Stereotypes Built My Hot Rod

Hey, look, yet another example another time again already of gratuitously bashing the South in the name of equality.

The link goes to an article on elitedaily.com (which seems to have some genuinely funny stuff) about The University of Alabama photoshopping a black head onto what would appear to be a white body (the hands are white, anyway) to enhance the perception that it has a lot of black students on campus. Here’s the offending line:

Then again, this is Alabama, and it’s not hard imagine the quote being fake or the University being run by white supremacists.

The quote in question is from the (presumably black) guy whose black head is in the picture, by the way. It comes from an official denial of any photoshopping by the University of Alabama.

So let’s take stock: the author has no actual evidence of any photoshopping going on. The university publicly denied it and even got the student so photographed to swear in public that it really is him in that picture. But never mind all that because Alabama’s, you know, in the South, which means we don’t have to believe anything they say.

OK, well, then how ’bout showing some real evidence that the photo is photoshopped? Easily achieved – just hire a photo expert to have a look at it. Photoshopping is pretty difficult to hide at the file level, you know.

Or, maybe you know don’t know. Because clearly the composition of this story didn’t make it much further than the author’s prejudices. That’s what passes for "journalism" these days. For all the author knows, it’s a lighting issue. Black people’s hands are often lighter than the rest of their skin, actually (admittedly, more in the palms than elsewhere, but still) – as anyone who’s met a couple of real-life black people knows. Pointedly, he hasn’t checked.

The howler is that the same article mentions in passing that the University of Wisconsin lost a lawsuit for actually doing what the University of Alabama is merely accused by the internet of doing back in 2000. Which, when you think about it, makes three important points that will hardly be lost on anyone with passably average intelligence. First, that photoshopping "diversity" into your ads happens everywhere in the country, since Wisconsin is about as not Southern as it’s possible to be outside of Minnesota or Massachussetts. Second, that the author apparently draws some kind of line at faking a quote as opposed to faking a picture, since the fact that the quote comes from Alabama is enough to convince him it’s fake. The University of Wisconsin would, one presumes, never stoop to such tactics – or if they did, he would, you know, have to check on it first. Finally, that an article that’s superficially about a mismatch between reality and impressions not only can’t be bothered to do even basic investigative fact-checking, but actually lets its own impressions about Alabama substitute for facts.

Clealry, elitedaily.com isn’t the part of the shed where we keep the sharp tools.

But the real complaint is just the casual prejudice on display. If you’re the kind of institution that will photoshop a black face into a picture to pretend to be more racially "diverse" than you are and then lie about it, then you’re the kind of institution that will also fake a quote. "The South" and "Alabama" have no explanatory power here – and yet they’re being used in place of actual fact-finding. The author doesn’t even notice the irony of mentioning the University of Wisconsin case in the same article – and, more to the point, neither did whatever passes for an editorial staff at elitedaily.com. And that’s because prejudice against the South just isn’t something that people get worked up about. It’s entirely permissible, because hey, Official Enemies are fun!

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