©Ivan W. Parkins 2013,  All articles, text, web pages property of Ivan W. Parkins.  Use of any material requires permission of the

author and can be obtained by contacting,  rwhinkle@americanpoliticalcommentary.com

Text Box: Vol.6, Issue 3
Text Box: February 14, 2013

I. W. Parkins

Front Page

American Political Commentary

 

Veritas Veneratio Virtus

 Links to Articles and Items of Interest

· Daniel Henninger in WSJ- “The State of Obama”

· WSJ’s Review and Outlook- “The Rookie”

· Charles Krauthammer in NRO- “Call Obama’s Sequester Bluff”

· Karl Rove in WSJ- “A State Dominated State of the Union”

· Thomas Sowell on- “Random Thoughts”

· Ann Coulter on “White Liberals Tell Black Lies About Civil Rights”

· Thomas Sowell on “The Fallacy of Redistribution” (more articles)

· Breitbart.com– stories which are not seen in “the media”

· The Drudge Report— Current events website by Matt Drudge

· The Heritage Foundation Blog

PANIC IN AMERICA

The Daily Times-News, column, 3/26/71

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

    Waves of public hysteria, fanned by leading journalists and academics, may explain the greater part of America’s troubles over the past decade.  Objections to such an explanation, especially among journalists and academics, are (predictably) vehement.  Indeed, hysteria as an explanation of our troubles should be treated with skepticism; it implies gross inadequacies of intellectual perception and moral responsibility in those groups and institutions charged with informing and enlightening our society, and it suggests that the rest of society may not be in need of drastic reforms.

 

    Now, thanks to the article of Edward Jay Epstein, a Harvard instructor, in NEW YORKER, February 13, 1971, we have remarkable illustration of panic in America.  The Epstein article deals with the killings of Black Panthers by the police in 1969, and with how a story about such killings was treated in the press.  Beyond police-Panther relations, the Epstein article demonstrates that those who arouse and shape American opinion sometimes accept allegations of fact without investigation, repeat them without qualification, and use them without restraint to charge brutal and illegal behavior against public officials.

 

    A brief resume of the Epstein article follows: 

 

In an early morning raid December1969, police killed Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Black Panther Party of Illinois, and another Party member.  Charles R. Gary, counsel for the Panthers, charged that those made 27and 28 police murders of Panthers and that they were part of a national conspiracy to wipe out the Panthers. 

 

THE NEW YORK TIMES reported the Gary charges without qualification

or notice of the source, and relayed the story to more than three hundred other papers which subscribe to its news service.  THE WASHINGTON POST acted similarly.  Other media took up the charge of police “genocide” aimed at the Panthers.  The few doubts and qualifications that were published were little noticed as a Committee to Defend the Panthers was formed and notable persons were quoted repeating the charge.  Guerrilla warfare was predicted in our cities.  (Especially on campuses and in “liberal” groups, a wave of protest mounted).  Actually, Epstein found, not even Panther spokesman Garry, who had initiated the charge, was prepared to support it.  Ten instances of police killing Panthers were confirmed, but six of those killings were by policemen who had themselves been seriously wounded and who did not know that the men they were shooting at were Panthers.  Several occurred during police responses to reports of other crimes.  Furthermore, such killings declined following the Chicago raid.  In short, Epstein found no evidence to support the charge of a police conspiracy to murder Panthers.

 

     Strictly speaking, the Epstein article tells us little of anything beyond police-Panther conflict in 1969 and the treatment which was given to it in the press.  I suggest that the article illustrates much more.  Like all illustration, it is subject to the objection that what happened in that instance was not typical of what usually happens.  It is significant, however, that the killings of Panthers by police were relatively objective matters, regarding which records and witnesses were available, and that they occurred entirely within American society.  If such events were falsely reported and grossly misrepresented for more than a year, how much possibility is there of press and academic error in regard to matters as complex and subjective as the purposes and conduct of War in S.E. Asia or the urgency of political and social reform in the United States?

 

    Personally, I feel deeply indebted to Mr. Epstein.  For a number of years I have contended—despite periodic attacks of self-doubt—that the crisis in America consists mostly of panic.  I have put the blame for public hysteria chiefly upon the press and my own colleagues, villains uncomfortably numerous, prestigious, and close to where I live.  Since I have made little specific comment upon police-Panther relations or upon how the press reported them, Mr. Epstein has not proved me to be correct.  His article does illustrate, however, that those who are suppose to provide information and enlightenment to America are capable of intellectual and moral judgments as shallow as any with which I have charged them.

This is a re-posting from 2011

IS PANIC WARRANTED?

IS IT LIKELY TO BE HELPFUL?

The Media and Disinformation

By Ivan W. Parkins

My lead item, “PANIC IN AMERICA”, has only an indirect relationship to our current economic crisis.  I do believe that this crisis is real.  But, I also believe that much of public opinion regarding its origins and likely solution is quite unreal.  And I believe that much of the unreality can be traced to a great, and highly partisan, discord within our information system that became obvious about half a century ago. That discord has only recently, encountered substantially balancing opposition.

THE MEDIA’S ROLE

By Ivan W. Parkins

The following graph, and my letter to the Wall Street Journal, are both based upon a study done by the National Center for Health Statistics. When I raised questions based upon a brief news item, I received a copy of the 1983 publication from the Center.

 

I believe that many issues regarding the war in Vietnam were treated in a manner by most American media that showed much the same callous disregard for (whole) truth illustrated in Epstein’s article.  (Epstein first came to my attention when he published one of the earliest, and most reasonable, books on investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination.)  There is, now, little danger that we will lack well publicized information regarding our economic crisis, but old habits of what sources to trust, and how much, die hard.

Edward Jay Epstein

Letter to the Editor

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL,

7/21/2000

By Ivan W. Parkins

     Mr. Owen’s piece contrasts with a less publicized story that is well supported by statistics.  Suicide and homicide rates among young American civilians rose sharply in the 1960s and ’70s.  That increase alone cost more lives than did combat in Vietnam.  The total of youthful homicides and suicides in those two decades was about three times our fatalities in military combat.