The essays that follow are geared toward sorting out the facts from the misinformation. The information presented is fully annotated and derived from reliable sources whenever possible. In some instances I might approach a subject while providing very few facts. Deep down, I know that the reader will rise to the occasion and research that subject through and through. That doesn’t happen very often, but this time will be different. I know it will. Trust me.
By Darrell Winfrey
This is the first of a series of essays dedicated to critical analysis of the faulty interpretation of certain crime statistics in this country. This analysis is based on the fact that many publications that were once a part of a fringe realm are now leaking into political rhetoric and mainstream media. The result is a false narrative that does much more to undermine a very real crime problem in this country instead of moving us in a direction to resolve it. More specifically, there is a problem with crime in low income black communities that has not changed much for many decades. It is a complex problem that involves many layers within politics, including the criminal justice system, public policy, and the neighborhoods themselves. These false narratives seek to oversimplify the complexities and propose possible solutions that are unrealistic and almost laughable. What we are left with is the indictment of an entire race of people based on the actions of a few.
Before pressing on about fringe groups and false narratives, I would like to tell a little story. When I registered to vote in 1991, I did not affiliate with either political party, nor did I have many strong political views. It is a fact that my world view and beliefs are the result of many experiences and general education about the world and its history. My world view was also influenced by an internship I had at the National Security Agency and my employment with a contractor, still under the Department of Defense, a few years later. If you are looking for bombshells and secrets here, I’ll have to disappoint you. Maybe Victoria’s website can help you out. My work at these places did give me a whole new perspective on what we see in the media and what goes on behind the scenes in the real world. I started a little educational journey after a few pamphlets and publications were mailed to me and my father near the middle of that decade.
My dad had received a few white nationalist publications from a couple of the groups that were in existence at that time. I don’t recall which ones because I was living 700 miles away and only saw the documents once or twice. I do recall us having a little chuckle about it because of the fact that a middle aged black man ended up on their mailing list. One thing that struck us as interesting was the fact that the talking points within these publications were clearly targeting a more mainstream audience. There were even some points with which we could agree on some levels, like this country’s over involvement in the affairs of foreign nations. Of course, there were also the expected recurring themes like the races should be separated but remain equal, Jews aren’t to be trusted, immigration this, States rights that, etc. What was even more striking was that one article pointed out some of the common interests shared by white nationalists, black separatists, and black nationalists. Maybe they knew my dad’s race and just assumed he must be a black nationalist. Who knows? The documents prompted me to research white nationalism more closely because of their past political power. On a young Internet I ran across a number of nationalist websites and Christian ministries dedicated to preserving Anglo heritage and purity. The mantras were very similar between most of them.
Around the same time, I received a publication from Lyndon LaRouche (yes, that Lyndon LaRouche). My first thoughts at the start of reading the articles was that this guy was kind of crazy. My thought at the end was, “Yup, this guy is crazy.” There were a few conspiracy theories in there, peppered with actual facts. The one that caught my attention was the one about ties the Bush family had to the Nazis and their concept of the New World Order. I sent a copy of this to my dad because he was far more knowledgeable and interested in the Bush family than I was. After George W. Bush was in the White House, variations of this information were all over the Internet. Some accusations went so far as to say Prescott Bush, W’s grandpa, was an actual Nazi who knowingly funded Hitler during the war. Even before additional classified documents were released, it was pretty well known that much of that was not true. In reality, Prescott Bush was a director and shareholder of Union Bank, which was a primary holder and clearing house for many assets owned by Fritz Thyssen, a German steel industrialist who funded and even briefly joined the Nazi party prior to the War. Sorry, nothing to see here, folks. While Larouche’s notion that the Nazi’s may have placed two men in the oval office is absurd, it doesn’t fall short of what the less radical nationalists have been trying to do for years now. Here we are in 2017 with a president-elect with whom they share a kinship.
It was at this time that I started to realize that facts are not absolute truths and that a narrative can be created or controlled based solely on how much factual information one has or chooses to present. It’s like the grade school experiment with the mystery box. Imagine that you have a large animal enclosed within a box with a few holes that only allow one to reach in and touch parts of the animal. The fewer holes you have, the less you know about the animal. More holes, obviously, tell you more about the animal. When demagogues wish to push a certain narrative, they might have enough holes to arrive at a reasonable conclusion, but they choose only to report certain holes that reveal sharp teeth, claws, and unusually warm breath. Then with wide-eyed innocence they might say, “Who knows? Maybe it’s a dragon from the planet Xenu sent to kill us all.” Combine this with an under educated audience that chooses not to question or explore for themselves, and now you magically have followers rallying to your cause based on fear.
This is nothing new, and there are many ways to make this point. What is disturbing is that, in this information age, this type of thing is happening more frequently. These days, anyone with a little time on their hands can post just about anything about anything. Who knows how many people are reading this document written by a discombobulated snaggletooth jackass like me? The result is that we now have an abundance of misinformation alongside the more factual information. The average reader usually won’t take the time to scrutinize it or sort it out. Most of the time, when people read something that is close to beliefs they already hold, they feel no need to ask questions or explore further. When some keyboard warrior posts something misleading, the damage caused is barely noticeable. When a presidential candidate, like Donald Trump, retweets something already proven to be false, it suddenly sprouts new legs and could endanger innocent people.