The Washington Post

Pro-Trump narratives converge in one awful attack streamed on Facebook

Four people are in custody in Chicago after an attack on a young man with "mental health challenges" was broadcast live on Facebook. The attackers can be heard shouting expletives about white people and Donald Trump. (Deirdra O'Regan/The Washington Post)

If you believe discrimination against white people is rampant, that Donald Trump supporters face persecution, that Chicago is a war zone, and the media is dishonest, then your entire worldview is likely to be confirmed by one awful story.

Chicago police have detained four black teenagers after one of them streamed a live video showing the group striking and shouting at a young white man, who was bound and gagged. In the video, the assailants say “f--- Trump” and “f--- white people” and say that the victim “represents Trump,” though it is unclear whether the man actually backs the president-elect.

The pro-Trump Infowars website described the episode under a provocative headline: “White man kidnapped, gagged, beaten by racist black anti-Trump gang.”

“Will the media even cover this footage or will news networks like CNN bury the story?” the article asked.

The cruel act captured on video is, in fact, receiving extensive media coverage — and universal condemnation — on CNN and elsewhere. But some conservatives are not satisfied by the response.

“If this had been done to an African American by four whites, every liberal in the country would be outraged, and there'd be no question but that it's a hate crime,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday morning on Fox News. He added his belief that “there has been a dramatic rise in racial tension under President Obama.”

Gingrich might be right about different reactions, but he conveniently ignores the reason. If the attackers had been white and the victim had been black, the incident would have, of course, conjured America's ugly history of white mobs committing violence against black people. There is no parallel history of the reverse happening on anything remotely approaching the same scale.

While CNN featured a clip in which Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who is black, called the video “sickening,” Fox News highlighted the portion of a Wednesday news conference where Johnson hedged on whether the attack qualifies as a hate crime.

“Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade accused police of “trying to justify or trying to make sense of this horrific act.” Fellow host Ainsley Earhardt said they were attempting to “downplay it, almost.”

The message in conservative media is clear: Reverse discrimination — particularly against white Trump voters — is a big problem that the liberals in the media refuse to acknowledge. Oh, and by the way, Chicago (the part inhabited mostly by black people, anyway) is a super-dangerous place, just like Trump said.

A Huffington Post survey conducted in November showed that 45 percent of Trump voters believe white people face “a lot of discrimination” in the United States today. Just 22 percent of Trump voters said the same about black people.

The result was consistent with the findings of researchers at Harvard and Tufts, whose 2011 study concluded that whites, overall, now view discrimination against white people as more prevalent than discrimination against black people.

“This perception is fascinating, as it stands in stark contrast to data on almost any outcome that has been assessed,” the researchers, Samuel Sommers and Michael Norton, wrote on the Post Everything blog in July. “From life expectancy to school discipline to mortgage rejection to police use of force, outcomes for white Americans tend to be — in the aggregate — better than outcomes for black Americans, often substantially so.”

The worldview of many Trump voters might not be supported by data. But now they can find support in one awful video out of Chicago.

400+
Comments

Do you like game shows? Do you like politics? Whatever, you’ll LOVE The Ciquizza anyway.

Listen on iTunes.

Listen on Stitcher.

418
Show Comments
0 Comments
Washington Post Subscriptions

Get 2 months of digital access to The Washington Post for just 99¢.

A limited time offer for Apple Pay users.

Buy with
Cancel anytime

$9.99/month after the two month trial period. Sales tax may apply.
By subscribing you agree to our Terms of Service, Digital Products Terms of Sale & Privacy Policy.

Get 2 months of digital access to The Washington Post for just 99¢.

Most Read
Read stories based on reporting for “Trump Revealed,” a broad, comprehensive biography of the life of the president-elect.

politics

the-fix

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing