It was the day after Memorial Day Weekend. The weekend had been violent, and Matt Drudge knew just how to bring the story to the attention of his Internet audience. The entire top quadrant of his website consisted of stories about rioting youths and ensuing chaos. The reaction to this mayhem unfortunately involved race-baiting and political gamesmanship. Those who opined failed to recognize that America now has a law and order problem that the GOP nominee for President needs to have a solution for.
The splashed headlines provoked a visceral and often times wrongheaded reaction for several reasons. The offenders portrayed were primarily young, black males. Those who listen intently for dog whistles heard them. Kevin L. Martin describes one such example of journalistic malpractice below.
“…since the president of the United States is a black man, and since black voters tend to align with his party, it is to the advantage of the Republican Party and its allies to inculcate fear and apprehension about people who look like him. Hence the top stories on the Drudge Report today.”
This mindset has pervaded every media story that could somehow become detrimental to Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012. People got robbed, beaten and killed this year on Memorial Day, but it’s blatantly racist to bring that to the attention of anybody old enough to vote by 2012.
This is a kick-the-can-down-the-road mindset that calls for us to make problems go away rather than address or solve them. This mindset will not help a poor elderly man in Saint Louis. For Hoang Nguyen, it is now too late to kick anything on down the road.
Poor Hoang Nguyen lacked the sense of drama to get himself attacked and die on Memorial Day. He won’t be making the Drudge Report. He’s just an elderly, decent, honorable, law-abiding citizen who fell victim to a new teenage pastime known around St. Louis as Knockout King. The game has a brutal simplicity to it that is outlined below.
The rules of Knockout King are straightforward, according to Jason and other former players interviewed for this article. A lead attacker is chosen from among a group of boys, usually young adolescents. Next a target is picked out. Then the attacker either charges the unsuspecting victim or motions for his attention. When the target turns or lifts his head, the attacker strikes. If the victim is felled by the punch, the group usually scatters. But if the target withstands the blow, other members of the group may follow up with their fists to finish the job.
When the attackers had finished the job on Hoang Nguyen, there simply wasn’t much of him left. A repeat juvenile offender named Elex Murphy “won” by scoring a perma-TKO on the septuagenarian retired school teacher.
While Dr. McCoy from Star Trek would have been saddened, the Saint Louis PD seems to view Hoang Nguyen as just another Redshirt. The Saint Louis PD tells people not to worry. It’s just some screwy kids.
"The 'knockout game' is played by a group of kids who, as outrageous as it sounds, go around with the goal of knocking people out, for apparently no reason," says Chief Daniel Isom. "Based on our intelligence, we believe it's an isolated group of maybe five to nine kids," he says.
Patrick Wallace, a spokesman for St. Louis Public Schools, gives us the predictable bureaucratic response to any problem the bureaucracy is too feeble to effectively solve.
The social workers, Wallace reports, "are not interested in talking about it."
This reminds me of a particularly vicious gang rape in Houston, Texas that I blogged about several months back. The Houston Chronicle gave a blunt description of what took place.
Seventeen men and boys, including a middle school student and adults in their 20s, have been charged with sexually assaulting Maria’s daughter, a sixth-grader, in a dingy trailer. That number could grow to 28.
The New York Times then informed us as to how “The Thinking People” were expected to view this issue.
Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.
Whether our best and brightest want to admit to it or not, law and order disintegrates daily in America. Crimes rates have been both higher and lower, but the things that took place in Houston, TX, in St. Louis, MO, and all over America on Memorial Day would never happen in a society endeared to the rule of law. We are not supposed to care whether it helps the GOP or Democrats when we discuss crime or enforce laws. We are supposed to be a nation of laws and not men.
Thus, I believe that the eventual GOP candidate for President has to ignore the accusations of racism and make this an issue. This is bigger than just a shot at political advantage. The blood of innocent people cries out from the stained and filthy alleys of our lawless urban streets. As Mitt Romney pointed out about the victims of feckless and stupid economic policy yesterday, these are human beings, not speed-bumps. The GOP nominee in 2012 must demand that the law protect people like Hoang Nguyen once again.