Let’s not allow the racial brush fires to become a racial conflagration

Four young black adults, aged 18 to 24, shown in the police booking photos above, have been charged with hate crimes in the kidnapping and torture of an 18-year-old mentally disabled white man in Chicago. Images of their victim, which they incredibly intelligently live-streamed via Facebook, are below. As visceral as such images in the media can be, let’s not let the stupid, cruel actions of the few make the rest of us also act in ways that are stupid and cruel.

The victim was made to drink from a toilet bowl and had a gag placed over his mouth

White supremacists must be thrilled to hear the news of four black young adults who have been arrested and charged with hate crimes in their kidnapping and hours-long torture of an 18-year-old mentally disabled white man, voicing their hatred of white people and of Donald Trump while they tortured him.

Reports The Associated Press today:

Chicago — Four black people were charged with hate crimes [today] in connection with a video broadcast live on Facebook that showed a mentally disabled white man being beaten and taunted, threatened with a knife and forced to drink from a toilet.

The assault went on for hours, until Chicago police found the disoriented victim walking along a street, authorities said.

The suspects, who were jailed, can be heard on the video using profanities against white people and President-elect Donald Trump.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said investigators initially concluded that the 18-year-old man was singled out because he has “special needs,” not because he was white. But authorities later said the charges resulted from both the suspects’ use of racial slurs and their references to the victim’s disability.

It’s also possible that the suspects were trying to extort something from the victim’s family, police said. The man’s parents reported their son missing Monday and told authorities they later received text messages from people who claimed to be holding him captive.

The victim was a classmate of one of the attackers and initially went with that person voluntarily, police said.

“He’s traumatized by the incident, and it’s very tough to communicate with him at this point,” police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said.

Excerpts of the video posted by Chicago media outlets show the victim with his mouth taped shut and slumped in a corner of a room. At least two assailants are seen cutting off his sweatshirt, and others taunt him off camera. The video shows a wound on the top of the man’s head. One person pushes the man’s head with his or her foot.

A red band also appears to be around the victim’s hands. He was tied up for four to five hours, authorities said.

The victim does not appear to make any attempt to defend himself or to escape his attackers. He is a suburban Chicago resident described by Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson as having “mental health challenges.”

“There was never a question whether or not this incident qualified as being investigated as a hate crime,” Johnson said. But “we need to base the investigation on facts and not emotion.”

The case heighted political tensions on social media, with some conservatives suggesting it was linked to the Black Lives Matter movement. Police said there was no indication of any connection.

The incident began Dec. 31, when the victim and one of the suspects, 18-year-old Jordan Hill, met at a suburban McDonald’s to begin what both the victim and his parents believed would be a sleepover, police said.

Instead, Hill drove the victim around in a stolen van for a couple of days, ending up at a home in Chicago, where two of the other suspects lived, detective Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said.

The victim told police what began as playful fighting escalated, and he was bound, beaten and taunted with racial slurs and disparaging comments about his mental capacity.

A downstairs neighbor who heard noises threatened to call police. When two of the suspects left and kicked down the neighbor’s door, the victim escaped. A police officer later spotted the obviously disoriented man wandering down a street.

The man was bloodied and wearing a tank top that was inside-out and backward. He had on jean shorts and sandals, despite freezing weather, officer Michael Donnelly said.

Most hate crimes are connected to the victim’s race, but hate-crime charges can be sought in Illinois if a victim’s mental disability sparked an attack, though it is rare.

In addition to hate crimes, the four were charged with kidnapping, aggravated battery and aggravated unlawful restraint. Three were also charged with burglary. It was unclear whether any of the suspects had attorneys. They were to appear in court Friday. …

Cook County prosecutors identified the suspects as Brittany Covington and Tesfaye Cooper, both of Chicago, and Hill, of suburban Carpentersville. All are 18. A fourth suspect was identified as 24-year-old Tanishia Covington, also of Chicago. …

Before any white people get all indignant and high and mighty over this unfortunate case, we must remind ourselves that also in the news is the ongoing trial of 22-year-old white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof, who shot and killed nine black church members in cold blood in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015.

Just as Roof is not representative of all white people, the four young black people who appropriately have been charged with hate crimes against the mentally disabled young white man (yes, black-on-white crime can be a hate crime, even though there are plenty of assholes and idiots who would claim otherwise) are not representative of all black people.

A minority of the members of all races are capable of inhumanity to other human beings, ranging from verbal abuse to torture to murder.

It’s ridiculous for the right or the left or for any member of any race to use incidents of race-related crimes to indict all or most of the members of an entire race.

These ugly race-related crimes come crashing into our national consciousness via the media, and the media should report them, but we shouldn’t take the incidents out of context, assert that they represent a larger pattern that they don’t represent, or try to selfishly use the incidents to reinforce our own pre-existing, narrow racial-political worldviews and agendas — or, worst, try to use the incidents as an excuse to commit our own crimes against other human beings, feeling “justified” in doing so.

As far as the mindset of the four young black people who kidnapped and tortured the young white man is concerned, I’m not sure whether they truly have a deep-seated hatred of white people or whether they just thought that it was cool to kidnap and torture a whitey, apparently especially in the aftermath of the “election” of Trump as president.

In any event, because they used racial epithets, the hate-crime charges against them appear to be quite appropriate. You don’t get to use hate speech while committing a crime against someone and then later claim that you didn’t really mean it. You said it; there is evidence that you said it. That’s enough to establish your state of mind. Words having meaning. Let’s not pretend that they don’t.

And, of course, just as Roof was cowardly enough to shoot to death nine defenseless, unarmed people, these four attackers apparently were too cowardly to pick on anyone other than a mentally disabled person, whom they outnumbered.

What I hope doesn’t happen is that some white supremacists “retaliate” against some random black person or persons, incorrectly feeling that the entire white race was just kidnapped and tortured by the entire black race, and that it doesn’t devolve into a fucking all-out race war.

In the current poisonous, Trump-filled atmosphere, that could happen, and while it would cause plenty more pain and suffering, it would solve exactly nothing.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Let’s not allow the racial brush fires to become a racial conflagration

  1. Casey Adler

    “Four young black adults, aged 18 to 24, have been charged with hate crimes in the kidnapping and torture of an 18-year-old mentally disabled white man in Chicago. Let’s not let the stupid, cruel actions of the few make the rest of us also act in ways that are stupid and cruel.”

    How come the assailants are aged 18-24 and are dubbed “young adults” but the victim is 18 and is a “man”? You know damn well if the races were reversed, the 18 year-old Black victim would be dubbed a “child” by the media and the white perpetrators would be called adults. It’s this kind of obvious double standard that led to Trump’s victory. When you tell white folks that common sense and reality are going to be subject to double standards, you set the stage for Trump. When people who point out this double standard are then called ignorant or racist, it is even worse. This is *obviously* a hate crime and you know it would be treated as such if things were reversed…

    • Robert

      You’re trying to find some extra layer of meaning in my words that does not exist, apparently to fit in with your pre-existing agenda, something that I railed against in my blog piece.

      Anyway, anyone who is 18 years or older is, by the legal if not also the dictionary definition, an adult and a man or a woman. To me, a young adult (or a young man or a young woman) is someone from 18 years old to his or her mid-20s to perhaps late 20s (that’s just my own definition of “young adult”).

      The victim in this case, being 18, can be described as a man, a young man, an adult or a young adult. Everyone in this case, victim and perpetrator, is an adult, a young adult and a (young) man or a (young) woman. No reputable medium would describe an 18-year-old black person as a “child” because a child by definition is younger than 18.

      Yes, there can be a double standard where it comes to racism, which I alluded to when I indicated that many people see racism and hate crimes as only being white on black and never vice-versa. I wholly disagree with that viewpoint. (And of course, race relations aren’t only between blacks and whites.)

      That said, it’s very important that we look at everything in context. In the United States of America, we have had institutionalized racism perpetrated by whites against blacks. Whites never have had institutionalized racism perpetrated against them by blacks in the United States. That is the backdrop in which things occur today.

      Also, blacks are significantly outnumbered by whites. Per census.gov, blacks are about 13 percent of the U.S. population, whereas whites are around 62 percent. (I didn’t go there in the blog piece, but blacks would lose a race war with whites in the U.S. — badly. They just don’t have the numbers or the power.)

      So the deck remains stacked in whites’ favor at the institutional/societal level. But things can be very different on a one-on-one level, such as the case of the young white man who was just savaged by the young black people in Chicago.

      As I clearly stated in my piece, the accused perpetrators very apparently committed hate crimes. (I write “very apparently” because they are due their days in court.) The perpetrators can’t be let off the hook because of institutionalized racism (as much as institutionalized racism might have contributed to their depravity). They must be held accountable for what they did on the person-to-person level, and very apparently they will be.

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