The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, December 20, 2004

Reverse Jim Crow triumphs in Minnesota

More stupid white men at work.

The Star-Tribune, one reads, has determined it needs to do kow-tow for the language-crime of one its reporters:
David Chanen, a police reporter, told editors that he used the term "colored officers" in an e-mail sent Wednesday to Minneapolis Police Inspector Donald Banham, who is black.

An old-fashioned expression, and one not sanctioned by today's style-books. But, in an email, surely no big deal.

Banham disagreed. He decided to exploit the situation to the maximum. His attitude may be gauged from this pair of grafs:
Star Tribune Managing Editor Scott Gillespie sent a letter Thursday to Minneapolis Police Chief Bill McManus saying that the newspaper "owes you and your department a deep and sincere apology" for the language used in the e-mail.

McManus said Thursday night that the newspaper's apology "should be made to Minneapolis Police Department officers of color, not to me. Certainly, they are all offended by it. This isn't the 1960s anymore."

A definite Sharptonesque tone there, I fancy. The Strib's grovel was clearly insufficiently abject.

As for Chanen, he must have had a decent spell in Room 101 to come up with the following cringing lines:
[I] was shocked to learn I had written language ... that is terribly offensive. I was writing the e-mail in haste, but that's no excuse, and I deeply apologize for what I did.

Now, Banham's online footprint is amazingly small [1], and gives little clue to his gleeful pouncing on the hack's error.

The piece helps us out a little:
Chanen said he wrote the e-mail because Banham had sent a letter to the newspaper criticizing Chanen's Dec. 11 story about the replacement of Lt. Mike Carlson as head of the homicide unit by Lt. Lee Edwards. Carlson is white and Edwards is black.

Banham is in charge of the 4th Precinct - and, I assume, not in the chain of command for the homicide unit. Yet he had chosen to intervene.

The earlier piece of Chanen's reads like the notes of a writer's meeting on a TV cop show. Among the potential plot-lines is a suggestion that the Carlson-Edwards switch was
part of Chief Bill McManus' commitment to further diversify top positions.

Plenty of conflict in which a journo on the crime beat might get enmeshed.

Sad - but in no way shocking - to see the paper's management take the line of no resistance.

The rag is owned by the McClatchy Co of Sacramento, which boasts
Building on a 147-year legacy of independence, the company's newspapers and websites are steadfast defenders of First Amendment values and advocates for the communities they serve.

The email isn't a First Amendment case, of course - no state action. But the mentality of Strib management hardly gives one much confidence that any First Amendment controversy, especially one involving race, will be vigorously defended.

  1. For "donald banham" minneapolis Google produces 5 of 15 items.


A companion piece from the black - even the newspapers are Jim Crowed! - Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder fills out the detail.

The lede:
At least one prominent Black Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officer has indicated to the MSR that they are questioning whether or not a perceived increase in crime is simply the result of a backlash against their promotions by disgruntled White officers.

That facially outrageous claim wouldn't have come from Banham by any chance, would it?

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