Making enemies in low places
Leonard Pitts - Miami Herald
So, what’s going on with you? Nothing much? Wish I could say the same.
As you may know if you’ve seen CNN or read the paper, yours truly has lately been the target of death threats and harassment from the ranks of the not-so-tightlywrapped.
This, after a June 3 column about the torture murder of a young white couple, allegedly by four blacks. My column took on white supremacists and far-right bloggers who contend that this “genocide” — their word — goes unremarked by news media too PC to report black-on-white crime.
It was an argument made for ridiculing and I did my best, pointing out that black-on-white crime, a relative statistical rarity, is not underreported but, in fact, OVER reported, according to any number of studies and experts. This offended a self-professed neo- Nazi leader whose name you won’t read here. So he got on his little neo-Nutsy Web site and posted my home address
and phone number. It’s been game on ever since — 400 e-mails, dozens of phone calls, leaflets on my neighbor’s driveway.
“You should be back in a damn mud and dung hut you nappy headed ho.” . . . “Who’s crying now, you affirmative action ape?” etc.
The gist of this outburst: a handful of contentions, each more asinine than the last:
(1) Pitts has no compassion for the victims. (I called the murders brutal and a tragedy and said the killers should rot under the jailhouse.)
(2) Pitts told those mourning the murders to “cry me a river.” (I gave that advice specifically to white supremacists yelling genocide and other stupid things.)
(3) The murders were so heinous they were “obviously” a hate crime. (Actually, heinousness has nothing to do with it. Hate crime penalties come into play when the prosecutor can establish racial or religious bias as a motive, period.) It turns out this tactic — publishing private information for intimidation purposes — is one these folks use frequently to silence those with whom they disagree. Which only deepens my appreciation for the sheer guts it took to be a Fred Shuttlesworth in Birmingham or a Medgar Evers in Jackson, speaking truth to power in a time and place where everyone knew your address, assassinations were common and you could not go to law enforcement because they were part of the problem.
I’m not comparing myself to those civil
rights icons. I am saying that like them, we shall not be moved.
I pity the neo-Nutsies. How impotent they must feel. How small. So they console themselves with these delusions of inherent superiority.
I grew up in the slums of L.A. and started college at 15. I won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004, and have been married to the same woman for 26 years. I’m also nice to children and play a mean game of Scrabble. So I wonder: What have these people achieved in THEIR lives that makes them my better? Do they really think it’s enough to have less melanin in their skin?
The neo-Nutsies have been responsible for frustration and anger these last days. They’ve also been responsible for joy. Thanks to them, I’ve received a tidal wave of “hang in there” and “we care about you” and “what can we do to help” from colleagues, readers, friends and strangers all over the country. People have volunteered to guard my front door. A self-described “big ole white guy” I’ve interviewed a couple times called from Louisiana to say he had my back. Contributions have been made in my name to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Credit the Nutsies for that.
I feel a little like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” They say you can tell who a man is by looking at his friends. Which is true. But I believe you can also tell by looking at his enemies. Apparently, I have managed to make enemies of haters, bigots and other low, pathetic men. I must be doing something right.