved that “bigotry sells books.”4

This hostility was particularly evident in the reaction to Eugene Richards’ 1994 Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue, a photojournalistic depiction of drug addiction in America’s inner cities. The book contained disturbing images of the reality of the black underclass, including a photo of a deranged-looking woman clenching a syringe in her nearly toothless mouth, as well as interviews with drug addicts and dealers. In the New York Times Book Review, Brent Staples accused Richards of staging the photos to make blacks look bad and whined, “Couldn’t Mr. Richards have found a setting where most or at least half of the drug addicts are white?”5

Sometimes journalists disguise the embarrassing reality of black failure by glamorizing it. In 1996, the New York Times ran a profile of rap producer Suge Knight, who had a long criminal record and collaborated with the most violent, anti-social “gansta rappers.” The piece recognized Knight’s vile past, yet managed to transmute him into a sort of rebel hero. Knight and his associates:

move at their own time, they do things their own way. Suge and his boys are grand. Men without women, they believe the masculine code defines everything.6

The last component of the myth is the conviction that pervasive and profound racism is unique to whites. This prejudice causes journalists to hide or downplay racial hatred among non-whites. In their coverage Louis Farrakhan’s 1995 Million Man March, the press soft-pedaled Farrakhan’s history of anti-white hate mongering, which included accusing the US government of inventing the AIDS virus as a means of genocide against blacks. Rather, reporters did their best to paint the event in a positive light. One Washington Post reporter was “overcome… with the sights, sounds and spirit of a community renewing itself in a day-long myth-shattering celebration of smiling faces, slapping hands, upbeat voices, hugs and goodwill.” Reporters emphasized the lip-service to tolerance and downplayed the race-baiting and zany conspiracy theories in Farrakhan’s speech at the march.7

Two more recent incidents confirm that the media bias McGowan identifies is still present, and probably even more virulent, today. In the notorious Duke lacrosse rape case of 2006, the media were once again tripped up by their eagerness to promote the myth of white racism. The incident began in March when black stripper and prostitute Crystal Mangum accused members of the Duke lacrosse team of having raped her at a party where she had been hired to perform. Despite the lack of evidence for Mangum’s claim, and much evidence contradicting it, District Attorney Mike Nifong aggressively prosecuted and publicized the alleged crime. The media collaborated in this smear of the students, granting Nifong dozens of sympathetic interviews during which he painted a ghastly portrait of what he called “ganglike rape activity accompanied by the racial slurs and general racial hostility.”8 Over the coming months, the case became a cause célèbre, just as the church burnings had a decade before. Editorialists fumed with outrage. For example, in “Bonded in Barbarity,” New York Times columnist Selena Roberts railed against “a group of privileged players of fine pedigree entangled in a night that threatens to belie their social standing as human beings.”9 Nancy Grace of CNN assumed the players were guilty, dismissed all evidence to the contrary, and subjected the players to insults. “The Blue Devils!” she said, “It may not be just a nickname at Duke University.”10

After nearly a year of hysteria, the case against the players unraveled, and they were found innocent of all charges. In the aftermath, some press commentators admitted that they and their colleagues had taken the stance they did because the story appealed to their prejudices. As a reporter from the Raleigh News & Observer, reflected, “I was viewing the scenario through the prism of white liberal guilt… I stereotyped the entire Duke lacrosse team.”11

Despite this soul searching, the next year proved that journalists had not learned a thing. This time the source of outrage was the allegation that white high school students in Jena, Louisiana had displayed racial hatred towards blacks and that blacks were treated in an unfair manner by the criminal justice system. The media’s story, which was again taken uncritically from the account of a leftist activist group, went as follows. On August 31, the white students had hung nooses from a tree on Jena High School grounds in order to mark it as a “whites-only tree” that blacks were forbidden to sit under. Three months later, a group of black students who became known as the “Jena Six,” retaliating for the noose incident and other alleged racist treatment, attacked a white student named Justin Barker, who was not one of the students responsible for the nooses. In what seemed like a clear instance of disparate treatment by race, five of the black students were initially charged with attempted murder in the courts, whereas the white students had only gotten nine-day suspensions from the school board for the noose incident.

Typical of the furious tone the media adopted in covering the story was the New York Post’s description of the noose-hanging incident as a throwback to “the reign of lynching terror that once permeated the South.” Thanks in large part to the investigations of Craig Franklin, an assistant editor at The Jena Times, the whole story was revealed as a patchwork of falsehoods. There had never been any “whites-only tree” at the high school. A black student had jokingly suggested that the tree might be reserved for whites the day before the noose incident, but everyone at the school understood the joke for what it was. The nooses were not intended as a reference to the South’s history of lynching. Rather, the students had gotten the idea of nooses from the Lonesome Dove, a television show set in the Old West that depicted lynchings of cattle rustlers. The prank was directed at the students’ white friends on the school’s rodeo team, not at blacks. There was no evidence that the attack on Barker was related to the noose incident either; such a link had not been suggested by anyone interviewed during investigations of the attack. As Franklin concluded:

I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.

Finally, the initial charge of attempted murder, which was later dropped, against the black students was not a clear case of racial injustice, as the attack on Barker was severe enough to endanger his life. Mychal Bell, one of the Jena Six, had knocked Barker unconscious by slamming his head against a concrete beam, after which the gang had stomped and kicked him. Bell had four prior convictions for crimes of violence. By casting the attack as a response to racism followed by unjust sentencing, the media perpetuated the myth that whites are to blame for high black crime and incarceration rates.

Coloring the News is an indispensable book for anyone who is interested in any aspect of liberal bias or “political correctness” in the media—McGowan also deals with the coverage of women’s issues, homosexuality, and immigration. His work on race paints a comprehensive portrait of the stubborn prejudices that slant news coverage. Unfortunately, McGowan’s book has not prevented the media from making the mistakes he skewered over and over again.

Notes and References
  1. William McGowan, Coloring the News: How Crusading for Diversity Has Corrupted American Journalism (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2001), 88-94. 
  2. Ibid., 75. 
  3. Ibid., 43. 
  4. Ibid., 42. 
  5. Ibid., 47. 
  6. Ibid., 51. 
  7. Ibid., 71. 
  8. Stuart Taylor, Jr. and K.C. Johnson, Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case (New York: Thomas Dunne, 2007), 87. 
  9. Ibid., 121. 
  10. Ibid., 124. 
  11. Ibid., 125.

A New Party?

A New Party?

By Ian Jobling • 2/11/09

Recently, in the comments sections of my posts, there has been a groundswell of enthusiasm for a new political party that would advance at least some of the goals of the pro-white movement. On my last article, latte island raised the prospect of starting an “American National Party” that would work towards “modest goals like immigration restriction and an end to affirmative action” without, presumably, raising the more controversial planks in our platform such as innate racial differences and the right to racial discrimination. Several other commenters expressed support for this idea. On an earlier entry, Old Atlantic declared himself in favor of a “White America Party.”

I’m excited by this enthusiasm, particularly because I think that most of those who read this site are level-headed and intelligent people who would not suggest such a thing lightly and would set about the task capably. This is far from saying that I am confident of the project’s success. I have no experience with building a political party or anything like it, so I can’t evaluate the prospects intelligently.

Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly encourage this effort. If you succeed in creating a viable political party, you may change the course of American history. But even if you don’t succeed, you will gain valuable experience, knowledge, and skills from the attempt that may prove useful in some other context.

While I’m willing to help out with the work of creating a party, I would not wish to take a leading role in this effort even if I were asked to. First, if you create a party with “modest goals,” you should not associate it with me, as my thoroughly immodest goals are already a matter of public record and would discredit the party. Moreover, I believe the pro-white philosophy has enough intrinsic merit to be worth articulating and defending in its pure form even if it is too radical for the public now, so I will continue to devote most of my time to doing so. It may be that you have to tell the truth slant in order to be politically viable, but I believe that there is also a place for those who try to offer the world a direct view of truth’s superb surprise.

Many of you who are talking about creating a party are bloggers. I mean no offense, but I am very glad that you are considering devoting your energies to other tasks. This is not because I think your blogs are bad, but because there is a superfluity of pro-white opinion and news blogging these days—I sometimes even wonder whether my own work is superfluous. With so many excellent and informative pro-white sites, like American Renaissance, View from the Right, and VDARE, more work of this sort is of questionable value. Opinion blogging is interesting only if you have a novel perspective on the philosophy of our movement or novel information to share, as well as the time and energy to communicate your message effectively. Even if you can manage good opinion blogging, people are still likely to grow weary and impatient of endless discussion. What we need is more people trying to put our ideas to effect in political reality, and that is likely the best way for you to make a productive and interesting contribution.

One last thing: even if you found a party with “modest goals,” I recommend that you make combating leukophobia part of your platform. As Ed Gorski’s activism on Howard Zinn demonstrates, anti-white slander today is so blatant and pervasive today that people are likely to respond sympathetically when you complain about it.

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Building Our Movement: Theory

Building Our Movement: Theory

By Ian Jobling • 2/9/09
which way?
What is the way forward
for the pro-white movement?

<!– –>In the comments section of The Beginning of White America, one commenter asked how I planned on building the pro-white movement through this site. This is, of course, the crucial question. All our philosophizing and commenting will never amount to much unless it is guided by a strategy to increase our readership and the influence of our ideas. It is in the struggle to spread its message as far and wide as possible that the vitality of a movement lies.

The scope of the question is vast, however, since it encompasses many different types of problem. On the one hand, there are the problems of theory: we must size up our target audience, white Americans, and figure out how to sell our ideas to them. On the other, there are the problems of practice: we must evaluate the tactics of activism and the techniques of publicity. Each of these sides of the problem is itself multifaceted, and all of the facets are murky. What follows is my best guess at a solution to the first half of the problem. A follow-up article will deal with practice. Because the way forward is dark and mysterious, it would be foolish to insist dogmatically on any set of principles, and I will do my best to remain open-minded to other suggestions.

In my view, the way forward is one of realism, reason, and reconciliation. The pro-white movement must be based on a realistic theory of human nature, which means that we should appeal to the self-interest of white Americans. Moreover, we should set reasonable goals for activism and reconcile our philosophy to the liberal ideals that are engrained in American culture.

The Problem With White Nationalism

The commenter referred to above asked whether I would try to attract “white nationalists” to the site. White nationalists are certainly welcome to come, but I will not be catering to them because the philosophy of white nationalism is, in my view, a poor foundation for white racial advocacy—this is why I have used the admittedly awkward term “pro-white,” never “white nationalist,” to describe my own beliefs.

My disagreement with white nationalism goes far beyond rejection of the anti-Semitism that is characteristic of this philosophy. Rather, the fundamental flaw is that white nationalism is, at bottom, only an empty tribalism that is more likely to repel than attract white Americans. While some white nationalists have done interesting and productive work and have succeeded in attracting a sizable number of followers, the weaknesses of this philosophy, in my view, are likely to prevent it from developing into a significant political movement.

The core claim of white nationalism, as it has been expounded by writers like Jared Taylor and Kevin MacDonald and by scores of bloggers and commenters at websites like Majority Rights, is that humans possess an innate instinct to be loyal to their ethnic group that evolved through the pressure of what Frank Salter has called “ethnic genetic interests.” Whites have turned their back on their instinctive ethnic tribalism, the story goes, and must be persuaded to embrace it again.

For reasons I sketched out here, I have never been convinced by this line of thinking; indeed, I am very much in doubt that any instinct for racial loyalty exists at all. To sum up my case, if people were loyal to their race by instinct, the friendliness to diversity that characterizes contemporary Western societies would be impossible, and whites would not tolerate the pervasive denigration of their culture and history that I have labeled leukophobia. Besides, the nature of instincts is such that it would be impossible for a whole racial population to simply lose one.

People are motivated by self-interest, not by any instinctive attachment to their race. Consequently, they will be attracted to the pro-white movement only if they perceive it to be in their interests to join. Herein, of course, lies the reason why our ranks are so sparse: our culture demonizes white racial solidarity so thoroughly that, generally speaking, white people correctly perceive it to be in their interest to stay as far away from us as possible.

If our movement is to be successful, we must convince white Americans that it is with us that their true interests lie. Whites will join the pro-white movement because they fear minority crime, or because they sense that minority cultures threaten their own, or because they are angry at anti-white discrimination, or because they believe that non-whites are responsible for poor economic conditions. We will succeed by focusing on these very concrete and selfish concerns, rather than trying to persuade people that they possess an instinct for racial loyalty.

Taking Liberal Values Seriously

Another problem applies not only to white nationalists, but to the whole of the pro-white movement: we have never made any effort to reconcile our project with fundamental American values. Pro-whites have fostered the myth that our movement fails only because it is demonized and censored by hostile elites. If only we could speak directly to white Americans, we think, they would be persuaded by us and come over to our side by the millions.

The problem is, unfortunately, much deeper than that. Not just elites, but white Americans as a whole believe deeply, even religiously, in liberal values like tolerance, egalitarianism, and individualism. Our philosophy clashes with these values; after all, pro-whites believe that some peoples and practices should not be tolerated in our country, that racial hierarchies are inevitable and right, and that collectivist racial solidarity is desirable. Pro-whites thus try to force an entirely new set of values on white Americans while making no place for the existing ones.

The way forward for the pro-white movement lies in finding common ground between our own values and those of our public. Consequently, we must make the case that, while values like tolerance and egalitarianism have many merits, they become harmful when they are taken to extremes and are not counterbalanced by opposing goods. Tolerance of a thoroughly intolerant religion like Islam will lead to the end of the tolerant state. Egalitarians do harm when they demand equal outcomes for groups of differing ability. This sort of argument has worked for the European immigration restrictionist movement and for conservative critics of affirmative action. The pro-white movement should imitate their success even as we also insist on our distinctive principles.

Setting Reasonable Goals

A final problem with the pro-white movement is that our political goals are wildly radical and unrealistic. When I talk with pro-whites, they commonly tell me that the aim of the movement should be the racial partition of the United States, the mass deportation of non-whites, or some form of revolution.

Listening to such grandiose ambitions always leaves me depressed. The world in which any of these events would be possible is so distant from the one that we live in that these goals lead to no concrete activist practice. Indeed, unrealistic ideals tend to lead to inertia in the present because we can find no pathway to them from the world as it really exists. Moreover, people outside the movement rightly regard people who rave about racial partition as buffoons, and possibly dangerous ones.

All we can do right now is try to persuade people of the core tenets of our movement, and we will only be able to transform the American consciousness by focusing on projects that are feasible today. A historical precedent will illustrate this point. When the black civil rights movement was starting out in the early 20th century, it did not demand affirmative action and busing, because such goals would have been unrealistic in the context of the times. Rather, civil rights advocates demanded feasible reforms, such as equal funding for black and white schools and an end to lynching. Through their advocacy of minor changes in social policy, the civil rights movement effected the major changes in social attitudes that laid the groundwork of their future success. Above all, by successfully manipulating the issue of lynching, the civil rights movement linked all forms of white ethnocentrism with hatred and bigotry, thus forging the concept of “racism” that has been so effective in demonizing the pro-white movement.

In the same manner, pro-whites should work towards goals that are feasible today. That means we should be talking about the stimulus bill and the school board rather than wasting our time on remote fantasies. As we agitate on these issues, we should seek ways to present the basic principles of our movement in a sympathetic light, so that we lay the ground for further advances in the future.

The path of realism, reason, and reconciliation should not be viewed as a cowardly compromise. By no means am I suggesting that we pull our punches: we must go on hitting people with the hard facts about innate racial differences and minority dysfunction. Rather, reconciliation means that we must respect values that conflict with our own and listen to our public as well as preach to them. Such a course is a natural outgrowth of the aims of the pro-white movement. After all, why would be so eager to save white America if we did not find some value in its culture already? It would be odd if we wished to save white America by destroying it.

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