Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Drudge features a brutal alleged racially motivated beating of a white student by a Black student. What is his goal?

This morning The Drudge Report featured the following headline at the top of his page “WHITE STUDENT BEATEN ON SCHOOL BUS; CROWD CHEERS” which links to a story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch which has the less sensational title “Tape shows beating on bus of Belleville West Student.” The article is about the appalling story of an African American student or students brutally beating up a white student on a school bus. The article includes video of the attack, which shows that while the assault was taking place some students cheered, while others Black and white looked on in horror.

The last point is important and bears repeating, some Black and white students looked on in horror, but you wouldn’t know that by Drudge’s headline. From Drudge’s headline you would think that the victim of this malicious attack was the only white student on the bus and every last non-white student on the bus (read Black) was cheering on this beating. But this is how Drudge and other irresponsible media gatekeepers marginalize and exploit racial tensions.

Those of us who do not live in or near Bellevelle, IL do not know what the community’s climate is when it comes to race relations. While Captain Don Sax of the Belleville Police Department believes the crime was racially motivated, school Superintendent Greg Moats claims that there are no racial problems at the school.

The truth is most of don’t know why it happened, but another truth is that regardless of the facts, this incident has the potential to inflame race relations in that community, school and nationwide. While the local paper approached this incident responsibly, Drudge immediately sensationalized it. Don’t get me wrong, this story needs to be told, but told in a responsible manner.

I hope I am wrong but within the next day this clip could end up in heavy rotation on FOX NEWS, quickly followed by CNN (Lou Dobbs will have a hard time leaving it alone) and eventually MSNBC. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others on hate, er uh, talk radio will declare that in the age of Obama white kids can’t get on a bus without being attacked by a group of savage Black students.

The student(s) who carried out the attack need to be punished, expelled and possibly prosecuted for assault . The students who cheered on the fight should be disciplined and the victim needs to be supported. The entire student body and the larger Belleville community need to address and discuss the incident in a productive manner, deal with the wounds exposed and start the healing process.

Following a bruising election last year, the fight for just and humane immigration reform, the debate about marriage equality for the GLBT community, the out of control health care town halls and tea parties which have taken on an angry and not so subtle racist tone, it is time for those of us with the capacity to do so, to lead and speak out on tolerance, understanding and diversity.

We owe it to ourselves to make this country a better place.

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