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Wednesday, December 10, A.D. 2008
Goldberg, O.J., and the Black and White Divide

As you may know, I am rather fond of National Review’s Jonah Goldberg. I am quite happy to see a conservative rabbinical Jew “on the team”—and I am not even a neo-con. Yet, as I wrote before, I generally fancy Jews. Folks with a high intelligence quotient are quite useful in most human endeavors. Anyway, I recently defended him before Lawrence Auster, but my case did not impress Mr. Auster, who refers to Goldberg as an “Animal House conservative” for his sophomoric tendencies and for his love of popular culture. I, however, usually find him insightful and refreshingly honest. As I wrote to Auster, I met Goldberg once and was impressed by his warmth and decency.

Goldberg’s article today, by contrast, is neither insightful nor honest, though Goldberg himself might actually believe what he wrote, which would make it all the more depressing. His article—“O.J., Obama, and Race in America”—notes that the black and white racial divide evident in the reaction to the first Simpson trial was not evident in the most recent one. Therein, Goldberg sees progress and unity in America, under the banner of an Obamasque post-racial presidency:

Those who saw Simpson as a symbol of permanent division and the impossibility of progress were wrong. What better proof of that is there than that Obama, the nation’s first black president, will be figuring out the floor plan at the White House at almost exactly the same moment Simpson will be figuring out how the toilet works in his cell?

Is Goldberg serious, or could I hope that, as a good conservative Jew, he writes esoterically for the good of the city? I am not sure. For Jonah is no Spinoza. Still, I have never encountered such a negligent piece by him before.

As Goldberg notes, when Simpson was first on trial, everyone knew that he was guilty. That certainty unraveled, though, among white Leftists who had black colleagues (and, later, among all Leftists everywhere, once they learnt the official Party position). For these Leftists encountered their black friends and co-workers, who steadfastly maintained Simpson’s innocence, despite the overwhelming evidence of his guilt. For the blacks so inclined (most black Americans, but obviously not all), the trial was never about the actions of a particular man accused of a crime. Who would imagine such an idea about a criminal case? Rather, as Goldberg’s article also mentions, the case was transformed in black Americans’ minds into a trial of our racist criminal justice system. Never mind that two people were butchered; never mind that two families and many friends and acquaintances lost loved ones due to a man’s homicidal rage; never mind that children lost their mother—the O.J. Simpson trial was about how black men are victims of American injustice. Hence, when the murderer was acquitted, blacks celebrated—and white Leftists went along, not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to atone for their special and unique ancestral sin by indulging the unjust and irrational passions of their black friends.

For normal white Americans, such a sight was a precursor to the Palestinians’ dancing in the streets after September 11, but much worse. Those folks are over there. Ken from Accounting is someone in daily life, and you never knew how different he was until his celebration of the acquittal. Social cohesion breaks down when one party learns that another member of his team (or so he thought) relishes the fact that a man can pick off another team member with impunity. One of Auster’s readers offers his story of this, but you may have your own memories, as well.

My experience of this racial insanity occurred when D.C.—a far worse local governmental system than you can possibly imagine—drafted me as a juror in a trial. That I was not a resident of the District was not important—I had a pulse and I was too young to stand up for myself. For D.C. drafts everyone on all of its contact lists, including university students, to serve jury duty every two years—a necessity for a city with such rampant criminality. Anyway, though an Ohioan, I thought that jury duty would be interesting, and, besides, I could not get into trouble for doing what the court clerk told me to do after I explained that I was not a D.C. resident. Having already long abandoned belief in democracy, I still clung to my Anglo-Saxon trust in trial by jury . . . but reality likes to dash illusions.

The criminal case was a simple one involving a young black man who worked in the men’s department at Nieman Marcus, an upscale store if you are not part of the clientele. He was accused of seventeen counts of theft and one count of fraud. The jury was half white and half black, with slightly more men. There was a wide ranges of ages, and I was the youngest. We were instructed not to talk to one another about the case until the prosecution and the defense both presented their sides. I thought that the prosecution clearly proved sixteen of the theft counts. I was sure that the accused was guilty of the seventeenth, as well, but the evidence did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of that last charge of theft. The prosecution had footage from the store, paperwork, and even a signed confession from the employee. The man had all of the stolen merchandise in his house. The case could not have been more settled.

Or so I thought. I was like those poor crackers mentioned earlier before they witnessed their black co-workers celebrate the Juice’s acquittal. For when we began to discuss the case, the fault lines came down along racial lines, with white jurors thinking that he was guilty and black jurors maintaing his innocence. I did not know before that black men were incapable of vice and that all bad things issue from The Man. Day after day passed, and the sheer stupidity and unreason of the folks were a devastating indictment of jury trials peopled by idiots. Race was never mentioned, but it was the glaringly obvious factor in our differences. Three days of deliberation passed. Finally, we worked out a compromise, where we would find the man innocent of the seventeen theft charges and guilty of fraud. I feel somewhat tainted for my part in this injustice, but, otherwise, a hung jury would have resulted. Some tarnish on his record was all that as was possible, given the circumstances, for this man to experience justice. Perhaps, some future employer was saved from his stealing by that fraud count on his criminal record.

During the trial, the defense attorney exploited the racial divide on the jury. He even demanded that each juror individually voice approval of the fraud charge once we rendered the verdict. It was clear to me that he knew his juries—though all of us kept to the compromise and found the man guilty of fraud.

Had I any naive noble sentiments about the commitment to justice among black Americans before, I had them no longer. With the Nieman Marcus fellow, with O.J., and with Obama’s election, nothing trumps the tribe when it comes to most blacks. As I have written before, such a tribal reflex seems universal, save when it has been educated out of folks, as has been the case in white America. The higher virtues do not come easily to mankind.

Why would one take joy in a criminal’s acquittal, though? Friends have tried to explain this celebration of injustice to me in the sense that two wrongs cancel each other out. I do not understand how or why anyone would hold such an illogical view, but evil is, after all, unintelligible.

Moreover, I am not convinced that black men get the shaft in the American justice system. If anything, our court system is absurdly stacked in favor of the defendant. If anyone complains about public counsel and its quality, then he should consider the even more meager resources of prosecutors’ offices. Statistically speaking, crime does pay in America. We are as Nietzsche predicted—a society too soft, rich, and powerful to care any more about justice, where we express our society’s stability by the toleration that we show to those who would subvert it. More crudely, letting the savages go free is democratic society’s attempt to ape the aristocratic “noblesse oblige.”

The evidence that those who would indict the American justice system put forth is the disproportionate number of blacks who are accused and convicted of crimes. That, perhaps, such is due to a disproportionate number of blacks among American criminals is not considered, though it is the obvious starting point to see whether there is such a problem. As with the Simpson trial, folks who are not caught up in racial hysteria conclude that the system is not the problem—unless it is one of indulgence toward criminals—but that black Americans do indeed proportionally commit more crimes than other demographic groups.

Why this is is quite unanswered, though there are many theories. There is the Leftist proposal that poverty causes crime—a questionable thesis, though some link between them seems definite. There are other accounts that hold that black America’s dysfunctionality is an ongoing consequence of slavery. Conservatives suggest that the welfare state has destroyed the black family and crippled blacks by facilitating destructive behavior. (Theodore Dalrymple thinks that the same is true of poor whites in Britain, which would make the issue one of bad public policy—with good intentions, of course—rather than a racial problem, though we should ask why there isn’t the same type of defunct white underclass in America.) Politically taboo explanations note that most crimes are committed by people in a certain intelligence range, regardless of their ethnic background, but that the proportion of blacks in that range is much higher than whites. (For more information, Steve Sailer has many fascinating articles about race, crime, and IQ.) I do not think that anyone knows for sure—human affairs make for sloppy science. Yet, any clear-headed person not under the spell of debilitating white guilt (Leftist whites), bilious anti-white hatred (racist blacks), or group shame (normal blacks) acknowledges the facts as they force themselves onto us every day of our lives.

Yet, men have a knack for delusion, and it is possible that even Goldberg has entered into the racial fantasy land. The presidential campaign and the racial factor therein showed that America has not transcended its racial problems. Dishonestly and willful blindness are as widespread as ever. That no one cared about Simpson’s conviction is because the demagogic cowboys were not corralling the herd in that direction—they were too busy orchestrating Obama’s election. Simpson as a symbol was so “90’s”—even Jesse Jackson has moved on. The thirst for the novel had more to do with the lack of black outrage over Simpson’s comviction than a consensus that the state should not allow murderous thugs to behave as they wish with no adverse consequences. Had the media decided to showcase Simpson, tabloid circus style, as they did in the 1990’s, we would have witnessed the same tribal impulses. National post-racial unanimity has nothing to do with it.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, December 10, Anno Domini 2008
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