breaking news

Delta flights returning to normal after nationwide ground stop due to IT problem

Opinion: America’s racial hierarchy of violence


People were furious that Breana Harmon Talbott was raped by black men.

She actually wasn’t, but we’ll get to that. For now, let’s concern ourselves with the way some folks responded after the then-18-year-old white girl from Pottsboro, Texas, stumbled into a church last March clad only in bra, shirt and panties, bleeding from cuts and claiming to have been abducted by three African-American men in ski masks.

“This is going to be a brutally honest post,” her mother wrote on Facebook. “Today my daughter, Breana Harmon Talbott, was taken by force by 3 black men. 2 raped her and she is cut head to toe by a knife.”

The “brutally honest post” struck a chord with the far right. Social media lit up with angry demands for vengeance upon the nonexistent black men.

“Lord find these animals give them what they deserve,” said one. Said another: “If the races were reversed, this would be national news. These men deserve to be hanged.”

One railed about “black thugs,” another mused, “Whites need a mafia … so if you want to rape a white girl like Breana Talbott, the white mafia finds you and your family and puts you down.”

Actually, they tried that idea already — it was called the Ku Klux Klan. But let’s confront the glaring moral hypocrisy at the heart of all this outrage.

Meaning that these people were angrier at the idea that the girl was raped by black men than at the idea that she was raped. Again, she wasn’t raped at all. Rather, she staged a crime — complete with abandoned car and self-inflicted cuts — after arguing with her boyfriend.

Police doubted her tale almost from the beginning. She was arrested two weeks later. Last week, she pleaded guilty to multiple felonies stemming from tampering with or fabricating evidence.

But though the case is resolved, that moral hypocrisy is anything but. As has been noted before in this space, this country has evolved a hierarchy of violence wherein we assess threats by race and culture.

In that hierarchy, black and Muslim are automatically dangerous. People outside those demographic boxes are innocent until proven otherwise.

Consider the carnage in Parkland. The FBI ignored multiple tips that 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was planning a mass shooting. Ask yourself: Would the agency have been so laggard had it received the same tip about a 19-year-old named, say, Muhammad? Doubtful.

Similarly, for many people, the notion of this girl being raped was significantly less awful than the notion of her being raped by black men. Would any woman ever say, “I feel traumatized, violated and angry — but I’m thankful my rapist was white?”

It’s a ridiculous idea, but where race and culture are concerned, Americans are often a ridiculous people. Unfortunately, our hierarchy of violence is not just ridiculous, it’s also dangerous. In linking certain crimes with certain people, we miss threats right in front of us. Again: consider Parkland.

Talbott understood this hierarchy, if only instinctively. And there is, for African Americans, a terrible resonance in what she did. No one will ever know how many black men have been lied into jail — or onto lynch ropes — by white girls and women just like her. And yes, the occasional white man — as in the Duke lacrosse team — has endured the reverse injustice, albeit without the lynch ropes.

Under her plea agreement, Talbott will receive probation or deferred adjudication. Either way, she will see no jail time. Nor should we be surprised.

There is a hierarchy of justice, too.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

READERS WRITE: SEPT. 26

Should exemplary life be tarnished by teen behavior? In 2012, Christine Blasey Ford had a breakthrough with her therapist. She remembered being assaulted at the age of 15 by a 17-year-old teenage boy. She has no memory of where it occurred or the exact year, only that she was at a party. She believes it was Brett Kavanaugh who held her down, tried...
Opinion: Fox News to Republican Party: Yikes!

With the most important midterm in U.S. history less than six weeks away, a new poll by Fox News hands Republicans a five-gallon bucket and 10 gallons of bad news to cram in it. On policy questions, their goals and causes are unpopular. The leading personality in the GOP, the man who has remade the party in his own image, is unpopular. The man whom...
Opinion: University corruption

I’m thankful that increasing attention is being paid to the dire state of higher education in our country. Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has just published “The Diversity Delusion.” Its subtitle captures much of the book’s content: “How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine...
READERS WRITE: SEPT. 25

Liberals’ policies, not guns, to blame for gun ‘crisis’ A recent letter asserted, “No easy solution for U.S. firearms crisis” (Readers Write, Sept. 9). On the contrary, we have a behavior crisis. In decades past, firearms were more easily available to the public than presently. Not once did the six guns in my room fire...
Opinion: Is Senate committee equipped to grasp Kavanaugh allegations?

For all their well-learned politesse, the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have scarcely been able to conceal their determination to get Christine Blasey Ford out of their hair. Ford is the last obstacle to confirming conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. And she’s a formidable one. She has alleged...
More Stories