Whilst the US mainstream media continues to focus on the esoteric question of whether Vladimir Putin was behind the Clinton leaks, many Americans are probably more interested in an appalling incident of racial violence in Chicago.
I should perhaps qualify the above statement since it is not clear to me how many Americans actually know of this incident (in Britain the media is barely reporting it). The facts nonetheless seem clear enough if only because the individuals involved posted a video of what they did onto Facebook.
Four black teenagers, all apparently aged 18 years, held a young white man with mental disabilities captive for 48 hours, and then filmed themselves tying him up, gagging him, kicking him, punching him, scalping him by slashing his hair with a knife, and flicking burning cigarette ash onto his head wounds.
The attack was accompanied with racial insults. One of the attackers taunted their victim “F**k Donald Trump, n***a, f**k white people!” Another urged him to say “I love black people.” The victim was forced at knifepoint to say “F**k Donald Trump”, and was told “kiss the floor, b**ch” following which his face was forced into a toilet bowl.
This assault appears to bear all the hallmarks of premeditation, with the live Facebook stream going on for 30 minutes.
WARNING: The following video contains explicit, violent material and may be disturbing t0 watch.
Violent crime has unfortunately become all too common in Chicago, which is Barack Obama’s home city. In 2016 Chicago witnessed 762 murders, with a further 4,331 shooting victims. That compares with a murder rate of between 500 to 800 murders in the whole of England and Wales in any one year. Though this assault and the brazen way its perpetrators publicised it on Facebook must be remarkable even by Chicago’s standards, it is unlikely many people in Chicago are surprised by it.
What is however most shocking about this incident is the confused and hesitant way the authorities and what was once the US’s vibrant civil society have reacted to it. In place of the shock and outrage an incident of this kind might be expected to elicit, the response has been muted, with comments like this appallingly complacent one from Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, hesitating even to acknowledge it as a race crime
Kids make stupid mistakes. Part of whether or we not we seek a hate crime (is to) determine whether or not this is sincere or stupid ranting and raving. I think part of it is just stupidity. At this point, we don’t have anything concrete to point (toward a hate crime).
I have heard it said that the reluctance to talk about this incident is caused by fear of inflaming racial tensions in Chicago, where they are already said to be very high. If so then that is an extraordinary abdication in the face of the threat of violence by the authorities of their duty to provide equal and impartial protection to all citizens.
In truth it is difficult to see in this incident and in the muddled and muted response to it anything other than a reflection of the deeply polarised state of American society. For this what still calls itself “the Left” in America bears much of the blame.
Whereas in previous times – for example during Reconstruction in the 1860s and during the heyday of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s – what could in those days legitimately be called the Left supported the struggle of black people for equality and freedom by emphasising their oneness with white people and the common cause white and black people had with each other, today the self-appointed neo-liberal leaders of what passes for the American Left prefer to emphasise difference as they use ‘identity politics’ to forge what they hope will be a majority political coalition made up of what are wrongly called ‘minorities’. Suffice to say that Hillary Clinton’s entire campaign during the recent election was largely built on this concept.
The result not surprisingly is a major increase in racial tensions, something confirmed to me by almost all Americans I have recently had contact with, irrespective of their colour. Donald Trump’s victory is being called by many people – including it seems most black people – a victory for white bigotry and racism, whilst more and more white people in turn are coming to resent the privileged positions they believe are being given to ‘minorities’ including black people.
The extent to which these attitudes are gaining traction even at street level is shown by way the black teenagers during this assault taunted their white victim with the name of Donald Trump.
This is a disastrous result by any standard. That it is also a profound betrayal of the American people, both black and white, and of the ideals of what was once the Left, should not need saying.
At a practical level, if American liberals want to understand why Hillary Clinton lost and why Donald Trump won, they should heed the warning signs. Unfortunately, obsessed as they are with the purely elite obsession of whether Putin was behind the Clinton leaks, they show no sign of doing so.