Should conservatives resist the race tu quoque?
posted at 7:21 pm on August 26, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
So says Breitbart editor Joel Pollak, a good friend of mine, who revealed yesterday that his site intentionally steered clear of the race discussion relating to recent crimes in Oklahoma and Spokane. While a good discussion of media malpractice is always welcome, the urge in using specific and unrelated cases usually leads people to take the arguments too far — a practice of the Left that Pollak would rather avoid (via Ace):
It is becoming harder for some conservative journalists to resist the tit-for-tat arguments when Sharpton et al. continue to pretend the Martin case was about race when everyone involved, including the prosecution, said that it was not. Even the Martin family, given the opportunity (before the verdict) to comment on the fact that there were no black jurors, said that they placed their faith in their fellow citizens and the judicial process. The fact that the racial argument has survived the trial and the facts is both sad and frustrating.
So the temptation to report the race of alleged perpetrators when the roles are reversed is now stronger than it was before–too strong for some conservative sites in the Christopher Lane murder, which reported initially (and inaccurately) that all three assailants were black. Yes, there is a crime problem in the black community. Yes, there is an failure among black leaders, from Obama on down, to do anything about it. That story doesn’t need new white victims to make it potent. This is a game without winners. I’d rather not play.
I spoke about this on my show this morning, in the final segment of the second hour. There are some issues that the Lane and Benton murders may have in common, mainly bored teenagers with little supervision and no engagement in core values — but those issues are not limited to any one community, nor are two incidents involving five teenagers a particularly good look at teens as a whole or an indication of broad cultural decline.
Last week, for instance, I wrote about the story of DHS manager Ayo Kimathi, who runs a website warning fellow African-Americans of a coming race war, complete with enemies list — including President Obama. The issue isn’t that DHS hired a racist, nor does one staffing decision indicate a broad problem with race in America. The public policy issue there was that Homeland Security apparently didn’t know that one of its managers was an extremist that publicly identified the President as an enemy of the people, an act that would probably be prominently featured in a DHS report on Tea Party extremism if Kimathi was part of that movement. I noted at the end:
I’m not “hesitating to be blunt” about race…[.] It’s rather obvious that Kimathi has an issue with race, but that’s not the public policy/performance issue here. Nor is it in any individual act of racism, either. Bringing up isolated incidents of racial animus and stretching that into a narrative about everyone else is what the Left has done for decades. Count me out of that nonsense.
Pollak is saying the same thing. Essentially, the argument from conservatives is self-defeating. We resist categorizing people by identity, and argue against the “society is to blame” explanation for crime and social ills. We preach individual responsibility and consequences. When we stray from that, even to score a few justified points on the media for their hypocrisy and bias, we risk turning individual incidents into “narratives” that aren’t really supported by the facts, and lose track of our philosophical compass. In my opinion, that’s too high a cost for too low a reward.
War Games’ Joshua said it best: