Part 4—Charles Blow didn't ask: Did Ashley Williams, age 23, know what she was talking about?
We ask for an obvious reason. A few weeks back, Williams interrupted Candidate Clinton at a campaign event, making a statement which struck us as rather odd.
In last Monday's New York Times, Charles Blow wrote a column about this interruption. His column seemed to be straight outta Babelstan. It left us asking such questions as these:
Did Ashley Williams have any idea what she was talking about? We'll get more specific, based on the nature of Williams' remarks:
How much does Ashley Williams know about the 1994 crime bill? About that bill's effects on the nation's (very high) incarceration rate?
Does Williams know who voted for that bill? Against it? How much does she know about the specific contents of the bill? How much does she know about the social conditions surrounding its enactment—more specifically, about prevailing crime rates in the early 1990s?
Most specifically, these questions came to mind:
Why does Williams seem to think that Hillary Clinton has called her a super-predator? How much does she know about the context in which that term gained currency when she was two years old? How much does she know about the one speech in which Clinton used that term on one lone single occasion?
We ask these questions for a reason, and Williams' age is involved. In his silly subservient column, Blow referred to Williams as a "young graduate student."
At age 23, Williams isn't super-young. But we will say this:
We ourselves turned 23 in December 1970. At that time, we weren't gigantically well versed on the politics and sociology of 1948 and 1950, when we ourselves were one to three years old.
When she interrupted Candidate Clinton, Williams referred to a bill which was signed into law in 1994. She also referred to a speech Clinton made in 1996. We hope it doesn't seem condescending to make a fairly obvious point:
Most people who are 23 don't know a great deal about events which happened when they were one. How much does Williams, age 23, know about that crime bill? About that one lone speech, which took place when she was three?
How much does Williams actually know about the 1994 bill which fueled her interruption? This seems like a blindingly obvious question.
Charles Blow didn't ask! We'll suggest that his silence is a marker of a Babel-rich era.
Blow is paid by the New York Times to pretend to be a journalist. By tradition, a journalist would have wondered why Ashley Williams offered this peculiar remark when she took it upon herself to interrupt a campaign event:
“I’m not a super predator, Hillary Clinton.”
Why in the world did Williams say that? It didn't occur to Blow to ask! Instead, he took that statement by Williams and used it as the headline for his column.
At no point did Blow try to explain why Williams would have made that statement. At no point did he try to explain the way in which that statement even makes sense.
A journalist would have taken those steps, but journalism is dying fast in the ever-expanding empire of Creeping Babelstan. Instead of asking those obvious questions, Blow got busy apologizing to Williams for his own failures in the past twenty years.
Or something! Here's where the pundit went after quoting Williams:
BLOW (2/29/16): Williams: “I’m not a super predator, Hillary Clinton.”Are the highlighted statements true? To state the obvious, those accusations are extremely significant. That said, to what extent are they true?
Clinton, obviously caught off guard, struggles to find an appropriate response as Williams continues to pressure her and the crowd begins to grumble, “That’s inappropriate,” and the Secret Service closes in on Williams.
Then Clinton says something about answering for her statement and mass incarceration in general that left me flabbergasted:
“You know what, nobody’s ever asked me before. You’re the first person to ask me, and I’m happy to address it, but you are the first person to ask me, dear.”
Could this be true? How was this possible? How is it that of all the black audiences she has been before in the interceding two decades, and all the black relationships she has cultivated, no one person ever asked her what this young graduate student was asking?
In that moment, I knew that the people of my generation had failed the people of Williams’s. Her whole life has borne the bruises of what was done, largely by Democrats, when I was the age she is now.
[In an interview, Williams] said she has grown up knowing families and whole communities devastated by vanishing black people, swept away into a criminal justice system that pathologized their very personage. That night, Williams forced a reckoning.
Is it true that Williams' whole life "has borne the bruises of what was done, largely by Democrats, when [Blow] was the age she is now?"
To state the obvious, that's an extremely significant claim—but to what extent is it true? More specifically, to what extent has Williams's whole life "borne the bruises of what was done" by the 1994 crime bill? To what extent has Williams "grown up knowing families and whole communities" who were "devastated by" that bill?
To what extent did that 1994 crime bill create the effects Blow describes? To what extent did that bill produce "families and whole communities devastated by vanishing black people, swept away into a criminal justice system that pathologized their very personage?"
To state the obvious, Blow was presenting an extremely serious set of charges. To what extent were his highly dramatic charges actually true?
Blow made no attempt to answer that obvious question! He merely accepted the statements in question as true, then began to flay himself, and his whole generation, for not having directed such accusations at Candidate Clinton sooner.
For today, we have one more question:
Does something about that presentation perhaps not quite make sense? This is why we ask that:
Twenty-two years have passed since that 1994 crime bill was passed by the House and the Senate and signed into law by Bill Clinton. (Twenty years have passed since Hillary Clinton used the term "super predator" one time, in one lone single speech.)
Twenty-two years have passed since that bill was passed. If that bill actually had the effects described in that passage, does it make really make sense to think that no one in Blow's whole generation would have mentioned this fact to Clinton by now?
Crackers, please! To state a blindingly obvious point, people in Blow's generation actually have mentioned "mass incarceration." In some cases, people have done so at great length.
To name one well-known name, Michelle Alexander wrote an entire book on the subject, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The book appeared in early 2010.
It's true! You haven't seen Alexander on our corporate pseudo-liberal channel, where Blow has often cavorted and played, dreaming up facts, with the likes of Lawrence O'Donnell. Presumably, the corporate suits don't want to depress the folks with such gruesome, depressing topics. Rachel and the other stars have happily played along with that and a million other decisions—with decisions which disappear the needs and the interests of this nation's black kids, except on the rare occasions when someone gets shot.
Alexander wrote an aggressive book. It has largely gone undiscussed by our corporate stars, who much prefer reading worthless polls while mugging, snarking and clowning. This leaves our basic question unanswered:
To what extent are Blow's extremely aggressive claims actually true? To what extent did that 1994 crime bill produce the effects he described?
That's a very important question; as a pseudo-journalist, Blow didn't attempt to address it. Nor did he make any attempt to introduce some obvious context, the type of context we listed in last Friday's report.
Blow didn't mention the gruesome crime rates which helped define the age in which that bill was passed. He didn't mention the many "families and whole communities" who were being "devastated," at that time, by the horrible crimes which created those horrific crime rates.
Many people were being killed. Blow didn't stoop to recall this.
Blow forgot to mention something else. He seemed to say that the "devastation" Williams has known was created "largely by Democrats."
He named exactly one such person; he named Hillary Clinton. If he's talking about the 1994 crime bill, he forgot to say that the Democrats in question included two-thirds of the Congressional Black Caucus!
Why would two-thirds of the CBC vote for a bill like that? Because Blow kept forgetting to mention key facts, his readers didn't have to worry their vapid little New York Times heads with such obvious questions.
Blow also didn't trouble his readers with another buzzkill fact—the 1994 crime bill seems to have had very little effect on the nation's incarceration rate! What does Williams say about that? Did Blow even bother to ask?
One week ago, that column by Blow came straight from a particular region in Creeping Babelstan. When we liberals pleasure ourselves in such ways, we are begging—begging; begging!—for the joys of a President Trump.
Journalistically speaking, Blow's readers were handed a big pile of crap in last Monday's column. Later that day, along came the latest embarrassment from The House of Josh, an enterprise found in a different province of Our Own Modern Babelstan.
Tomorrow: "A very good column," he said