Philadelphia Foolishness

The Philadelphia Daily News`
August 22 front-page story (mysteriously missing from
its website) printed the photographs of 15
of the 41 people who have outstanding homicide warrants
in the Philadelphia area. They were all

visible
minorities
. Race, as I

wrote recently
, is no longer mentioned in

crime stories,
but photographs are sometimes allowed
to tell their own story.

Not any more. Seeing all those
minority suspects produced an instant reaction in the
multicultural community. They acted as if they`d been
the victims of a blood libel.

A quickie coalition sprang up,
headed by a black PR expert named

A. Bruce Crawley
, (crawley-haskins@worldnet.att.net).
It demanded the resignation of the editorial staff. (Coalition
calls for editors` resignations, Aug. 30, 2002
)
Whenever that happens, there is a serious danger that
management will roll over and play dead, firing the

reporter or editor involved.

The coalition included Charles
Bowser, a local politician whose

resume
includes “Investigation of KYW-TV attacks on
Black Leaders,” and Imam Shamsud-Din Ali, who, a month
after the September 11th attacks, was leading
a panel discussion called

"Shattering the Peace: Understanding the Roots of the
Sept. 11 Attacks"
. He`s a spokesman for a Black
Muslim organization called the Majlis Ash-Shura
(Council of Wise Men), which has

objected
to the use of the term “Muslim” to

describe
the

Muslim terrorists
of 9/11.

The Imam was

quoted
as saying that the Daily News was not
only racist, but also anti-Philadelphia. I don`t know
what he meant by anti-Philadelphia. Maybe the paper has
been writing that life is better, or at least longer, in
the suburbs.

Daily News editor Ellen Foley (foleye@phillynews.com)
issued an

apology
:

“The
cover of our paper last Thursday carried mugshots of 15
of 41 suspects. They were African-American, Hispanic or
Asian. These 41 were identified by the Police
Department`s Homicide Unit as suspects for whom murder
warrants have been issued. There were no white people
who were being sought for murder.
[emphasis
added]

Bill Bergstrom of the Associated
Press quoted Editor Zack Stalberg (zstalberg@phillynews.com)
as saying that the story was “the literal truth” – but
that he was apologizing anyway.

“Stalberg said the
editors decided to apologize not because of any factual
inaccuracy on the cover but because of the impression it
made.

“I think the cover was
literally correct, but a mistake on our part because
what we have to worry about is perceptions, and not just
the literal truth,``[emphasis
added] Stalberg said.”

Bergstrom`s Associated Press story
was given various headlines across the country – NY
Times:
Philadelphia
Paper Apologizes for Use of Photos
;
Boston Globe:

Philadelphia Daily News apologizes but denies racial
insensitivity in publishing front page mug shots
;
Fresno Bee:

Philadelphia paper regrets mug shots` message
. But
my favorite is the one that

Chuck Muth

put on it in his email newsletter:

Paper
Apologizes for "Literal Truth"

Now it happens that all the murder
suspects sought by the Philadelphia Homicide Squad
were,
in fact, minorities. The

Philadelpia/Camden Violent Crimes Fugitive Task Force
, keeps a list of all the local dangerous
suspects

here.
This list of 69 suspects includes just two (2)
white men – an

Italian-American
wanted for violation of federal
parole, and an

unknown man
wanted in a road rage killing.

There is, of course, such a thing
as white crime in Philadelphia. The city has a

Mafia,
which is being

brought under control

as its members assimilate and

give up
the Old Country idea of

omerta
.
And statistics show that

one in twenty
alleged Philadelphia murderers is a
non-Hispanic white. Most Philadelphia murder victims are
black – but whites, who make up 5 percent of the alleged
killers, make up

11 percent of the victims
. That means that whites
are more likely to be the victims of interracial murders,
or “hate crimes” as they`re called by the Federal
Government.

If no more than one in twenty
murderers is white, that means that if the Daily News
had printed a picture of a white suspect on their
15-mugshot cover, it would have been racially
disproportionate.

Hiawatha Bray, a black

technology reporter

for the Boston Globe, wrote an

outraged letter
to the Daily News condemning
the apologies:

ABOUT
Friday`s bizarre apology:

I`m a
black journalist who could scarcely believe my eyes as I
read it. A newspaper is apologizing for printing the
truth? It`s embarrassing and humiliating that so many
murders are committed by black people, but it`s the job
of newspapers to publish embarrassing and humiliating
truths.

No
newspaper editor has any business apologizing for
writing truthfully about an issue of obvious public
concern just because it upsets some members of the
public. Get a grip, you guys.



Hiawatha Bray

And that`s the issue: the literal
truth.

Oh, by the way – the
Philadelphia Daily News
story resulted in the
capture of two suspects.

Article Produces Murder Suspects
,
August 29.

If anybody cares.

September 04, 2002