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Works and Days

Beware of the Mob

March 25th, 2012 - 11:31 am

The Old Race Card

The same hang-the-suspect hysteria breaks out over race only to dissipate as if it never happened. Before 9/11 it was the reparations movement. Then it was the Bush neglect of the underclass. Then it was the preppie white non-rapists at Duke. Then it was Eric Holder’s lectures about “cowards,” “my people,” and the racists who wanted answers about Fast and Furious.

We went from the beer summit to Trayvon Martin’s resemblance to the boy the president never had. In each case, facts did not matter: Bush increased Great Society spending, and sent $15 billion to save black Africans from the ravages of AIDS. If there were any voting fraud, it came as a result of Acorn, Chicago wards, and the SEIU get-out-the vote machine, not Karl Rove with levers and gears.

The Cambridge police did not act stupidly. And if police do stereotype, it may be because 12% of the population commits almost half the violent crime in the nation. In the case of rare black/white and white/black murdering (94% of murdered African-Americans were killed by other African-Americans), a minority is more likely to commit murder (and rape) against a majority than the majority is against the minority.

As I write, the hysteria (is there any other word for it when Spike Lee twitters the address of George Zimmerman or the New Black Panther Party publishes a wanted poster or the mayor of Philadelphia calls the death an “assassination”?) is beginning to die down, somewhat.

The initial moblike news (in this regard, Fox News’s Shepard Smith was especially culpable in whipping up frenzy when he did not have the evidence to support his allegations) that a white, Germanic-named vigilante ran down and executed a small African-American child (at least Mr. Martin seemed so from his adolescent photos in the press) eating candy while strolling in an exclusive gated community is not quite the entire story. At least it has morphed into an account of an excitable, gun-carrying Hispanic neighborhood-watch volunteer, in a mixed community, prompting (?) a fist fight with an unarmed 17-year-old, 6’2” youth in a hoodie. Mr. Zimmerman apparently lost the struggle, and then pulled out a gun and fired — even as the narrative seemed to change with new information every day. The case is not helped by presidential editorializing that now, after the beer summit and Sandra Fluke, seems a gambit to divert attention from $4 a gallon gas and 8% plus unemployment (17% in Fresno County).

The Trayvon Martin tragedy is not over. We do not know all the facts; bad judgment, racism, and ill-intent may well have led to manslaughter or even second-degree murder or, then again, in theory, self-defense, but to speculate about any such charges without evidence is to become mob-like. My own view is that carrying a weapon requires greater forbearance, but I was not there and still have no idea what transpired. As I write this, the account will be out-of-date by tomorrow’s disclosures. What we are left with are no rules of national anguish: When ten African-Americans are murdered by other African-Americans in a single weekend, is it news or not news? When the occasional African-American murders a white person, as in a recent car-jacking, is it a sign of something the nation must note? When an Hispanic shoots an African-American, is it news to the degree he has a European name, but had he been Jorge Martinez with an Anglo mother, it would not have been news?

The role of a president is to rein in the mob, not to unleash it. The latter is what community organizers do; the former is what makes statesmen. Yet on issue after issue — anti-terrorism, global warming, government ethics, and racial relations — a frenzied mob, egged on by the media and demagogues like Barack Obama, have almost stormed the jail, only to dissipate when met by either evidence, or the knowledge that the incarcerated was one of their own — as if they had never screamed and threatened in the first place.

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