Riot Like It’s 1968

Whenever I hear that “diversity is our strength,” alarm bells go off in my head.  While I understand the theory and the positive intent of such a platitude, it makes a mockery of reality.

This past week alone the Red Pandemic has taken a back seat to racial clashes as a national issue.  The depraved murder by a White cop of an African American in Minneapolis has filled all races with disgust.  The senseless death of George Floyd, who crossed paths with an apparently sadistic policeman, sparked an eruption of street protests in multiple cities that have turned into conflagrations reminiscent of that annus horribilis 1968.  Even liberal mayors and governors are blaming violent anarchists (mostly White, so-called Antifa or anti-fascists) for escalating the protests.

The 1968 racial riots were the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, a prominent crusader for racial equality.  His murder was arguably political as well as racial.  By contrast, George Floyd was a common man, whose murder was yet more evidence to Black America that despite its undeniable progress is still marginalized.  Who could blame them when they see daily an endless chain of White racism causing their deaths or indignity?  No nook or cranny of White bigotry in this country escapes the national media.

Notwithstanding the ubiquitous coverage of George Floyd’s murder and the pandemic, the national media managed to inform us last week of a White woman in New York’s Central Park who played the race card when an African American birdwatcher approached her asking that she leash her pet.  When she did not, he began filming her and tried to lure the dog away.  The woman called 911 saying “an African-American man is threatening my life.”  After the man’s video went viral, the woman lost her job and her dog.  The media reminded us that hysterical White women accusing Black men of improper behavior was often the cause of many a lynching in the old days.  This was the thrust of the Central Park news story.   But, there are other things to consider.

In August, 2016, a 30-year old woman named Karina Vetrano decided to take her daily jog through a park in Howard Beach, Queens, even though her father was unable to join her as he usually did.  She was raped and murdered by a 22-year old African American man named Chanel Lewis.  Who, outside of New York heard of this crime?  The media never made it a racial issue. [This is the same Howard Beach where a young Black man in 1987 was chased onto a highway, and to his death, by a group of Whites led by Englishman Jon Lester.  Filmmaker Spike Lee immortalized (and Italianized) the event in Do the Right Thing.]

The Vetrano family had to endure two trials, even though Lewis’s DNA was found on Karina’s body and he had confessed (later recanted).  He was finally convicted and sentenced in 2019 to life.  If, according to the media, a Black man cannot safely walk the streets of America, what can be said of White women?

The point is, we can compile incident after incident, locale by locale, a dossier of Euro-Americans killed, robbed, or raped by African Americans.  Would it provoke a violent White reaction? We can compile such statistics for crimes against Black children, women, and men by fellow Blacks and trumpet them each day on the national media.  Would that lead to a national “conversation” or just charges of White racism?

This, indeed, feels like 1968.  Our cities are once more in turmoil.  But, instead of a war in Asia, Asia has invaded us with the Wuhan Virus.  For those of us who lived through 1968, things looked understandably bleak. Fifty-two years later, it seems that there is still something wrong with White America.  We are still labelled a racist society, only now, we have to contend with a lot more races, religions, and ethnic groups.  A NYTimes op-ed this week suggested that, if Red China clamps down on democracy in Hong Kong, we should invite Hong Kong Chinese to take refuge here.  Such is our “racist” nation.

Would Red China or Japan take in millions of White people?  Or, would any country in Africa?  Would Muslim countries take even thousands of Christians?  Would Hindu India?

Too often, the media does America a grave disservice. -JLM

4 thoughts on “Riot Like It’s 1968”

  1. Let us not forget the elderly couple recently killed in Delaware visiting their son’s grave: Paul (86) and Lidia Marino (85). Shot in the heads by a Black man.
    A couple of headlines and that was it.

  2. What makes this such a hot-button issue for the media is that it ties in with the long history of black oppression, from slavery (400 years) to Jim Crow lynchings (over 4,000 in the South). The pain is real.

    But, from an Italic perspective, the race issue gets a bit muddled. Even though Italians suffered more than their fair share of prejudice and violence from Anglos more than other white ethnic groups, a filmmaker like Spike Lee portrays us as ethnic cousins of the Ku Klux Klan—and he gets away with it.

    During the Chicago race riots of 1968, an Italian tailor, Vito Princivalli, had his shop looted–and was nearly killed–by rioters. In 1986, medical student Lori Roscetti was kidnapped near Chicago’s Little Italy and later found dead; she had been stabbed, raped, and had a block of cement dumped on her head. In 2013, a popular Italian pizzeria owner in Cicero was shot and murdered by a street hood.

    If, say, Martin Scorsese made films about any of these incidents, he would be denounced as insensitive at best, a racist at worst. But the media looks at violence and victimization through a single lens, an approach which merely fans the flames of racism even more. ALL lives matter, regardless of race.

    1. I have noted an interesting phenomenon (maybe just coincidental) that the pageviews for the Wikipedia Anti-Italian article have dramatically increased (to over 1000, when about 300 is normal) since the start of the rioting. Could this be tied to the perception created by the media that I-A’s are a part of the racism issue, as you are suggesting – or could it be tied to the dissatisfaction with the leadership of Cuomo and DeBlasio?

  3. I know if one of my Italian Americans sons were killed by the police no one would march on behalf of their lives.

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