(Todd A. Smith)
How does a White teenager from a zip code in which Black Americans only make up 0.4 percent of the population develop a hatred for them that is so deep that he drives 200 miles to Buffalo, N.Y. to murder innocent grocery store shoppers?
The answer is clear as a piece of crystal.
Hatred for minorities is engrained into the minds of some White people and is older than the actual nation that they say they love.
As a journalist, I was taught to speak the truth but not to assume.
Therefore, I will not blame his parents, and the other elders around him, for his hatred because I have no proof yet that his parents share his ignorant views on race.
But I do know that the racist terrorist spent a lot of time on the web, absorbing White supremacy and White nationalist views.
I know that he believes in White Replacement Theory or the Great Replacement Theory, which claims that American Whites are being replaced by people of color and immigrants and that this movement is controlled by Jewish elites.
I do know that media members from the far right like Tucker Carlson often introduce the White replacement conspiracy theory into their shows as a political issue that galvanizes his often White and racist fanbase.
I know that media members on the right, and many politicians that share their views, have gone on a mission in recent years to eradicate so-called critical race theory from classrooms, although critical race theory is only taught in law schools, not grade schools.
Nevertheless, the critical race theory nonsense has led to many books being removed from libraries and classrooms if they upset racist White people.
I know that media members on the far right, and the politicians that frequent their platforms, have used made up issues like widespread voter fraud to make it more difficult for Black people to vote.
I know people on the far right have criticized politically conscious athletes so much that many have gotten blackballed from their sports.
And I know none of that is anything new for Americans, particularly for some of the White hue.
When slavery “ended,” all the aforementioned things happened as backlash for Black advancement during Reconstruction.
The media used its large reach, in the form of newspapers and books, to talk about the danger of Black people being integrated into White society.
They talked about the threat that Black people posed to White society.
The newspapers and books talked about how Black people were meant to be subservient and the White race meant to be the master of all people of color.
Those media outlets used Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution as proof that Whites were meant to be the super being over Blacks, and that Blacks were put on Earth to serve the White man in some form of servitude or peonage system (slavery by another name).
In the book Slavery By Another Name, author Douglas A. Blackmon wrote, “Southern Whites cheered news in April 1903 that the New York public school system ordered the removal from its reading lists of Uncle’s Tom’s Cabin…New York public school libraries superintendent Cland G. Leland said Stowe’s depiction of antebellum slavery ‘does not belong to today but to an unhappy period of our country’s history, the memory of which it is not well to revive in our children.’”
That statement sounds a lot like the right’s response to alleged critical race theory being taught in schools today.
Also in 1903 after racial tension across the country, the New York Times wrote, “There are in New York thousands of utterly worthless negro desperados, gamblers when they have money and thieves when they have none, moral lepers and more dangerous than wild animals.”
The Times added that “respectable negroes” should ban New York’s bad Black citizens, according to Slavery By Another Name.
Those words sound like some of the racist rhetoric used to describe immigrants of color who have gotten labeled as murderers and rapists by former President Donald Trump.
And the “respectable negro” quip reminds many Black Americans of the type of “Negroes” that conservative media outlets employ today so they can claim diversity and allow their supporters to not feel racist because “respectable” Blacks often say things to denigrate their own community to receive validation from racist White people.
And unfortunately, centuries later media members like Carlson are doing the same thing that racist media members did in the latter part of the 18th century and the early half of the 20th century.
Those racist media members used their bully pulpits to preach un-Christian sermons of hate that galvanized racists from across the country to act on their racial animus by violently attacking Black people and subjugating them back to the margins of society.
That is all this coward from New York state did when he killed 10 innocent shoppers at the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., injuring three.
Possibly provoked by media members like his comrades from centuries earlier (and yes, the Internet is the media), he acted out violently in much of the same way that the Ku Klux Klan of the early 20th century did when they felt like Blacks needed a reminder of their place in society.
When I was growing up, racists had been relegated to shame because of the hatred and violence that they had inflicted upon my ancestors from generations earlier.
My generation, White and Black, looked upon people like Eugene “Bull” Connor with shame.
My generation looked at George Wallace with shame.
My generation looked at movies like the original “Birth of a Nation” by D.W. Griffith with shame.
Unfortunately, some people from previous generations like Carlson must have missed school the days that those despicable humans were studied.
Maybe, this mass murdering terrorist went to a school in which they did not learn about the horrors of racism because his school board must have taken the mythical critical race theory out of schools.
Regardless, generations will look at the killer, and the media personalities like Carlson who possibly encouraged him, with shame, disdain and embarrassment.
That fact is why no history should be removed from classrooms, even if it offends racist White people.
Because if a person does not learn about the sins of previous generations, they might commit the same sins generations later.
And unfortunately, the results will be the same.
The hatred of Blacks, stirred by some national media members, from the late 1800s to early 1900s led to violence.
Suppressing the Black vote led to violence during the Civil Rights Movement, so why would it not lead to more violence, unfortunately, in the 21st century?
But for some idiots, hatred and violence are necessary responses to growth, progress and racial unity.
And many of those people do not care if it leads to carnage, if people that look like them do not get caught up in that carnage, as the shooter showed when he apologized to a White shopper in Buffalo, whose life was spared.
To answer the question that begun this editorial, hatred is taught obviously, and it is sometimes taught outside of the home.
But just like hatred has been taught and learned, it can be unlearned.
But media members who make millions stoking the racial flames, must realize that they can still make millions, while making a positive impact on society, if they put out the flames that they ignited.