When two white newspaper reporters for the Virginian-Pilot were driving through Norfolk, and were set upon and beaten by a mob of young blacks — beaten so badly that they had to take a week off from work — that might seem to have been news that should have been reported, at least by their own newspaper. But it wasn't.
"The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News Channel was the first major television program to report this incident. Yet this story is not just a Norfolk story, either in what happened or in how the media and the authorities have tried to sweep it under the rug.
Similar episodes of unprovoked violence by young black gangs against white people chosen at random on beaches, in shopping malls or in other public places have occurred in Philadelphia, New York, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, Los Angeles and other places across the country. Both the authorities and the media tend to try to sweep these episodes under the rug as well.
In Milwaukee, for example, an attack on whites at a public park a few years ago left many of the victims battered to the ground and bloody. But, when the police arrived on the scene, it became clear that the authorities wanted to keep this quiet.
One 22-year-old woman, who had been robbed of her cell phone and debit card, and had blood streaming down her face said: "About 20 of us stayed to give statements and make sure everyone was accounted for. The police wouldn't listen to us, they wouldn't take our names or statements. They told us to leave. It was completely infuriating."
The police chief seemed determined to head off any suggestion that this was a racially motivated attack by saying that crime is colorblind. Other officials elsewhere have said similar things.
A wave of such attacks in Chicago were reported, but not the race of the attackers or victims. Media outlets that do not report the race of people committing crimes nevertheless report racial disparities in imprisonment and write heated editorials blaming the criminal justice system.
What the authorities and the media seem determined to suppress is that the hoodlum elements in many ghettoes launch coordinated attacks on whites in public places. If there is anything worse than a one-sided race war, it is a two-sided race war, especially when one of the races outnumbers the other several times over.
It may be understandable that some people want to head off such a catastrophe, either by not reporting the attacks in this race war, or not identifying the race of those attacking, or by insisting that the attacks were not racially motivated — even when the attackers themselves voice anti-white invective as they laugh at their bleeding victims.
Trying to keep the lid on is understandable. But a lot of pressure can build up under that lid. If and when that pressure leads to an explosion of white backlash, things could be a lot worse than if the truth had come out earlier, and steps taken by both black and white leaders to deal with the hoodlums and with those who inflame the hoodlums.
These latter would include not only race hustlers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson but also lesser known people in the media, in educational institutions and elsewhere who hype grievances and make all the problems of blacks the fault of whites. Some of these people may think that they are doing a favor to blacks. But it is no favor to anyone who lags behind to turn their energies from the task of improving and advancing themselves to the task of lashing out at others.
These others extend beyond whites. Asian American school children in New York and Philadelphia have for years been beaten up by their black classmates. But people in the mainstream media who go ballistic if some kid says something unkind on the Internet about a homosexual classmate nevertheless hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil when Asian American youngsters are beaten up by their black classmates.
Those who automatically say that the social pathology of the ghetto is due to poverty, discrimination and the like cannot explain why such pathology was far less prevalent in the 1950s, when poverty and discrimination were worse. But there were not nearly as many grievance mongers and race hustlers then.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is www.tsowell.com. To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.