It is certainly possible to build a solid case that reveals a “jump-to-conclusion” style of reporting when it comes to stories about racism from the so-called liberal media. But Ann Coulter’s piece titled (“To Avoid Looking Like a Criminal, Don’t Commit a Crime“) is not one. We know the news media (less so for local news, more so for newspapers and cable news networks) is quick to add racism into the mix in a white on black crime or a black on white crime. The history of this country shows there’s good reason for suspicion of racism, and it makes for more readers or more viewers, so the mainstream media can’t help itself. So yes, a case could be made that racism is invoked more than can be proven.
Ann Coulter’s piece, however, is not a good place to start if you want to posit such a case. And if there’s a single line in her piece that explains why, it would be this:
Perhaps, someday, blacks will win the right to be treated like volitional human beings. But not yet.
Up until that point, her piece was not completely unreasonable. Sure, it has it’s potentially offensive moments, but what else should we expect from Coulter? But the case she was making was not unreasonable. Now, I haven’t done the fact checking on the story she told of Edmund Perry, a black teenager and Lee Van Houten, a police officer, so I’ll just have to take her word for it. Assuming she is accurately reporting the facts of that case, which happened around the time I was in 4th grade, then this would be a good case of media bias towards reporting racism in stories where it may not be the primary motivating cause, or not a factor at all.
Here’s the problem. By including this one line, Coulter goes completely off the rails just after building her case. It’s remarkable to write a story for the sole purpose of saying the media falsely invokes race into stories, and then not only invoke it yourself, but include a nakedly racist remark in the middle of the piece. And the difference here is that the media invokes race in cases where it seems obvious race was a cause, and yes, sometimes prematurely before all the facts are known. In Coulter’s invoking of race with this incredible line, she is doing it to belittle, offend and put black people in their place. With that one line, Coulter is saying black people have not earned enough respect from the white majority to be full and equal members of American society. Well, if that’s not racism, then I don’t know what is.
If you check out the comments section of Coulter’s piece, you will find this gem:
The Daily KoS picked up the story here (linking to it, no less) and took one line from it out of context to make Ann look like a writer for Stormfront.
This commentor is talking about the same line I quoted above. If you read Coulter’s piece, this line already stands on its own both literally and from a literary sense. The line is its own paragraph, and it comes at you like a jarring slap to the face. All the momentum in building her case against the media injecting racism into stories, dies when you reach this line. So it’s laughable to say this line is “out of context” in the Daily Kos piece when it is already out of context in Coulter’s piece.
But this line gives us a bit of enlightenment (bad word choice?) into the worldview of conservatives like Ann Coulter, and it goes a long way to explaining why they believe Barack Obama is either an illegitimate president or an ill-qualified president.
As for the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case, I don’t need racism to believe Zimmerman is culpable. So the Right can get its feathers ruffled around media reports of racism, but whether Zimmerman pursued Martin because he was black is not required to believe Zimmerman deserves blame. Coulter says there was overwhelming evidence that Martin was the aggressor, and her final proof of this is that Zimmerman was acquitted. But the defense need not offer overwhelming evidence of Zimmerman’s innocence, they simply provided enough doubt about what happened. There’s a reason people are found “not guilty” instead of “innocent” in the American justice system. We have a system that sets a high bar for proving guilt, not innocence. So no, there was not overwhelming evidence of Zimmerman’s innocence, there simply was insufficient evidence to convict him.