Outrage Over ICE Picking Up A Man Wanted For Homicide Shows The Media Must Be More Patient
Two days ago the internet was up in arms because a man was detained by ICE as he and his pregnant wife drove to the hospital to deliver the baby:
“ICE officers in two SUVs stopped Joel Arrona-Lara at a San Bernardino gas station, a Los Angeles CBS affiliate reported. While his wife, Maria del Carmen Venegas, was able to provide identification, Arrona-Lara was not, but the couple offered to retrieve it from their home nearby. Venegas told Univision they tried to explain that they left their house in a hurry. But the ICE officers immediately took Arrona-Lara into custody.”
The detention created outrage, as the most popular comments on the Huffington Post’s article declared ICE to be America’s version of the gestapo (only worse!) and denounced ICE as the true threat to public safety in the scenario.
And there is no doubt that the fact pattern of two innocent people, on their way to give birth, getting ambushed by ICE for simply filling up gas, is outrageous and egregious — which is why it is disappointing that more people didn’t realize that it probably wasn’t true. It turns out that the man was reportedly targeted not for driving his pregnant wife to the hospital, but because he was wanted for homicide in Mexico. Doesn’t that make a little more sense?
A similar incident with the media occurred when the literal poster child for the horrors of Trump’s border separation turned out to have never been separated from her mother at all. It was a heartbreaking photo, which made you question how any government official could pull such a young girl from her family.
The answer eventually came out that not even the Trump administration was evil enough to separate the toddler from her family — apparently, only the girl’s mother was game enough to do that. The mom had secretly headed to the U.S. with the toddler without telling her husband — and also apparently left three other children behind in Honduras.
The problem is the media has trained people on the internet to believe outrageous and egregious things are constantly happening because they report each and every outlier, and never bother to publicize corrections with the same level of publicity. This causes people to believe that college students at the most liberal schools on the planet are secretly KKK members who hang nooses and post gay slurs on random people’s doors, even though the stories make no sense and are quickly debunked.
Americans and journalists are losing the ability to think critically and ask questions. We live in a world where the biggest problems we see are people upset that their sidewalk cafe is out of quail eggs, and then we go home and read reports about how ICE is just camping out at gas stations and throwing people into vans because they can’t sing the Star Spangled Banner while gargling watermelon Kool-Aid (which should really be the official U.S. citizenship test) — and we think — “yeah, that sounds like the same world I live in where I just visited a bakery for dogs.”
It’s as if the more mundane people’s actual world becomes, the more likely they are to believe there is this “SIMs” version of America where everyone switches their avatar to a Klansman after they logout.
To the media’s credit, for the most part they have updated their stories with ICE’s statement regarding the man’s homicide charges. But national news publications shouldn’t have to provide updates — they should do their research and get the story correct the first time. It is no coincidence that the term “fake news” is taking hold in the internet age. There is now a rush to be first, rather than to be right.
And that makes us all worse off. Because while it would have made no difference if you had found out on Monday, rather than on Saturday, that this man had been unfairly detained, it makes a huge difference that the news outlets disparaged ICE when the law enforcement agency was actually detaining a fugitive who killed someone — because it is causing a growing segment of the population to become further detached from reality.