After a hateful video emerged showing a white special needs man being abused by a black group of teenagers, progressive media figures were slow to call it a hate crime, despite the racially-charged remarks by the perpetrators.
The Washington Post missed the mark after one of their writers, Callum Borchers, wrote an article on the “The Fix” blog claiming the worst aspect of the video showing the torture of a mentally handicapped white man is that it gives credence to a “pro-Trump narrative” that suggests whites face discrimination in America.
Borchers wrote: “If you believe discrimination against white people is rampant, that Donald Trump supporters face persecution, that Chicago is a war zone, and the media is dishonest, then your entire worldview is likely to be confirmed by one awful story.”
The writer went on to slam former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s response to the story. On Fox News, Gingrich suggested there would be far more media outrage “if this had been done to an African American by four whites” and it would be classified as a hate crime. Borchers dismissed his point, instead writing:
Gingrich might be right about different reactions, but he conveniently ignores the reason. If the attackers had been white and the victim had been black, the incident would have, of course, conjured America’s ugly history of white mobs committing violence against black people. There is no parallel history of the reverse happening on anything remotely approaching the same scale.
NY Daily News columnist and Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King, meanwhile, has written a column on the issue, saying he won’t “fight for justice” for the victim, as he has done on multiple occasions when African-Americans were victims. There’s no reason to be upset about the incident, he continued, because unlike so many other non-Black people, the victim will get justice.
“This country does not need me to speak out on crimes committed by black folk because nobody in this country is held more responsible for the crimes they commit, and even the crimes they don’t commit, than black folk in America . . . I speak out on injustice. What happened to this man in Chicago was terrible. It was criminal. I hate it, but guess what—justice was swift. It was miraculously swift,” he wrote in the article.
While King doesn’t see the reason to defend the victim of this crime, Democratic Strategist and CNN political commentator Symone Sanders isn’t even sure whether it was a hate crime. Appearing on CNN’s Don Lemon panel, Sanders called the crime “sickening”—before quickly adding, “But I’m gonna say something that’s probably not very popular—we cannot callously go about classifying things as a hate crime.”
After wondering whether the motivation behind the torture was hate for Donald Trump or white people, she then expanded her point: “If we start going around and anytime someone says or does something egregious or bad and sickening in sense.” She added: “In connection with the president-elect Donald Trump or even President Obama for that matter because of their political leanings, that’s slippery territory. That is not a hate crime.”
During the same panel discussion, CNN’s Don Lemon also suggested the abuse of a mentally disabled kid by a group of teenagers isn’t “evil” but rather a case of bad parenting. His response came after panel guest Matt Lewis said “at the end of the day, you just try to wrap your head around evil. That’s what this is, it’s evil. It’s brutality. It’s man’s inhumanity to man.”
Lemon replied: “I don’t think it’s evil. I think these are young people and I think they have bad home training. I say, who is raising these young people? I have no idea who’s raising these young people. Because no one I know on Earth who is 17 years old or 70 years old would ever think of treating another person like that. It is inhumane. And you wonder, at 18 years old, where is your parent? Where’s your guardian?”
This sentiment was shared by Chicago law enforcement officials who were reluctant to call the incident a hate crime until the very end, when the four teenagers were finally charged with hate crime, despite obvious remarks made in the 30 minute Facebook live video showing the abuse of the teenager.
During a Wednesday press conference, a reporter asked the police whether the incident will be investigated as a hate crime—to which Chicago Police Department Commander Kevin Duffin replied: “Kids make stupid decisions—I shouldn’t call them kids, they’re legally adults. But they’re young adults and they make stupid decisions.”