Leonard Pitts, Seattle Times, June 3, 2007
It always amazes me when white people put on the victim hat.
As in victim of racial oppression. By any measure—health, education, economics, employment—white Americans enjoy a superior standard of living. If that’s racial oppression, sign me up.
But still, one occasionally hears mewling noises from that subset of my white countrymen who feel put upon by big, bad racial minorities. This is one of those times. And Knoxville, Tenn., has become the capital city of that lunatic fringe.
It seems that in January, a young white couple, Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, were victims of a brutal crime. They were carjacked, kidnapped and raped. Cleaning fluid was sprayed into Christian’s mouth. She was stuffed in a trash can and apparently suffocated. Newsom was shot and set afire. His body was dumped. Five blacks, one a woman, have been arrested.
The story made headlines around Knoxville. It was unnoticed nationally.
That has changed. A constellation of white supremacists and conservative bloggers has pushed the story into the national limelight as illustration of their argument that news media, constrained by political correctness, refuse to report black on white crime while pulling out all the stops when crime is white on black as in the Duke lacrosse debacle. Me, I would see their Duke case and raise them a Central Park jogger, but what do I know?
Anyway, bloggers like Michael Oliver have chastised the “liberal, biased, Mainstream Media” for missing the Knoxville story. He asked, “Had the roles been reversed, would the media ignore such a horrific crime?”
Truth is, media ignore horrific crimes all the time. Space is limited and growing more so. Which means the story that catches fire usually has some element beyond gruesomeness to sell it. In the Duke case, it was class, privilege, sex and race that did it.
And here I’m obligated, because I’m black, to say that if the defendants in this case did what they are accused of doing, I’d be happy to see them rot under the jailhouse. Sadly, that needs saying because there are people who will not take it as a given.
But with that obligation fulfilled, let me add that I am likewise unkindly disposed toward the crackpots, incendiaries and flat-out racists who have chosen this tragedy upon which to take an obscene and ludicrous stand.
I have four words for them and any other white Americans who feel themselves similarly victimized.
Cry me a river.