Originally posted March 12, 2015.
In the wake of a disturbing incident in which Oklahoma University students were caught on video chanting the most vile form of hate speech one can imagine, it is probably time to point out a couple of facts concerning America and race.
Contrary to what you may have read or heard, America remains one of the most (if not the most) racially tolerant nations in the world.
Yes, you heard that right.
According to the Washington Post and a World Values Survey, America is one of only ten countries where less than five percent of the population say they would rather have their own skin color living next to them. This survey has been criticized for being rather flimsy, but it’s about the most non-threatening way of finding out whether people are racist as opposed to directly asking them. The only other alternative would be to investigate hate crimes statistics, but we all know most third-world countries don’t even know what that is; and for countries that do have those laws on the books, it typically takes an act of God (legally speaking) to successfully prosecute someone.
Another interesting statistic from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development shows that the United States has led the world in legal immigration inflows for over a decade (and probably longer). What this means is that America, by and large, encounters greater populations of minorities than anyone on the planet. This hardly seems like racist behavior.
Some would argue that Canada has more racial tolerance and ethnic diversity, but that is only partially true. Although it is more diverse, Canada does not have the economic status and pop culture attractive to most immigrants, thus its ethnic population is limited.
Keep in mind that Canada’s total population sits right at 35 million as opposed to America’s 300 million. Approximately one-sixth of each population lives in non-urban areas and it should be noted that Canada has a much larger terrain than America.
There is no question that by sheer volume America has much more going for it in the way of minorities and immigrants. This is definitely a sign of progress from 50 years ago, but it is also something that our media has largely ignored in recent years and has instead furthered a questionable narrative of “racist America.”
Highlight It and They Will Come
One of the troubling things about our media is their ability to fabricate a story into a supposed fact instead of grabbing hold of a fact and turning it into a story. This has been a problematic issue in recent years with certain high-profile shootings of unarmed African-Americans around the country.
Consider the following scenario:
Imagine a woman whose husband was murdered in a particular city. Over time, the widow becomes increasingly enraged that justice was never done. More time passes and she becomes convinced that she lives in a corrupt and violent city.
One day, she gets word that a local journalist’s husband has just been murdered and she decides to share her story with the journalist. Not long after, they become friends and set out to prove that their home city is more violent than anyone ever imagined. After all, they both had husbands murdered, so it must be true.
Every day they listen to the police scanner and wait to hear calls reporting homicides. When a homicide does occur, the journalist races out to the scene to report—but it doesn’t stop there.
Eventually, she begins pulling victim family members in for interviews and paints an emotional story for her audience to see. She even throws in her own commentary about how she had a loved one murdered and that the city’s violent crime is “on the rise.”
Not long after these series of reports, the public begins to believe that their city is one of the most violent cities in the country. Instead of researching the facts, they believe the media narrative and demand that the city clean itself up.
The problem in this scenario is that the media had no facts to support their assertions. The only thing they established was a narrative of what they thought was going on and highlighted different homicides in order to make their claims seem credible.
This type of selective reporting is what has been stoking the fire of racial tensions since the election of President Obama. For whatever reason, the media do not seem concerned about the truth, but only advancing a narrative to their own journalistic embarrassment.
Worse yet, the media have decided to highlight an incident of racism involving some college students at Oklahoma University, something clearly not worthy of national news. The reason for this is because it advances a false narrative that America as a whole is racist. The media felt this story was necessary to highlight because of its past failed attempts at getting their point across when the facts played out differently.
Additionally, the media pounced on Madison, Wisconsin a couple of days ago in hopes of finding some dirt on yet another police officer who shot and killed an unarmed African-American man. Like the other stories we have witnessed, this one seems to bear all the same signs as the ones before it. It is also interesting that the media would choose to highlight a shooting within the territory of Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker. But that’s another story.
Did the media know the Madison shooting would happen? Of course, not. But do you realize how many shootings of unarmed citizens occur in America? More than you would care to believe. However, this does not mean that there’s a crisis of “hands up, don’t shoot.” If some of you were inundated daily with all the murders across the country, you might jump to the conclusion that America is one of the most murderous nations in the world—lucky for you, it’s not even close.
What Americans need to realize is that there are more incidents of violence, racism, mayhem and murder across the country than we realize, but that does not mean that America is murderous, racist and tyrannical. It simply means that these are random incidents and most Americans will always be ignorant of them unless the media choose to highlight it—and to what degree.
Do not misunderstand, it is necessary for media outlets to report on incidents and events that happen around the country, but there is a difference between telling the public a story and selling the public a story.