22 December 2008

Parsing Crminals and Criminals

You will no doubt recall how in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the mainstream media pretty much went berserk, publishing photographs and crafting captions that portray blacks as craven criminals engaged in looting businesses in New Orleans. As critics pointed out at the time [1] [2] [3] the very same media were considerably more charitable when nearly identical images of whites surfaced. While blacks were "looting," the whites apparently kept merely "finding" good and useful items lying about. Alleged assaults on property predictably outraged the nuts at Fox News while over at MSNBC there was much angst about whether it is "ethical" to steal "necessities" during a disaster like Katrina. The outrage and angst had distinctive racial overtones.

I am sure the news networks will vigorously pursue the newly surfacing stories about how, also right after Katrina, white vigilantes shooting and possibly killing African-Americans who happened to, say, be walking through public parks in New Orleans. I recommend this essay by Rebecca Solnit at Tomdispatch and this report by A.C. Thompson at The Nation.

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