Doubling down on double standards
by Tom Sullivan
There's a double standard in this country when dealing with crime. Cue Claude Rains.
Charles M. Blow this morning explores the media double standard in reporting on crime committed by whites and blacks. Last Sunday's gunfight in Waco, TX was between "bikers" or “outlaw motorcycle gangs.” Those terms, Blow writes, evoke the American romance of the Old West and the open road:
While those words may be accurate, they lack the pathological markings of those used to describe protesters in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore. President Obama and the mayor of Baltimore were quick to use the loaded label “thugs” for the violent rioters there. That the authorities have not used that word to describe the far worse violence in Waco makes the contrast all the more glaring.
Does the violence in Waco say something universal about white culture or Hispanic culture? Even the question sounds ridiculous — and yet we don’t hesitate to ask such questions around black violence, and to answer it, in the affirmative. And invariably, the single-mother, absent-father trope is dragged out.
Bikers? I thought they said bankers. Word spread this week that six of the world's largest banks would pay fines of $5.8 billion in pocket change to the Department of Justice for currency-rigging, and five would plead guilty to felony charges. No one goes to jail. The banks say thank you — “thankyou” 600 times — and get back to the business of crime.
How many corrupt, white bankers were raised by single-mothers or had absent-fathers? We don't ask. In Ferguson or Baltimore, thugs commit crimes. In the white-collar world, crimes commit themselves.
Charlie Pierce at Esquire Politics:
This is altogether remarkable. Here we have a staggering series of crimes that did very real damage to thousands of people all over the world. Here we have a staggering series of crimes, but not a single identifiable criminal. Who rigged the markets? The bank buildings? A shadowy cabal of ledgers? Motorcycle gangs made up of quarterly reports? This is the only area of criminal justice where law-enforcement actively avoids identifying anyone as a criminal.
Let us face facts. Within these institutions, there have to be hundreds of people who were involved in some way with a scam this large. There were people who supervised those hundreds of people, and people who supervised them. Somewhere, in that mass of criminal activity, I'm willing to bet something substantial that a human being committed an actual crime.
None will face punishment. Matt Taibbi yesterday speculated how that might work if they ever did:
I think eventually what's going to happen is banks are going to pay the unemployed to do criminal jail sentences for guilty executives.— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) May 20, 2015
As Taibbi found out, that's how it works in China right now. Can you say freedom ? Sure, I knew you could.
“It’s business as usual, and it stinks,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts wrote of the bank settlement in an email:
“The big banks have been caught red-handed conspiring to manipulate financial markets, and several have even admitted in court that they’re felons — but not a single trader is being held individually accountable, and regulators are stumbling over themselves to exempt the banks from the legally required consequences of their criminal behavior,” Warren said. “That’s not accountability for Wall Street.”
Wall Streeters had better pray to their gods (or to themselves?) that Elizabeth Warren never gets offered a job as U.S. Attorney General.