Anyway, Rachel Sullivan, who has been indefatigable in getting this story out (drop her a line of encouragement at her blog, if you will), has a particularly interesting post up about how the media portrays Black crime as indicative of group behavior, and White crime as isolated and aberrational. Consider:
The most famous example of this is the term "wilding." The term wilding was used to describe the attack of a White woman in Central Park in the late 1980s. Scared Whites suddenly worried that groups of young Black and Latino men would descend on innocent White women and attack them, like that has supposedly done to this woman. The term was almost exclusively used for young Black and Brown men, and as such has became synonymous with them. What is even more striking it that through DNA evidence and a confession by an imprisoned man, we later found out that this group of young men didn't attack the Central Park jogger and in 2002 their sentences were vacated (DNA evidence confirmed that it was a lone attacker, who was a Latino man.). Why not use the term wilding to talk about what the rape survivor said happened at Duke. One of the regular commenters on my blog, Anthony, reminded me of this term, when he argued that the attack at Duke was an example of wilding. I wondered if popular media outlets will use the term wilding, or will they come up with some special code word that referred to groups of young White men who attack women (especially Black women). Probably not. When White men behave badly it is usually framed as a problem with the individual White man or the small group of White men involved, but it is almost never a collective statement about the problems with White guys in America.
Another example of this is the whole "Stop Snitching" phenomenon, which has been labeled as a huge threat to the criminal justice system. The term "Stop Snitching" has been connected with an underground video out of Baltimore. "Stop Snitchin'" has also been advertised on T-shirts that have become very popular mostly among young urban Black and Brown kids. If you watched shows like America's Most Wanted or the nightly news, you would think the "Stop Snitchin" phenomenon is new and young Black men created it. However, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the idea of not snitchin' has been around for a long time, way before Hip Hop and way before the T-shirts. In fact, I was watching the Abrams Report, since he has been covering the Duke case, and he kept alluding to the editorial that he was going to do at the end of the show. The editorial was about "Stop Snitchin." My initial reaction was good somebody finally gets it. These Duke boys are living by the "Stop Snitchin" code of ethics. It's not just poor Black and Brown people and Hip Hop artists. Well much to my chagrin Abrams didn't even connect the Duke case to this phenomenon even though it was so blatantly obvious--the Duke lacrosse players need to start snitchin.
This second one gave me some pause, because I am not a proponent of the "stop snitchin'" school by any means, but I know I give more leniency to "I'm not going to talk on the advice of my lawyer," even though they're effectively the same. Dressed up in legal language, suddenly it's not a threat to social stability but a cherished legal right. Imagine that! It's especially ironic because the most pervasive "stop snitchin'" mentality ever to actually come into practice is not inner-city Blacks refusing to aid murder investigations, but southern Whites refusing to cooperate with lynching investigations. In the end, I concur with Rachel--maybe we can't expect the actual guilty parties to come forward and confess, but we can expect the bystanders to act as witnesses to see that justice is done.
The other part of this story that's been nagging me (and I apologize because this is a bit of a leap) involves the "apologetic White guy." Let me just give a summary of the story for context:
According to a search warrant, the victim and another woman went to a university-owned house on March 13, where three members of the team live. When the men became aggressive, the women left but another player apologized and convinced them to return.
The women returned to the house, but were separated. The victim alleges she was forced into a bathroom and assaulted. The men also allegedly yelled racial slurs at the women.
Okay, what do we do with this mysterious man? Let's assume that he wasn't "apologizing" in a deliberate effort to get them back in the house to undergo this abuse. I'm not saying that this couldn't be the case, only that if it is we'd all agree that this guy is a Really Bad Man and there'd be no debate.
Let's assume, for argument's sake, that this guy was operating in good faith. The rest of this thought experiment goes under those lines. We don't know what he said, but it might have been something like this: "I'm really sorry, those guys just got really drunk, they didn't mean it, I'll talk them," etc etc in those lines. Naive perhaps--but there are naive people out there. Hell, I'm a naive person--I always underestimate the amount of "true" racism that exists in America, so in my shoes I'd probably be far more likely to attribute this sort of thing to drunkenness than animus (at least one time someone said something anti-Semitic to me while drunk, I shrugged it off). Anyway, his apology is genuine, not a ploy to get the rape to happen. But happen it did--in some respects, as a direct result of this person's "apology", for if he'd had said nothing, the woman probably would have went home. Given that sequence of events, the apologizer feels awful about it. How do we feel about him? Is he a complete accessory of the rapist? Not as morally culpable, but still condemnable? Is he more or less condemnable than the complete bystander at the party--the one who said nothing to girl but stopped nothing either? Does it matter how he behaved once everyone went back inside? We might say he had an obligation to stop the rape--but remember, he's still one guy on 39 at this point--not exactly fair odds.
Anyway, this person seems to be in a different category, for better or for worse, than the rest of the partygoers. I'm curious to hear his story. If he really does feel guilty about his role in this crime, it's time for him to snitch.
Justice 4 Two Sisters is the information clearinghouse for this story.