It was near midnight on April 14 when the Chevy Cavalier carrying Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami rolled to a stop at a red light in Norfolk, Va. As the pair waited, one of a crowd of teenagers on the sidewalk threw a rock at the passenger seat window, prompting Forster to get out of the car and confront the aggressor.
That’s when the beating began.
Forster later said the crowd swarmed, taking turns punching and kicking him in the ribs and face. When Rostami got out to help, the attackers moved on to her, pulling her hair and dealing one blow after another. Police eventually arrived, the crowd dispersed, and the victims were left shaken and bruised, but not gravely injured. Local authorities wrote it off as an all-too-routine assault in a city whose violent crime rate is well above the state average. Even the Norfolk newspaper where the victims worked, the Virginian-Pilot, skipped the story, which the editor deemed un-newsworthy. That was before Bill O’Reilly found out about it.
The Fox News host turned the incident into national news by adding one detail: The attackers were black, and the victims were white.
If you’ve spent much time consuming conservative media lately, you’ve probably learned about a slow-burning “race war” going on in America today. Sewing together disparate data points and compelling anecdotes like the attack in Norfolk, conservative bloggers and opinion-makers are driving the narrative with increasing frequency. Their message: Black-on-white violence is spiking — and the mainstream media is trying to cover it up.
This notion isn’t necessarily new to the right, which has long complained about stifling political correctness in the media and the rising tide of “reverse racism.” But the race war narrative has gained renewed traction during the Obama years, as various factors — from liberals’ efforts to paint the Tea Party as racist, to the widely-covered Trayvon Martin shooting — have left conservatives feeling unfairly maligned, and combative.
But while Norfolk may be the most high-profile chapter yet in the “race war,” it’s hardly the only one conservatives have highlighted. Over the past four years, the Drudge Report has run dozens of headlines chronicling acts of violence against white victims — often by black youths.
In one particularly memorable Drudge front page last year, the site culled the newswires for articles about “urban” crime that took place over Memorial Day weekend, and then grouped them together. Among the headlines: “Miami ‘war zone’ during urban weekend;” “Rib fest at Rochester beach turns rowdy;” and “Unruly urban crowd shuts down Nashville water park.”
And on September 15, 2009, Drudge led with the headline, “WHITE STUDENT BEATEN ON BUS; CROWD CHEERS.” The story — which showed video of a black teenager in Illinois beating up a white classmate — went viral in the right-wing blogosphere, prompting Rush Limbaugh to weigh in.
“In Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering,” Limbaugh declared.
Conservative Media’s narrative of “white people (and black conservatives) are being persecuted” will grow even bigger in the next few years.
H/T: McKay Coppins at BuzzFeed