Opinion

Misdirection And The Theater Of The Racially Disingenuous

Charles Michael Byrd Freelance Writer

Knowledgeable football fans recognize misdirection when they see it, usually the quarterback faking a handoff to a running back, then sprinting around the end in the opposite direction. This tricks defenders into running one direction, allowing the QB and a few blockers to sweep around the other side of the field.

In the theater misdirection is a form of deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another. Managing the audience’s attention is essential in all theater.

Managing the public’s attention is also paramount in the theater of the racially disingenuous. Witness a black female activist challenging Hillary Clinton’s record on race in February during a fundraising event in Charleston, S.C. At issue was her 1996 use of the term “super-predators” during a speech lauding her husband’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and the assertion that “We have to bring them to heel.” Sound familiar, Chicagoland?

Even before the Democratically-controlled Congress passed that bill in 1994, black lawmakers had lobbied Presidents Nixon and Reagan to champion stronger penalties for violent crimes and drug usage in minority communities. The misdirection struggles to paint this solely as the dominant white power structure aspiring to round up and incarcerate young black males.

Windy City residents are all too familiar with “super-predators,” and they know the term is aptly applied to those who assassinated 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee in a horrific act of gang violence last November. In retaliation, Lee’s father allegedly shot three people, including the girlfriend of one of those currently in custody for his son’s death. Does society not have a right to bring these criminals to heel?

Chicago desperately needs a police crackdown in order to get a handle on its epidemic of inner-city violence. White liberal mayor Rahm Emanuel, however, will never order said crackdown, as he doesn’t want his minority constituency thinking him racist. The police themselves would not vigorously respond to such a directive out of fear that BlackLivesMatter will accuse them of attempting to tyrannize communities of color. This dwindling spiral will continue unabated until some politician finds the requisite backbone to clamp down on crime.

Meanwhile the misdirection specialists want us to focus solely on the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. The police suspected McDonald of breaking into cars and stealing from them on the city’s Southwest Side; they also discovered that he was armed with a knife. McDonald was shot 16 times. That certainly seems excessive, but how many young black Chicagoans have lost their lives since October 2014, and who speaks for them? Black Lives Matter? Puh-leeze.

An online colleague of mine is fond of saying that the truth hurts, and we live in a truth averse society. That’s why we can’t have honest discussions about things. He’s right.

A local television anchor lost her job, though, after taking off her objective journalist’s hat and donning one of a behavioral analysist – surmising on her Facebook page that the perpetrators of a shooting that killed six black people at a cookout in Wilkinsburg, PA may have been “young black men” from dysfunctional households. Around 90 percent of murdered black people were killed by other blacks. In true misdirectionist style, a local black media federation said its leaders and the station agreed to collaborate on “improving news coverage of communities of color.” That’s one hell of an audible.

Charles Michael Byrd, an opinion writer whose pieces deal with racial identity politics and religion, is of black, white and Cherokee heritage. He lives in Queens, N.Y.