One would think from the daily headlines of New England’s most circulated newspaper that the shores of the Bay State and its neighbors are being bombarded by white supremacist hate mongers straight from “Romper Stomper.”
To be sure, there are some undeniable incidents of hate from the racist Right. In June, a resident of Winthrop, Massachusetts stole a box truck and went on a rampage in which he murdered two middle-aged black persons before being fatally shot by police. Renée Graham of the Boston Globe said in response that this is “exactly the kind of white extremist violence that has federal authorities worried.” Yet even as she said that, law enforcement was “still determining what motivated” the killer.
Graham went on to cite the culprits she considered deserving of blame: 1) Fox News host Tucker Carlson, 2) the January 6 Capitol rioters, and 3) attendees of a Donald Trump rally in Wellington, Ohio.
But it was in its analysis of a recent incident with nonwhite extremists, one that could have resulted in much more bloodshed, that the Globe provided a textbook example of how local journalism has been corrupted by partisan, corporate, and ideological dogmas.
Not Stopping for the Chowder
On July 3, a Massachusetts State Police trooper stopped to help a group of motorists along I-95 between the northeast towns of Lynnfield and Stoneham. To his surprise, he encountered a group of 11 individuals in two vehicles, including a 17-year-old minor. A stand-off ensued that shut down a whole portion of the highway and caused authorities to issue a shelter-in-place order for residents in the surrounding area. Eventually, their leader negotiated a surrender, with most of the group refusing to self-identify for the police. The incident in question, fortunately, ended without loss of life.
The men were all armed with long rifles and wore military-style clothing, in some cases even helmets. They were affiliated with a group called “Rise of the Moors.” This could be described as a fraternal lodge located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island—or alternatively a racial/religious cult of people who see themselves as part of a separate nation originating in Morocco. The Globe did its best not to characterize them as a cult, even including a profile of group leader Jamhal Talib Abdullah Bey with his U.S. Marine Corps dress uniform. The story included commentary from analysts on the Moorish Science movement from a divinity school professor.
In contrast to how the paper treated with the case of the white shooter in Winthrop, the Globe included numerous statements in Bey’s defense from his family that rejected the characterizations of him as a separatist and black nationalist.
The Globe is the home to the Spotlight investigative reporting group, famous for exposing Catholic priest abuse cover-ups in the early 2000s. But one needn’t be an award-winning investigative reporter to figure out what Rise of the Moors believes. A simple search would lead to the group’s website, where they explain exactly what they stand for. Including:
- That black Americans are actually descendants of the Moors and the group seeks to establish a sovereign government starting with a “Moorish American Consulate.” This and other beliefs of ROTM are recorded in a rambling, typo-ridden seven-page letter by founder and chairman Jamhal Bey to the Moroccan government from December 2020.
- In a letter from May 2020 to U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Bey laid out the Islamic origins of black Americans, citing the ahistorical theory of the Muslim discovery of the Americas put forward by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2014.
- In their “North Gate” newsletter from 2019, the group claims the Murray Islands, a small archipelago north of Australia populated by fewer than 500 people, is among the historic territories of the “Moorish Empire.”
- In another newsletter, ROTM accused police of the Philadelphia area borough of Darby of “genocide” for evicting a female member of the group from her home and charging her with various crimes concerning the endangerment of children and neighbors. The woman in question had powered her home using a dangerous set-up of generators, car batteries, kerosene, and propane tanks. In addition, another occupant was arrested on charges of illegal firearms possession due to a previous criminal conviction.
Rise of the Moors exhibits all the hallmarks of racial and religious extremism without being labeled as such by the press. It is an offshoot of the Moorish Science Temple of America, a small sect founded in 1913 in Newark, New Jersey. When MSTA founder Noble Drew Ali died in 1929, a faction led by Wallace Fard split off and eventually became the Nation of Islam, which has become larger and more influential than the Moors.
Whereas the Nation of Islam under Louis Farrakhan and predecessor Elijah Mohammed has demonized whites and other races and religions, the MSTA shies away from such rhetoric. The ROTM group attributes much of the persecution of blacks to anti-Muslim “Crusaders” and the “Popes of Rome.” This should concern the Globe, given that Boston is 36 percent Catholic.
The week before the standoff, an analysis of Moorish Science groups appeared in the theology magazine Broadview written by Canadian Muslim writer Omar Mouallem. He criticized their beliefs as “pseudoscience.” Some among the MSTA have stated long before the I-95 standoff that the non-recognition of state authority by Moorish “sovereign citizens” is not in keeping with Noble Drew Ali’s teachings and that they fully believe in abiding by U.S. laws and the Constitution. They attribute phenomena of sovereign citizen Moors as being more a product of recent Moorish offshoots started by younger adherents.
Common-Sense Gun Grabbing
The Globe’s kid-gloves treatment of the Moors is odd, considering members of the group got themselves arrested in the middle of nowhere on charges the paper would otherwise want to see robustly prosecuted. After all, Massachusetts bans assault weapons, including AR-15s and AK-style rifles. News accounts aren’t clear what the Moors were carrying, only that—according to a state police spokesman—they were “not consistent with the firearms laws that we have in Massachusetts.”
The Moors’ understanding of America’s legal system may have some overlap with the right-wing groups the Globe considers extremists. Some of their videos on YouTube (before their channel was banned) addressed assault weapons bans, notably Miller v. Bonta, the lawsuit that seeks to overturn California’s 1989 law. On July 28, the Moors filed a federal lawsuit against the Massachusetts State Police and the judge in their criminal case, alleging “defamation, discrimination of national origin and deprivation of their rights.”
The Globe’s editorial position on gun control is very clear. After the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida, the paper published an appeal to readers headlined “Make it Stop,” asking for calls and tweets to six centrist senators of both parties to vote against laws that would deregulate suppressors and expand concealed carry permits nationwide for people holding a state-issued permit. The editorial attracted national attention. On May 13, the editorial board urged the Massachusetts legislature to ban the manufacture of so-called assault weapons. This would be well beyond the restrictive gun-control laws of nations like Belgium, where small arms are still manufactured but are generally not permitted for private ownership.
This is nothing new, as the Globe regularly delegitimizes opinions outside of its own narrow window of acceptable views. In 2010, film critic Neal Gabler compared the Tea Party to al-Qaeda in his column only months after Massachusetts elected a Tea Party Republican to replace the late Ted Kennedy in the Senate.
Sovereign Citizens of the Wrong Color
Rather than focus on the already illegal possession of assault weapons by the Moors suspects, or the fact that they were clad in military gear, the Globe analysis of the incident zeroed in on the group’s relationship to the sovereign citizen movement, QAnon, white supremacists, and the alt-Right. It made sure to include quotes from Mark Potok, a former Southern Poverty Law Center official who admitted to designating organizations as “hate groups” not based on violent tactics but rather for their ideological leanings. The SPLC no longer monitors black hate groups, claiming that “black dissent isn’t black violence.” The Globe also cited an Anti-Defamation League researcher in claiming that as many as one-third of sovereign citizens are “people of color.”
In the modern era of activism masked as journalism, the Globe has ventured far beyond bias, not only espousing wokeism on its editorial pages but employing commissars that might warrant SPLC profiles of their own. Jeneé Osterheldt writes “A Beautiful Resistance,” a column focused on black identity. On April 20, in response to the jury’s verdict in the trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, she wrote, “This isn’t justice—George Floyd is still dead.”
Such an editorial line for a regional newspaper aggravates the issues both of black extremism that it supports and white supremacist ideology that it condemns. The Globe is the paper of record for the entire New England region, and it enjoys little competition from other struggling traditional papers. But is it truly representative of the people of that area and the reality they live?
Massachusetts’ black demographic is only 7 percent of the total population, well below the national average of 12.2 percent. Yet the Globe is ferociously dedicated to publishing columns like Osterheldt’s. Boston’s own black population dipped by 4.7 percent since 2000, according to the paper. The editorial board holds policy positions in full lockstep with mainstream American liberalism. It fawns over local Democrat politicians without consequence, boosting the presidential aspirations of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) by announcing they would be highlighting her dog Bailey much more after her campaign announcement in 2019.
Despite Warren’s admission to fraudulently claiming Cherokee heritage, and her smear of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as a sexist during the early primary season, the Globe pretended that it was all just a noble quest up until her withdrawal from the race. This posture could be geared toward consolidating their readership as print circulation continues to decline by attracting a wider audience with an ideological rather than regional affinity for their product.
The Green Woke Monster Consumes Its Readers
Yet when it comes to social issues, the Globe, owned by Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, reads like a Spike Lee movie in its racial radicalism, or a doomsday movie in its climate change coverage. In the wake of the Capitol riot on January 6, the editorial board called for the Justice Department to abandon “two centuries of tradition” by indicting and prosecuting Donald Trump. This was their reaction to an incident that clearly polarized Americans across the country, and hyperbolically described as worse than the September 11 attacks, despite the fact that only the Trump-supporting Ashli Babbitt was killed in the melee.
In early April, a Nation of Islam adherent named Noah Green murdered a Capitol police officer, and like much of the establishment media, the Boston Globe gave scant coverage that focused mainly on the means and state of mind of Green. Even on April 7, a day after the NOI had disavowed Green, who was a devoted follower of Farrakhan, the Globe omitted any possible connection.
As with many large metro papers, the Boston Globe is intent on promoting a politics that contradicts the very identity of the community it serves. New England is the cradle of abolitionism, home to many revered universities and prep schools, and noble ethnic communities of Irish, Portuguese, and French Canadians. The roots of America’s birth were in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the crates of tea tossed into that bay helped start the American Revolution. Today, it is far from the perfect society given class and social divisions, but the medicine prescribed by its leading newspaper is a poisonous brew. The press cannot choose to sensationalize crimes of one racial persuasion while soft-pedaling those of another. But that seems to be exactly what the Boston Globe’s mission is.