John Leo On Race And The Right To Know
Print Friendly and PDF

When John Leo announced his retirement a last year, I noted that while he wrote a book called Two Steps Ahead of the Thought Police, he was at least a couple of steps further ahead of David Brock's thought police than we are here at

But he's just written a column that might have been ripped from the headlines— headlines, that is.[Sins of Omission | Newspapers clam up about race, religion, and politics.City Journal, February 28, 2007]

He writes

This squeamishness brought the expected hoots of derision. The blogger Confederate Yankee ran the mock headline RACELESS FEMALE RAPED BY RACELESS MALE AT A PARTY HOSTED BY A RACELESS FRATERNITY IN THE SAME CITY WHERE RICH WHITE BOYS RAPED A POOR BLACK STRIPPER. Later, the News & Observer posted a police sketch of the alleged rapist, clearly indicating a dark-skinned male, next to its original online story, thus implying that it hadn't really suppressed racial information.

Sometimes news stories omit important religious and political identifications, too. In Nashville last week, readers of the Tennessean were probably able to deduce the religious affiliation of a cabbie who tried to run over two Christian students after a heated discussion of religion. His name: Ibrahim Sheikh Ahmed. The paper reported: "Metro police spokeswoman Kris Mumford said one of the students is Catholic and the other is Lutheran. Mumford said that Ahmed's religion was not known." Maybe so, but many readers probably wondered: if the driver had been a conservative Christian trying to run down a Muslim, wouldn't the newsroom have summoned the energy to find out, and to confront Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the evils of Islamophobia?

Leo mentions a third area of silence, which is that you will very rarely hear anyone referred to as a Communist, no matter how Communist they are.

I read in Liberty Magazine years ago, (not online, I'm working from memory) that if you ever hear a reference to the murder of JFK by a "Communist gunman" then it will mean that the Communist Party is no longer under a sort of "verbal protective custody" in the American media.

But that's by the way—the taboo on reporting by race is more important, and I wish that Leo had written this for USA TODAY, instead of City Journal.

But even so, it's an encouraging sign of a return to realism.

Print Friendly and PDF