Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

The Cathedral Interprets The Chicago Attack

It's as if the anti-white, anti-Trump element of the crime never happened
shutterstock_260050847 (1)

Driving back from New Orleans today, I caught the beginning of the Weekend All Things Considered’s newscast. Host Michel Martin said that the show was going to devote the entire program to “violence, especially gun violence.” The first story of the broadcast was a three-minute piece in which Martin interviewed Chicago-based NPR correspondent Cheryl Corley about the horrific racist attack on the mentally disabled young white man, who was kidnapped and tortured in racially abusive terms by four young black people, who broadcast the attack on Facebook. Here’s a link to the story:

“Is something different now? Is there a sense in Chicago that there is something unique happening?” Martin asked Corley, about the city’s violence. They quickly got into the Facebook attack, which Martin introduced with this line:

“Just this week, four young adults were charged with attacking an acquaintance in a vicious beating that they livestreamed on social media.”

She also described it like this, in a question to Corley:

“Four young adults allegedly abducted an acquaintance of theirs, abused him terribly, and broadcast this on Facebook live, what are people saying about this?”

Incredibly, in talking about it, including an update from the bond hearing, Corley not once mentioned the fact that anti-white hate, and anti-Trump hate, was a key part of the crime — so much so that the state has filed hate crime charges against the four. The only thing Corley said about race was that the four defendants are “all African-Americans” — leaving aside the fact that the victim was white, and that both race and politics were central to the torture and abuse. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on the bond hearing:

“The victim is tied up then gagged. A sock is placed in the victim’s mouth and then his mouth is taped shut. The victim is forced back in to a corner,” [Assistant State’s Attorney Erin] Antonietti said. “One of the male defendants in the background can be hear yelling “F— Donald Trump” and “f— white people.” Hill uses a knife to slice off a chunk of the victim’s hair, cutting his head, then slicing at the sleeves of the victim’s sweatshirt as the man stares, terrified, at Hill, as laughing is heard from behind the camera.

“A male voice is heard saying ‘I don’t give a f— if he’s schizophrenic,’” Antonietti said. “A male shoves the victim’s face into a toilet bowl and the victim is told to drink toilet water.”

At some point during the ordeal, Antonietti said, Hill demanded $300 from the victim’s mother for the victim’s safe return.

To be fair, in its report Friday on the bond hearing, NPR was upfront about the race-hate aspect of the crime. It was bizarre to listen to today’s report, though, and to see the race-hate angle not even mentioned in passing. It’s as if they wanted only to talk about violence outside of the racial and political context, which is simply impossible in this particular case.

Steve Sailer notes the shocking/not-shocking case of The New York Times, whose editors have found a way to frame the crime not as anti-white or anti-Trump, but an example of bigotry against the disabled. I could not bring myself to watch more than a few minutes of the video, but I am not aware that the alleged captors and torturers made mockery of the man’s schizophrenia part of their attack. The Times could have done a story on the phenomenon of violent attacks on Trump supporters — something that happened again and again during the campaign season. That would have been an obvious angle. Or the matter of black anti-white racism, which also exists. But no. Says Sailer, sardonically:

So, you have your marching orders, right? The video of blacks abusing a white kid has nothing to do with virulent prejudice against whites or Trump, it has to do with Society’s prejudice against the intellectually disabled minority.

Do you understand your mission?

As you know, it is a priori impossible for Victim-Americans to abuse American-Americans. So, the victim must have been a Victim-American.


Again, to be fair, the Times‘s report Thursday highlighted the racial and political angle. The Times today ran an AP story saying that anti-white hate crimes are a smaller percentage of overall hate crimes than anti-black hate crimes. Which I accept as true, but I am not aware that after alleged anti-black hate crimes, or even police shootings involving black victims, that the national media make a point of publishing stories downplaying the crime by pointing out their relative rarity among all violent crimes.

You expect lefty crackpot sites like Salon.com to come up with a ridiculous spin like this (that the Chicago crime was really about abuse against the disabled), but the Times?

(That’s a joke.)

Earlier today in New Orleans, I had been having lunch with some friends, both liberals and conservatives. The issue of how so many Americans now don’t have much interest in truth (as distinct from believing what they want to believe) came up. Of course there was the matter of Trump’s dishonesty, but also the matter of the media’s ethics. I said that I read and subscribe to the Times mostly for the same reason Soviets used to read Pravda back in the day: to know what the Official Story the ruling class wishes to tell itself is. That’s not to say that the Times doesn’t feature excellent reporting and good writing; it does. But I don’t trust it to tell me the truth. I trust it to reveal to me the narrative that the greater part of the ruling class (minus the Republican elites) tells itself. That’s a useful thing to know, as long as you know that you’re only getting a take.

What’s interesting is that elite journalists largely lack the epistemic humility to understand what they’re doing. Do you think Michel Martin, Cheryl Corly, or anybody in the NPR newsroom who worked on today’s Chicago report were genuinely aware how their report would sound to someone who was not liberal?

The alt-right movement promotes many ideas, some of them stupid (e.g., the idea that the Chicago Facebook torture was the fault of Black Lives Matter), many of them bad, some of them evil. But the most true and useful thing it (or, to be precise, neoreaction, which is not exactly the same thing as the alt-right) has come up with is the concept of the Cathedral, defined like this:

The Cathedral in a nutshell

  1. The Cathedral (aka the Clerisy, the Megaphone) is basically the Western world’s intellectual fashion industry. It consists of almost all of the respectable or even semi-respectable parts of the news media, the entertainment industry, and the softer social science and humanities parts of the education industry.
  2. Basic economic theory predicts that these industries should be diverse in their approaches to politically sensitive topics. Unlike the field of particle physics, political fashions are not significantly limited by reproducible scientific experiments. The market should be fragmented, and the various firms should specialize in appealing to different segments of the market.
  3. But this does not seem to be the case. Instead, the Cathedral seems much more homogeneous in its coverage of politically sensitive topics than it is in coverage of food, art, sports, religion, etc.
  4. The mechanism for this homogenization is not obvious. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Cathedral has no pope (although I read recently that Warren Buffet owns 71 newspapers, and the New York Times is owned in part by Carlos Slim, whose vast fortune has a lot to do with his special relationship with the Mexican government). One factor is that the credibility of a set of information sources depends on their being able to agree on a story (coordination games, the peloton effect, the parliament of clocks). Another factor is self-dealing: people with high verbal skills tend to support a system of government that is controlled by people with high verbal skills, and once they control it, they tend to want it to be unlimited in scope. Another factor is self-selection: once an institution becomes dominated by members of a political movement, it tends to become unpleasant and career-limiting for anyone else to work there. Another factor is that the easiest way to write a newspaper story is to copy it from a politician’s press handout. To a considerable extent, these institutions are deliberately manipulated by politicians (broadcast licensing, educational and research funding, journalistic access, selective leaking of secrets, etc., aka Gleichschaltung; in many cases, journalists are literally married to political operatives or are involved in “revolving door” relationships with the political institutions they write about, such as Jeff Immelt of GE, MSNBC and the Obama administration). But the two biggest factors are probably that (1) intellectuals are seduced by political power (the Boromir effect), and (2) these institutions are quasi-religious, and have taken on the peculiar characteristics of the dominant quasi-religion of the day.
  5. Three things make an intellectual movement quasi-religious: (1) the outputs that they produce are credence goods, (2) they provide a framework for competition for social status, and (3) this basis is insecure. The fact that credence goods are involved means that conflict about them will tend to be irrational. The fact that social status is involved, and that the basis for social status is insecure, means that this conflict will be relatively vicious, and will carry a strong odor of a witch hunt.
  6. The Cathedral is powerful partly because its relative homogeneity allows it to serve as a gatekeeper of politically relevant mass-market information and interpretation. But its real power comes from control of what ideas are associated with high status. Everyone thinks, “I’m my own man. I think for myself.” But unconsciously, people tend to copy the opinions of people who are one step above them on the social ladder. This was explained in the Cerulean Top scene in The Devil Wears Prada.

It seems that the high-status thing to believe about the Chicago torture attack is that it was really about bias against disabled people. And by the way, on Sunday, the Times published a short interview with Michael Eric Dyson, the Georgetown sociology professor and black commentator, who advocates separate fees for equal service, based on race. Excerpt:

At the end of your sermon, you do a “benediction” section, in which you talk about making reparations on the local and individual level: donating to groups like the United Negro College Fund or a scholarship program, but also, to cite your example from the book, paying “the black person who cuts your grass double what you might ordinarily pay.” That gave me pause!

Good! I used to say in church, “If the sermon ain’t making you a little bit uncomfortable, it ain’t effective.” Look, if it doesn’t cost you anything, you’re not really engaging in change; you’re engaging in convenience. You’re engaged in the overflow. I’m asking you to do stuff you wouldn’t ordinarily do. I’m asking you to think more seriously and strategically about why you possess what you possess.

I agree with reparations, but maybe this is my white privilege speaking: I can’t imagine actually doing that.

That is what I meant by an I.R.A.: an individual reparations account. You ain’t got to ask the government, you don’t have to ask your local politician — this is what you, an individual, conscientious, “woke” citizen can do.

Indulgences in our time, right there in the Cathedral’s parish bulletin.

UPDATE: Reader Kgasmart writes:

The Times frames the Chicago case this way specifically for the same reason the European media initially downplayed – or ignored – stories of those mass migrant rapes:

They don’t want to give the “haters” any breathing space.

That is, to be forthright about what happened gives the alt-right types the ability to say “See, we told you so!” The Times has its own narrative and will not give this competing, conservative, “hate” narrative any air.

But it’s inevitable that the truth will emerge. In which case the alt-right types are EVEN MORE empowered, because they can both point to events, and the media’s attempt to cover them up – “fake news” indeed.

The media is utterly destroying its credibility this way, but it’s more beholden to “tolerance” than it is the truth. And this is why it will die out, because when a business model built up on reporting the truth suddenly has a new primary goal – it can’t survive.

True. About a decade ago, as a working journalist, it became clear to me that when it came to some subjects, the media thought it’s job was more about managing the news than reporting it. If you read, for example, The New York Times as if we were the USSR and it was Pravda, you better understand its meaning. The comparison is certainly not one-to-one, but it’s closer than it ought to be.