No Evidence Required

Sir Bedevere:             What makes you think she’s a witch?

Peasant:                      Well, she turned me into a newt!

Sir Bedevere:             A newt?

Peasant:                     I got better.

Crowd:                       Burn her anyway!

        —Terry Jones as Sir Bedevere, and John Cleese as the Peasant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

 

Let me start by saying this up front: if you do things like commit rape and murder, you should have to face the consequences, including going to jail (or, in appropriate cases, facing the death penalty).

But you really should have to be convicted of that crime first.

Over the last few weeks a number of women have been coming out of the woodwork to accuse actor/comedian Bill Cosby of committing various forms of sexual assault at various points in the increasingly distant past.  The most recent is a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles telling an at least somewhat implausible tale of a 15 year old meeting Cosby on a movie set in 1974 along with her 16 year old friend.  According to the lawsuit, Cosby invited the girls to his tennis club where he got them liquored up, then took them to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion and had the accuser perform sex acts on him.

The rather fanciful nature of the story raises obvious questions as to its veracity.  And wealthy celebrities like Cosby make easy targets for those who might want to extort a settlement check, particularly 40 years after the fact when there is little evidence left except her word vs. his (there is a reason we have statutes of limitations).  I note that the lawsuit comes not only 40 years after the alleged incident, but only after several others have made rape allegations against Cosby, giving this latest claim (and its accompanying demand to get paid) a certain “me too” piling-on quality.  But giving this accuser and the others the benefit of the doubt, the most we can say at this point is that we don’t know whether the allegations are true.

And that’s the point, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping the punishment train from rolling out of the station.  On Thursday the Navy announced that it was revoking the honorary title of Chief Petty Officer it bestowed on Cosby in 2011.  This follows NBC’s and Netflix’s cancellation of projects with Cosby, cable’s TV Land yanking reruns of The Cosby Show, and Temple University pressuring Cosby to resign from its board of directors.

All because of allegations.

As of this writing, William H. Cosby, Jr. hasn’t been convicted of anything.  He hasn’t been tried.  He hasn’t even been charged.  In point of fact, of the dozen or so women currently accusing Cosby, only one has even filed a civil lawsuit (it is worth noting that Cosby settled a lawsuit in 2006 brought by another woman making similar allegations).  I admit the number of accusers suggests there may be something to the allegations, but that in itself is not evidence that any one of the allegations is true.  Yet our modern politically-correct court of public opinion has already proceeded to the punishment phase.

And this is the disturbing trend in today’s world of instant internet news, where any accusation, innuendo, or rumor can go viral and become publicly entrenched as the “truth” before the actual evidence has a chance to emerge.  Worse, even when that evidence does emerge, too many allow their emotions to be manipulated to the point that they are unwilling or unable to look at it and distinguish reality from the false narrative pushed by those with other agendas.

Witness the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.

By now you know the meme: racist white cop guns down an unarmed black teen affectionately known as the “gentle giant” in cold blood (and possibly in the back) while the child had his hands up in an effort to surrender.  This was the story initially and continually pushed by the media, and egged on by the usual professional race-baiting, grievance-mongering crowd.  It quickly became the public truth, and thus Officer Darren Wilson was convicted of murder in the court of public opinion within hours of the shooting.

But as John Adams once observed, facts are stubborn things.

The grand jury—which actually had and looked at the evidence—saw things differently.  Michael Brown, the so-called “gentle giant,” was videotaped physically assaulting a shop owner while in the course of robbing the store minutes before the shooting.  Brown’s blood and DNA were on Wilson’s squadcar door handle, inside the car, and on Wilson’s gun, all of which supports Wilson’s story that Brown initially attacked him in the car and attempted to get Wilson’s gun when Wilson shot him the first time.  Three reviews of the autopsy—including one highly-publicized third review by a medical examiner hired by Brown’s family that, once conducted, quietly went away—all found wounds indicating that Brown was neither shot in the back (as first reported), nor with his hands up; they showed wounds consistent with charging forward, head down, as if to tackle.  Significantly, the autopsy results were not only consistent with Officer Wilson’s story, but also with the testimony of several black eyewitnesses who said Brown was charging at Wilson.  Based on this evidence, the grand jury declined to indict Officer Wilson.  But because the “truth” of what happened had already been established, the evidence didn’t matter.

The court of politically-correct public opinion had once again already moved on to sentencing.  Hence we now have protestors and even members of Congress running around blindly (ignorantly?) holding their hands in the air chanting “hands up, don’t shoot,” even though the testimony of black eyewitnesses and the physical evidence have fully discredited that version of events; in other words, the incontrovertible fact is that Michael Brown did not have his hands up when he was shot, but that fact is irrelevant to the protesters’ perception of the truth.

Other geniuses claim they just want “justice,” and to that end we needed to have a trial so all the facts could come to light.  To one who says that I say fine, let’s start by putting you on trial for murder.  You will undoubtedly react with righteous indignation and say there’s no reason to put you on trial, because there is no reason to suspect you committed murder.  To which I say:

ExactlyThere is no reason to put a man on trial when there is no reason to suspect he has committed a crime.

A grand jury doesn’t operate on the familiar “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for conviction in a criminal trial.  It operates on a standard of “probable cause.”  And it’s a one-sided affair in favor of the prosection; the accused has no lawyer there to cross-examine witnesses, and does not get to put on a defense (yes, I know Officer Wilson got to testify, and that that’s unusual, but that’s neither totally unheard of (defendants generally don’t testify because they are invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, not because they can’t) nor is it the same thing as presenting a defense case).  Yet despite a low threshold and a tilted playing field, the grand jury refused to indict; in other words, it wasn’t even close.

Under those circumstances, there is no more reason to put Wilson to the expense and anguish of a trial than there is anyone else.  But the myopic “justice seeker,” just like the race-baited protestor, isn’t interested in facts, because he has already established the truth in his own mind, evidence be damned.

It is a dangerous place where allegations alone warrant skipping past trial and conviction and moving straight to sentencing.  It is more dangerous still when allegations and rumor trump undeniable facts.

I have no idea whether Bill Cosby committed rape.  But rather than send him directly to be flogged at the pillory in the town square, perhaps we should take a deep breath and see what the evidence of the facts is first.

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No Laughing Matter

“You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”

        —Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride

 

Robin Williams was funny.

Say what you will about some of his politics, but the guy was funny.  Yes, Jumanji was pretty much a stinker, and yes, his manic tendency to race off-script down random rabbit trails could make him hard to watch in an interview sometimes.  But that simply showed us that for all his comic genius, he was all-too-human.  His was a rare entertaining talent, and he will be sorely missed.

One thing I’ve never heard him accused of, however, is being a racist.

Until now.

Apparently—I had to read this in a news report, because I don’t watch narcissistic award shows—Billy Crystal did a tribute piece at the Emmys in which he featured some clips of Williams doing stand-up.  In one of the clips, Williams—in his trademark ad-lib style—borrowed a scarf from an audience member, wrapped it around his head like a niqab (the article refers to it as a hijab, but Williams uses it to cover his whole face, which I understand is a niqab) and said in falsetto, “Welcome to Iran.  Please help me.”

And the Twittersphere went nuts, complaining that the bit was racist, that the show was racist for using it, or that it was insulting to Williams’ memory to make him look like a racist.

Basically, it was racist.

Huh?

I suppose I should expect this kind of lack of thought from people who not only sit down to watch the Emmys, but then feel compelled to get on Twitter to comment about the show.  But let’s take a look at this.

First, the bit had nothing to do with race.  Nothing.  “Racism” is the practice of racial discrimination; that is, drawing distinctions or being demeaning towards a group of people based on their race.  Williams was doing neither.

The niqab or hijab is not associated with any particular race, but with the religious/political doctrine called “Islam.”  In particular it is associated with the fundamentalist variety of Islam focused on sharia law.  That has nothing to do with race.  The Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Egypt are largely Arab, but those in Iran—the subject of Williams’ ad-lib—are not.  They’re Persian.  Women in all three places can be found behind head/face covering.  Ditto Turkey, where the Muslims are neither Arab nor Persian, but, well Turks.  In the Sudan, they’re black.  In the Russian Caucasus, it comes as no surprise that the Caucasians are white.  In Thailand they’re Thai, and in Indonesia they’re Indonesian.  In all of these places the sort of head covering Williams was mimicking ranges from common to required by law (as in Iran), and it’s all due to the ideas of Islam, which is not a race.

Repeat after me, class: It’s not about race.

Second, Williams was not mocking or demeaning the niqab/hijab or Muslims.  He was drawing attention to serious human rights issues that plague women under Islamic rule.  Now, apologists will tell you that the head cover is a symbol of chastity and modesty, but particularly in those places where its use is mandatory—as in required not by religious observance, but by national law, and enforced by modesty police (I kid you not)—it is also symbolic of the oppression that in many ways treats women as second-class, if not semi-slaves, and this was Williams’ point.

I touched on this in the last post, but consider that in fundamentalist Islamic societies, women cannot serve as witnesses in the prosecution of a man (or men) she accuses of raping her; only men are competent to testify, and she’d better come up with four of them who agree with her.  Otherwise, not only does the accused go free, but her accusation is now an admission of adultery, for which she may be executed, sometimes by stoning or beating.

Speaking of beating, under sharia, wife-beating is expressly condoned, the rationale being that the woman is to be subservient and obedient to her husband, who is her master.   Further on marital relations, the husband is allowed to take up to four wives, any of whom he may divorce—leaving her penniless and un-marryable—simply by saying “I divorce you” three times; vice-versa is not true for the wife in either case.  By the way, Islam also condones pedophilia; Mohammed—who is to be imitated in every way as the perfect model of human behavior—married one of his wives, Aisha, when she was six, and consummated the marriage when she was nine.  More recently, a Saudi cleric issued a fatwa in 2011 permitting marriage to girls as young as one.

If you’re a woman, not only must you wear that head cover, but many places you can’t go outside, even in broad daylight, without a male relative as an escort.  Nor are you permitted to drive a car.  Some places you can’t even go to school; that’s what the charming gentlemen of Boko Haram have been trying to enforce by kidnapping hundreds of girls in Nigeria.  And while we’re at it, although not really part of Islamic doctrine as such, we ought to take brief notice of the practice of “honor killings” and acid attacks prevalent in Islamic societies—usually committed by a close male relative—when Muslim girls refuse arranged marriages or simply become too Westernized.

This is what Robin Williams was trying to highlight when he donned the niqab, took on the character of an Iranian woman, and pled “Help me.”

Is that what you call “racism”?

That question highlights a much broader issue in that this loaded pejorative “racism” is thrown around so lightly these days it has ceased to have any meaning beyond “I don’t like what you did/said/thought.”  Particularly for the Progressive Left—and I’ll bet you dollars-to-donuts 100% of those who took the trouble to Tweet about an Emmys piece are big-time Leftys—“racism” has become the automatic charge for everything with which they disagree.

Don’t want U.S. judges applying foreign law to Americans in American courts?  You’re a racist.

Support requiring voters have sufficient I.D. to prove they are who they say they are (you know, the same thing most states require for you to collect welfare)?  You’re a racist.

Support tighter border security to prevent ISIS—or whatever they call themselves this week—from slipping in to start bombing American cities or spreading Ebola?  Guess what: you’re a big, fat racist.

Advocate eliminating the welfare regime that has destroyed the black family and trapped millions in an endless cycle of dependency and poverty?  Well, that’s because you’re a racist.

Think it’s a good idea to have school vouchers that not only force competition, but give impoverished black parents a means to send their kids somewhere other than the rat/gang/drug-infested hell-hole that is their local public school?  That makes you not only a racist, but anti-teacher, to boot.

Think affirmative action, alternative ethnic curricula, reduced admission standards, and modified grading scales treat minorities as inherently inferior and incapable, and set them up for failure by artificially inserting them into schools and jobs for which they would not otherwise qualify?  Then your name is Dr. Thomas Sowell, and you’re a racist even though you’re black.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King fought against real racism: fire hoses and police dogs, separate lunch counters, back-of-the-bus, and lynching.  He dreamed of a day when people would be judged not by the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.  Today’s Progressive Left has hijacked and weaponized that movement, and perverted Dr. King’s dream into a world where people are judged not by the content of their ideas, but by how their ideas can be misrepresented and then demonized as “racism” without further debate.

And that’s not funny.

The Curious Case Of Cliven Bundy

 

Take another shot of courage

Wonder why the right words never come

You just get numb

            —The Eagles, Tequila Sunrise

 

I’m going to be a little controversial today.

You may have seen the recent standoff between Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal Bureau of Land Management.  Bundy has for years grazed his cattle on what is ostensibly federally-owned land and refused to pay the per-head fee for doing so after the land was officially closed off to protect an endangered tortoise (how closing the land only then to re-open it for a fee protects the tortoise escapes me).  Recently his ranch was surrounded by armed federal agents, his cattle were confiscated and some of them killed under circumstances that have yet to be explained fully.  Only after scores of armed private citizens came to Bundy’s aid did the government back down and give his cattle back (what was left of them, anyway).

Last week Bundy was back in the news, this time for comments he made about blacks.  Discussing his recollection of driving past a government housing project in North Las Vegas, Bundy said:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro . . . in front of that government house door was usually open and the older people and the kids—and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch—they didn’t have nothing to do.  They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do.  They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.  And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?  They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton.  And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?  They didn’t get no more freedom.  They got less freedom.”

[And then of course there’s the part that CNN, the New York Times, and the rest of the media edited out:  “They got less family life, and their happiness—you could see it on their faces—they wasn’t happy sitting on that concrete sidewalk”  The media also didn’t report his preceding comments on the Watts riots: “People are not happy, people thinking they don’t have their freedoms, they didn’t have these things and they didn’t have them.  We’ve progressed quite a bit from that day until now, and we sure don’t want to go back.  We sure don’t want the colored people to go back to that point.”  But I digress . . .]

Tea Party types who had come to Bundy’s defense quickly ran for cover, denouncing Bundy’s statements (as edited by the media) as racist.

I’m not so sure.

Mr. Bundy’s choice of words certainly leaves something to be desired (although I seem to have missed the memo that “Negro” and “colored” were no longer just antiquated but were now considered racist and offensive—maybe someone should inform the United Negro College Fund and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), but let’s bear in mind this man is a rancher, not a professional orator.  And if we’ll calm down a second, step back and examine what he actually said, maybe—just maybe—we’ll see that he has something of a point.

First, Bundy was not advocating slavery, nor was he stating affirmatively that blacks were in fact better off as slaves. He did not attribute his observations to some imagined inherent racial inferiority, and he did not blame blacks themselves for their situation.  He was posing a rhetorical question—“I’ve often wondered . . .”—not stating an opinion, and while his comments are stated in terms that are obviously too global, I think they can be understood as a clumsy attempt to use hyperbole to illustrate something about the black condition, particularly as it relates to poor blacks.

Consider the following:

No one can deny that housing projects exist.  And while not all blacks live in government housing, they in fact occupy the projects in grossly disproportionate numbers.  According to HUD, although blacks make up just 13% of the population, 48% of government-subsidized households are black.  While we’re on the subject of government subsidies, note that 40% of welfare recipients and 24% of food stamp recipients are black.   There is nothing racist in this observation, it’s simply the statistical fact: relative to their proportion of the population, blacks receive more government subsidy assistance than the population as a whole.

Bundy said that the people he observed in the projects had nothing to do.  This is not shocking: if you’re in a government housing project, you are most likely poor, and there is a disproportionate likelihood that you are unemployed.  This is particularly so if you’re black.  Black unemployment in fact has long exceeded the national average by a wide margin.  As of last month, “official” unemployment among blacks was 12.8%, roughly double the national rate of 6.9%, and considerably worse than it was prior to LBJ and the Left’s “war on poverty.”  Bundy referred more specifically to young blacks having nothing to do; unemployment among blacks 16 to 19 currently sits at 30.9%, four-and-a-half times the national average.  These figures obviously have a direct effect on poverty, which impacts 27% of the total black population.  Again, this is not a racist statement; if you are black, particularly a young black, statistically there is a much higher chance that you are unemployed, poor, living in government housing, and receiving some form of welfare.

That’s not racist.  That’s just a fact.

Bundy then remarked that blacks—again, his context was his observation of poor blacks in government housing—abort their babies and put their young men in jail.  Well, do they?  Black babies are aborted at a rate of 41 per 1000 women.  That’s more than double the national average of 18, and by some estimates over 13 million black babies have been aborted since Roe, the equivalent of eliminating 30% of the entire current U.S. black population.  This is exactly as Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger envisioned it, as she expressly intended her organization’s abortion function as a means of racial cleansing.  Blacks also make up nearly half of the total U.S. prison population, and 1 in 3 black men can expect to serve prison time during their lives.  We can debate whether blacks themselves put those black men in jail; the cause isn’t as important here as the statistical fact itself that a disproportionate number of blacks are incarcerated.

Carrying the domestic analysis further, while the rate is dropping, teen pregnancy among black girls remains more than double that of whites.  72% of black children live in single parent households.  And blacks are wildly more likely than whites to be the victim of violent crime, almost always at the hands of another black.

So to recap, blacks in the U.S. are significantly disproportionately likely to:

  • Be poor
  • Be unemployed
  • Receive government subsidies
  • Be impacted by abortion or teen pregnancy
  • Grow up in a single parent home
  • Spend time in jail
  • Be the victim of violent crime

There is nothing racist about making the observation; these are simply the statistical facts of the black condition.  I think we can all agree that these are not good things, and there is almost surely a relationship between them.  And this, I think, was the essence of the point Bundy was trying—however inartfully—to make: that blacks would be better off with meaningful jobs that allowed them to get off government assistance and out of government housing, and with that maybe improve the other aspects of their domestic circumstances.

But let’s assume for a second that Bundy’s statements in fact are racist.  Why does that—as the media and Left have been trying to claim—render all the substantive points and questions raised by his standoff with the BLM illegitimate?  If someone is a racist does that mean that they are a crackpot and wrong an all issues, all the time, under all circumstances?

To be sure, Bundy’s substantive case against the BLM has problems.  He has in fact—he freely admits this—not paid the grazing fee, to the tune of over $1 million.  Although his argument that in the charter creating the State of Nevada the United States obligated itself to sell all federal land back in 1864 has some facial appeal, in context it has issues:

Sec. 10.  Five percent of subsequent sales of public lands by United States to be paid to state for public roads and irrigation.  And be it further enacted, That five percentum of the proceeds of the sales of all public lands lying within said state, which shall be sold by the United States subsequent to the admission of said state into the Union . . . shall be paid to the said state[.]”

Bundy and his supporters point to the language “which shall be sold by the United States” to argue that the federal government had a duty to sell all federal holdings.  And that is a fair reading.  The problem is, the word “shall” has been frequently misused in legislation in this country, up to and including the Constitution itself.  The title of Section 10 refers to “subsequent sales,” and this suggests that the “which shall be sold” language was really intended simply to refer to those lands that the United States sells if it sells them, rather than imposing an affirmative obligation to do so.  Even so, legitimate questions remain:

  • Why does the federal government still own more than 80% of all land in the State of Nevada?
  • If it’s federal land, and therefore publicly owned, why isn’t it open to all without a fee?
  • Why is Senator Harry Reid, who is supposed to represent the people of the State of Nevada (actually he’s supposed to represent the State itself, but the 17th Amendment killed that) vocally taking the side of the federal government against one of his own constituents?
  • Why does the BLM need to show up with helicopters and dozens of armed agents (including snipers) carrying military style weapons to collect a bill?
  • And while we’re on the subject, why are so many non-military federal agencies (EPA, NOAA, U.S. Postal Service, Department of Education) arming themselves?

Racism or no, what we do see here is more overkill from a federal government out of control.

We Are Not On A Racism Cliff

 

“It’s the CIA’s wet dream; there is no Yuri.”

 

              —Gene Hackman as Secretary of Defense David Brice in No Way Out

 

I know better than to read Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts.  But sometimes I can’t help myself.

All-too-predictably, Pitts is thoroughly inflamed over the jury’s verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in Florida.  But he takes it a step farther than the typical outrage over the perceived injustice, or even the bogus use of the case as a springboard for opposition to “stand-your-ground” laws (which weren’t even an issue in the trial).  Pitts cries out that the verdict must serve as a wake-up call for the black community to take action to prevent what he claims is an impending tsunami of white erosion of hard-won black rights.

Arguing that black history has always been a cycle of two steps forward, one step back (one could make a good argument that that’s a universal story of mankind, but who’s counting), Pitts warns that blacks are standing on a cliff with whites preparing to push them over into a new era of deprivation.  For him, the Zimmerman verdict—a unanimous verdict of a jury approved by the state of Florida in a trial in which the state overreached in its charges and then couldn’t make its case despite having virtually every possible advantage—heralds a new “crushing period of pushback” against which blacks must be vigilant.

Pitts tells blacks: 

  • While we were celebrating, others were calculating.
  • While we were writing nasty rap lyrics, they were writing senators.
  • While we were organizing Obama victory parties, they were organizing tea parties.
  • While we were buying DVDs, they were buying candidates.
  • While we were sending texts, they were building propaganda machinery.
  • While we were resting in the past, they were seizing the future.

What the hell is he talking about?

Pitts, of course, cites exactly zero evidence for his charges that unnamed “others” or “they”—we can understand him to mean universally racist white people, although he doesn’t say that out loud—have been “calculating,” “writing senators,” “buying candidates,” etc.  And although Pitts insinuates that these activities are inherently sinister and aimed at blacks, just what these racist whites are going to deprive blacks of, Pitts conveniently leaves unspecified.  Who these people are, and what they’re going to do (if anything) are unknown, but blacks should nevertheless be very afraid.

For all Mr. Pitts’ incessant whining about pervasive racism, the fact is—leaving aside the impact of the continuing Great Recession, which has hit all groups—by almost any measure the black condition has steadily—if slowly—improved over the last half century.  Consider the following:

  • We have a black President, recently re-elected despite an objectively dismal record in office;
  • In the 2012 election, black voting turnout surpassed white turnout for the first time, and in 2008, 2010, and 2012, blacks voted in record numbers;
  • Black per capita income, while still lagging behind that of whites and of the nation as a whole, has closed that gap from 43% below the mean (in 2011 dollars) in 1967, to 31% below the mean in 2011;
  • The mean income for middle fifth of the black population has risen from $25,294 in 1967 (again in 2011 dollars) to $32,452 in 2011, although that has tailed a bit with recent extended recession;
  • From the peak of the 1982 recession, black unemployment dropped steadily from a high of around 21% to a low in 2007 of about 7.5%;
  • Black-owned businesses increased by 60.5% from 2002 to 2007, and represent one of the fastest growing segments in the US economy;
  • The percentage of black students at U.S. colleges rose from 9% in 1976 to 14% in 2010, meaning blacks are actually now slightly overrepresented relative to their percentage of the population.
  • In 2011, the FBI recorded 2,076 “hate crimes” with anti-black bias, down from 3,674 incidents in 1996, the earliest year for which such statistics are available.  That reflects a 43% decrease over the last 15 years.

This hardly suggests an impending new white conspiracy to roll back the clock on blacks.  Blacks are voting and getting their candidates elected.  More blacks are getting jobs and earning more money.  More blacks are attending college.  Black business is up, racially-motivated crime against blacks is down.  Yet somehow Pitts contends that the Zimmerman verdict is a harbinger of doom for blacks.   

The Zimmerman case had nothing to do with race.  Zimmerman isn’t white; he self-identifies as Hispanic.  And in his 911 call to police—if you get the one NBC didn’t fraudulently edit—he didn’t originally identify Trayvon Martin as black.  Nor is this a situation where a racist Jim Crow government turned a blind eye because the victim was black and the accused was white; there was a trial in which the State of Florida did everything it could to finagle a conviction even after the local police, the original D.A., and the FBI all concluded there wasn’t enough evidence, and the jury didn’t buy it.  That’s how the system works: if the State can’t prove its case—and here Florida couldn’t and didn’t—the defendant is acquitted.  That’s not racism.

And despite Pitts’ unfounded fear of the Tea Party movement, the Zimmerman case had nothing to do with Tea Party politics, and the Tea Party movement has nothing to with race.  The Tea Party movement didn’t invent the law of self-defense, or even the irrelevant “stand-your-ground” law.  The Tea Party movement didn’t hire the prosecutor, appoint the judge, or select the jury.  The Tea Party movement is all about reeling government back in to its Constitutional limits, reducing spending, and playing by the damn rules.  Yes, that may mean fewer handouts and less voter fraud; if that hits black people, maybe Mr. Pitts should be looking at how blacks are conducting themselves, rather than trying to find racism under every pebble.

I am not so naïve as to believe there is no racism.  But the constant blame whitey cry is a cop-out, and it’s getting old.  What’s holding down blacks today—to the extent they’re held down—isn’t white vigilantes hunting down innocent black children.  It’s young black men killing other young black men by the hundreds.  It’s too many black kids growing up with unmarried mothers (or their grandmothers) with no father around.  It’s too many blacks in a permanent cycle of dependence on government welfare.  Only one of those—welfare dependency—has anything to do with whites, and that was a creature of the white Left, not Tea Party racists.

But that doesn’t sell well in the race-victim industry.

Where’s Your Sense Of Justice?

You see the world through your cynical eyes

You’re a troubled young man, I can tell

You’ve got it all in the palm of your hand

But your hand’s wet with sweat, and your head needs a rest

And you’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it

You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it

            —Styx, Fooling Yourself

 

Color me shocked.

Over the weekend a Florida jury returned a verdict of “not guilty” in the second-degree murder—er, on second thought, manslaughter—trial of George Zimmerman over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  And as predictably as the sun rising in the east, protests—some might say “riots,” but that would be racist—broke out in major cities across the U.S.  The usual entertainment industry suspects immediately took the twittersphere to howl at the moon over the horrible injustice of it all.  And the Obama Administration—apparently ignoring the investigation of its own F.B.I. in the matter—is considering civil rights charges against Zimmerman to make up for the justice gap.

Now, Trayvon Martin’s death was and remains a tragedy, and I’ve said from day 1 that if Zimmerman’s self-defense claim didn’t hold up I hoped he’d go to jail and rot.   But here’s the thing.

We had a trial, and the jury voted 6-0 that his self-defense claim did hold up.

Not one of these people who are now apoplectic over what they’re calling this unthinkable failure of the system was there that night to see what happened, and so they can’t speak intelligently to whether the “system failed.”  If in fact the incident went down as Zimmerman said it did—that Martin attacked him and was on top of him pounding his head into the pavement, and he was in fear for his life—then as tragic as Martin’s death is, the system got it exactly right.  But none of these protesters were there to know. 

Moreover, none of them were on the jury, and I’ll bet you a million dollars not one of these self-righteous loudmouths sat through more than a few seconds—if that—of the coverage of the actual evidence in the case, or knows anything beyond a few seconds of irresponsibly (some might say fraudulently) edited audio aired by NBC (h/t Mr. Commodore for pointing out that one to me).  Here’s what we do know: 

  • The only eyewitness in the case said he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman;
  • The forensics indicated that Martin’s shirt front was several inches from his body at the time he was shot, meaning he was leaning forward, not laying backwards;
  • You can argue about the severity, but there is no doubt that Zimmerman had injuries on the back of his head and his nose.

The physical evidence in the case was all consistent with Zimmerman’s story.  The prosecution, for its part, wasn’t able to produce anything of substance to contradict this, nor to establish their central theme that Zimmerman was a racist.  And it failed to do so despite a trial judge who was openly hostile to the defense, despite virtually every evidentiary and motion ruling going the State’s way, and despite reprehensibly sandbagging the defense on evidence and playing borderline unethical games with 11th hour changes in the charges.  In other words, this political show trial was rigged from the get-go in the prosecution’s favor, and they still couldn’t prove a case against Zimmerman.

And in truth that shouldn’t be surprising.  Recall that the local police originally refused to arrest Zimmerman because they had no evidence to support a case, and they said so publicly.  The F.B.I. later made a similar finding that it had no evidence Zimmerman’s actions were racially motivated.  With two different law enforcement agencies concluding there was no evidence to counter the claim of self-defense, why wouldn’t we expect the prosecution to fail to prove its case of racism run amok? 

But of course none of that matters to the moronic Hollywood intelligentsia, or to the gullible subscribers in the politics of racial victimhood.  All they know is a young black person was killed by someone with lighter skin, and for all their original cries that all we want is a trial, what they really wanted was the preordained result of a conviction, facts and evidence be damned.  Anything less is ipso facto evidence of the pervasive racism in an inherently unjust society that leaves no black person safe anywhere.

Really?

Let me run some figures by you.

According to the Chicago Police Department, in 2011 there were 433 murders in the Windy City.  Of the 433 victims, 196 (45%) were between the ages of 17 and 25.  Another 114 were between 26 and 35, yielding a total of 72% of all victims being between the ages of 17 and 35.  390 (90%) of the victims were male.  And 326 (76%) of the victims were black.  Over the same period, the Chicago Police had 173 identified perpetrators.  Of those, 91 (53%) were between 17 and 25, and another 45 were between 26 and 35, for a total of 79%.  153 (88%) of the known killers were male. 

And 122 (71%) of the known killers were—wait for it—black.

Given the level of vitriol over George Zimmerman, you’d think we had an epidemic of white vigilantes hunting down and killing young black men.  The truth, however, is that if you were murdered in Chicago in 2011, the odds are overwhelming that you were a young black male, and that your killer was another young black male.  This was and is happening in Chicago at a rate of almost one every single day. 

And it’s not a phenomenon isolated to Chicago.  As I highlighted back in December, using 2011 F.B.I. statistics, nationwide a black person was 13-14 times more likely to be killed by another black than by a white.  In fact, there were only 193 black victims of white killers across the entire U.S., significantly fewer than the total number of black victims of black killers in Chicago alone (extrapolating from the Chicago police data implies approximately 230 of the 322 black victims (71%) would have been killed by other blacks).

This indicates an epidemic of a whole different sort.  Yet where are the marches and rallies to stop the self-immolation of the black community?  Where is Al Sharpton to lecture blacks about stopping the killing of other blacks?  Where is Beyonce’s moment of silence to remember the hundreds upon hundreds of black youths dead at the hands of other black youths over the wrong color of basketball shoes, or a dime bag of dope, or “disrespecting” the wrong person at a night club at 2 a.m.?  Why aren’t Jesse Jackson, Quanell X, the Hollywood elite, and the Occupy protesters camped out in Hyde Park demanding an end to it all?

They all cry for justice for a young black man, but instead of focusing on a very real and widespread problem they spend untold time and energy trying to take an isolated incident and manufacture a false and deliberately divisive case for endemic racism in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

And that is an injustice.

Unfounded Fear?

Wait a minute, Man

You mispronounced my name

You didn’t wait for all the information

Before you turned me away

                    —Alanis Morrissette, Right Through You

 

Once again, Leonard Pitts, Jr. sees racism everywhere, this time in the form of crazed white people mowing down innocent blacks left and right in a blind racist fear that blacks are dangerous just for being black.

Pitts focuses on the case of Jordan Davis, a 17 year old black kid who was shot dead by Michael Dunn, a white man, in the course of an altercation at a gas station.  According to Pitts, when Dunn told the teenagers in the SUV next to him to turn their music down, it turned into a volley of obscenities; when—Dunn claims—he saw a rifle poked through an open window.  He then retrieved his pistol from the glove box and fired repeatedly into the SUV, even as it was leaving.  Davis was killed by the volley.

Pitts correctly notes that there are problems with Dunn’s story, in that no rifle was ever found, and it is more than passing curious that he kept firing, and that after the incident he and his girlfriend drove to a hotel rather than going to police.  But Pitts goes a step further, claiming that the incident demonstrates that racism causes whites to see things like phantom rifles, which makes stand-your-ground laws dangerous because they—according to Pitts—allow private citizens to open fire if they “feel threatened.”  Pitts, of course, is wrong about the legal standard established by stand-your-ground laws, as I have discussed any number of times.

What’s more interesting, however, is what Pitts leaves out.

Pitts uses the Davis case to make sweeping generalizations that whites “feel threatened” by blacks because of some unfounded fear born from centuries of racist propaganda.  He might do well to examine some data, rather than cherry-pick an isolated—yes, isolated—incident with unique facts and loaded with a sympathetic young victim.

As of the 2010 Census, there were about 304 million people in the U.S.  Blacks made up 38.6 million, or just under 13% of the population.  Whites numbered about 197.4 million, or 65%.  Now, Pitts’ theory that there is some widespread fear of blacks that comes from pure racism means that, to the extent there is such a fear, it’s unfounded.  In other words, the relative threat posed by a black man is essentially the same as that posed by a white man.  If that’s so, we’d expect to see the number of violent crimes perpetrated by whites and blacks respectively to more or less mirror those groups’ proportion of the national demographic, right?

In the words of the immortal John Bender:  Not even close, Bud.

According to the FBI, in 2011 there were 6,131 homicides in the U.S. for which there was information about the races of the perpetrator and the victim.  Of those, 2,958—48%—were committed by blacks, compared to 2,904—47%—committed by whites.  Pretty even split, you say, but remember that there are about 5 times as many whites as blacks in the U.S.  Blacks made up only 13% of the population, but committed roughly half the total murders in 2011.

When we adjust for the relative sizes of the respective populations and look at how many blacks and whites commit murders on a per-capita basis, we see that in 2011 blacks committed murders at a rate of about 0.07 per 1,000 of population.  Whites committed murders at a rate of about 0.01 per 1,000.  In other words, for all of Pitts’ protests that fear of black men (yes, women commit murders, too, and all my data is gender-neutral, but by far the lion’s share of murders are committed by men) is irrational and thus can only be the product of racism, as a statistical matter a given black was seven times more likely to kill you than a given white.

And this is not an aberration confined to 2011.

In 2005, blacks made up 37.9 million of a total population of 293 million—12.9%.  Yet they committed 3,569 of the 7,346 murders in which the FBI had racial data, the same 48% as in 2011.  Whites made up 237 million, or about 80% of the population, and committed 3,445 murders, the same 47% as in 2011.  Per 1,000 of population, blacks committed murder at a rate of 0.09, compared to 0.01 for whites.

We can argue about the reasons, but it’s difficult to argue with the numbers.  The simple fact is that on a per-capita basis, blacks kill a lot more people than whites do.  And it’s hard to understand how Pitts can ignore this; over 90% of all black murder victims are killed by black perpetrators.  If anyone should know the statistical danger, it’s Pitts.  Yet he persists in pushing a narrative that it’s inherently dangerous to be a black man because racist whites are out there waiting to kill you.

Since Pitts is afraid racist whites are going to kill him because they’re irrationally afraid of blacks, let’s look at the interracial breakdown.  In 2011, of 3,172 white murder victims, 448 were killed by black men; that’s about 14% of the total, slightly above what we’d expect based purely on demographics, and a rate of .013 murders committed per 1,000 of black population.  On the flip side, of 2,695 black victims, 193—just 7%—were killed by whites, barely one-tenth the number we’d expect based on demographics.  And the white-killer figure represents just .00098 per 1,000 of white population.  2005 numbers were almost identical to that.  Thus, based on the FBI’s statistics, relative to their proportion of the population blacks kill whites at a rate about twelve times that at which whites kill blacks.

Perhaps the most telling statistical comparison, however, is the per capita rates for black victims of white perpetrators vs. black perpetrators (i.e., black victims of each subgroup of perpetrators as a proportion of the black population).  In 2011, blacks were killed by blacks at a rate of .06 per 1,000 of black population, while they were killed by whites at a rate of .005 per 1,000 of black population.  In 2005, blacks were killed by blacks at a rate of .087 per 1,000, vs. .006 by whites.  What this shows is—not as a matter of racist speculation but simply a matter of objective statistics—as a black you are thirteen to fourteen times more likely to be killed by another black than by a white, racist or otherwise.

My point here is not to suggest that black people are inherently dangerous and should be feared solely by virtue of the color of their skin.  The good news from the statistics is that regardless of the racial relationship between perpetrator and victim, murder is rare.  And I am not so naïve to believe that our world is free of racism and that there are no racially-blinded whites who see danger that isn’t there; maybe Dunn was just out that night to kill a black kid.  That’s certainly possible and obviously unacceptable, but it’s not necessarily indicative of widespread unfounded fear of black people.

My point here is that Pitts’ use of the Davis case, however tragic, to extrapolate a global argument that there is a white gun pointed at every black person based on an irrational racist fear of blacks is irresponsible at best.  The data simply don’t bear his point out.  Mr. Pitts and “the family of every boy who looks like [Davis]” have far more to fear from other blacks than they do from racist whites.  Pitts may be highlighting a widespread unfounded fear, but I submit it’s a different one that what he identifies.

Perhaps Mr. Pitts should spend less time and energy trying to find widespread racism around every corner, and more of them on more serious problems closer to his own doorstep.

Painting By Numbers

“Mathematicians won the war.  Mathematicians broke the Japanese codes, and built the A-bomb. Mathematicians . . . like you.  The stated goal of the Soviets is global Communism.  In medicine or economics, in technology or space, battle lines are being drawn.  To triumph, we need results: publishable, applicable results.  Now who among you will be the next Morse?  The next Einstein?  Who among you will be the vanguard of democracy, freedom, and discovery?  Today, we bequeath America’s future into your able hands.”

            —Judd Hirsch as Helinger in A Beautiful Mind

 

I said last Wednesday I didn’t want to get into the deep weeds trying to break down the numbers on what happened Tuesday night.  There are plenty of theories out there, from a strong Hispanic vote, to a weak Republican base turnout, to Hurricane Sandy, etc. etc.  I don’t have the strength for it, and I’m too many decades removed from college for that sort of detailed political science statistical analysis.  And in any event, it won’t change the result.

That said, I did see something I thought was interesting.  I don’t know what I make of it, but follow me on a little mathematical exercise here.

The AP had Obama taking 61,212,519 votes out of a total of 119,413,147.  The black vote made up 13% of the total electorate, meaning black voters cast 15,523,709 ballots, using the AP’s numbers.  Obama took 93% of those votes, or a total of 14,437,049 votes.

Now, my original thought in looking at this was I assumed we’d see Obama capturing what seems like an impossibly skewed percentage of the black vote, which would indicate raw racism (i.e., blacks voting for the black candidate because he’s black).  The truth is, 93% isn’t far removed from the 95% of the black vote Obama garnered in 2008, and isn’t all that different from the 88% John Kerry (who is definitely not black) got in 2004, or the 90% Al Gore (who isn’t black but may have invented it) got in 2000.  I don’t see anything to be made there.

But here’s what I thought was interesting.

We saw above that the math indicates about 15.5 million black votes were cast.  But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 there were 38.6 million blacks in the U.S.  Of them, only 27.2 million were of voting age.  Now, I understand that that data is a couple of years old, but I can’t imagine the numbers changed all that much in two years.  So we’re talking about squeezing 15.5 million votes out of what is about a 27 million population.

Rusty, what’s the big deal?

Well, here’s the rub.  We were bombarded over the last two years with studies, reports, and complaints about how the rules were rigged in such a way to suppress black voting.

  • We’re told that, because of a racist criminal justice system, 7.7% of blacks are felons and thus ineligible to vote.  That’s about 2.1 million, using the 2010 census figures.
  • We’re told that as many as 25% of blacks lacked sufficient I.D. to comply with racist voter I.D. laws—the Brennan Center says that’s 5.5 million people, but using the Census figures it’s more like 6.8 million who, according to the victim panderers and race-baiters, were at risk of not being able to vote this year.
  • As September of this year—too late in most circles to correct the problem—reports had the NAACP saying that another 6 million blacks were eligible to vote, but simply hadn’t registered.

As an initial point, let me say that all this complaining about racist voter suppression is interesting, when we see that blacks, who make up 12% of the population, actually made up 13% of the electorate.  If The Man is conspiring to reinstate Jim Crow-style suppression of the black vote, I submit it isn’t working.

But back to our exercise.  Taking these various complaints I listed above more or less at face value, what does that do to our 2012 electoral math?

Well, we started with a total possible black voting population of about 27.2 million.  Subtract from that the roughly 2.1 million felons and you have 25.1 million.  The Left’s complaint that between 5.5 million and 6.8 million blacks were adversely affected by voter I.D. laws is patently bogus, but let’s give them credit for 1 million kept home because they didn’t have the same I.D. needed to collect welfare; that drops your voting population from 25.1 million to 24.1 million.  Then you back out the 6 million the NAACP says weren’t registered, and suddenly you’re down to a total voting population of only 18.1 million.

15.5 million votes out of a voting population of 18.1 million.  That’s an astonishing 85% turnout.

And there’s the problem.

Voter turnout nationally in the U.S. in modern times is normally between 50 and 55%, and has trended steadily downward since 1960.  Black turnout is normally a couple of points below the national average, although in 2008 it was a couple of points above the national figure at right at 60%.  Even if voting enthusiasm in the black community was up from 2008—and every indication heading into Tuesday was that it wasn’t, and total turnout was considerably lower than 2008—that doesn’t explain an 85% figure.  And even if we assume that, say, half of the 6 million who were unregistered according to the NAACP not only managed to correct that, but also to show up and vote, you’re still talking about a total voting population of only 21.1 million, which would mean a 74% turnout.

20 to 25 points (about 50%) more than normal, and 14 points above even 2008.  That is, assuming much of what the race-baiters and fearmongers would have you believe is true.

Make of it what you will.  I just thought you should know.

******************

Yesterday (November 11) was Veteran’s Day, although the federal government will celebrate it today.  To those of you who have served in our armed forces, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Obama’s Racism

Angel in Devil’s shoes

Salvation in the blues

You never looked like an angel

Yeah, yeah, angel of Harlem.

            —U2, Angel Of Harlem

I want to reset on something that was making the news circuit last week.

You probably saw that an old video of a 2007 campaign speech has re-surfaced, in which then-candidate Barack Obama, speaking to a group of black pastors, praised his “mentor” Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and espoused some shall we say extreme racial views, including the idea that racism basically caused the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina.  Now the Obama campaign has pooh-poohed this as old news, and it is.  And a lot of folks have clung to the notion that George Bush’s hatred of black people caused fatal delays in marshalling and delivering aid to New Orleans (an act that was unconstitutional regardless of its timeliness, but that’s a different discussion for another time).  I don’t want to get into a debate over the substance of Obama’s comments, or whether the video is taking him out of context, because in this case I think the real issue isn’t in what Obama said but in how he said it.

Now I want you to click on the link and really listen closely to Obama speak.  Close your eyes and listen.

Does that sound like the Barack Obama you’re familiar with?

Normally, Obama’s vocal patterns are virtually indistinguishable from those of Speaker of the House John Boehner, who has never been mistaken for being black.  Think Steve Carell, not Steve Harvey.  Yet, in 2007 when he was campaigning before a gathering of black church leaders, he suddenly—and deafeningly temporarily—picked up a deep south lilt laced with more than a hint of an accent characteristic of distinctly black speech patterns.  To put it bluntly, he sounded black.

Um, Rusty, he is black, so what did you expect, and what’s the big deal?

True enough, and frankly I don’t care that he’s black, or that he might sound black when he speaks . . .  if that were his normal speech pattern.  But it’s not, and it never has been.  Don’t believe me?  Click and listen:

That’s not how Obama sounded in 1990 discussing his election as the first black President of the Harvard Law Review.

That’s not how he sounded in 1991 leading a protest in favor of his professor friend (and Critical Race Theory—look it up—proponent) Derek Bell.

That’s not how he sounded in a 1995 interview promoting Dreams From My Father.

That’s not how he sounded in his 2010 State of the Union address when he chewed out the Supreme Court over its Citizens United decision.

And it’s not how he sounds in his current campaign ads.

The above clips (and any of a billion others you can find on YouTube) are clear that this—middle-aged Midwestern smoker—is his normal speech pattern, even in situations where race was at issue and his being black was part of what was making him the star of the show.  So why, when he went in front of a group of black pastors in 2007 did he suddenly sound like he walked straight off the set of Good Times?

There are those who have suggested that what you hear in that 2007 video is the real Obama, that he’s been hiding his true anti-white self behind a carefully crafted public façade.  Maybe so.  But rather than engage in this sort Obama’s-really-the-angry-black-man conspiracy theory, let me suggest we give him the benefit of the doubt, and that what you normally hear from him really is the way he normally talks.  If that’s the case—and I think it is—here’s what I can’t understand:

Why wasn’t/isn’t the black community absolutely outraged?

Imagine, for a second, that Mitt Romney went before the NAACP back in July in blackface.  The black community, the Left, the media, and in fact most rational people would have come unglued, and rightfully so.  Why?  Because doing that would have been mocking black people, putting on a “costume” based on physical stereotypes.  Worse, he would have been doing it to try to endear himself to them by posing as a caricature of themselves, and in the process telling them he’s something that he’s not.  Offensive?  You bet.

Well, that’s exactly what Obama did by adopting that accent in front of the black pastor’s group.  In a transparent attempt to convince them of his “blackness,” he put on an act that played to stereotype.  And in so doing, he sold them short, as the professional race-baiters and perpetuators of the black victim mentality always do.  Rather than give them credit for being intelligent, thinking adults capable of understanding and voting based on substantive issues—and addressing them accordingly by simply presenting himself as himself—he assumed that their voting intellect was literally only skin-deep.

Those in attendance, and the black community at large, should have been outraged.  Why are you coming in here and pretending you’re something you’re not?  Why don’t you talk to me about the issues instead of pretending to be extra-black?  Obama’s opportunistic faking of a black accent and its inherent presumption of a black audience’s inability to look beyond race were every bit as racist as Romney donning blackface would have been.  That Obama is in fact black doesn’t change that.

Alternatively, if the 2007 accent is in fact real, the black community should still be outraged.  By picking it up when he needs them, but dropping it “in public,” he’s effectively disowning them.  He’s telling them you’re good enough for me to be like you when I’m with you in private, but I can’t let the rest of the world know that I’m like you.  In other words, you’re not good enough to be seen in public.

Either way, Obama is a racist.

Code Red

Lt. Kaffee:     Colonel, I have just one more question before I call Airman O’Malley and Airman Rodriguez.  If you gave an order that Santiago wasn’t to be touched, and your orders are always followed, then why would Santiago be in danger?  Why would it be necessary to transfer him off the base?
Col. Jessep:    Santiago was a substandard Marine.  He was being transferred . . .
Lt. Kaffee:     That’s not what you said.  You said he was transferred because he was in grave danger.
Col. Jessep:    That’s correct.
Lt. Kaffee:     You said he was in danger, and I said, “Grave danger?”  You said, “Is there any other kind?” 
Col. Jessep:    I recall what I said.
Lt. Kaffee:     I can have the court reporter read back to you . . .
Col. Jessep:    I know what I said!  I don’t have to have it read back to me like I’m . . .
Lt. Kaffee:     Why the two orders?  Colonel?
Col. Jessep:    Sometimes men take matters into their own hands.
Lt. Kaffee:     No, Sir.  You made it clear just a moment ago that your men never take matters in their own hands.  Your men follow orders or people die.  So Santiago shouldn’t have been in any danger at all, should he have, Colonel?
—Tom Cruise as Lieutenant Danny Kaffee, and Jack Nicholson as Colonel Nathan Jessep in A Few Good Men
I’m sure you’ll be as shocked as I was to learn that syndicated Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., sees blatant racism in the Trayvon Martin case.
Writing on Sunday’s anniversary of the original Rodney King verdict Mr. Pitts tells us there’s a lesson for the Martin case to be learned in the orgy of burning, looting, and killing that followed the King verdict—a verdict, he’s quick to point out (incorrectly), that involved “a white jury” failing to convict “four white cops” (actually one of the jurors was Hispanic, and another was Asian, and one of the four police officers involved in the beating was Hispanic, but I guess in Pitts’ strictly dichromatic world, anybody who’s not black is white and therefore part of a monolithic problem).
A lesson for the Martin case we’re supposed to glean from the Rodney King riots?  Hmmm.
Now, Pitts isn’t condoning the riots, you see; he’s quick to tell us that: 
“[T]his is not to lionize the rioters.  You do not lionize 54 deaths and a billion dollars in property damage.  You do not lionize what almost killed Reginald Denny, beaten nearly to death for the ‘crime’ of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong color skin.”
Nooooo.  Whatever you do, don’t lionize the rioters.
So—without celebrating or condoning them—what is the lesson for the Martin case Pitts would have us take from the King riots?  For Pitts, the Rodney King riots manifested “a certain frustration, a certain sickness at heart, a certain outrage at being betrayed by justice—again.”  Pitts purports to cast this “betrayal” in terms of justice delayed, reminding us that for blacks, “justice comes slowly, grudgingly and grumblingly, when it comes at all.” 
Having made his complaint about the speed of justice, however, Pitts then repeatedly returns to the King riots and the common protest chant “no justice, no peace,” and cautions that the lesson of “no justice, no peace” is “a certainty” that we must apply to the Trayvon Martin case.  This is the lesson he’s urging us to learn.  Of course, he’s careful once again to include a lip-service caveat that he’s not making a threat, or a prediction, or a warning.  Far be it from him to do something so base and vulgar.  
 
But my question is why tie the two together at all?  What is this justice that’s necessary in the Trayvon Martin case in order to ensure peace?
George Zimmerman, the undisputed shooter, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder (albeit via a criminal complaint that has been widely panned as so weak that the special prosecutor should be sanctioned for even filing it).  Yes, it took six weeks to do it, but that’s been done now.  Presumably there will be a trial, and if found guilty Zimmerman will face a sentence in the Florida penal system.  Yet Pitts is stilltelling us that the process of justice in the Martin case has only just begun, and we need to keep the King riots in mind.
No justice, no peace.
What is Pitts really saying when he says we should learn something from the “no justice, no peace” idea in the King riots that’s relevant to the Martin case?  Contrary to Pitts’ superficial suggestion, it’s not really about delay.  The delay in making an arrest and filing charges in the Martin case has already come and gone, so there’s no point in Pitts raising it at this stage.  And his justice delayed point is nonsense with respect to the Rodney King riots—no one was rioting because of how long the process took. 
And therein lies the rub.  The King riots weren’t about delay, but about the failure to convict, and this appears to be Pitts’ real point in tying them to the Martin case.  Although Pitts gives lip service to the “sage advice” not to rush to judgment, you get a good sense of where he’s coming from in his incomplete (to put it charitably) description of the event:
“[An] unarmed 17-year-old boy shot to death by a neighborhood watchman who thought him suspicious because he was dawdling and looking around.”
Pitts basically intimates that Zimmerman, from the safety and comfort of his truck, picked Martin off for twiddling his thumbs.  Pitts conveniently ignores the fact that Zimmerman has claimed that Martin had him on the ground and was beating his head on the concrete—a claim supported by physical evidence of injuries to the back of Zimmerman’s head.
It is plain that Pitts has, in his mind, already adjudged Zimmerman guilty of murder.  And so in pairing the Rodney King riots to the Martin case and telling us there’s a lesson we’d better draw, his message is absolutely clear: 
Remember what happened when you white people didn’t convict the cops in the King case?  Zimmerman is guilty, and if there is anything less than a conviction, the black community will riot. 
His disingenuous disclaimers notwithstanding, this can only be understood as a threat, if not an outright incitement: convict George Zimmerman—regardless of the evidenceor suffer the consequences.
 
I’ve said before that I’m not here to defend George Zimmerman, and if he can’t prove up his self-defense claim, I think the State of Florida should throw the book at him.  But unlike the Rodney King case, there isn’t a videotape of the incident, and the physical evidence lends at least some support to Zimmerman’s claim of self defense.  “Justice” demands that he get an opportunity to make that case, rather than being tried to a predetermined conclusion in a court of public opinion being held hostage to a threat of mass rioting if the verdict is anything else.
Pitts says we shouldn’t “lionize” the Rodney King rioters.  He cautions against rushing to judgment.  And he swears he’s not threatening or even warning of new riots if “justice” isn’t done in the Trayvon Martin case.  No, really.
Methinks he doth protest too much. 
With public bounties put on Zimmerman’s head, and the tweet-o-sphere ablaze with individual death threats against him, it’s already unlikely that Zimmerman can get a fair trial anywhere in the U.S. (I question whether he can even continue to live in this country).  It is irresponsible, dangerous, and frankly counter-productive to race relations for someone in Pitts’ position deliberately to skew the process further by all but explicitly encouraging people to take to the streets in a violent rampage if the system fails to reach his pre-ordained result. 

NAACP Takes Voter I.D. Issue Global

Andrew:         What do you need a fake I.D. for?
Brian:             So I can vote.
—Emilio Estevez as Andrew Clark and Anthony Michael Hall as Brian Johnson in The Breakfast Club
I wish I were making this up, but I’m not that clever. 
Continuing a theme struck by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz back in June, the NAACP is crying that GOP-backed voting laws are “designed to restrict or limit the ballot access of voters of color.”  At issue are rules requiring I.D. to vote, restrictions on voting by felons, and limits on registration and early voting periods.  A lot of this is same-old, same-old, but the NAACP is taking this Quixotic quest against imaginary racism to new depths:
They’re appealing to the United Nations for help.
That’s right, the NAACP is pre-emptively asking the U.N.—that beacon of support for democracy and bastion against corruption—to intervene in the 2012 U.S. elections.  Maybe next they’ll petition for statehood recognition.
The self-defeating irony here would be comic if it weren’t so damn dangerous.  The only “enforcement” mechanism the U.N. has to bring to bear is the imposition of massive global economic sanctions against the U.S.  Is that really what you want to do right now in the midst of a lengthy recession/depression/pseudo-non-recovery?  Who do you expect would be hurt the most by such an action? 
Alex, I’ll take “the very same low-income blacks who are allegedly being disenfranchised” for $1,000, please.
As I’ve previously discussed here, there is nothing racist or discriminatory about asking people who want to vote to demonstrate that they are who they say they are, and that they’re eligible to vote, which is all voter I.D. and registration rules do.  Frankly, I can’t believe there’s even any controversy about this:  if you’re going to have rules about who can and cannot vote (you have to be 18, you have to be a U.S. citizen), why would you not have some mechanism in place to enforce them?  The only real reason to oppose such rules is if you are interested in cheating.
The argument, of course, is that such rules effectively disenfranchise blacks because blacks disproportionately lack the required identification.  To support this argument, the NAACP continues to whip the tired horse that is the 2006 report of NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, which claimed that as many as 25% of voting age blacks don’t have a current government-issued photo I.D.  A few things are worth noting about that report:

  • It purports to extrapolate national figures based on a telephone survey of a grand total of 987 participants, that also “weighted” the results “to account for underrepresentation of race,” but the report doesn’t say how.  In other words, they extrapolate from an extremely limited sample that, in some undisclosed way, deliberately skewed minority data.
  • It is unclear how these 987 participants were selected.  The report says they were selected at random, but we do not know from what pool (a phone book? tax rolls? arrest records?) or in what geography (were these people selected nationwide, or all in Queens?).  Nor do we know what mechanism was used to ensure randomness.
  • The report claims its 987 participants were all voting-age U.S. citizens—how do they know from a phone call?  What do you suppose the odds are that someone here illegally will say “yes” when asked by a stranger in a random phone call if they are a citizen?  I guess we’re just to take them all at their word, which is really what voter I.D. opponents are advocating as the benchmark for voting.
  • 135 participants said they had both a U.S. birth certificate and a naturalization certificate, which the study says is likely due to their confusion between the two.  Such confusion in itself reinforces the point above, but giving them the benefit of the doubt, do we really want people voting who are that easily confused?  I’m just saying.  How many more confused the question do you have an I.D. with do you have an I.D. on you right now as we’re talking on the phone?
Most importantly, however, and the point that continues to be lost is that this report and those who rely upon it are asking the wrong question, which is whether people have an I.D.  When an alleged 25% of blacks say they don’t, the NAACP and others then cry that requiring an I.D. to vote is racism, as though white people are simply born with the requisite papers while people of color aren’t.  The salient question isn’t whether blacks have I.D., because no one inherently has it; even white people have to get off their ass and go down to the DMV to get one.  The question is whether black people can get I.D. if they need it.
The NAACP says that for many it’s simply too onerous to get a photo I.D.  The $15 to $45 is just too expensive for many of the poor.  That States like Tennessee and South Carolina are offering free I.D.’s doesn’t really help, you see, because even then poor blacks don’t have and can’t afford the necessary underlying documentation required to obtain the free I.D. 
Really?
Tennessee, just by way of example, exempts from the I.D. requirement indigents who cannot obtain the requisite documents without paying a fee.  Further, under the instructions for obtaining a free voter I.D., Tennessee explicitly tells its residents that if they cannot obtain a birth certificate, they can speak with a service center manager who will work with them to identify alternative documents to prove citizenship (Texas takes things like school records and even inmate cards).  But even where free I.D. isn’t available, the cost simply isn’t that great.  In my home State of Texas, an I.D. costs $16.  That’s a grand total of 31 cents a week, or a little more than four cents a day
Furthermore, photo I.D.—or the kinds of underlying documents necessary to get one, such as birth certificates, passports, hospital records—are routinely required for all kinds of activities and services in modern American society.  You want to board an airplane?  Good luck without an I.D.  Many merchants require I.D. to use a credit card or write a check.  A lot of downtown buildings in major cities—including government buildings like courthouses—require photo I.D. to even walk in the door.  And in places like uber-racist/Tea Party hotbed New York require these kinds of I.D. to get food stamps.
The fact of the matter is that there is nothing difficult about getting the appropriate I.D., and we require it all the time in all sorts of contexts without raising charges of racism.  As I’ve said before, to make that claim is in itself racist, because what you’re saying is that blacks are children for whom we have to make special exceptions or dumb things down because they just can’t satisfy the rules applicable to everyone else.  You perpetuate a culture of victimhood, incompetence, and dependency, where society expects less of blacks and ultimately they come to expect less of themselves.
I’ll issue the same challenge to NAACP that I made several weeks ago to Representative Andre Carson (D-IN) after his Congress-wants-to-lynch-black-people rant:  name names.  Identify even one actual live human being who is eligible to vote and wants to vote but cannot because they cannot obtain the appropriate I.D.  And when you do, I’ll issue a second challenge:  why don’t you spend half the energy and effort you did on the U.N. to actually help that person get the I.D. they need?