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When John Williams read the WND story about an epidemic of racial violence in Minneapolis, he was curious – but unconvinced. At first.
Williams, the afternoon-drive host at the CBS radio affiliate in Minneapolis, went through the story with your humble correspondent.
“You do not live in Minnesota, correct?” he asked to start off the interview. I had to confess I did not, but I reminded him that I had written a book about the return of racial violence and how the media ignored it.
“I wrote a chapter about Minneapolis, and recently updated that chapter in a story for WND,” I said, before giving him some times, dates and places of 15-20 examples of horrific racial violence in Minneapolis – where large groups of black people roamed the streets of downtown, beating, stealing, vandalizing, hurting people.
And how the press in Minneapolis ignored the fact that all the members of all of the violent mobs were black.
“You’re saying the mainstream media is ignoring them, then how would I have known about them if the mainstream media did not report them?” he asked.
They did not report the repeated episodes, the fact that all the mobs were black and that it was happening all over the country, I told him.
The criminals may have been black, Williams said, but he was “not buying” the fact that they had racial motivations.
Which is OK because that is not what I was selling: “The perpetrators of these crimes are black. I did not attempt to read their minds to figure out why they did it.”
The interview went on like that for a while, with Williams remaining polite but doing the usual media dance: On the one had denying it existed, on the other hand explaining why it existed. Or why it was so difficult for him to acknowledge it.
Black mob violence was just some kind of statistical fluke. A mystery of nature. And that was that. And then my part of the show was over.
After the break, callers jammed the lines with their own experiences with racial violence in downtown Minneapolis. The first call was from a woman whose son was beaten by a black mob. After hearing the host and I talk about serious injuries and police indifference, the woman was convinced we had been talking about her son’s experience.
We had not: Her son was a different case. Even more serious.
“My son was assaulted in Minneapolis, an unprovoked attack,” said Haley. “We filed a police report. It was very traumatic because I could not get the police department to help me with anything.”
After six hours of surgery for a compound fracture of the jaw, Haley set out to find the criminals. And “nobody did anything about it,” she said. They would not look at security cameras videotape. They would not help her look at it. “They didn’t care. I get flamed up thinking about it. They basically told me they had bigger fish to fry.”
The Williams facade was cracking. “It still seems to me that it is not race-based, but it just happens to be racial,” Williams said. Whatever that means.
His producer tried to buck him up: Race had nothing to do with anything.
That was too much for even Williams.
“When you are downtown and see a group of kids descending on you and you are white, do you feel a little more vulnerable because of the color of your skin?” asked Williams.
No, said the producer. That was a bit much even for Williams. “Well I do … And that is a terrible thing for me to say.”
If Williams’ door was cracking open, the next callers would kick it down.
First up, a black mob beat up a young soldier just back from Afghanistan. “It does seem to be an epidemic,” said the caller.
Then a black man from Minnesota talked about how your humble correspondent was correct in his reporting and how “these kids are embarrassing me and they are embarrassing our race. And it just makes me sick.”
Creak: “I feel a little odd right now,” confessed Williams, “about some of the things I’ve said. But that is just because I’ve observed this scene and that is just because what it either looks like, or to a white guy, feels like.”
The caller told the story about a group of black people who tried to stop a white kid on a bike. He did not stop and “they shot and they killed him.” That was just a few weeks ago.
Williams, undaunted, pressed on: “It just depends on the scene. If that were the case and the kid on bicycle were black, I am still willing to think they would have shot and killed him.”
Uh, OK, I guess.
Then came a regular listener to the John Williams show who had won a few tickets from the station to a Timberwolves game in downtown Minneapolis. The caller gave the tickets to his son.
After the game, the son and his friend were set upon by a black mob, who taunted them, beat them, hurled racial epithets at them – as well as rocks. “As they were leaving they held up a gun and said, ‘White boy, you are lucky.”
Williams’ explanations were becoming less and less convincing, even to him.
Finally the segment ended, and Williams summed it up: “This is a gut check for you.”