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After a year of insulting Bed-Stuy Blacks, the New York Times offers an end-of-year gesture: A middle finger

RON HOWELL | 1/5/2012, 11:05 a.m.
“Alanzo Dale,” October 2010. Curator of cool and event planner extraordinaire demonstrates style everyday in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (Russell K. Frederick photo)

The "Crime Scene" column in the New York Times is surely, if nothing else, persistent.

It is a throwback to yesteryear, when poor but hopeful whites from across the pond from Ireland, Italy and the Jewish ghettos of Europe came to this city of hope seeking freedom and, even they would concede, lots of money.

The one thing they found in their new land that gave them a feeling of haute privilege was an underclass of Blacks, who were forcibly contained within ghettos through policing patterns that made criminals of Black males.

These patterns are documented in the book "Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America," written by Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director of the Schomburg Center for Research into Black Culture. "Condemnation of Blackness" was published last year by Harvard University Press.

We now sadly find that many of those old race-based patterns of the city's Police Department (and, yes, the city's newspapers) are alive and functioning.

Take the New York Times. We wrote earlier this year about the urban gentry tendencies of that broadsheet, a paper with a cold and narrow perspective when it comes to people of color in the city it claims to serve.

Earlier this year, the Times column called "Crime Scene" wrote bafflingly hostile articles about Blacks in Bedford-Stuyvesant, effectively saying they were not worthy of treatment as crime victims and that they were, in fact, largely the perpetrators of crimes.

Only whites could be defended as victims and cried over, writer Michael Wilson suggested time and again in his articles.

The column's tone and content are a throwback to a time-the 1800s to the 1960s-when Irish reporters and cops ran the battleground of crime fighting in New York, deciding who merited empathy and rescue.

This mentality today churns against time and exists still at the self-denominated newspaper of record. I have a friend, a former top editor at a New York newspaper, who told me-agreeing with my posts about "Crime Scene"-that the Times should relinquish local coverage, that it should just give it up to bloggers and others who seem to truly understand and care for the neighborhoods of the city-neighborhoods that are vast in socioeconomic makeup and complexion.

As for a quick description of "Crime Scene," let's say it uses an us-versus-them, Walter Winchell style. It appears to follow an ancient calls from within, howling about white victims and Black perps, and for some reason, it is at is most repugnant when it comes to Bedford-Stuyvesant-a neighborhood that, I confess, I love.

And now, lo, at the end of the year, "Crime Scene" pats itself on the back for the articles it has done over these months. It singles out, in obnoxious arriviste fashion, the very stories it did portraying Bed-Stuy as a place where Blacks run wild, robbing and killing whites.

Clearly, Wilson has likeminded editors at his back. I say this because-by admission of the paper's top editor-the Times is like a religion-a very top-down religion, we might add, where such raggy slandering of an entire people would not be allowed without the tolerance of the paper's college of cardinals and its pope.

If you want to read the Times articles that I refer to, you can Google them. I really don't feel like feeding the paper's advertisers or sullying this page with its links.

For some of BrooklynRon's past reflections on the "Crime Scene" topic, you can start here: http://www.brooklynron.com/2011/07/nytimes.html. Other BrooklynRon articles about this have appeared in the Amsterdam News and a Central Brooklyn publication called Our Time Press.