The Drudge Report on Thursday featured an arresting headline: “D.C. Tourist Savagely Beaten, Stomped, Spit on by Gang of Youths.” Who could resist clicking on that?
The link went a Gateway Pundit story, which supplies the additional information that the attack took place outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, where President Ronald Reagan and three others were wounded by John Hinckley Jr. in 1981. (The immediate aftermath of that shooting is pictured above; the scene of this month’s mayhem is a few steps to the right.)
The same place where Reagan was shot. Now, there’s a news hook for you. Not that people wouldn’t normally care about tourists getting beaten up at a swank hotel in the nation’s capital, but to capture the public’s attention amid the sea of routine mayhem elsewhere in the District, you need an angle. What better one than this? “Ah, for the dear, dead days of the 1980s, when all you had to worry about was being shot by some lovelorn loser who hoped his derring-do would impress a Hollywood actress. And that’s only if you are president.”
Actually, people had a lot more than that to worry about in 1981. The crime wave that erupted 15 years before was in full flood, and it would not crest for another 10 years. When things were at their worst, almost as many murder victims were piling up in Washington D.C., per capita per year, as Londoners died under the Nazi Blitz and “Vengeance” rockets during World War II (about 75 per 100,000 inhabitants annually, from 1990 to 1995 versus about 80 per 100,000 annually, from 1940 to 1945).
America has quieted down a great deal since then, so much so that a lot of people nowadays act as if crime is no longer a pressing problem for us.
That may be true for some, but not for all. Crime is real, crime is here, and far too many Americans have no way of putting it out of their lives. Without quoting John Donne, let me say that it’s those people we should be thinking about. Even if you’ve never been beaten, stomped, and spat upon, and never expect to be, you need to understand that unprevented and unpunished crime is poisonous for our country.
The Hilton attack happened about 1 a.m. on July 14, 11 days before it was featured on Gateway Pundit and linked to on Drudge. It would never have made the national news at all, had police not released security camera video of the attack in hope of getting a tip from the public as to the identity of the perpetrators.
Uh-oh. Video. That’s a problem, because now everyone can see what the headline writer meant by “gang of youths.” Sure enough, the youths were black, their victim, white.
The Gateway Pundit story quickly garnered more than 5,000 comments. Trigger Warning! Anyone who ventures into the comment section of a story like this will find himself awash in triggering verbiage. He’ll be in the Grand Central Station of Trigger Town.
Gateway Pundit has a reasonable set of guidelines for comments. Profanity, racial slurs, and threats of violence are not OK with them. But in this case, it seems the moderators just threw up their hands and cried, “What’s the use?”
Threats of violence? Many of the commenters lamented that the victim was unarmed and therefore unable to plug the first of his attackers and scatter the rest. Much lip-smacking accompanied discussions of what would happen if the mob tried it in Georgia, Indiana, Texas, Arizona or some other jurisdiction where (unlike in D.C.) “concealed carry” or “constitutional carry” is the law.
Regarding the question of what should be done with the perps in this case, raw blood lust was often on display. Many wanted vengeance not just on the culprits themselves but on the communities that produced them. Suggestions went so far as to include genocide by germ warfare. There was much wistful sighing about how grand it would be if black Americans would all simply disappear.
Vituperative disputes arose among the commenters about what or who was ultimately responsible for the crime. Candidates for blame included the liberal culture, the Baby Boomers, the Boomers’ elderly Pied Pipers (Timothy Leary, Alfred Kinsey, Allen Ginsberg, Dr. Spock, et al.), abortion on demand, violent rap music, irresponsible absentee fathers, the welfare state, the sidelining of Christian faith, and much more.
Race hustlers Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson came in for criticism, naturally. Barack Obama, Lyndon Johnson, and Democrats generally were slammed, too, but Republicans from Lincoln to Trump drew some knocks as well. Not to mention Adam and Eve for eating the apple. And don’t forget Satan cast down from heaven.
Swear words were usually disguised by deliberate misspelling, as was the N-word; both were often deployed in tandem. Racial insults frequently took creative forms, such as: “Good ole DC, District of the Congo,” “If Obama had a son, he’d look like these creeps,” and so forth.
One such insult was seconded by this mock retort: “Racist! Wait but it’s true. I’m so confused.”
The more printable descriptions of the attackers included “black thugs,” “animals,” “bestial devils,” “a pack,” “hyenas,” “hood ratz,” “cockroaches,” “human filth,” “like a disease,” “just like dogs,” “worthless, useless burden on society.”
Much sarcasm was expended on the use of “youths” as a euphemism for all that.
I scanned only about a fifth of these comments, but I can’t go on. You get the idea. Even if I could reach the end of them, this is only one of dozens (hundreds?) of similar Internet news stories that each carry similar comment threads.
The angry, race-focused remarks recounted here may reflect racism, but it’s not the conceited, head-in-the-clouds racism indulged in by self-congratulatory eugenicists and “master race” theorists of decades and even centuries ago. Alexander Hamilton had those people’s number when he wrote this in The Federalist No. 11:
The world may politically, as well as geographically, be divided into four parts, each having a distinct set of interests. Unhappily for the other three, Europe, by her arms and by her negotiations, by force and by fraud, has, in different degrees, extended her dominion over them all. Africa, Asia, and America, have successively felt her domination. The superiority she has long maintained has tempted her to plume herself as the Mistress of the World, and to consider the rest of mankind as created for her benefit. . . . Facts have too long supported these arrogant pretensions of the Europeans. It belongs to us to vindicate the honor of the human race, and to teach that assuming brother, moderation.
As the Proverb says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” “Master race” racism died in the rubble of Berlin. Only pathetic shreds of it remain today, resembling nothing so much as the Japanese holdouts who kept emerging from the jungle in the decades after their Emperor surrendered.
Most of the Gateway Pundit comments are not as malignant as that. They’re even understandable, if people would take the trouble, or develop the self-awareness, to understand them. But in the dispute about ultimate culprits, I come down on the side of culture as the cause of the Hilton attack, if only because culture is much easier to change than skin color.
People generally will rise, or sink, to the level that’s expected of them. The problem is that liberalism has expected way too little of blacks, for way too long.
Midge Decter, wife of neoconservative author Norman Podhoretz, wrote all about it in Commentary magazine after a NYC blackout in 1977 sparked a citywide orgy of looting and arson—this in contrast to the neighborly, cooperative spirit with which New Yorkers had met an even more widespread blackout 12 years earlier. Decter’s bottom line:
Young blacks are getting the message from the liberal culture, more subtly but just as surely as from any old-time Southern sheriff, that they are, inherently and by virtue of their race, inferior. There are virtually no crimes they can commit that someone with great influence does not rush in to excuse on the grounds that we had no right to expect anything else. . . . The message they are given, in short, is that they are not fully enough human to be held morally responsible for their own behavior. They are children, as the Southerners used to say, or ironically, they are, in the terminology the New York Times editorialist so much objected to but so inevitably himself implied, “animals.” This is the message that has for some time now, at least since the late ’60s, been consistently transmitted by the “best” people, and certainly widely received by their intended interlocutors. It is, to be blunt about it, the message of liberal racism.
That calamitous New York blackout riot ran from the night of July 13 through the 14th and, in some places, into the following day. This was exactly 42 years before the Hilton attack. Has anything changed since then?
Decter concluded her reproof of the liberal culture that led to the looting by paying tribute to those among its “intended interlocutors” who resisted it:
In the course of the radio coverage of July 14, two little black boys, sounding about twelve years old, were interviewed and announced that they had taken no part in the looting going on all around them. They seemed a bit sheepish. When asked by the interviewer, “Why not?” one of them said, “I was scared of the cops,” and the other one said, “Because my mama would have killed me.” A brave and lucky woman, that mama—no thanks to the culture intent on whispering sweet nada into her little boy’s ear.
Such bravery is what we need now. We need people brave enough to confront the mob—not just the mob on the street, but the mob of social justice warriors who stand ready to condemn any American who battles thug culture as a racist, if white, and as a sellout, an Uncle Tom, an Oreo cookie, if black.
One such courageous voice belonged to Roy Innis. The civil rights figure started out as a black nationalist, but after he lost two sons to murderers, his disgust with crime led him to join the NRA and to support Presidents Nixon and Reagan, New York’s crime-busting Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and conservative Supreme Court nominees Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito. Innis even applauded and befriended subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz.
In 1988, Innis distinguished himself by going all Sumo on Al Sharpton and choking neo-Nazi John Metzger in separate TV talk show appearances. The latter incident is usually described as being triggered when Metzger called Innis an Uncle Tom, but actually, just before pronouncing those words, Metzger had called an elderly rabbi sitting next to Innis a “kike”—perhaps the ugliest of antisemitic slurs. When the show resumed after Metzger and his friends had been expelled from the studio, Innis explained that he would not sit still when someone was being verbally assaulted in his presence. He was standing up for the rabbi.
Innis died two years ago. Who today will carry on for him? Maybe it’ll be “Jay D,” one of the Gateway Pundit commenters and seemingly the only one among them who is not an “angry white male.” Here is what Jay D said of the Hilton attack:
Sad. I am a black guy, and I hope they find these a-holes & throw them under a jail.
I looked up Jay D’s comments in earlier, unrelated threads, and it’s evident he’s not just pretending to be black. He’s not on the Trump Train yet, quite the contrary. But count him among the many black Americans who are fed up with crime.
While the violence that went on in front of the Hilton is despicable, the reaction to it may indeed be intemperate in many cases. We used to call this reaction “white backlash,” back when black ghettos were burning all over the country. Who could be blamed for wanting to turn away from all this unpleasantness and pretend none of it is happening? But the violence is happening, and the backlash is building, and no amount of social media “moderating” can scrub it out of existence.
Liberals love to call “law and order” a code for racism. It is not. “Law and order” is the antidote to racism. Only law and order can pull our country back from the chaos and hatred we’ve just seen on display.
Let us join hands, white and black, and require our fellow citizens to show the common decency that’s so painfully absent from that Washington Hilton footage. If we demand law and order and enforce that demand vigorously enough, we may yet find that people, black as well as white, will rise to the challenge we’ve set for them.
Photo Credit: Dirck Halstead/Liaison