While it’s been obvious for years that mainstream media is heavily biased in its reporting, the double standard they have deployed in their coverage – or lack thereof – is a show of terrible hypocrisy that shows that racism in America extends much deeper than we once feared. The coverage of the standoff in Harney County, Oregon, where a federal building was seized by heavily armed domestic terrorists who have declared their willingness to use violence to get what they want, has been a classic case of whitewashing and forgiving crimes that would be seen as a threat to national security if committed by non-whites.
When protests broke out in Baltimore and in Ferguson, the media focused solely on the few violent incidents while largely ignoring the hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters; now that over a hundred and fifty white men with guns have taken over a federal building, they were described as “peaceful” protesters by the Associated Press. The oppressive nature of the state reaction to the Baltimore and Ferguson riots is also receiving fresh scrutiny; the rapid deployment of the National Guard in Baltimore and Ferguson and the scenes of heavily militarized police are all glaringly missing from what is a literal act of rebellion against the federal government.
Media coverage of the standoff has been sparse and misrepresentative of the severity of their crimes. The New York Times allotted it a mere paragraph at the bottom of the first page; FOX News openly tried to legitimize it by choosing featured images containing many flags, implicitly praising them as the “patriots” that these terrorists call themselves, while using their headline space to attack President Obama’s plan to expand background checks on gun purchases.
CNN similarly has tried to downplay the rebellion aspect of these “militiamen” – choosing to display the words “it is the people’s land” (it is not, actually) legitimizes their demands and connotes some kind of absurd libertarian nationalist fantasy where these “poor noble ranchers” are fighting against an oppressive government, and hides the truth- they are welfare queens upset that they cannot graze their cattle on federal land for free or light fires on public land.
Naturally, the Twittersphere exploded at the disgusting racial double standard that the media perpetuates every day.
So when do we start banning white #OregonUnderAttack Christian terrorist sympathizers and their families from entering this Country?
— Political Nerd (@Sttbs73) January 3, 2016
So what qualifies you as a “militia”? Cause last time I checked 150 men with semi automatic weapons in my hood is a gang #OregonUnderAttack
— IG: tonylcaldwell (@tonycaldwell) January 3, 2016
— CDKing (@thedaleking) January 3, 2016
— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) January 3, 2016
#OregonUnderAttack What is “white-speak” for terrorist? ….oh, “Patriot”.
— DuneMyThing™ (@Kris_Sacrebleu) January 3, 2016
Have any of those armed white terrorists been shot at, tear gassed or had the national guard called in yet? No? Oh. #OregonUnderAttack
— Black Girl Magic (@HollaBlackGirl) January 3, 2016
— Mohd. Imran (乇мմ™) (@TheSoulfulEMU) January 3, 2016
— Pilot9 (@Pilot9) January 3, 2016
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.