The Daily Caller, rightwing blog and trusty purveyor of all things clickbait-y, aggressively aggregated a story over the weekend that a woman has sued the city over being stopped and frisked in Brooklyn last year. The piece about the woman, who writer Eric Owens emphasizes over and over as being “white” and “vegan”, details a stop-and-frisk she endured while running errands. Playing on lazy tropes about vulnerable white women? Race-baiting to thrill even the most hard-bitten of racists? A lame dad’s reductive understanding of class and culture in New York? Check, check, and check.
The New York Post first reported the story last week. The piece opened with “Here’s someone who might agree with Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial comment about whites being subjected to stop-and-frisk ‘too much.'” A little tone-deaf, but fair enough: this was a white person who experienced the injustice of the program firsthand. In the hands of the Post, the story was just another in the ever growing catalog of stop-and-frisk abuses.
At the Daily Caller, the piece becomes a thinly veiled apologia for Mayor Bloomberg’s just plain bonkers claim that black and Latino New Yorkers are not stopped and frisked enough. We have to imagine someone in Bloomberg’s press office was praying for a story like this to hit the web.
See? Sarah Rosenbaum, a woman of high credit (read: white), is subject to the same vaguely sexual humiliation at the hands of city authorities as the rest of you. So settle down and put your face back on the hood of my car. And just to make sure liberals get the message, the Owens turns harmless details into unfunny punchlines about liberal excess and effeminacy. To wit:
At the time, Rosenbaum was an intern at Vaute Couture, a vegan clothing store on Grand Street in Williamsburg dedicated to producing a line of clothing that is “flattering” and “cruelty free.”
She was on her way back to the store from the post office when, she claims in the suit, she took time to engage with a kitten behind a gate.
That the Daily Caller is publishing this sort of stuff is not news. The site’s bread and butter is circulating badly drawn innuendo. They make their money by stirring up a special kind of fear, a lot like the dull panic found in men’s locker rooms across the land.
What’s important and ultimately hilarious about this piece is how it’s going to backfire. Remember how Bloomberg blasted the city’s new police oversight laws as granting gangsters and petty criminals the chance to gum up the works with phony conduct complaints? Well, what happens when complaints are filed by women and men like Rosenbaum with the clout (read: racial or economic privilege) to have their complaints taken seriously?
Stop-and-frisk is an obscenity. The cynics among us will be glad that people like Rosenbaum are coming forward, but not for the reasons the Daily Caller is. If the mayor fails to bully the city council into reversing its decision, maybe white people like Rosenbaum stepping up will speed the law to its overdue, hopefully painful demise.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 8, 2013