Friday, April 13, 2007

The Real Crime

The rape charges against the Duke boys (not from the Dukes of Hazzard) have been dropped, however for many this hasn’t exonerated them. Malik Shabazz, head of the New Black Panther party, whose group has no more than 20 members and has been denounced by members of the original Black Panthers, appeared on the O’Reilly Factor last night. Why Fox News loves to spotlight marginal black nationalists groups, seems odd to me but Mr. Shabazz’s comments did reveal why many including some members of the Duke faculty rushed to judgment against the Duke players.

Michelle Malkin, who was filling in for Bill O’Reilly, asked Shabazz if he would apologize to the Duke Lacrosse players for accusing them of rape. Not surprisingly he didn’t apologize. Why? He stated he didn’t accuse them of rape; rather they were just guilty. Well, if not for rape, what could they possibly be guilty of? Mr. Shabazz didn’t elaborate but here two guesses:

Guilty of being rich, privileged, white men. These guys are unfortunately the embodiment of everything liberalism abhors. According to liberals white guys coordinate right-wing conspiracies, which of course are responsible for all the evils throughout the world, including global warming. These guys are the youthful versions of Dick Cheney and George Bush. The cherry on top is that these guys play lacrosse and you can’t get any whiter than lacrosse.

Guilty of being white while hiring black strippers. For many, the idea that white men, especially rich ones, hired black strippers reminds them of the historical power differential between whites and blacks. Tremendous resentment lingers in segments of the black community over the economic and sexual exploitation it has historically endured.

Some people are appalled at Michael Nifong for his unethical prosecution of the case while others are disappointed he didn’t turn out to be as savvy as Jonnie Cochran. Just as for some, the OJ Simpson trial was not about guilt or innocence but about retribution for historical wrongs, the Duke case was not about seeking the truth about an alleged event, rather it was about turning individuals into historical symbols.

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