Thursday, July 12, 2007

Updated: Columnist Leonard Pitts Recieves Death Threats

Not sure how I missed this the first time around... apparently, syndicated Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts began recieving death threats a few months ago. His crime? Refusing to call the murder of a couple white foulks by a few black folks "genocide." I first heard about this a few days ago in a Southern Poverty Law Center email. Pitts is one of my favorite columnists. He is a moderately liberal African-American with a focus on family values - not abortion and gay marriage, mind you, but things that actually affect the family, like absent fathers, poverty, civil rights, etc. You know, social justice issues. Things that matter.

Anyways, here's a column of his from earlier this month. Thought I'd share.

Being on this enemy list seems almost an honor
By Leonard Pitts

So, what’s going on with you? Nothing much? Wish I could say the same.

As you may know if you’ve seen CNN or read the paper, yours truly has lately been the target of death threats and harassment from the ranks of the not-so-tightly-wrapped.

This, after a June 3 column about the torture murder of a young white couple, allegedly by four blacks. My column took on white supremacists and far-right bloggers who contend that this “genocide” — their word — goes unremarked by news media too PC to report black-on-white crime.

It was an argument made for ridiculing and I did my best, pointing out that black-on-white crime, a relative statistical rarity, is not underreported but, in fact, overreported, according to any number of studies and experts. This offended a self-professed neo-Nazi leader whose name you won’t read here. So he got on his little neo-Nutsy Web site and posted my home address and phone number. It’s been game on ever since — 400 e-mails, dozens of phone calls, leaflets on my neighbor’s driveway.

The gist of this outburst: a handful of contentions, each more asinine than the last:

(1) Pitts has no compassion for the victims. (I called the murders brutal and a tragedy and said the killers should rot under the jailhouse.)

(2) Pitts told those mourning the murders to “cry me a river.” (I gave that advice specifically to white supremacists yelling genocide and other stupid things.)

(3) The murders were so heinous they were “obviously” a hate crime. (Actually, heinousness has nothing to do with it. Hate crime penalties come into play when the prosecutor can establish racial or religious bias as a motive, period.)

It turns out this tactic — publishing private information for intimidation purposes — is one these folks use frequently to silence those with whom they disagree. Which only deepens my appreciation for the sheer guts it took to be a Fred Shuttlesworth in Birmingham or a Medgar Evers in Jackson, speaking truth to power in a time and place where everyone knew your address, assassinations were common and you could not go to law enforcement because they were part of the problem.

I’m not comparing myself to those civil rights icons. I am saying that like them, we shall not be moved.

The neo-Nutsies have been responsible for frustration and anger these last days. They’ve also been responsible for joy. Thanks to them, I’ve received a tidal wave of “hang in there” and “we care about you” and “what can we do to help” from colleagues, readers, friends and strangers all over the country. People have volunteered to guard my front door. A self-described “big ole white guy” I’ve interviewed a couple times called from Louisiana to say he had my back. Contributions have been made in my name to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Credit the Nutsies for that.

I feel a little like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” They say you can tell who a man is by looking at his friends. Which is true. But I believe you can also tell by looking at his enemies. Apparently, I have managed to make enemies of haters, bigots and other low, pathetic men.

I must be doing something right.

©2007 The Miami Herald
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. To reach him, send e-mail to

Hang in there, Pittsy! :)

UPDATE: Someone left three comments on this post that I have deleted. The comments accused Pitts of being a blatant racist, and included some columns claiming to prove it using Pitts' own words. Normally I don't delete comments just because I disagree with them, but when I took a look at the poster's own blog, it was filled with vicious hate, racial slurs, and anti-semetism. I will not tolerate that. And besides, if you have to post columns by someone other than Pitts himself, then I guess it isn't that blatant after all.

On a similar note, it is a shame that if you run a Google blog search for Leonard Pitts, you run into racial slurs, anti-semitism, and hate of the most vicious variety.

Update 2: Comments disabled on this post. This blog is not the place for racists. End of story.