In a sharp political divide separating liberals and conservatives, the shooting death of an Australian man by three teenage boys in Oklahoma is being advertised by the right as a race crime.
There are two problems with that theory.
First, the boys who committed this atrocity are black, white and biracial.
Second, there is no evidence that racism motivated their mindless assault. Apparently these were three bored teenagers with a gun. They wanted to prove their manhood, be initiated into a gang or just stir up life by proving how tough and crazy they can be.
That is the real tragedy here.
But that is not enough for some people who are intent on playing racial politics with the story.
The focus on race in this story among some on the right comes from a desire to pay back left-wingers who insist the shooting of Trayvon Martin was a racist act.
The same tit-for-tat racial appetite was on view earlier this month after a video emerged of three black teenage boys savagely beating a younger white boy on a school bus in Gulfport, Fla.
The victim has told authorities that the three boys attacked him because they tried to sell him drugs and he reported them to teachers at his school.
In that case, the young white man did exactly the right thing by reporting the criminal behavior to the school. He should not be labeled a “Narc.” And he most definitely did not deserve what happened to him. The young man should be applauded for having the courage to come forward. If more young people of all colors did what he did, our schools and communities would be much safer.
But most people do not step up because they fear exactly this kind of violent reprisal from the criminals -- some black, some white, some Hispanic and some of every other color. But all criminals.
But, again, there is no evidence that the attack was racially motivated.
What is being lost here is the larger problem of criminal behavior, gun violence, random murder – most often among people of the same race and especially black on black. Those daily, ongoing tragedies in our nation never get the attention of the civil rights leaders or the loud voices on the right wing because those stories do not serve their political agenda.
Instead, the tragedies that generate their selective anger are stories that, in the case of the right-wing, put civil rights leaders and left-wing media on the defensive.
In the case of the left wing, and much of the media, the Martin shooting fits their preferred narrative of blacks as victims. It plays to charges of racial profiling, stereotyping of young black people as criminals, and reminds people of the nation’s damaging days of slavery and lynching.
Yes, there is a media bias and double standard for coverage of racially-charged crimes.
The liberal media did not cover the bus incident because it was black-on-white violence and therefore did not fit their outdated world view of an America still being plagued by white-on-black violence. Most racial violence in American history is white on black violence – from the abuse of slave masters, to lynching, to KKK bombs and assassination of black leaders.
Today too many in the mainstream media do not report on black-on-white crime or even black-on-black crime because it disrupts the liberal narrative of African Americans as victims and whites as the historical perpetrators of racial crime.
The thinking is if Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton don’t hold protests over it, it must not be a major issue or a real problem for the black community.
Instead of focusing on the damage done to the nation by drug culture, family breakdown, pornographic movies, music and bad schools, some politicians among us are distracted by the race of the boys involved. In both the Oklahoma murder story and the Florida bus story the political attention is the result of lingering anger on the right over charges of white racism in the Martin killing.
So, let’s be honest about the political game being played with this tragedy. It is a cynical, dangerous game of one-upping the other side by claiming those other folks are the real racists.
When will the political activists on the right and left work up their righteous anger over the real heart of the problem?
They should be in the streets demanding that all Americans do something about the breakdown of the family in America, especially in minority communities.
More than 70 percent of black children are born out of wedlock, as are more than 50 percent of Hispanic children and 30 percent of white children.
The research is clear – these students are much more likely to be at risk of dropping out of school, getting in trouble with the law and abusing drugs and alcohol.
Republicans and Democrats should be in the streets about rap music and movies that celebrate ‘Thug Life’ and that brag about how many people the hero has killed, how many women he has impregnated and how much money he has piled up from his criminal life.
For too long the problem has been excused and ignored by the liberal mainstream media, which desperately clings to the narrative that the biggest problem affecting minority communities in America is systemic racism and white racism.
Race still divides us, but let’s not lose sight of the larger context for this case.
According to a report by the U.S. Department of Education released in March 2012, blacks make up 18 percent of the country’s public schools, yet they accounted for 35 percent of students suspended at least once and 39 percent of students expelled. The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice reports that 58 percent of the young people in state prisons are African Americans.
The Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke once said, “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
There is an urgent need for people of good will -- of all races -- to take back our communities from the thugs, the gangbangers, the drug dealers and the pornographers.
The young man in Florida is a hero for standing in the way of drug dealing instead of being intimidated and keeping his mouth shut. I am sorry that he was attacked, but I am glad that he did not stay silent. He understands the real fight going on in our nation and it has little to do with the political fight between left and right about which group has the worse racists.
Juan Williams is a co-host of FNC's "The Five," where he is one of seven rotating Fox personalities.