Soon after the Cascade Mall shooting in Burlington, WA this past weekend, where five people were killed by a lone assailant, it was all over CNN, all the networks, USA TODAY and the Washington Post. The Seattle Times, of course, is Johnny-on-the-spot. There was surveillance video and eyewitness descriptions of the heinous killer, and when the police announced that the suspect was “Hispanic,” this was immediately broadcast throughout the world, as if this bit of information was “meaningful.” The Seattle Times, of course, has claimed before that it never identifies a shooter’s race until the suspect is actually arraigned in court, but this seems only to apply if the suspect is black, because the Times doesn’t want to appear to be assuming any unfair stereotyping of any particularly group, although it violates this “principle” over and over again when it comes to Hispanics. In “justifying” identifying the still at large shooter as “Hispanic,” the Times claimed that “Most major news outlets, including The Seattle Times, mention race or ethnicity in relation to crimes only if the crime is considered racially motivated or if an armed, dangerous suspect is on the loose.”
But more interesting is this little tidbit related by the Times: “When journalists asked at a Saturday press conference why authorities believed the gunman to be Hispanic, Mount Vernon Police Lt. Chris Cammock said the description was based on the surveillance photos and the man’s dark hair.” And this is the crux of the matter. How many people in this country could be mistaken for “Hispanic”? I know of a few “Black Irish” types who are upset when they are taken for Hispanic. In fact, anyone who is vaguely “ethnic,” with dark skin, dark hair, dark eyebrows, does not appear “Caucasian” can and often are “mistaken” for Hispanic.
The mall shooter, Arcan Cetin, is a Turkish immigrant, who was regarded by acquaintances as “creepy,” an attitude that likely “inspired” his actions. But the point is that Cetin is not Hispanic: the Times editors might have had an emergency meeting to come up with a “policy” on identifying race or ethnicity of a suspect to rationalize their own culpability in assuming that anyone who looked dark and “ethnic” and not immediately identified as Middle Eastern must be “Hispanic.”
How to “explain” this purposeful “mistakenness”? Can it be the inclination of many, especially on the extreme right and the likes of Ann Coulter, Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin, Pat Buchanan—and, of course, Donald Trump—with their excessive paranoia and hate that almost any suggestion that a Hispanic is involved in a “heinous” crime is subject to “special” attention, because “Hispanics”—even those who are citizens—are social and cultural “aliens” who frankly are only permitted to be spoken about in this country (usually in negative terms), rather than actually being allowed to speak for themselves because, frankly, they have no rights anyone in this country is bound to respect. Especially in the media, where unlike blacks are not even permitted the right to have a “token” who is allowed to stand as “evidence” to give the “lie” to the stereotypes.
And yes, the media is so hypocritical. Hispanics are supposedly the largest minority group in this country, yet who speaks for them in the mainstream media? No one. Whites and blacks are the only people that "matter" in this country, and the omnipresence of the latter in the media is meant to establishes that it is only a few bad apples who are responsible for the dysfunctions of their community. The bottom line in this country is that if you need someone to hate or place blame, Hispanics are the go-to group, because there is no one in the media to consider before they leap to their preconceived assumptions.