The White supremacy that wasn’t

The mainstream media and the government reflexively believe the specter of White supremacy is everywhere, broadcasting stories that frequently turn out to be false and mounting a whole of government approach to a problem some whistleblowers claim doesn’t exist on anything like the advertised scale.  As one FBI agent put it, “The demand for White supremacy vastly outstrips the supply of White supremacy.”

Earlier this month, the media went into the usual overdrive when a black woman took to Twitter to claim her goddaughter had been racially harassed and verbally abused at a collegiate women’s volleyball game between Duke and Brigham Young Universities.  On August 27, Lesa Pamplin, a criminal defense attorney running for a county judgeship in Texas, posted a now deleted tweet.  “My Goddaughter is the only black starter for Dukes [sic] volleyball team. While playing yesterday, she was called a [n-word] every time she served. She was threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus. A police officer had to be put by their bench.”  Prior to its deletion, the tweet was liked 185,000 times, complete with a comment from basketball superstar LeBron James, who said “you tell your Goddaughter to stand tall, be proud and continue to be BLACK!!! We are a brotherhood and sisterhood!  We have her back. This is not sports.”  The athlete’s father, Marvin Richardson, a Director at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives reiterated the same story when contacted by The New York Times and other media outlets.  As he explained it, “as the crowd got more hyped and the epithets kept coming, she wanted to respond back but she told me she was afraid that, if she did, the raucous crowd could very well turn into a mob mentality.”  The athlete herself, Rachel Richardson, took to Twitter on August 28, two days after the alleged incident.  She claimed that “my fellow African American teammates and I were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match. The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe.”  The situation was so bad that “my teammates and I had to struggle just to get through the rest of the game” and Brigham Young itself “failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment.”  In her view, the racial epithets were not the work of a lone individual, either.  Instead, the “atmosphere of the student section had changed,” getting “more extreme, more intense.”

Call me a cynic if you like, but the story seemed incredibly suspect from very the first time I heard it:  Yes, there are unrepentant racists out there and I’m certain far too many people are still comfortable using the n-word, but the idea that someone, anyone, would be screaming it at the top of their lungs at a college sporting event and no one in the stands would do or say anything struck me as a bridge too far.  There were about 5,000 people in attendance, and a women’s volleyball game at a major college, even in conservative Utah, isn’t exactly a Klan rally or even an Ultra MAGA event.  The prevalence of cellphone cameras and social media also made it unlikely that this could occur without someone, anyone being captured on video.  People screaming racial epithets in public are fortunately rare these days, much less those getting more intense as if a race riot might ensue.  Surely, a fan in the immediate vicinity would have captured a few seconds, if only to say “look at this asshole,” and posted it on Instagram or Twitter.  Perhaps needless to say, the lack of any evidence despite the obvious opportunity for it didn’t prevent the usual suspects in the mainstream media from running with the story.  The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Sports Illustrated, and others all instantly and reflexively reported it as fact without the slightest hint of skepticism, apparently all too ready to believe that thousands of college students would be happy to participate in racial harassment.  The completely unskeptical reporting of what could’ve obviously been fake news was accompanied by the requisite opinion pieces.  MSNBC, for example, claimed the “racism on display at Brigham Young…fits a historical pattern.”  “The incident brought to mind how Black athletes in the 1960s and 1970s boycotted games and meets on the BYU campus in Utah in the name of human dignity.”  BYU wasn’t the only culprit in their minds, either, “Duke itself certainly has its own ugly history of racism in sports. It is utterly unacceptable that Duke Coach Jolene Nagel did not pull her entire team off the court until this had been dealt with and removed.”  Ultimately, “It appears that BYU has a past with which it refuses to reckon, meaning it has a present that still contains this element of rot. If there was ever a place that needed a reckoning, it is Brigham Young. And if this happens, it will be because a sophomore named Rachel Richardson and her teammates decided to be the only adults in the room.”

As far as I can tell, the only media outlets that expressed any skepticism at all were a conservative student paper and the local Salt Lake City Tribune.  On August 30, the Tribune noted, “BYU Police Lt. George Besendorfer said Tuesday that based on an initial review of surveillance footage of the crowd, the individual who was banned wasn’t shouting anything while the Duke player was serving.” At this point, the school and the police were still accepting the basis of the story and practically begging for corroboration that never came.  “So far, Besendorfer also said, no one from the student section or elsewhere at the volleyball match last week has come forward to BYU police to report the individual responsible for the slur. He also said no one has come forward to say they heard the slur being shouted during the match. He implored students who heard the comments to come forward.”  The story proceeded to fall apart from there, but equally needless to say, there were no retractions, corrections, or consequences for anyone involved.  Instead, The New York Times responded to a Brigham Young report detailing their inability to find any evidence or other witnesses to the racial harassment by acting as if it was impossible to believe the story was false in the first place, as if no one has ever in the history of the universe reported a false hate crime.  Apparently, the geniuses at the Times never heard of Jussie Smollett or the incident with the “noose” reported at Bubba Wallace’s NASCAR garage, or any of the other fake hate crimes that have percolated in the news in recent years.  Instead, they insisted that “B.Y.U. did not directly address why its findings contradicted the account by Richardson, and the statements by both universities left questions unanswered.”  Left unsaid is how it is up to BYU to determine what might or might not have been in Ms. Richardson’s mind. Were they supposed to say she must’ve misheard something or that she’s an outright liar?  Otherwise, the Times oddly reported that Duke’s coach still stands by his team, whatever that means.  The overall suggestion appears to be:  The story is false in its details, but true in its spirit, or something like that , a media trend that dates back to Dan Rather’s false report about George W. Bush in the National Guard.  Today, we call it fake news.

On the surface, this might appear to be just a minor incident of the media collectively jumping to conclusions before all the facts are in, something they do quite frequently and with near reckless abandon, but the stakes are not nearly so low when the federal government and the Department of Justice is equally obsessed with White supremacy.  As the old expression goes, politics is downstream of culture:  The media creates the impression of an environment where out of control racists stalk the landscape and threaten college students.  Politicians and the government readily accept this idea, and when in positions of power focus law enforcement resources accordingly.  Thus, it comes as no surprise that Democrat politicians and the FBI under a Democrat administration are convinced that White supremacy remains the gravest threat the nation faces.  FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress earlier this summer that the threat of violent domestic extremism has “really surged” over the past two years.  If there was any doubt, he was talking about white nationalist fueled domestic extremism, he continued, “We put (it) into the category of anti-government, anti-authority, violent extremism.  That includes everything from militant violent extremism all the way to anarchist violent extremism. What they all have in common is a focus on institutions of government and law enforcement as their likely target.”  Last year, Director Wray put it this way, “Jan. 6 was not an isolated event  The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now, and it’s not going away anytime soon.”

Last week, President Joe Biden held a “United We Stand” summit at the White House to highlight the threat of racially motivated domestic terrorists and “put forward a shared vision for a more united America,” as officials described it.  A website for the event stated the obvious “Hate-fueled violence can have no safe harbor in America.”  The site declared that President Biden is “Taking Action to Prevent and Address Hate-Motivated Violence and Foster Unity.”  These actions include strengthening “federal coordination on preventing, confronting, and recovering from hate-motivated violence and fostering unity,” supporting “educational authorities and educational institutions to improve their ability to prevent hate-based threats and bullying and recover from hate-based violence,” increasing “access to federal prevention resources for organizations and local communities,” assisting “financial institutions and law enforcement to detect and combat the financing of domestic violent extremism,” supporting “information literacy to improve resilience against online attempts to foment hate-motivated violence,” and “enhancing school safety.”  In other words, President Biden is initiating a whole of government approach to combating White supremacy, a threat he sees as rapidly growing even though the website is decidedly light on defining the scope.  Instead, it lists the locations of hate-fueled attacks including “Oak Creek. Pittsburgh. El Paso. Poway. Orlando. Charleston. Atlanta. Buffalo, and more,” some of which are approaching a decade old.  The cynical among us might also wonder why terrorist attacks such as the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, which occurred more than six years ago, are mixed in with deranged, racially motivated killers like Buffalo, NY earlier this year, but that is a story for another time.

In the meantime, the question becomes:  What’s a responsible law enforcement agency to do except devote resources commensurate with this ever expanding threat?  Resources, of course, are necessarily limited even with 35,000 agents at their disposal.  Agents assigned to combat White supremacy aren’t combating drug and human trafficking, organized crime, international terrorism, or any of the other thousands of crimes the FBI is charged with investigating and stopping.  Unfortunately, the FBI does not regularly report on resource allocation and I was unable to find any specific information on the number of agents assigned by category, only that the bureau is organized by the type of crime.  It remains a black box whether or not they are properly allocating resources, but in recent days several current and former agents have come forward claiming the White supremacist threat is not nearly as large as believed and far more agents are devoted to it than should rightly be.  These whistleblowers told The Washington Times that “bureau analysts and top officials are pressuring FBI agents to create domestic terrorist cases and tag people as White supremacists to meet internal metrics.”  “The demand for White supremacy,” explained one agent, “vastly outstrips the supply of White supremacy.  We have more people assigned to investigate White supremacists than we can actually find.”  In this agent’s view, the priorities have been set independent of the facts, and leadership has “already determined that White supremacy is a problem.” “We are sort of the lapdogs as the actual agents doing these sorts of investigations, trying to find a crime to fit otherwise First Amendment-protected activities,” he explained.  This “trying to find a crime” has expanded the definition of White supremacy to include symbols traditionally associated with American history and liberty, such as the “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flag.  “If they have a Gadsden flag and they own guns and they are mean at school board meetings, that’s probably a domestic terrorist.”  Of course, the agency itself disagrees.  “The FBI aggressively investigates threats posed by domestic violent extremists,” an FBI spokesperson told the Times. “We do not investigate ideology, and we do not investigate particular cases based on the political views of the individuals involved. The FBI will continue to pursue threats or acts of violence, regardless of the underlying motivation or sociopolitical goal.”

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the experts agree with the FBI and the administration in general.  Brian Levin, a founder of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University pointed out that hate crimes increased by some 20% across 52 cities in 2021, and as much as 39% in major cities according to a preliminary analysis of federal government data.  “We have these ticking time bombs walking around like Buffalo or Mother Emanuel church,” he explained, referencing the site of a racially-motivated mass shooting this year and another in 2015.  “That’s something that we really have to have to address. White supremacy is absolutely something that we have to look at as not only a hate crime issue but a national security issue.”  It sounds incredibly ominous and disturbing, perhaps until you actually take a look at the metrics.  There’s a reason why these figures are generally reported in percentages and not real data.  The total universe of hate crimes is small compared to crimes in general.  2021 data has not been officially been published yet, but the Department of Justice reported a total of 8,263 hate crime incidents in 2020 with 61.8% of these motivated by “race, ethnicity, or ancestry.”  To put this in perspective, there are close to 20,000 murders that same year.  People are being killed in general at far more than double the rate than hate crimes are committed, much less car accidents (about 35,000) and opioid deaths (almost 85,000, up to over 100,000 last year).  Considering that 28.2% of hate crimes are against property instead of people and not all of the remainder are murders, your odds of being killed in a hate crime are infinitesimal.  Further, of the known offenders, 55.1% were white and 21.2% were black or African American.  Whites account for 60.1% of the population; blacks 12.4%.  A straightforward reading of this data would suggest that White supremacists, in fact, commit hate crimes at a significantly lower rate than blacks per capita.  Putting this another way, the threat of Black Nationalists or whatever you prefer to call them is higher than that of whites.

This should not be a surprise when you consider the percentage of major media stories that turn out to be completely false.  The media keeps themselves busy reporting on fake stories without evidence while the FBI aggressively pursues segments of the population that commit less hate crimes than demographics suggest.  It’s the same phenomena in both cases, a reflexive desire to see White supremacy everywhere regardless of the facts, only one manifests in the media and the other throughout government.  Either way, call it the White supremacy that wasn’t.

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