My Yahoo News opened on Tuesday with a headline that sent shivers down the spine of all of us liberals – “German arrested in L.A. arsons declares, ‘I hate America.’”
I had thought we had put the German threat to bed at the Battle of the Bulge, but I underestimated the twists of the Teutonic mind. The Huns are now in America and are burning our cars.
Yahoo was not alone in alerting us to Fritz’s unexpected incursion. The New York Daily News, CBS News, NPR, the Chicago Tribune and many more news outlets identify the suspect in the headline as “German.”
This makes some sense as 24-year-old Harry Burkhart, the pony-tailed suspect in the arson fires that plagued Los Angeles, does indeed come from Germany. Although not clear yet, I am sure his point of origin will prove to be germane to his crimes.
More worrisome still, early reports indicate that Burkhart appears to be in America illegally. Apparently, authorities do not know how long he has been in the United States or whether he has been working in cahoots with other car-burning Boches.
This is a problem. According to what I hear in the media, citizens who monitor illegal immigration do so for racist reasons. I fear they will turn a blind eye to Burkhart and his mayhem because he is white and possibly, like many of their peers, a Neo-Nazi to boot.
As a good liberal, though, I have to caution my readers about the dangers of stereotyping. We cannot fall into the trap of thinking all Germans are whackos or warmongers, even if most of them are.
As a model of stereotype avoidance, consider the case of Chandra Levy, who disappeared in 2001 at the same time she was having an affair with sleaze-ball California Rep. Gary Condit.
No story that summer garnered half the ink that the Levy disappearance did. True, Condit was a Democrat, but if you paid any attention to the news, you knew he was a “conservative Democrat,” a “Blue Dog” who apparently behaved the way he voted.
The events of Sept. 11 blew Condit out of the news, and it would not be until 2009 that the police identified a suspect in Levy’s murder. The Washington Post headlined the story, “Warrant is issued for suspect in Levy killing.”
The Post identified the suspect as Ingmar Guandique, a “Salvadoran man.” In this initial article, the Post reported sympathetically that Guandique entered the United States in 2000 and, since then, “had trouble scraping together a new life in Washington.” Given the economy during the Bush years, that should not surprise.
In a noble effort to avoid stereotyping, not one of the 62 headline writers in articles cited in Wikipedia that deal with Guandique mentioned his ethnicity or his immigration status, let alone whether he likes or dislikes America.
OK, technically, Guandique was in our country without documentation. So irrelevant was this detail, however, that none of the 115 news items reviewed by the self-hating Michelle Malkin identified him as a criminal illegal alien, even in the body copy.
With admirable discretion, the Associated Press referred to Guandique as an “immigrant.” the New York Times called him a “Washington man,” much in the way, one supposes, that Gary Condit was a “Washington man.”
True, some stories mentioned that Guandique wore turtlenecks to court to hide his tattoos, but the media took pains to respect his privacy in regards to what those tattoos signified.
Editors felt that to discuss Guandique’s membership in Mara Salvatrucha might have poisoned the jury pool. Too many gang and prison shows on cable use the prejudicial shorthand “MS-13″ to refer to this ethnic association.
If you watch these shows you might even begin to believe that MS-13 is a transnational criminal gang known for savagery beyond the call of duty, much of it directed at their fellow undocumented citizens.
And if you followed that thread, you might leap to the conclusion that not all immigrants are as benign as your maid and your pool boy.
You might even think that there was a legitimate reason to explore Guandique’s ethnicity, his illegal entry into the country and his membership in a vicious criminal gang with deep roots in the D.C. area.
You might wonder whether the presence of such criminal enterprises on American soil should influence immigration policy. You might even rethink your own stand on illegal immigration and your hatred for its foes.
Naah, why go there? How about those Krauts!