By Michael Meyers
What are Fox News Channel prime-time hosts like Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly thinking when they keep wailing and calling their audiences' attention to "black-on-black violence?"
O'Reilly puts it bluntly:
"...Overwhelmingly violent crime in this country is generated by young black men."
He said this to black minister Jacques DeGraff and several other blacks on his TV show, such as actor LeVar Burton. The Root's blogger Lynette Holloway quotes O'Reilly's explanation for why he thinks so many of his kind fear young blacks like Trayvon Martin -- "Young black men commit murder at 10 times the rate of whites and Latinos combined," bellowed Bill O'Reilly.
The Fox News Channel's most popular talk show hosts regularly invite guests to talk to them who sound just like them, when tooting the race horn. That includes Fox News commentators, like Geraldo Rivera, he who has become infamous for his racial tropes. On such Fox talk shows as "Hannity," and "The O'Reilly Factor," too,Geraldo Rivera assails black males as if they are society's moral monsters. Geraldo openly and readily faults young black males for wearing hoodies, and he is known for switching the most sober of topics to his rants about young black males who are the cause of "black-on-black crime." Most recently, Geraldo declared "black-on-black crime" as "the civil rights issue" of our times. Geraldo has even suggested that blacks who wear "I Can't Breathe" T-shirts -- in sympathy for the fallen Eric Garner who cops tackled in Staten island for the offense of selling "loosies" (unlicensed cigarettes) -- should instead don T-shirts that read, "We're the problem." Geraldo last month in perfect racial flourish proclaimed that "black-on-black crime is more of a threat than ISIS."
What these Fox News Channel on-air personalities do almost every day and every night -- whenever the topic is civil rights, Baltimore, police misconduct or "race," is to blame blacks for their dysfunctional families, for their out-of-control children and for the race's youths' propensity to commit crime, more so than other "races." These hosts' and pundits' plain talk is to, in effect, demonize black males, and to label them society's menaces. On their and others' shows, and in O'Reilly's "Talking Points" rants, they spread the gospel that crime in America has a definite skin hue -- which is black. And, recently, they have started to blame "other blacks" -- namely black public officials, like the mayor of Baltimore and the mayors of other dark cities -- all Democrat "libs" (they declare) -- for letting crime get out of control.
The same on-air experts have much to add, say and connect race with stop and frisk practices and crime control, too. They side, reflexively, with the cops who they intuitively know are weary from a lack of support from "liberal Democrats" and an angry black community. And they lament loudly how black leaders don't seem to care that the majority of crimes against blacks are committed by other blacks. As Megyn Kelly asked the National Urban League's Marc Morial on her TV show last December, "Where are the protests over the fact that 91 percent of all blacks who were murdered in 2013 were killed by other blacks?"
O'Reilly forever faults "the civil rights industry" -- folks like Marc Morial -- one supposes -- for championing court rulings that have curtailed discriminatory stops and frisks by cops. In so doing O"Reilly and his colleagues support former NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly who boldly confessed to siccing cops on blacks and Hispanic male youths for frisking, because, as the police chief explained, blacks commit most of the crimes, in their crime-ridden neighborhoods. "As a city, we have to face the reality that New York's minority communities experience a disproportionate share of violent crime. To ignore that fact, as our critics would have us do, would be a form of discrimination," Commissioner Kelly to the media and all New Yorkers.
Fox's "news" personalities just don't straight out blame blacks for committing most violent crimes, they simultaneously put on their best patronizing voice in so calling out the blacks. That way, we viewers are supposed to feel that they actually feel for we black people. Thus, we are expected to swallow their exaggerations as to how most violent crimes are committed by blacks, as if that means that most blacks or -- ahem -- most black males are criminals, which is just not true. If true be told, crime is an individual act; it's an individual thing. Crime is not a racial group or a skin color. In this regard, there is no such thing as "the black male" much less a "black male problem" in America any more than there is or once was an "Italian male problem" or an "Irish male problem," when society casually stereotyped and blamed "the" Italian and Irish communities for organized crime and street gangsterism.
It is high time to rebut the Fox News talkers' histrionics about "black-on-black" crime, and to confront and refute the deceivers' claims that more, and unbridled stop-and-frisks are needed to net black thugs and to stem out-of-control crime in the cities.
First, one must ask -- Whatever happened to Fox News' pretensions of color-blindness?
Its on-air personalities habitually rail against race-based affirmative action and, most recently, singled out and deplored the tweet from a black academic who generalized and described "white males" as a problem population in America. Yet, their supposed color-blindness is corrected whenever Fox News hosts and pundits describe killings and other violent crimes. They're on the one hand color-blind when reporting on mass murders outside the ghettos (when whites shoot up theaters and schools) but they are soooo color-conscious when decrying "black-on-black" violent crime in the cities. So, a black prof may not tweet that white males are a problem population in America -- but it is, to these Fox News commentators and hosts, just fine and dandy for them to speak of "black males" as a problem population. That's something akin to something we used to spell out as hypocrisy.
Still, and falsely, Bill O'Reilly touts his TV show as a no-spin zone. But, when he is talking about blacks -- our families, our children, our "culture," he's all spin, 24/7. He does not see or speak of crime as being committed by individuals; his talking points are instead rampant generalizations and stereotypical race-speak. He and his partners in race-talk did not see individual marauders of all colors in Baltimore -- no, they urged black mothers to go into the streets and pull their black sons away from the assemblies of protest.
Cops accused of brutalizing blacks because of prejudice or because they have trigger-fingers or out of plain-old fashioned mendacity -- they get a pass on Fox. Topics on police brutality get turned into a conversation about the dangers cops face everyday and every night patrolling the dark ghettos, where black males walk the streets and stand on street corners. Never is the conversation about why it is wrong for cops to roust people on the hunch that the youths are "criminals." Never do we hear on Fox -- from O'Reilly or Megyn Kelly -- or Geraldo Rivera, that cops have a pitiful record of investigating and turning in fellow cops for wrong-doing. To Geraldo, it's the way the black male youths dresses that's the problem. To O'Reilly, it's "their" broken homes, and their absentee fathers. And, to Megyn Kelly, it's the silence she hears from the "black leaders" as to crime in the streets on account that, according to Kelly's notions, they are too occupied with bellyaching about police abuses connected with the black lives matter campaigns. .
Radio One's Roland Martin and I got nowhere on Geraldo's and his simultaneously-broadcast radio shows this past week, trying to convince Geraldo that "black-on-black" crime is not a "civil rights" issue. If blacks were picking up baseball bats and chasing whites or Asians or Hispanics or others because of their skin color, that would indeed be a civil rights issue. On such ghastly occasions, race would be relevant to the story and to the nature of the crimes. Not so with people who rob, maim and murder their neighbors for property or sport or out of venality. That's what every community understands as garden-variety crime. Likewise, "blacks killing other blacks" has nothing to do with the story of law enforcement officers taking the law into their own hands, and abusing their authority as police officers against civilians. There, the issue is not the color of the cops -- it's blue versus black, so to speak -- or blue against white or Hispanic, or blue against any color of an innocent civilian who is hassled or harassed or whose due process rights are trampled on by abusive authorities. Is it so hard for smart TV personalities to grasp the distinctions?
Blacks writ large have no sympathy for violent criminals.
And blacks writ large and small have no monopoly on crime. I repeat, crime is an individual act, not a racial group's M-O.
Criminals come in all colors, and collars, in and out of uniform and they hail from all kinds of households.
Why shouldn't blacks be treated and spoken of individually, as we speak of others, as individuals whose "race" is not placed around their necks? Why should only blacks be saddled with the burden of being scapegoated and labeled the criminal element because of their skin color? How is it that criminals who happen to be black are representatives of or proxies for their "race"?
Finally, we need more light and facts on and from Fox News about the efficacy of crime control and the history and truth about stop and frisks, which have burdened black males in particular because of societal prejudices and attitudes toward black males. I know, I know about the oft cited Jesse Jackson fretting about how he feels ill at ease if he were to be followed on the streets by a group of young black males. Jesse Jackson is no racist because of that feeling but his remark evinced a deep-seated perception that black males at large pose a danger to the law-abiding citizenry. Yet, we must remember that the numbers of black criminals are small compared to the many black males wholly innocent of criminality and who themselves are stopped and frisked without legal cause.
Much ado is made about the success of New York City's massive stop and frisk program which netted hundreds of thousands -- more than 90 percent black and Hispanics -- each year, with the aim of recovering guns and stopping criminals in the act. Indeed, that is the purpose of stops; when a cop has a reasonable belief that a person has committed or is about to commit a crime. And a frisk is legally justified not by a cop's itch or hunch that the stopped person has a weapon but only when the cop has a reasonable belief that the person he is questioning is armed. But in New York City -- the capital of stop and frisk -- the program has worked the exact opposite to that of catching the thief or criminal.
Stop and frisk surely ensnares the poor but also it ensnares mostly innocent persons. Christopher Mathias, writing for the Huffington Post, noted the official numbers of the results of stop and frisks reveal "the vast majority of those stopped are innocent." Only 1.9 percent of frisks in 2011, for example, turned up weapons, and according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, "a weapon was found in only 1.8 percent of blacks and Latinos frisked, as compared to a weapon being found on 3.8 percent of whites." NYPD Stop and frisks: 15 Shocking facts About A Controversial Program."
Ira Glasser, the former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union and president of the Drug Policy Analysis in his reported made similar findings. In the same year, -- 2011 -- Glasser reports there were "685,000 stops (nearly 90 percent of black and Hispanic men), [and] cops recovered fewer than 800 guns -- barely one for every thousand stops. Statistically, the rate of gun recovery from so many hundreds of thousands of stops amounts to less than one-quarter of one percent," concluded Glasser. The prestigious New York Bar Association's report on stops and frisks in New York City confirmed the advocates' findings: namely of the overwhelming numbers of innocent people in New York stopped and frisked by NYPD cops, and the paltry rates of guns recovered from frisks. According to the Bar Association, only 6 per cent of the stops have resulted in arrests and a measly 2 per cent resulted in the recovery of any weapons. As the Bar Association report put it, "...The overwhelming majority of stops result in no discovery of wrongdoing."
News organizations really ought to know better than to misuse statistics to draw a skewed picture of a racial minority. In fact, they do know better. Professional news groups have constantly warned news gatherers and reporters of the inappropriate casual use of race when describing suspects in crimes. Such casual and repetitive references to the "race" of criminal suspects, they agree, contributes to stereotyping as well as misinformation. Such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists and the AP Style book long ago rejected a once prevalent justification of many newspapers that had followed the practice of identifying suspects and perpetrators by their so-called race.
Fox News has the mantle of a news outfit. They should stop with their race-baiting and pernicious and constant race-based conniptions about the 'color" of crime and criminals. I urge my friends at Fox News Channel (and I have some) to stop their race-baiting.
How will Donald Trump’s first 100 days impact YOU? Subscribe, choose the community that you most identify with or want to learn more about and we’ll send you the news that matters most once a week throughout Trump’s first 100 days in office. Learn more