Thursday, April 18, 2013

On This Day in History: CNN Declares That Boston Bomber is "Dark-Skinned," Craven Senators Cave to NRA Money

On the same day on which CNN informed the American public that a "dark-skinned individual" had been identified as a suspect in the Boston marathon bombings and had been arrested, the U.S. Senate shamefully bowed to pressure from the National Rifle Association and killed mild gun-control legislation favored by 90% of Americans

A fixation on the threat of dark-skinned criminals and a fixation on clutching our guns until they're wrested from our cold, dead hands: what does this say about American values? What does it say about our ravenous addiction to violence and our refusal to address that addiction?

As the Think Progress article by Annie-Rose Strasser to which the first link above points also notes, less than an hour after CNN told the world that a "dark-skinned individual" had been arrested as a suspect in Boston, CBS tweeted,

JUST IN: Man sought as possible suspect is WHITE MALE, wearing white baseball cap on backwards, gray hoodie and black jacket.

CNN later had to retract its report about the arrest, though if there has been a retraction of the claim that the Boston bomber was a "dark-skinned individual," I have yet to see it--or any apology for CNN's circulation of inflammatory information that was clearly based on misinformation. Nor have I heard the dunderheaded Wolf Blitzer apologizing for having sought to bait the equally dunderheaded John King into informing the public that the Boston suspect had a foreign accent.

I have no inside information about the Boston crimes. The perpetrator(s) could, for all I know, turn out to be precisely as CNN says: a dark-skinned individual(s) with a foreign accent. He could equally well be, precisely as CBS says, a white male(s).

My point is that if we do not have sufficient information at the present to make sweeping conclusions about this crime, we ought to keep our mouths shut and not gin up hysteria and, yes, hatred by spreading inflammatory false information grounded in no bona fide sources. The kind of hysteria and hatred that leads too many Americans to imagine that owning private arsenals will keep them safe from all the dark-skinned individuals they imagine to be lurking in their shrubbery of a suburban evening . . . . 

The kind that feeds the ability of a cynical, morally vacuous gun lobby to buy cynical, morally vacuous political "leaders" and get them gleefully to vote down mild gun controls an overwhelming majority of the nation wants, if only to send a message to the families of the children slaughtered in Connecticut last year that their children did not die in vain . . . . 

(I apologize if the graphic is too stark for any readers. My intent is not to be incendiary, but to make a strong point that there are consequences for the lives of real people when our media abdicate moral responsibility and inflame social prejudices, and when our political "leaders" betray their constituents by caving to gun lobbies.)

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