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Tuesday
Dec032013

Project 21 Members Draw Line in Sand on "Knockout Game"

As New York City deals with what law enforcement officials believe to be the 10th recent local incidence of what is popularly known as the “knockout game,” Village Voice writer Roy Edroso downplays the assaults as “a small fraction of U.S. crime.”  In the big picture, Edroso is madder at conservative bloggers.  He blames them for “us[ing] the phenomenon to revive the old Ooga Booga.”  He says the Ooga Booga “is sort of a hit-and-run thing itself; its practitioners come out and strike when the news cycle is right.”

These attacks affect wholly innocent people who are simply going out their business.  For no real reason, they become recipients of premeditated attempts to throw one-shot knockout punches.  Victims are often the elderly, and race and religion may also play a factor in at least some of the selection criteria for the attacks.   But, on the black-oriented and MSNBC-affiliated web site The Grio, NBC digital production manager Will J. Wright wrote that the knockout game is just “a new avatar of fear [that] has emerged to be the proxy to disregard the innocence of young black men.”

All this insistence that the knockout game is unfounded hysteria (while never being fully discounted as false) fails to acknowledge the findings of James E. Causey, a editorial page writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  In a commentary he wrote after visiting Milwaukee youth at a local boxing gym, he noted:

Counselors who work with troubled youth tell me that these crimes have been occurring for years; they weren’t tagged with a headline-grabbing name like “knockout game”…

The web site worldstarhiphop.com has a monthly “fight compilation” that shows excerpts of hundreds of fights, from women being sucker-punched to brutal gang attacks.  A majority of these acts involve people of color, and far too often there are more people recording the incidents than [breaking] them up or offering assistance to the victims.  These videos often earn thousands of views and “likes” and “recommendations” on Facebook, which turn the perpetrators into overnight sensations…

Most of the boys I talked to either say they have seen people sucker-punched and knocked out, or they know someone who has been involved in the crime… Those who participate do so solely for the thrill.

Even Mike Tyson, someone with a very violent past, is aghast at what he hears about the knockout gang.  Tyson told CNN’s Piers Morgan: “[I]t doesn’t make any sense… I don’t think it’s cool… There’s just some evil people.”

A lack of responsibility among black writers and the media in general, among activists and from so-called leaders in the black community about how to deal with the problem of the “knockout game” is a long-running source of anger for many of the members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network.  They even disagree that the word “game” should be associated with the random, senseless attacks.

Project 21 members are calling on the media, the so-called leaders in the black community and even the general public to join with them in calling for a quick and decisive end to the violence.  In doing so, they are also thanking those who have already spoken out — sometimes at potential harm to themselves or their standing in their communities.

For example, Project 21 member Stacy Washington, a radio talk show host in the St. Louis area — where knockout attacks have been reported — said:

When the victim is black, and an opportunity exists to further trumpet the race narrative to benefit their bottom lines, race-baiters and faux leaders in the black community never fail to speak loudly and fervently.  Many times, this is done before the entirety of the facts are fully known.

Yet, in the case of the cowardly sucker-punching of women and the elderly by black teens, a pernicious silence permeates the national airspace.

My, how the race hustlers are oddly silent!  Could it be that their shame prevents them from speaking out?

Most notably absent from the national discourse on the knockout attacks is President Obama.  After seeing fit in the past to comment on an arrest of a black professor in Boston and a stand your ground case in Florida, numerous attacks on white citizens (some resulting in death) occurring around the country in what could be deemed an epidemic garners only silence from President Obama.

Since our President isn’t leading on this issue, members of Project 21 will.  I condemn the cowards that are perpetrating these criminal acts on innocent citizens and call on the media to repudiate these attacks and cease to call this deadly criminal activity a “game.”  The media needs to use its investigative powers to aid in the capture and prosecution of these felonious invaders instead of coddling them with soft speech and a refusal to fully cover the carnage.

Additionally, Derryck Green — a Project 21 member who is seeking his masters in divinity in southern California — said:

First, it was “flash mobs.”  More accurately, these groups should be called “crash mobs” or “crime mobs” — when groups of teens would coordinate and descend on specific areas and destroy private property, attack unwitting victims and wreak as much havoc as possible, seemingly simply for fun.

Then there was “apple picking,” where teens of all colors — but primarily black — would steal Apple products, such as the iPhones, iPads or iPods of unsuspecting victims that would be kept for personal use or sold for pure profit.

Now, it’s the “knockout game” — or “polar bear hunting,” as it’s sometimes referred.  At its very core, is contemptible no matter what it’s called.  This aggressive and animalistic behavior by black youths is a shameful reflection of what’s happened in the black community.

Though this behavior is reflective of only a small subsection of black America — particularly the black underclass — black Americans in general will be implicated in this grotesque conduct.  That is very unfortunate, and it is wrong.

This behavior is also a violent illustration of two things: the effect of the disintegration of the traditional family structure and the degeneration of a sound moral value system.  Both of these things continue to plague segments of black Americans.  This is inarguable and undeniable. 

More discouraging and to the point, blacks — regardless of political allegiances or professional affiliations — should be loudly and actively condemning these unprovoked attacks.  That many “leaders,” and those considered to be culturally influential, remain relatively silent in condemning such chaos.  It appears to be a sad reflection of their cowardice while also giving clear insight to their apparent lack of concern for the growing numbers of innocent victims and public safety because of this “game.” 

The members of the racial grievance industry who’ve attempted to sanitize rather than denounce this chaotic behavior on the grounds that the offenders are black do so as an insult to all black Americans.  In their sanitation process, they excuse the very behavior society shouldn’t excuse — nor allow — from any other race.  In effect, these people are saying blacks cannot be expected to live up to society’s standards and must be excused.  This, however one wants to justify it, is offensive.

Thank you to those blacks who stand courageously and condemn this behavior.  Equal thanks are deserved by white Americans who also condemn this behavior — unaffected by the potential and false charges of racism for doing so.   

Project 21 member Kevin Martin, a resident of the Washington, D.C. area who has commented on the political and media reaction to knockout game violence on many occasions, added:

Project 21 members such as me will continue to speak out against the racially and religiously-motivated assaults taking place nationwide that have come to be known as the “knockout game.”

The action by black youth playing this so-called game for cheap thrills is reprehensible in itself.  But the relative silence by groups such as the NAACP, Rainbow PUSH and the National Urban League as well as the Congressional Black Caucus is equally reprehensible.  It essentially gives quiet approval to those who carry out these assaults.  The silence of these groups only give their critics more reason to call them out, and it gives heft to the charge that they are silent because there is nothing for them to gain politically in speaking out against those assaults.  

I would like to commend those blacks in our community who have already joined Project 21 in publicly condemning these assaults, such as former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.  I would encourage more public figures in our community to speak out when it is needed and not just when it’s politically expedient.

top photo credit: iStockPhoto

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