bookmark_borderBiased article about statue genocide in Richmond

This article is old but still biased and inaccurate enough to merit blogging about. The article in the Richmond Free Press, from last June, describes the brutal and heartless destruction of a statue of Christopher Columbus and a statue of Williams Carter Wickham as follows:

Decrying police brutality and white supremacy, Richmond protesters have taken an active approach to removing symbols of oppression by pulling statues of Christopher Columbus and Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham from their pedestals in public parks.

The Columbus statue in Byrd Park was brought down with ropes, briefly set on fire and dragged into Fountain Lake on Tuesday evening following a protest and march down Arthur Ashe Boulevard led by members of Richmond’s indigenous community.

During a a peaceful protest in Byrd Park, demonstrators reaffirmed a commitment to inclusivity and solidarity with all marginalized and oppressed peoples.

“We no longer leave behind people in this movement,” said Joseph Rogers, a member of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality.

Taking an active approach? That’s an interesting way of describing the brutal and vicious destruction of beautiful works of art that are not yours to destroy.

Additionally, the statues destroyed were not symbols of oppression; they were symbols of freedom, liberty, diversity, independent thinking, and fighting back against authority, all of which are the opposite of oppression.

Furthermore, the author describes the actions in question as a “peaceful protest,” despite the fact that in the previous sentence, the author wrote that the statue of Columbus was brought down with ropes, set on fire, and thrown into a lake. (Just typing those words makes me feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest.) These actions are anything but peaceful.

Plus, the claim that demonstrators “reaffirmed a commitment to inclusivity and solidarity with all marginalized and oppressed peoples” is blatantly false. Destroying statues is inherently non-inclusive, particularly when those statues represent unpopular minorities, which the Columbus and Wickham ones did. And destroying statues that represent marginalized and oppressed people, as these statues did, is an attack on marginalized and oppressed people, which is the opposite of expressing solidarity with them. So the demonstrators actually did precisely the opposite of what the article characterizes them as doing. The quote by one of the protesters that “we no longer leave behind people in this movement,” is preposterous. This movement, by destroying statues that represent cultures and viewpoints other than their own, is actively attacking and trampling on people who do not think the way they do. That is inherently leaving people out and leaving people behind. The name of the organization is also preposterous: by destroying statues of unpopular minorities, the organization’s members are actively advocating against freedom, justice, and equality.

Later in the article, the author inaccurately describes the events in Charlottesville in 2017 as a “deadly white supremacist rally.” The rally was actually to express opposition to the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, which has nothing to do with white supremacy. Additionally, the rally was not deadly; it was the counter-protest by intolerant bullies that caused violence.

The article also describes Edward Colston, whose statue was viciously destroyed in a similar incident to Columbus, as a “17th century slave trader.” This is an inaccurate characterization. Colston was a merchant. He bought and sold a variety of goods participated in many different industries, of which the slave trade was only one.

Finally, even the article’s headline – “Columbus and Wickham statues come down” is biased. The brutal, vicious, disgusting, and intolerant destruction of statues should never be treated as something even that is remotely acceptable. This headline completely fails to capture the moral wrongness of the actions described within it. Any article needs to characterize the deliberate destruction of statues as the atrocity that it is.

bookmark_borderWashington Post article epitomizes what is wrong with the media

Lately I have been avoiding consuming news as much as I can. Things have reached a point where I can no longer watch news shows or read news articles without becoming angry at the biased word choices of the so-called journalists. What is supposed to be the neutral providing of information has turned into editorializing and opinion. The below article from the Washington Post epitomizes what is wrong with the media. I read only the headline and the first sentence of the article, and there are almost too many false and biased things to count:

First of all, news outlets should not describe Trump’s claims as “falsehoods.” They should remain neutral on the truth or falsity of Trump’s statements and allow readers to form their own conclusions. Second, describing Trump’s claims as an “onslaught” is opinion, not factual. Third, Trump’s claims did not necessarily mislead any Americans, let alone millions, because as I already stated, it is up to readers to form their own conclusions about the truth or falsity of the claims. Fourth, undermining faith in the electoral system is not necessarily a bad thing, because if Trump’s claims are actually correct, and there are problems with the integrity of the electoral system, then it is good for people to question this system instead of having blind faith in it. To characterize undermining faith in the electoral system as inherently bad presumes the truth of what the authors are (wrongly, because their job is to be neutral) trying to prove: namely that Trump’s claims of election fraud are false. Fifth, what happened at the Capitol on January 6th was a protest, not a riot. And sixth, it was not really the protest that was deadly; it was the police response to it. Out of the five people who died for reasons related to that protest, one was a cop who was allegedly killed by a protestor, one was a cop who committed suicide, two were protesters who suffered medical emergencies, and one was a protestor who was deliberately killed by cops. 

So yeah, other than that, this article is totally appropriate and makes perfect sense… NOT! The individuals who wrote it and the editor(s) who allowed it to be published should be ashamed of themselves. And, as a side note, it’s awfully ironic that a news outlet so biased towards the left, and the accompanying tendency to spend as much money as possible on unnecessary government programs, is suddenly concerned about taxpayers’ money.

bookmark_borderProtests, riots, and double standards

Reports of the atrocities committed by protesters turned rioters in the wake of George Floyd’s death continue to pile up:

  • In Minneapolis, where the protests began, rioters destroyed a bar that a firefighter spent his life’s savings to build. They burned down an 189-unit affordable housing development and a high-tech manufacturing company. They torched a police station and vandalized, burned, or looted nearly every single building in the surrounding shopping district. They attacked a tanker truck and beat the driver. And they  attacked a woman in a wheelchair while looting a Target.
  • Rioters in Atlanta damaged the College Football Hall of Fame and smashed windows at CNN’s headquarters.
  • In Chicago, they smashed the windows of stores, including a Macy’s and a 7-11.
  • In Denver, someone deliberately crashed their car into a police car, severely injuring 4 people.
  • In Rochester, New York, rioters beat up a shop owner who was attempting to defend her store.
  • Rioters apparently shot a man in a car in Richmond, Virginia.
  • In Philadelphia and Los Angeles, people set police cars on fire.
  • In Columbus, Ohio, they destroyed and looted the Milestone 229 restaurant.
  • People vandalized Confederate monuments at the University of Mississippi and at North Carolina’s state capitol building. They vandalized statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Jeb Stuart in Richmond, Virginia, and burned down the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They spray-painted the word “traitor” on the Confederate Defenders statue in Charleston, South Carolina. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, they vandalized a statue of General Alexander P. Stewart.
  • In Nashville, people tore down a statue of lawmaker and newspaper publisher Edward Carmack, smashed the windows of the courthouse and set it on fire, and spray-painted obscenities on sidewalks.
  • In Philadelphia, they set a statue of Mayor Frank Rizzo on fire.
  • In Dallas, they beat up a store owner and stomped on his head after he attempted to defend his business.
  • In San Antonio, Texas, they destroyed a mall and attempted to damage the Alamo, but were stopped by brave, armed citizens.
  • In Washington, D.C., rioters vandalized historic sites around the National Mall, including the World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and statue of General Casimir Pulaski. They punched and kicked Secret Service agents and threw bricks, bottles, and rocks at them, injuring 60. They also vandalized 6 Secret Service vehicles. And they attacked Fox News reporter Leland Vittert and his cameraman.
  • In Boston, people are currently setting police cars on fire, throwing bottles at journalists, and smashing the windows of various businesses including a bank, a clothing store, a shoe store, a cell phone store, a restaurant, and a Walgreens.

I could continue to add to the list, but then this blog post would be as long as a novel, and I would stay up all night working on it. Suffice it to say that the number of examples of protesters harming innocent people and their property is nearly infinite.

The only thing more infuriating than these senseless acts of destruction is the discrepancy between how the media and the general public have treated them versus how they have treated protests against authoritarian measures to stop the coronavirus.

The majority of comments that I’ve heard and read about the George Floyd protests from people in the media and on the internet have expressed praise, sympathy, and understanding. Even when it is acknowledged that harming innocent people and their property is wrong, emphasis is placed on how understandable the protesters’ anger is, how legitimate their grievances are, and how frustrated, hurt, and traumatized they are feeling. Those who criticize the acts of destruction are treated as the real problem. Additionally, not once I have I witnessed any media members comment on the lack of social distancing during these protests.

On the other hand, those who participate in protests against lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are routinely called “idiots” and “morons.” They have been suspended from their jobs and threatened with violence. Their cause – the right to privacy and freedom of movement – is mocked as petty and unimportant. People online have argued that these protesters have forfeited their right to medical services and that they should not be allowed to ride on public transportation. All of this despite the fact that, as far as I have heard and read, not a single anti-lockdown protester has harmed any people or property. And also despite the fact that the anti-lockdown protesters have the more legitimate and important cause. (This is not because George Floyd’s death wasn’t tragic and unjust – it absolutely was – but because the person who killed him has been fired, arrested, and charged, and nearly everyone agrees that his death was tragic and unjust. Stay-at-home orders, on the other hand, constitute a large-scale trampling on the rights of every single person, yet have gone not only unchallenged but actively supported by the majority of the media and the public, making it particularly important and courageous to protest against them.)

The protesters in Michigan who went to the state capitol while exercising their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms have been criticized more harshly for being “intimidating” than Black Lives Matter supporters have been for destroying buildings, vandalizing monuments, ransacking businesses, and beating and severely injuring people.

The attitude of society generally seems to be: Protesting peacefully against authoritarian government policies is selfish and irresponsible. Smashing, burning, and destroying everything in sight, however, is perfectly fine.

Did I miss a scientific discovery that being a supporter of Antifa or the Black Lives Matter movement confers immunity from the coronavirus?

bookmark_borderAl-Baghdadi obituary: the Washington Post did nothing wrong

The Washington Post received a lot of criticism recently for its coverage of the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The newspaper’s headline read:

“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.”

Many people, including Ivanka Trump, believed that this headline was too positive for the leader of a violent organization and that the term “terrorist” would have been more appropriate than “austere religious scholar.”

The headline was quickly changed, and an editor at the Post explained that the original headline never should have been published.

There wouldn’t be anything wrong with using the word “terrorist,” but there was nothing wrong with the Post’s choice of headline, either, and there was no need to change it. The headline captures the fact that al-Baghdadi died, the fact that he had fundamentalist religious beliefs, and the fact that he was the leader of ISIS. “Austere religious scholar” is a neutral, and factually accurate, description. It is not a compliment, nor it is an insult. It is neither positive or negative. And using neutral language is exactly what all newspapers should do.

Columnist Robert Roe at the Maysville Ledger Independent took issue with the fact that the Post published the story about al-Baghdadi’s death in the obituaries section, writing that the paper’s editors “mislead their readers with the false narrative that this animal was something akin to a diplomatic religious leader.” I’m not sure what is wrong with publishing al-Baghdadi’s death notice in the obituaries section. There’s no rule that only admirable people are allowed to have obituaries written about them. Just as newspapers should describe things using neutral language and allow readers to form their own opinions, they should also publish obituaries for a variety of public figures and allow readers to make their own judgments about which of these public figures they find admirable and which they do not.

Jesse White, a columnist at the Mesabi Daily News, went so far as to suggest that the headline should have read, “Noted scumbag, rapist, torture expert, all-around piece of [expletive] and now former ISIS leader is dead: Good riddance.” He added that a sub-heading should have told readers that al-Baghdadi “blew himself up (along with three of his kids) instead of taking a bullet to the head from a member of our special forces on Saturday because he was a psychopathic coward.”

This type of language is a perfect example of what a newspaper should not do. A newspaper should never, under any circumstances, describe a person as a “scumbag,” a “coward,” or a “piece of [expletive]’ in an article. Other than on the editorial page, the job of a newspaper is to provide facts, not opinions. Language like this is not merely opinion, it is inflammatory and personally insulting. It would be completely unprofessional and inappropriate for a newspaper article to describe a person in such insulting terms, no matter who the person is, and it is preposterous to suggest that a newspaper should do so.

No concerns about neutrality or professionalism stopped the Boston Herald from characterizing al-Baghdadi’s death as “taking out the trash” on its front page:

A newspaper should never describe anyone’s death as “taking out the trash,” no matter what horrible things the person did and no matter how widely hated the person is. Hatred for a person, whether justified or not, is an opinion, and newspapers should not express opinions (other than on the editorial page). It’s the Herald’s headline, not the Washington Post’s, that should be the target of outrage and criticism.