The recent incident in McKinney, Texas – during which, among other things, white police officer Eric Casebolt pinned a black teenager in a bikini to the ground by sitting on her – has understandably resulted in national outrage. It seems clear from the details that have continued to emerge that these teenagers, most of them people of color, were not a real threat to anyone but got treated like a bunch of violent criminals.
Many insightful commentators have reacted to the situation with trenchant commentary, in-depth historical analysis and pointed humor. But pundits on the right, perhaps out of a knee-jerk worship of police authority – especially when it’s aimed at black citizens – have gone right into bunker mode, pointing a finger at everything under the sun except our nation’s systemic police problems. Here are some of their most pernicious reactions.
1. Blame it on the liberal media.
According to Bill O’Reilly, there are “certain liberal cable news programs hammering American police agencies over and over and over again,” resulting in a “growing disrespect for police officers.” He seems to think the role of journalists is to cover up for the police when they act out of line, rather than to report facts and speak truth to power. In O’Reilly World, journalists’ negligent willingness to do their jobs has taught teenagers (who are totally the target audience of cable news shows…) to do outrageous things like ask the police if they can collect their things before going home.
O’Reilly did admit that it’s not right to throw a girl on the ground and sit on her. But his comments imply that her efforts to collect her belongings were rooted in some kind of cable news-inspired police hatred, when the likelier explanation is that she just didn’t want to lose her glasses.
If O’Reilly wants people to respect the authority of police officers, perhaps he should stop badgering journalists for doing their job, and start pushing police to be worthy of respect.
2. Oh no! Black protesters!
Twitchy, a popular right-wing site started by Michelle Malkin, went straight for the racist id of the conservative mind by digging up a bunch of photos of protesters gathered in McKinney. The protesters in the photos aren’t doing anything even remotely risible – they’re mostly sitting, walking and listening to speeches – so Twitchy staffers made sure to emphasize that the Nation of Islam and Black Panthers were there. For those on the right, panicking like racists circa 1965 never goes out of style.
3. Calling a community organizer a “race pimp.”
On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity reached for a tried-and-true distraction technique: claiming the real problem isn’t racist police practices, but rather the people who try to bring attention to racist police practices. Hannity and his guest Kevin Jackson teamed up on community organizer DeRay McKesson, who has been reporting from McKinney on Twitter. The segment is truly bewildering, with Jackson calling McKesson a “race pimp” and saying, “I bet you haven’t been to the funeral of any cop who was killed in the line of duty.” Hannity accused McKesson of being a “professional protester” and Jackson yelled, “You’re getting paid, DeRay! You’re getting paid!”
Neither Jackson nor Hannity, who both get paid to express their opinions, explained why it would be illegitimate for someone else to do the same. Nor did they explain why someone making money for doing work would excuse police violence against innocent teenagers.
And anyway, their point is moot: McKesson said in the segment that he’s not getting paid by ayone, and is in fact unemployed.
4. Look, we found a black man to vindicate our opinions!
Right-wing outlets such as Breitbart have been lavishing attention on a man named Benét Embry, who says he lives near the infamous McKinney pool and has blamed the incident on some of the teens who were present.
“This was a teenage party that got out of hand,” because some kids without a passcode showed up and there was fighting, Embry says.
Everyone who was at the party says the fight started when a white women started yelling racist things at the guests.
The Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson’s home for conservatives’ most frat boy-ish impulses, cycled through all the standard excuses for the McKinney debacle, but then found a unique spin on the distressing incident: breasts.
Under the headline “Did Somebody Say McKinney Pool Party?!” a Daily Caller staffer published cheesecake photos of model Charlotte McKinney posing in a skimpy bikini at a pool. Ya know, in case you weren’t actually looking for information about racial injustice, and just wanted to look at boobs instead.