If you liked “wilding,” you’re gonna love the “knockout game.”
I have just become aware, thanks to Fox News and an author who publishes under the conspiracy-minded World Net Daily imprint, that roving gangs of black adolescents are marauding through our streets, randomly attacking innocent white victims in a racist ritual known as the “knockout game.”
The motive is mischief, not robbery. These impeccable sources also claim the mainstream media, in a woeful act of political correctness, refuse to report the racial nature of this crime wave.
The country is in denial, said Colin Flaherty, author of “White Girl Bleed a Lot,” a crime compendium that has become a favorite of conservative voices who stoke racial animus for fun and ratings.
“If we can open this up to some real talk,” Flaherty said, “maybe that’s the first step to solving a very nasty problem in this country: black mob violence, black-on-white crime, whatever you want to call it, the numbers are ridiculously out of proportion.”
He’s right about one thing: The numbers are ridiculously out of proportion. According to the FBI, in 2011, there were 3,645 victims of racially motivated hate crimes. Nearly 72 percent of them were victims of an offender’s “anti-black bias,” as the FBI puts it. Sixteen percent were victims of an “anti-white bias.”
Those who pay attention to hate crimes for a living agree; they have declined, but victims are still overwhelmingly African American. “Really,” said Amanda Susskind, Pacific Southwest regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, “nothing has changed in our country about that fact.”
So what, Flaherty says.
“If you use statistics, which I don’t, people say you are stereotyping,” he told me. “Every incident by itself may be insignificant, but when you put them together, there’s something going on.”
What that something is, he can’t exactly say.
But I can: It’s part of the ongoing demonization of black teenagers.
From the Scottsboro Boys to the Central Park Five – innocent African Americans convicted of crimes they did not commit – this latest spate of stories is simply another plot twist in our dysfunctional national race narrative.
In 1989, five teenagers were arrested after a white jogger was raped and left for dead in New York’s Central Park. “Park Marauders call it: WILDING,” blared the Daily News headline over a story about a “wolf pack” of teenagers.
Five black teenagers, 14 to 16, were arrested and tricked by police into false confessions. They spent years in prison until the real rapist, a convicted murderer, stepped out of the shadows.
“It’s always dangerous to create a ‘trend’ out of isolated but vivid instances,” said Christopher Hawthorne, director of Loyola Law School’s Juvenile Innocence & Fair Sentencing Clinic. “It’s true that gang life involves a lot of physical violence, and youth violence involves a lot of fistfighting. But we know that most crime is monoracial. A couple of random videotapes does not make a trend.”
News flash: Teenage boys in groups can act like jerks, sometimes malicious jerks. That goes for all races. (As in the “Kick a Ginger” attacks of a few years back. Or the recurring white riots in Huntington Beach.
Knockout game stories spiked recently, after a 24-year-old Brooklyn man was set upon by a stranger. A 28-year-old African American man was arrested and charged with a hate crime. That assault followed at least two other similar incidents. The victims were Jewish; the alleged perpetrators were black.
“We still have issues of anti-Semitism in the black community,” said the ADL’s Susskind. “But even that is way down.”
There is no consensus among law enforcement that the “knockout game” is even a thing. “If ever there was an urban myth, this was it,” a Jersey City police spokesman told The New York Times. But that has not stopped a Republican New York assemblyman from proposing a “Knockout Assault Deterrent Act,” requiring teens to be tried as adults with prison terms of up to 25 years.
That, friends, is how you institutionalize racism.
If you catch this story on TV, you will see an endless video loop of one very nasty attack. In October 2012, a surveillance camera caught a 50-year-old Pittsburgh high school teacher named James Addlespurger being sucker punched by a black teenager in an alley. The 15-year-old was charged with assault.
That video is included in a recent New York Post column by Thomas Sowell, a black conservative who warned that “Some in the media, as well as in politics, may think that they are trying to avoid provoking a race war by ignoring or playing down these attacks. … Responsible people of all races need to support a crackdown on these attacks, which can provoke a white backlash that can escalate into a race war.”
Fox’s Greta van Susteren interviewed Phoebe Connolly, who said she was punched in the face by a teenager while riding her bicycle in Washington.
But Connolly veered off message. She saw the attack “as another reason to better support our youth with activities and youth programs. … It’s great to see teenagers do wonderful things when they are supported or empowered.”
Van Susteren course corrected, listing four deaths she said were attributable to “the so-called knockout game.”
She never noted the race of the assailants. Then again, she didn’t have to.
“Take a look at a few of the attacks caught on camera, so you know what to look out for,” she said. “We have also confirmed, thugs on the streets in some places are calling these attacks ‘polar bear hunting.’”
Polar bear hunting. The knockout game.
Any way you spell it, it’s just a way to whip up race anxiety. And maybe goose the ratings while you’re at it.
Abcarian is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.