National Public Radio (NPR) is a non-profit media organization based in Washington, D.C., which is partly funded by taxpayers. Established by an act of Congress, the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, most of NPR’s member stations are owned by government entities (often public universities). NPR is a national syndicator to a network of over 1,000 public radio stations across the United States.
NPR’s flagship shows are two commute-time news broadcasts, Morning Edition and All Things Considered in the afternoon, which are carried by most NPR member stations, and are among the most popular radio programs in the country. As of March 2018, the two programs attract an audience of as many as 14.9 million and 14.7 million per week respectively.
According to a report by the federally-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), in 2018, U.S. taxpayers accounted for 32% of public broadcasting revenue of public radio and TV stations. The tax-based revenue of public broadcasting is comprised of:
- Federal government grants and contracts.
- State and local government sources:
- State and local taxes
- Tax-supported colleges and universities
Given U.S. taxpayers’ funding of public radio, it is nothing less than outrageous that on August 27, 2020, NPR aired a sympathetic interview of Vicky Osterweil, author of In Defense of Looting, who justifies looting as “a powerful tool to bring about real, lasting change in society.”
NPR reporter Nastalie Escobar begins her interview with Osterweil with an introduction in which Escobar’s choice of words (in bold red below) shows her lack of journalistic objectivity and impartiality:
In the past months of demonstrations for Black lives, there has been a lot of hand-wringing about looting…. [P]olice officers, government officials and pundits alike have bemoaned the property damage and demanded an end to the riots.
The Oxford Dictionary defines hand-wringing as “The excessive display of concern or distress” and bemoan as “complain”. Escobar’s use of those two words clearly implies her disapproval of the criticisms about looting and, therefore, her approval of looting.
Below are some quotes by Vicky Osterweil from the interview:
“When I use the word looting, I mean the mass expropriation of property, mass shoplifting during a moment of upheaval or riot. That’s the thing I’m defending. I’m not defending any situation in which property is stolen by force.”
Note Osterweil’s unique and utterly perverse definition of looting as not property stolen by force.
She claims the word “looting” is racist:
“Looting is a highly racialized word from its very inception in the English language. It’s taken from Hindi, lút, which means “goods” or “spoils,” and it appears in an English colonial officer’s handbook [on “Indian vocabulary”] in the 19th century.”
For Osterweil, looting is a Robin Hood-like noble enterprise:
“[L]ooting is more common among movements that are coming from below. It tends to be an attack on a business, a commercial space, maybe a government building — taking those things that would otherwise be commodified and controlled and sharing them for free…. It gets people what they need for free immediately, which means that they are capable of living and reproducing their lives without having to rely on jobs or a wage — which, during COVID times, is widely unreliable or, particularly in these communities is often not available, or it comes at great risk.”
Osterweil is a Marxist. She views looting as a means toward equity in an unjust, capitalist society:
“It attacks the idea of property, and it attacks the idea that in order for someone to have a roof over their head or have a meal ticket, they have to work for a boss, in order to buy things that people just like them somewhere else in the world had to make under the same conditions. It points to the way in which that’s unjust. And the reason that the world is organized that way, obviously, is for the profit of the people who own the stores and the factories. So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.”
Black Lives Matter looting is a strike against “white supremacy”:
“Importantly, I think especially when it’s in the context of a Black uprising like the one we’re living through now, it also attacks the history of whiteness and white supremacy. The very basis of property in the U.S. is derived through whiteness and through Black oppression, through the history of slavery and settler domination of the country. Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police. It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that’s a part of it that doesn’t really get talked about — that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory.”
You can read the rest of totally-biased reporter Natalie Escobar’s sympatico interview of Vicky Osterweil the Marxist here.
Below is an example of the looting defended by Osterweil and, by implication, NPR reporter Escobar — the looting of an Amazon Prime truck during a BLM George Floyd riot in Los Angeles on May 31, 2020. (H/t Maziel):
By the way, if you thought Vicky Osterweil’s pic to be odd looking, this is why: Osterweil is a transvestite. From James Fetzer’s blog:
The Federalist writes- Osterweil is a transgender male who calls himself a “writer, editor, and agitator.” His Twitter handle is Vicky_ACAB. ACAB means “all cops are b-stards.”