Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Allegation: White Supremacists Burned Black Ferguson Church

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A few miles away from the Monday night mayhem and media presence in downtown Ferguson, a church was burned. It was a notable church, at least in the context of current events, in that it was attended by the family of Michael Brown — and its pastor has been very vocal in his defense of the deceased Missouri teen. And this story is unique in another way:

While the Ferguson looting and rioting caught on video has been a phenomenon of black criminals, Pastor Carlton Lee thinks his Flood Christian Church was burned by, as he put it, “white supremacists.”

The act, which has been characterized as arson, occurred at just about the same time other buildings in Ferguson were set alight, but the church was located “on a remote section of West Florissant Avenue where other structures were unscathed,” reports NBC News. The Daily Mail provided more detail on the story:

Rev. Lee told NBC News that he believes his church was targeted because he has repeatedly called for the arrest of Officer [Darren] Wilson.

'I'm very vocal in regards to the Michael Brown case,' said Lee, who has participated in rallies and press conferences with Michael Brown Sr. and claims to have received 71 death threats. 

... He suspects his church was targeted by white supremacists who wanted to punish him for his support of the Brown family.

On Sunday Lee had baptized Michael Brown Sr, his wife, Cal, and their children.

The event, which had taken place at a different church, had been planned months ago…. 

'Sunday, we do the baptism, Monday, the church is one [sic] fire. It just doesn't add up,' he said.

NBC also reports that federal officials are now investigating the fire, a process that BATF spokesman John Ham describes as “slow and painstaking.”

If the Flood Christian Church was torched by white supremacists, it would be an outlier crime. Roughly mirroring the statistic that 93 percent of black homicide victims are murdered by other blacks — a figure related by former NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani in a rancorous television segment recently — most of the burned and vandalized Ferguson properties were not only targeted by minorities but are minority-owned; a good example is the riot-damaged bakery belonging to a black woman named Natalie Dubose.

Nonetheless, the church arson very well could be the handiwork of white supremacists. Even more likely is that it was perpetrated by a white person who was, to use language corresponding to the mainstream media’s description of the rioters’ motivation, “angered by Pastor Lee’s decision to defend a violent robber.” Yet there’s another possibility some have suggested: the incident could be a “Reichstag fire” event designed to incite Brown’s supporters and discredit Officer Wilson’s defenders.

While this may not seem — or even in fact be — a likely scenario, many say it must be considered in light of similar events in recent decades. One apparent example is a 2013 incident in which black Red Lobster waitress Toni Jenkins leveled accusations of bigotry against white customer Devin Barnes after the latter left no tip on a take-out-order receipt. The Daily Mail described what transpired:

On the receipt, a photo of which was posted on Facebook and Youtube in September [2013] by the 19-year-old waitress, the line designated for a tip read 'none.' On the line for the total, it read 'n***er.'

Jenkins left a caption on the photo that was uploaded to her Facebook page that read 'This is what I got as a tip last night...so happy to live in the proud southern states...God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low class racists of Tennessee.'

Barnes' signature is visible in the photo directly below the offensive slur.

In the weeks following Jenkins' posting the photo on the web, the left-wing blog AddictingInfo.org started an online fundraiser for her that raised more than $10,000 — money Jenkins later said she planned to use to buy a car.

It turned out, however, that she just bought a heap of trouble. Handwriting experts determined that neither Barnes nor his wife wrote the slur and that there was “a reasonable degree of certainty” Jenkins did. This prompted Jenkins to backtrack and say she no longer believed Barnes penned the note and that she was willing to apologize, while insisting she nonetheless did not write it herself. Barnes is now suing the Red Lobster restaurant chain and Jenkins for one million dollars.

Also in 2013, a similar incident occurred when lesbian waitress Dayna Morales claimed that a couple refused to tip her and left a note expressing disapproval with her “lifestyle.” Her story also went viral and brought her donations from all over the world. Yet after the couple produced a bank statement and customer receipt disproving the accusations, it emerged that Morales was a pathological liar who was dishonorably discharged from the Marines. She no longer has her waitressing job.

Yet history shows that such hoaxers are often not held accountable. As Ann Coulter wrote in 2007 providing other examples of bigotry-oriented deceptions:

In 1997, at Duke University, a black doll was found hanging by a noose from a tree at the precise spot where the Black Student Alliance was to be holding a rally against racism. Two black students later admitted they were the culprits and were immediately praised for bringing attention to the problem of racism on campus. Indeed, four years later the president of Duke gave a baccalaureate address nostalgically describing the hoax as a "protest" against racism.

... In 2003, vile racial epithets were scrawled on the dorm room doors at Ole Miss, producing mass protests and a "Say No to Racism" march. And then it turned out the graffiti had been written by black students, against whom no charges were brought.

... In 2005, obscenity-laced racist and anti-Semitic messages appeared on dormitory walls at the College of Wooster in Ohio. The fliers were instantly blamed on "typical white males," even though all the letter I's in the epithets were dotted with little hearts. Breadcrumbs left by the culprits included the message "Vote Goldwater" among the obscenities. The matter was dropped and flushed down the memory hole when the perpetrators turned out to be a group of leftist students led by a black studies major.

As for Pastor Lee, no one has implied that he set fire to his own church; he’s just another victim in the Ferguson fiasco. But whoever his victimizers may be and whatever their motivation, it appears the crime against him is unusual in one more way still: The presumption that his victimizers are white seems to make his case a priority. After all, is the federal government's BATF going to seek out the other Monday night Ferguson arsonists with the same resources it has devoted to the Flood Christian Church burning? Or is it that some fires are more equal than others?

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