Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Race, aggressive denialism and media timidity

Aggressive denialism inhibited the news media from reporting on climate change for a solid decade.  Any news story that reported sensibly on global warming was greeted by howls of outrage -- venomous comments, threats to boycott and cancel subscriptions, accusations of criminal naivet√©.  If the media were willing to cover the topic at all they bent over backwards to include the perspective of irrelevant hack denialists as a "balance" to the scientific consensus.  This media malpractice persisted well past any legitimate scientific dissensus and into the time when climate change was clearly obvious in real time

The exact same tactics are being deployed to shut down conversations about race.  Any story lately, which asserts that racism is still a problem in the U.S. is greeted with these same howls of outrage.  They cry that racism would be over if it weren't for the people who complain of racism or the journalists and media outlets who report on it. The complaintants are the "real racists" - the ones trying to create racial disharmony.  Conservative pundits rage that when Obama gently claims race played a role in the Trayvon Martin murder, he is acting as the "race-baiter-in-chief."  A Washington Post columnist cries that a President complaining about racism is "disgusting", since the real problem is that Blacks are a violent,  undisciplined, irresponsible, drug-using passel of unwed mothers and absent fathers!

But the aggressive denialism toward the obvious fact of racism is being enforced much more broadly than that.  Take a look at the comments section (in this case on a story in St. Louis about grocery stores and race) and see the vehement rejection of the racism thesis - and the floodgates open with accusations of reverse racism and excuse-mongering (!) on the part of Blacks and their apologizers, and attacks upon the media that had the poor judgement to report on it.  After the story went viral, and generated huge blowback, the metro desk had to publicly justify their reasoning behind the decision to even publish such a "race baiting" article, and the editor published a full editorial making it clear that they had never meant to endorse a racial reading the of the situation.

The education of the public on climate change has had to take place against a corporate headwind and in the face of utter negligence from the cowed and timid media.  Unfortunately it also seems likely that for the foreseeable future the media will be steering clear of any effort to elucidate the obvious fact that racism is alive and well in the U.S.

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