…the Occupy movement burns seven corporate offices in lower Manhattan

…EarthFirst burns seven GMO research labs

…black teenagers burn seven CVS stores

…jihadists burn seven suburban shopping malls

Media storm. 24/7 coverage of America-in-crisis.

National Guard on the streets.

Bring out the military gear, boys. This is the War on Terror


Seven black churches burn in the South.


Broken only by bullshit chirping of media crickets.

NPR’s website this morning: nothing.

New York Times last nights posted this report from the Associated Press. Stunning, just stunning. The fires are “unrelated” and associated with lightning. This morning, an expanded report in small font, way down the front page, still passes along, without critical comment, the line that these fires are unrelated.

No pattern of racist terror here, nosireee. Trust us.

USA Today, breaking with the highbrows, ran the story from its front page, but spun the line that arson attacks had “no obvious signs pointing to a hate crime.”

Fox News mentioned nothing, except “vandalism” to a statue of a white supremacist.

As Mahalia Jackson sung, If we never needed the Lord before, we sure need him now.


29 thoughts on “Imagine

  1. Bruce R BRowne

    I couldn’t agree with you more!
    The mass media will not report the news as it is.
    SHAMEFUL. Keep the people under control.

  2. kklinedinst

    I live in Baltimore, and the coverage from big media of the riots were a contrast from what was actually going on. The lack of coverage about the burning of black churches is shameful.

  3. Ralph

    Let’s pretend for a moment this was happening in the great plains and upper midwest. A different response in reporting and reaction? Most definitely so! It is SHAMEFUL and WRONG! Thanks for brining it to our attention and for a little goodness and love sprinkled in with the Mahalia Jackson song.

  4. Joe Willis

    Hello David:  I, too, do a natural history blog.  Your recent post serves as a warning to me – be careful about getting away from your area of expertise.  I am continually tempted to delve into politics, especially as it relates to environmental concerns, but as a biologist and English instructor, I realize my politics are naive.  I have many strong opinions, but need to be wary of “foot in mouth disease.”  I think you do, too.  This morning’s Ramble was truly a ramble.  Not very coherent.  You were much better on the Tussock moth, for example.Sincerely, Joe Willis

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      Thanks for the advice, Joe. Very generous of you to help me out in this way. Next time my neighbors get attacked by terrorists who run away from the scene of the crime, I’ll keep it in mind.

  5. Jeff

    I would suggest letting the dust settle from the agenda-driven media frenzy and actually investigate how many of these fires were arson, and then how many of those were racially motivated. You are a scientist. What are the facts?

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      Facts are: (1) 7 black churches burned immediately after the confederate flag is lowered in much of the South. How many times does lightning strike only one type of church? Once, maybe, twice. (2) No media frenzy, (3) War on Terror selectively applied.

      1. Jeff

        Arson was ruled out in the most recent one in Charleston. Another one was confirmed as an electrical problem. A third was actually a white church struck by lightning.

        1. David George Haskell Post author

          From what I can gather: 3 arson, 1 a mystery possibly arson, 1 electrical, 1 lightning. And hopefully no more. So, yes, not all were arson, as far as we can tell. We sure can tell that the media responded to this in a lack-luster manner compared to burnings set by blacks after police shootings. Deep racial bias in the media, in my opinion.

      1. Jeff

        This is incorrect. It is on all of the major news outlets. I do stand corrected though. Only on social media would it be objectively characterized as a frenzy.

  6. Anonymous

    Your post this morning really surprised and moved me. Thank you for voicing what so many are thinking and feeling. I truly love ‘Ramble’ and… rightly or wrongly… even more so now.

  7. pupperwupper

    Agree. I’ve been traveling for the last week and just getting little media blurbs here and there…in the hotel room/airport or on the car radio and I have heard enough about Gay Marriage and 2 escaped convicts to sink a battleship but only one report from in front of one of the burned churches with a map showing the other churches and this report was certainly not anywhere near the top of the news. Apparently it’s not sensational enough or there isn’t any good video to show.
    No looting video to show every hour on the hour.

    As the Quakers said, “Speak Truth to Power”!

    Meanwhile in Greece….

  8. Dave Mills

    Thanks, David, for your words this morning. There’s absolutely no reason why a scientist can’t voice his or her concerns about social issues. I’m a Yankee and have always been critical of the “Southern Mentality.” The laws have changed, but a lot of hearts haven’t. And that’s very sad indeed.

  9. Sherri

    My inclinations were the same as yours but in reading everything I can on these, I really think we need to be careful not to make assumptions. There were 1,389,500 structural fires in 2011. That’s 3,859 a day. Each week there are 35 church fires. If my neighbor says he hates dogs, and the next day my dogs dies, I’m not going to accuse him of killing it until I have some evidence.

    Even the structure of your assertion is faulty. You give four statements of some group doing something and then compare it to something happening with no group identified. KKK burns seven churches. That’s something. Seven apartment buildings across the country have fires. That’s not a story.

    I’m planning to make a nice donation to the SPLC to be sure someone is keeping an eye on this and getting to the bottom of it. In the meantime, the media silence does not include the Washington Post, ABC, NYTimes, HuffPo, USA Today, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, etc. who are all running stories on this.

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      Sherri, Glad the media are starting to cover this. Contrast with Baltimore etc is startling though. About structure of “assertion”: the whole point is that fear is most effective when you don;t leave a calling card. I sure hope that all of these fires are pure accidents. Whether they are or not, we’ll see. In the meantime, media downplays any possible racist motive. There is a deep racial bias inherent in news coverage in this country (and overseas, for sure).

    2. John Salmond

      all very rational; and of course the media is always very rational, so it is no surprise they are being so rational in withholding judgement on black churches, just like they are in incidents involving, say . . . Muslims.

      Rational can be confused with rationalising.

  10. katiebrugger

    Thank you! What a surprise to find this post in my inbox from you when I’m used to bird song and turtle tracks; I’m thrilled you used your blog to make this comment. I felt the same way this morning when I saw on the NY Times that all these fires were ‘unrelated.’ Really?! Thanks for your courage in speaking out.

  11. John Salmond

    When I saw the b**llsh*t word in your Tweet, I suspected a misspelling or some arcane biological usage . . . Such anger is out of character, but I sure can understand it. At times, bystanders just have to show they care about the oppressed, even if they don’t have ALL the facts

    1. John Salmond

      I fondly remember your lowkey report of your reaction to the ravishing of your creek by bait hunters . . . Maybe it is just as well you can now blog off your steam


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