Mona Charen

There is nothing the cable channels love more than a good murder trial, especially if the violence is spiced with the irresistible seasoning of race. But you don't understand much about America if you don't know that only some racial recipes are newsworthy. If the victim is white and the killer is black, it's not interesting (unless the killer is a celebrity). If the victims are both white, it's only interesting if the victim or the murderer is a comely blond female (preferably a nymphomaniac). If the victim and killer are both black, it's a yawn. If the victim is black and the killer is white -- make way for sweeps week!

While several channels were providing real time coverage of the George Zimmerman trial in Florida, a Howard University student was murdered in Washington, D.C. The story of Omar Sykes didn't make it to television news except in Washington, D.C. The story of his murder was noted only in the Washington Post's Metro section, provoking this question: If a white student at any college in Washington, D.C. had been murdered on the street on the night of July 4, would it have been only a local story?

Doubtful. A liberal columnist, noting this disparity, would very likely attribute it to vestigial racism. I think it's probably something else. There is a daily death toll of young African-Americans in America's cities. In Chicago alone, more than 200 people (mostly black) have been killed in just the past six months. These deaths are not treated as major news events, I suspect, because the press is squeamish about drawing attention to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators of this violence are black. If these victims had been killed by white people, it's a certainty that it would have been a major national obsession. (Recall the frenzy during the '90s when it seemed that white arsonists were firebombing black churches. They weren't, but that's another story.)

Young black males account for 1 percent of the population, yet they comprise 16 percent of murder victims. They also represent 27 percent of homicide offenders.

Omar Sykes's murder deserved more attention, more outrage, than it received. I don't think he and I would agree on much. The Post account suggested that he had a strong interest in "social justice." I tend to agree with Frederick von Hayek who said that putting word "social" before anything else wholly destroys the meaning of the word it modifies. But never mind.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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