• Yellow journalists are crying “racism,” but are they really just crying “wolf”?
By John Tiffany —
The mainstream media is on a roll, reporting that, in the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting, there has been a rash of church arsons in black churches in the South and that racists are behind it. Writers on the Internet added fuel to the fire, calling attention to six incidents at predominantly black churches in the South recently. Many criticized what they claimed was the lack of media coverage to the so-called story, but what is the truth about these, and is someone really committing arson? The short answer is, No.
Take the fire at Mount Zion African Methodist Church in Greeleyville, S.C. The building burned to the ground, but it turned out to be caused by lightning, not arson.
Church fires are surprisingly common, regardless whether black, white or mixed—and in most cases it is not arson. In fact nationwide there are on average 34 church fires per week.
This writer’s own church had a bad fire a couple years ago and nearly was totaled. The church was mostly white, but a Hispanic congregation that also used the building had neglected to put out all the candles, causing the blaze.
There has in fact been considerable media hoopla about the notion that racists are burning black churches. There were some 890 stories on the Greeleyville fire alone—too much media coverage really on a fire caused by lightning.
Reuters relayed the news that a fire inside a mostly black church in Macon, Ga. “has been ruled as arson by fire officials, local newspaper The Telegraph reported. . . . The arson ruling came a day after North Carolina authorities said a predominantly black church in Charlotte was purposely burned, and roughly a week after a white gunman opened fire in an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., killing nine people. . . . The shooting . . . came amid months of intense debate over U.S. race relations and a renewed civil rights movement after unarmed black men were killed by police officers in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, Md. and elsewhere.”
The truth is, however, Macon-Bibb County fire sergeant Ben Gleaton said the investigation is still continuing and there was nothing yet to indicate the fire at the Macon church was a hate crime.
Editorialized The Washington Post: “It is not wrong to worry that the recent fires are the latest in a long line of hate. If Dylann Roof’s solo crusade in the name of white supremacy did not start the race war he yearned for, the subsequent backlash against the Confederate battle flag does seem to have invigorated racist groups. . . . It is hard to
watch hatred surge and churches burn in so short a span of time and not wonder if the two are related. . . . Investigators should deliver answers as quickly as they can.”
A Baltimore Sun editorial expressed concern about a “mysterious” series of fires “at African-American churches across the South” in the wake of the Charleston shootings. As if it were a case of history repeating itself, The Sun cited an “uptick in attacks on 37 black churches in the South in the 1990s that prompted President Bill Clinton to set
up a church arson investigative task force.”
The newspaper failed to mention that Clinton had falsely claimed at the time that he had “vivid and painful memories of black churches being burned in my own state when I was a child”—an assertion promptly debunked by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The yellow press coverage that launched the 1990s media hysteria was sparked by fear-mongerer Gary Fields, who scribbled 61 stampede-the-lemmings stories in USA Today on supposed black church arson.
Now, history is repeating in the current juggernaut of “white supremacist arson” tales, but it is a history of establishment media lying, not of churches burning. The Fields fabrication fell apart under serious scrutiny, and USA Today had to admit “analysis of the 64 fires since 1995 shows only four can be conclusively shown to be racially motivated.”
Says conservative writer Michelle Malkin: “Several of the hyped hate crimes against black churches had been committed by black suspects. A significant number of the ‘black churches’ were in fact white churches. And the complex motives included mental illness, vandalism and concealment of theft.”
Added Malkin: “The last thing the community and our country need are hysterical journalists compounding the pain with inflammatory reporting on an unsubstantiated ‘epidemic’ of black church arsons.”
Confirmation bias is a psychological phenomenon whereby people seek out information that seems to confirm their existing opinions and ignore information that goes against their prejudices. To be charitable, rather than say the media are outright lying, we could say these “presstitutes” are victims of confirmation bias. Their minds are already made up, so do not confuse them with the facts.
A black church burns in the South and, without evidence, the mind of a Northern liberal immediately turns to racial hatred as the likely cause. And the liberal media has brainwashed the average American to the point that every shooting or bombing conjures up the idea of a terrorist act.
In truth, church fires have been on the decline for several decades, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Only about one in six fires at black churches is intentional, and only a fraction of those are racially motivated. Half of those arrested for such arsons are younger than 18—suggesting that stupidity and youthful indiscretion are a major cause. Also since churches are a symbol of authority, attacking them might be a way for thrill-seeking young teens to “rebel” against society.
John Tiffany is copy editor for AMERICAN FREE PRESS and assistant editor of THE BARNES REVIEW. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan and has done postgraduate studies in law, biology and computer science. He is devoted to the truth and lets the chips fall where they may.
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