Local Media Punts on White Supremacism

Have a look at this social media post by ABC7 Sarasota:

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The post features a picture of a flier featuring a young blond girl and this text:

The greatest con-job of the 20th century was allowing America’s enemies to convince whites that it’s morally wrong to love and support their own race. #whitelivesmatter

These fliers are similar to other “alt right” white supremacist literature that has been found in many areas of the country since Donald Trump moved the Overton window on race last year. And as if to make it clear just how far that window has moved, ABC7 Sarasota posted the picture with this introduction:

Several Bradenton residents found #whitelivesmatter flyers in front of their homes. Do they have the right to be alarmed or is the group’s message for Caucasian pride harmless?

I once read that beginning in the 1980s American media adopted being “fair and balanced” as its standard. Instead of providing you with solid context and information and telling you what happened and who is correct, the media will interview two competing sides, shrug, and leave it to the viewer to make up their own mind—even when the issue at hand has a very clear correct side and a very clear incorrect side. It becomes about achieving balance rather than about informing one’s viewership.

The result of this focus on balance at the expense of truth is posts like that above—are residents right to be alarmed by white supremacist literature in their communities, or is white supremacist messaging actually harmless? Who’s to say!

This is a problem with real consequences. News organizations should be giving readers the context and history of white supremacist messaging, making it clear where it comes from (and where it leads), not legitimizing white supremacism by acting as though whether it is actually harmful is a point for debate. Why not put these fliers in the context of, say, the campaign of violence and intimidation waged the Ku Klux Klan in Sarasota in the 1920s—or more recent white supremacist activity?

In 2005, the media reported that a local daycare was run by a white supremacist:

In interviews posted on various Web sites, Blevins, whose wife, Bernadette, operates the day care, has advocated shipping blacks back to Africa, deporting Mexicans and wholesale “extermination” of non-whites. He also has called for putting Jews to sleep.

In 2012, authorities arrested a dozen members of a Florida white supremacist group, one of whom, John Wyczlinski, worked in Sarasota:

Wyczlinski is accused of being part of a hate group that trained at a hidden compound and is believed to have been planning an attack on Orlando City Hall.

Would it have been so hard for ABC7 Sarasota to put the recent white supremacist literature found in Sarasota in this context?

You’ve had local white supremacists call for the extermination of non-whites. You’ve had local white supremacists arrested for planning a race war. And yet, in the face of new white supremacist literature drops, news outlets like ABC7 Sarasota act like whether such literature is harmful or not is an open question—who are they to know?

In this particular case, the problem is actually bigger than even this. ABC7 Sarasota’s full article on the literature drop—the one linked in the social media posting discussed above—contains this mention:

The packets contain a URL leading to the website for the group Endangered Souls. The site mentions teachings from David Lane; a well-known white supremacist. The group’s website states “we do not tolerate any double standard that discriminates against whites” and says it is spreading pride, not hate.

And that is it—with that, the article’s author moves on to other matters. There is no mention that Endangered Souls is a motorcycle gang, or that David Lane is in jail for his part in the assassination of a Jewish talk show host. The article states that the website “mentions teachings from David Lane” but follows that with the group’s claim that it is “spreading pride, not hate.” Why no mention of what teachings of David Lane’s are included on the group’s website?

Endangered Souls’ website not only headlines David Lane’s 14 words—“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”—but also features his 88 precepts in full. This includes items like the following:

21. People who allow others not of their race to live among them will perish, because the inevitable result of a racial integration is racial inter-breeding which destroys the characteristics and existence of a race.

26. Nature has put a certain antipathy between races and species to preserve the individuality and existence of each. Violation of the territorial imperative necessary to preserve that antipathy leads to either conflict or mongrelization.

27. It is not constructive to hate those of other races, or even those of mixed races. But a separation must be maintained for the survival of one’s own race. One must, however, hate with a pure and perfect hatred those of one’s own race who commit treason against one’s own kind and against the nations of one’s own kind. One must hate with perfect hatred all those People or practices which destroy one’s People, one’s culture, or the racial exclusiveness of one’s territorial imperative.

28. The concept of a multi-racial society violates every Natural Law for specie preservation.

32. Miscegenation, that is race-mixing, is and has always been, the greatest threat to the survival of the Aryan race.

37. That race whose males will not fight to death to keep and mate with their females will perish. Any White man with healthy instincts feels disgust and revulsion when he sees a woman of his race with a man of another race.

It seems like it was maybe—just maybe—worth mentioning that the group behind the literature drop supports complete segregation and condemns interracial relationships in the strongest terms. But then, that information might have gotten in the way of ABC7 Sarasota asking in their social media posting whether “the group’s message for Caucasian pride” is “harmless.”

I’m increasingly disturbed by the number of American media outlets that have proven willing to punt on white supremacism. How much of this is the result of making “balance” the touchstone of good reporting? How much of it is the result of media cutbacks that have cut into reporters’ ability to write good investigative journalism? Whatever the cause, the result is that racist hate groups like Endangered Souls are being handled with kid gloves and granted a measure of legitimacy.

With what consequences, time will tell.

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