Friday, July 8, 2011

When White Children Die Angels Cry: Of Casey Anthony, Moral Panics, and White Slavery

The world is going to hell in a handbasket. The age old con game of distracting moral panics continues with the Casey Anthony case.

The economy is dead in the water, President Barack Obama is revealing himself to be a consummate corporatist triangulator who is playing the Tea Party GOP's game of suicide with the debt limit, repressive governments continue their violence against the people's movements in the Arab world, and one more gem--manned space travel-- in what was the golden crown of U.S. Empire and global dominance has been thrown into the dust pile of history.

The latter is heavy with symbolic weight in the Age of the Great Recession: the many thousands of people who directly and indirectly depended on NASA's space shuttle program for their livelihoods will now be either in the breadline, fighting for a limited number of berths in the private sector, or most frighteningly, seeking minimum wage McJobs.

These truly important matters of national concern and well-being are sideshows and inconvenient facts to the media's obsessive coverage of the Casey Anthony case. Perhaps Stalin was correct when he said that, "one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is just a statistic?" The obvious sadness at a life lost too young is a given, but the Casey Anthony trial is one more example of how race, crime, the value of human life, and justice problematically intersect in American life.

Where is the outcry when black and brown kids are kidnapped, murdered, or killed? Where is the amber alert and national panic for young children like Jada Justice? Where is the complaint and shock when the "justice" system convicts innocent poor people, or at the well documented disparities in sentencing along lines of race? Or when black and brown people who are unjustly sentenced to life sentences are left to rot on death row and found innocent decades later?

My point is ultimately a simple one. Whiteness wants justice when it is convenient. Whiteness does not want justice in all things. Nor does Whiteness want justice consistently. Thus, the howls, shocks, and surprise of "mainstream America" when to their eyes a miscarriage of justice occurs and one of their own is a victim. Justice should be sought in all things, and consistently for all people.

The media circus around the Casey Anthony case, and the curious, but not at all surprising silence when the legal system fails its other citizens, once more proves the myopia of Whiteness--and again how treason to Whiteness is loyalty to humanity...and justice for Caylee Anthony.


Plane Ideas said...

This is why WARN/CD is the best click on the WWW!!!!!!!!

Abstentus said...

Don't take me too literally. I am going for deliberately facetious here. When I say, I stand with Casey Anthony. At least she did not blame her daughter's death on a bunch of mystery negroes.

fred c said...

Top marks Abstentus for looking for the good. It wasn't easy to find.

The "mainstream" howlers here include Black Americans within my little circle of life. Mothers, justifiably horrified at this woman's stupidity and negligence, at least, and the fact that her child had to pay the ultimate price for that stupidity and negligence, or whatever else may have happened.

For me the real mischief of it is that the howlers are complaining about the high standard of proof in criminal matters, and the jury makes them doubt the wisdom of that institution too. Those things protect us, we non-criminally minded. I for one am only reassured when a guilty party gets off because the prosecutors thought they had a dunk and blew the case.

Better to turn our scorn on the lawyers herein. (The judge seems to have done a good job.) Those D.A.'s overcharged her, murder one is rarely an easy case to make, and then they confused the jury with a presentation that was more like Felix the Cat's mysterious bag of tricks. Her lawyer was an over-matched hack who got lucky. No wonder the jury responded to this mess with a yawn and a "fuck you guys, I'm going home."

Of course it would have gone differently if she were Black. It generally does, unless one has ten-plus million dollars to throw at a Dream Team. Especially in those cases of prosecutorial overreaching. For Black defendants, the jury often gives them the benefit of the doubt, as in "he's guilty of something." No surprise anymore who gets fucked in those cases, who gets twenty-years instead of two, or time-served.

And I don't want any "one more White Liberal crybaby" cracks. My understanding of these things comes not from newspapers or books, it comes from real life experience with real people.

Oh, the Whiteness thing. I concur, with a separate opinion.

Henri B. said...

I tried to find a mainstream news source covering this to absolutely NO avail. THAT is outrageous and worthy of national attention. Why? Because that doesn't happen everyday and it shouldn't happen at all.

I don't want to sound dismissive about the death of anyone but child abuse and child murder aren't going to disappear because people are pretending to be broken up about one idiot possibly being unjustly acquitted. And I absolutely expected OJ to be trotted out again.

I don't even understand how "they" decide what stories about the deaths of white children get mainstream attention. Nobody's talking about the child whose parents beat him, kept him in a cage, killed him and buried him under cement. But I guess I'm about to answer my own question: rural, unattractive white people's children are (almost) as irrelevant as brown or black children. And god forbid they address the "monsters" and "animals" in their own culture. I mean the real ones, not the cute ones propped up by the media to reassure them that psychopathy is individual in whites and the norm in blacks.

Hank Nasty said...

Whiteness because of its dominant social position can get away with it. Ultimately it reflects the very real human hypocrisy of arduously demanding justice in the case of a wrong done to self while seeking to minimize the consequences when having committed the wrong.

Humanity is nothing if not fully of hypocrisies.

G Newman said...

Cable news, in particular, molds its choice of stories using whiteness and patriarchy. The stream of stories about missing white women -- that fits the profile as attention-grabbers for the mass audience. All that is necessary is that the women are young, attractive, and project a vulnerability that creates forebodings about their "reckless" path of freedom, autonomy, and occasionally race mixing. That is what cable news thrives on, from Chandra Levy in Washington in 2000 to Natalee Holloway in 2009.

Black girls go missing too. But the editors do not see as much newsworthiness to such stories. They don't resonate enough with the biases of the white viewers.

Try doing this (it will take 10 seconds): Key in "missing white girl" or "white girl killed" into Google, and watch what pops up in 2 pages of news stories. The theme still lives on, a hundred years after Jack Jones. In the meantime, you should read historian Gail Bederman's "Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917" which details the feelings about Jack Jones and his challenge, as a black heavyweight champion, to white manhood. (There are also excellent chapters on Ida B. Wells and the anti-lynching campaign).

chaunceydevega said...

@Thrasher. Too kind. You are going to encourage me into believing that WARN matters and that people are watching!

@Abstentus. Don't go there. You know I am easily tempted.

@Fred. One of my people is in law and working as a public defender. Some of his stories are, well, wow...

We have bias built into the system, and we all know the reams of evidence on how race and class play into the game. If our villainous of the hour were black, brown, poor, unattractive, etc. the show would have been over.

But, here is one of my concerns about the coverage. We are a nation of laws and not men. She was found innocent. The DA dropped the ball. Game over. Why can't some accept that fact? The system worked as my eyes.

@Tanya. You are provoking me again with all of this talk about media framing, race, and issues of childhood. You are going to make Chauncey DeVega go and do something horrible.

@Hank Nasty. Hypocrisy is our ultimate condition?

@G Newman. Great recommendation on that read. You and I should chat off board. We have similar research interests it would seem.

nomad said...

Obama is proving himself to be what?

chaunceydevega said...

@Nomad. Obama is proving himself for better of for worst to be what we always knew him to be...