Monday, September 18, 2006

Racism by Proxy

Mark Hyman’s latest mailbag segment is notable simply because it provides an ugly example of how he uses the words of viewers to say things that are so objectionable that he lacks the guts to say them himself.

He reads from two letters concerning his commentary on Katrina (in which he blamed state and local governments for the disastrous response, ignoring the fact that the Bush administration had gutted FEMA and put an incompetent buddy of Bush’s in charge of it).

One letter simply reiterates Hyman’s attack on the state government of Louisiana.

The other is far worse.

Jeff in San Antonio emailed, "I wish you could have commented on the spike in
crime in [the] cities that took in the 'refugees' from New Orleans. Some,
although a small percentage [sic] of the 'animals' from New Orleans resumed
their ritual of robbery, drug dealing, even murders in our Texas cities once
they arrived here. Even upstanding New Orleans residents have commented, 'we
don't want them back.' Well, Texas took them in, and has paid dearly for it. San
Antonio witnessed the animals burglarizing the vehicles of the very people
([the] volunteers) who were trying to help them at the shelters."

So not only do we have refugees being accused of bringing crime waves to the places they went to, but they get called “animals” not once, but twice. Given that a large percentage of the refugees were African American, this cannot help but carry racist connotations.

Hyman might defend “Jeff” (and himself) by saying that they’re only referring to the “animals” that actually committed crimes. It’s the behavior, not the people, who are being labeled.

But it turns out that our pal Jeff is trading in an urban myth that has no facts to back it up. As
urban legends debunking site explains, there have been a variety of rumors circulating about how Katrina refugees have brought crime waves to towns where they sought shelter. But there’s little or no evidence that any of these charges are true. Snopes notes that this myth is a way of packaging xenophobia and racism in more acceptable sentiments, such as concern for one’s own community.

Yet Hyman, even with the journalistic juggernaut that is Sinclair Broadcasting at his disposal, couldn’t be bothered to see if the racist rantings of his fans were actually true. Instead, he simply repeated them without comment, tacitly condoning rhetoric that is not only hateful, but factually wrong.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't find your email address. Can you contact me at BD, RE: music?

thanks, Ted.

Keep fighting the good fight.


At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


The extremism practiced by Hyman seems to be getting even more extreme.

We already have a one-party system (with Democrats often acting in a cowardly "republican-lite" mode).

What next, mass book burnings?


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