Skip to comments.ANDREW SULLIVAN: Did PC policing extend the snipers' range?
Posted on 10/27/2002 1:25:25 AM PDT by MadIvan
Every now and again the politics and culture of race in America simply take you by surprise. To coin a phrase, whats black can sometimes seem white and whats white can sometimes seem black. Racism goes backwards and forwards in dizzying degrees of cultural complexity and perspective.
Last week was no exception. The biggest news was that the Washington sniper had finally been caught. The bigger news, buried in the main story, was that the sniper had already been caught: on October 8.
Heres how The Washington Post reported this part of the story:
Law enforcement sources said authorities may have missed a chance to apprehend the men just six days after the shooting spree began on Oct 2. At that time, authorities were searching for a white van because witnesses reported seeing one at some shooting sites.
The blue Caprice discovered today was believed to have been approached in Baltimore by police who found Muhammad and Malvo sleeping on Oct 8, the day after a 13-year-old boy in Bowie was wounded as the eighth victim of the sniper, the sources said.
The car was spotted in a parking lot off 28th Street, near the exit ramp to Interstate 83. The two were allowed to go, although their names were put into an information data bank in Baltimore, the sources said.
Everyone was looking for a white car with white people, said one high-ranking police source. Muhammad and Malvo are black males.
Now think of the following scenario. A sniper is terrorising the capital city. Police come across a white guy in a car whom they suspect. They take his name but they dont arrest him because they are looking for a black man. The suspect subsequently goes on to kill several more people.
Wouldnt this be the basis for uproar? Wouldnt the cops involved be fired? Wouldnt there be a massive investigation into how such racial profiling could have happened? Ah, but this is America. No such questions dominated the headlines the next day. The relief was so wide and so deep and so understandable that the reverse racism that allowed a mass murderer who had terrorised the capital city for weeks to go free was largely ignored or wished away.
Now imagine the following scenario. A white political activist and entertainer calls Colin Powell, the secretary of state, a house slave to George W Bush.
Actually he says the following: In the days of slavery there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and there were those slaves that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master.
He adds: Colin Powells committed to come into the house of the master. When Colin Powell dares to suggest something other than what the master wants to hear, he will be turned back out to pasture.
Again, dont you think there would be an outcry? This is clearly the use of a racist stereotype intended to demean the most powerful and accomplished African-American in the history of the US federal government.
But again, this is America. This was actually said recently by Harry Belafonte, a former civil rights activist mainly known around the world for being a calypso singer who made the Banana Boat Song a hit.
Was he criticised? Yes, but gently. And barely. He was, in fact, invited onto CNNs Larry King show, where he defended his remarks and further criticised the secretary of state.
Despite this expression of bigotry, he was the guest of honour last Thursday night at a huge banquet given by Africare, a largely African-American charity that directs aid to Africa.
The national security adviser, Condi Rice, was also invited to attend the event. But when Belafonte got wind of her possible presence he threatened to bolt. So Africare disinvited one of the most distinguished black women in the history of American government in order to accommodate Belafonte.
Africare denied that she had been disinvited, but Belafonte insisted she had been. In any event, Rice wasnt there. And Belafonte was satisfied.
Was Belafontes description of Powell as a slave racist? Some argue no. They claim that Belafonte, because he is black, cannot by definition be a racist. But that is, of course, a racist argument itself.
It reduces someones moral responsibility and intellectual autonomy to a racial stereotype that all blacks are innocent victims who cannot be held responsible for their beliefs or arguments; or that all blacks are so oppressed that any bigotry they utter is permissible.
In this scenario, no black person really has a choice to be immoral because no black person has a choice to be moral. They are, entirely because of their race, incapable of such choice. I cant think of any better way to dehumanise a person, to rob him of any control over his lifes decisions.
Similarly, in the case of whats called racial profiling by police, the reason it is always wrong to jump to conclusions on the basis of race is that it denies every individuals right to be judged as an individual first and as a member of a group next.
In fact, being deemed guilty in advance because of an arbitrary characteristic such as race is pretty close to a perfect description of injustice. It doesnt seem to me to make a moral difference if that race is white, brown, black or any variation thereof.
For a high-ranking police source to tell a newspaper that the cops were looking only for a person of a predetermined race is an expression of racism. Its morally repugnant, whoever says it.
It just so happens that at the same time Harry Belafonte was being feted in Washington and Americans were heaving a sigh of relief that the sniper had been caught, I was sitting on a panel at New York University with Christopher Hitchens debating the legacy of George Orwell.
I reread Animal Farm on the plane there. And somehow it seemed all too relevant. All races are equal of course. But in some allegedly liberal minds some races are clearly more equal than others.
Mark Fuhrman was right. The detectives weren't running the show.
I would bet anything that there was at least one brave detective fighting the tide, trying to tell everyone in the task force after reading the letters that the killer is most likely a black five percenter, whose very motto is "I am God" -- especially with the other rap lyric references. Their ideas are also steeped with occult numerology and esoteric and masonic influences, so tarot cards even fit with this profile since they originated with 14th century Muslims in Egypt and are favored by those in secret societies who pursue hidden knowledge.
One FReeper even nailed early on that the "Mr Policeman" was Carribean flavored English so I'm sure that wasn't lost on the detectives.
One thing I forgot though related to the profile...in their letter they demanded "10 million dollar" (not dollars). Hello? What detective who has ever talked to a black man wouldn't have alarm bells clanging away after reading that along with "word is bond." I mean I know Muhammad did his best to keep it slang free, but it was all there for professionals. What did they expect? "Word up" as an intro and "peace" as a sign out?
Of course the police wouldn't want to profile a certain race and save a few lives now would they?
Imagine Moose: "Obviously it could still be some violent militia guy like Eminem that's down with the street, chillin' with five percenters, dropping science and bustin' rhymes, so let's keep focused on whitey in his minivan."
Great article and quote, thanks
Actually one Freeper early on nailed the profile that the sniper was probably black and a muslim.
I remember one "expert" on the tube proclaim that the sniper couldn't possibly be a Muslim because he claimed to be God.
Members of the Five Percenters, which split from the Nation of Islam in the 1960s, said they have members in Seattle but not Muhammad. Their followers never take that surname. Daoud Majestic, a Five Percenter in Pennsylvania, said that when Muhammad became a black Muslim 17 years ago, the Nation of Islam often used ''Word is Bond'' and advocated that the black man is God. The Nation has since toned down its rhetoric, Majestic said, but some older members still use it. ''It's very possible that he still used that kind of terminology,'' he said.
Yesterday I posted an excerpt from the Post which addressed this problem of PC Moose. There are over 160 replies on this thread. It is amazing how many pseudo conservatives still are defending the black racist, PC Moose. (Police spotted suspects' car 10 times during sniper spree (PC killed more innocents!)
It is a lot worse than that, and the tap dancing in this article confirms the pervasiveness of the PC disaster:
The statements implicitly argue that blacks have neither the intellectual horsepower nor the moral judgement, nor the common human ability (and necessity) to discriminate, think and make judgements.
Many will argue that to be the case, but the ultimate irony is when blacks themselves make that argument.
Does anyone else here have a case of collective amnesia?
Am I the only one who remembers this? :
"We can't release a sketch of the subject because there are too many conflicting eyewitness versions...
"The suspect was dark complexioned, latino or perhaps Middle Eastern, but definitely not black... nope...
Pick a color, any color, but definitely not black..."
That statement was so bizarre and gratuitously racist.
And no one said a word...
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