On Thursday, July 8, a Los Angeles court convicted former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009 in Oakland, California.
Mr. Mehserle is white, and Mr. Grant was black. The victim was unarmed when he was killed, but the jury believed Mr. Mehserle’s assertion that at the time of the shooting he had mistakenly thought Mr. Grant was reaching for a gun. Thus it came back with a verdict of involuntary manslaughter rather than murder.
And they stole stuff. To achieve justice for Oscar Grant, enraged citizens (many of them reportedly non-residents of Oakland) made off with shoes, clothing, televisions, and jewelry.
This is what passes for political activism among a particular subset of the “no justice, no peace” crowd in modern-day California.
I’m not going to debate the merits of the case itself. That was for the jury to decide, and the jury rendered its verdict. I’m more interested in the political process that accompanied it, one that is emblematic of the way racial “justice” has been handed down in America over the last several decades.
Eric Holder’s Justice Department — which, as you may recall, could see, hear, and speak no evil about New Black Panther thugs wielding nightsticks at a Philadelphia polling place — is planning to correct the decision of the Los Angeles jury. According to KGO-TV:
– – – – – – – – –
LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Department of Justice will conduct an independent review of the Johannes Mehserle case in order to determine whether or not the shooting merits federal prosecution, according the department.
“The Justice Department has been closely monitoring the state’s investigation and prosecution,” the department said in a statement.
“The Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the FBI have an open investigation into the fatal shooting and, at the conclusion of the state’s prosecution, will conduct an independent review of the facts and circumstances to determine whether the evidence warrants federal prosecution.”
Mr. Mehserle will likely be sentenced to a number of years behind bars, but this is not good enough for those who believe that black people can get no justice in the California courts. A federal civil rights case against him is a blatantly race-based attempt to produce a result that would be acceptable to those “protesters” on the streets of Oakland.
As Heather MacDonald at City Journal says:
The Justice Department should conclude its “investigation” rapidly, since there is nothing to investigate in this fully transparent, patently fair trial. Nor is there plausible evidence that Mehserle willfully used excessive force against Grant — the standard for a federal civil rights violation. But now that the Oakland rioters have fulfilled the worst expectations of Bay Area police forces — which have been virtually paralyzed for weeks by the prospect of post-verdict riots — perhaps the DOJ could also announce that it is a miscarriage of justice to destroy the livelihoods of business owners who had nothing to do with the incident. And in the meantime, the deliberate bloodbath among Oakland’s gangbangers — which has become routine over several decades — will undoubtedly continue, with nary a peep of protest from the looters and vandals.
Yet even this — the race-mongering and mau-mauing and leveraging of white guilt — is not really what interests me.
What I noticed about the Mehserle trial was the advance public notice of what could be expected if the jury did not return the correct verdict. Everyone knew what was coming; the police were on alert, and communities across California awaited the inevitable violence with breathless anticipation:
Shortly after the verdict was announced, over 1,000 community members rallied in downtown Oakland near City Hall. Police were everywhere; media had predicted for days that violence would erupt following the announcement. [emphasis added]
Note the role of the media in ginning up everyone’s anxious expectations about the violent response of the black community if whitey failed to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Everybody knew what would occur, but the media in particular pounded the drum of anticipation as loudly as possible, and were thus instrumental in ensuring that their own predictions come true.
Why does this happen? Why are black people in the United States routinely expected to react with violence over judicial decisions they don’t like?
We don’t expect the same of Armenians, or Japanese-Americans, or Eskimos.
People of Chinese descent don’t rampage through the streets of Chinatown burning and looting in reaction to a perceived injustice to one of their own.
So why do we dread the reaction of African Americans in the same type of situation?
Oh, I know all the standard explanations: it’s the legacy of slavery, and Jim Crow, and racism, etc., etc.
But that won’t wash. Once again, take the Chinese as an example: in the late 19th century Chinese immigrants in the West were treated as virtual slaves in many places, and the prejudice against them was profound. Yet here we are, just a little over a century later, and their descendants are functioning and productive members of society who entertain no particular collective grievance nor claim any special group entitlements.
No, something much uglier is going here. It is racism, but it’s not the racism of the Ku Klux Klan or Archie Bunker or bigoted white Republicans. The racism in question comes from the news media, politicians, academics, and all the other usual liberal suspects among the cultural elites.
These good people are the same folks who point the finger at you, the backwoods bohunks and slack-jawed yokels of red-state America. They are certain that it is you, and not they, who harbor the most detestable racist attitudes towards persons of color.
Yet they are the ones who expect different behavior from blacks than they do from Indian-Americans or persons of Danish background.
And this is not simply the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” No, this is a full-blown hard bigotry that regards Negroes — if they but dared to use the word — as inferior to white people and incapable of civilized behavior.
It is liberals who regard black people as unable to restrain themselves or control their emotions when they feel slighted.
It is liberals who determine that these designated victims cannot accomplish what white people accomplish unless they are granted lowered standards, affirmative action, and minority set-asides.
In contrast, it is conservatives who accord African Americans the simple dignity of being treated like everyone else.
It is conservatives who honor them by holding them to the same standards to which they hold themselves.
Keep that in mind the next time a pointing liberal finger stands poised to poke you in the chest over the brie and chardonnay.