By Charles Love
That happens when two of the things you argue against the most happen in a way that makes it difficult to decry one without seemingly perpetuating the other? This is what happened last week, when identity journalism and gun control collided in the news coverage—or rather, lack thereof—of a school shooting in Arlington, Texas.
Last Wednesday, news broke in the morning of a school shooting. A teenage boy fired several shots inside Timberview High School, injuring four people and fleeing the scene. You might have expected the news coverage to follow a familiar pattern after a school mass shooting, starting with the non-stop coverage of the events as they unfold, the ubiquitous cries that “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” followed by a demand by every anti-gun politician who can get him or herself on the airwaves for more stringent gun control. Finally, the president himself would be asked to comment.
But this shooting did not follow the script. Fox News carried the coverage live, but by and large, the other 24-hour news channels did not, despite the active shooter being on the run and a manhunt underway for his capture.
Of course, I can’t know for sure why the news channels abdicated their usual hysterical, wall-to-wall coverage of mass shootings in this instance. But I can tell you what my immediate suspicion was at the absence of coverage: The shooter is going to turn out to be black.
And indeed, when they apprehended him, the shooter was black.
I suspected this would be the case because it seems to me the only thing that the liberal media is more attached to than its opposition to guns is its support of woke identity politics. And this was simply the only thing that could have trumped the mass shooting narrative.
For a group constantly focused on race and identity, the liberal media is quick to downplay it when it doesn’t support their cause. Thus, because black men are over-criminalized and portrayed as violent, the liberal media has invested a lot of energy trying to overcorrect on this front, turning a blind eye to rising crime and skyrocketing murder. Never mind that the victims of these crimes are black, too.
And this is how a mass shooting in a Texas school and the ensuing manhunt came to be erased: It was coded as black on black crime, which meant that the media couldn’t report on it, lest they contribute to something they abhor. Rather than report the news honestly, they ignored it.
In fact, crime overall is handled this way. While local news stations across the country report vicious crimes and shootings, often with innocent victims, there has been almost a taboo imposed by liberal national news media outlets on the murder surge, and this despite the historic numbers of murdered children.
There’s something truly ugly in the fact that liberals’ horror at gun crimes is overruled by their horror at being seen criticizing black people. They passionately talk about the dangers of guns, pushing for more regulations and stricter gun laws, but frequently turn a blind eye to gun crimes, particularly when the perpetrators are black. Amid growing gun violence in majority black neighborhoods, many progressive prosecutors are reluctant to prosecute violent offenders, often under the guise of minimizing racial disparities in the criminal justice system. This in spite of the fact that the majority of the victims of these violent criminals are black.
Recently, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a group of city council members urged Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to reconsider her office’s decision not to charge several men for a mid-morning shootout that took place in the Austin neighborhood. At 10:30 in the morning, a group of known gang members shot into the home of a rival gang who returned fire. More than 70 shell casing were found at the scene. Though the incident was caught on tape and witnessed by Chicago police officers, Foxx’s office claimed charges were dropped because the shootout involved “mutual combatants.”
While the Left and its elected officials may think they are protecting black people with actions like these, what they are actually doing is deeming our deaths less important. By not covering crimes perpetrated against us, you are betraying the victims of our community and implicitly condoning these crimes.
Even what counts as a mass shooting is all too often politicized in this manner. The Congressional Research Service and the FBI define a mass shooting as a shooting incident with four or more homicides. But there are no set parameters around this and its loose definition leads to shootings being counted, or not, based solely on the media’s decision. And that decision is often predicated on race or the socioeconomic class of the neighborhood.
That’s how you end up with a situation where when a dozen people are shot and two killed in the majority black Park Manor neighborhood and it’s not called a mass shooting—but when four are wounded and one killed in more affluent Wicker Park, it is deemed a mass shooting.
I don’t know what the definition should be. What’s important in our current “equity climate” should be that all coverage should be the same.
After the Arlington shooter was released on $75,000 bond—a sum many thought was unusually low—it was reported that he went home to a party. And then, he was turned into a victim by the liberal media.
“A student arrested in a school shooting is released. His family says he was bullied,” NPR reported.
If you didn’t know better, you might think he was the victim of police brutality.
Making decisions on what stories to cover and how to cover them based on a racial calculus does a disservice to the viewers and clouds the truth. Erasing crimes in which the victims are black is to condone these crimes and this violence. This is where the obsession on race has brought us and it will only get worse if we don’t call it out.