Rev. Al Sharpton was plently active whipping up a racial frenzy about the killing of Trayvon Martin. Readers will remember that Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was shot to death by George Zimmerman, a "white Hispanic" (as the NYT called him). The police initially did not arrest Zimmerman, apparently on the theory that he acted in self defense -- or, at the minimum, that there was insufficient evidence that he did not so act. This provoked a storm of protest, resulting in the replacement of the original prosecutor, and by Zimmerman's indictment and trial. He was acquitted, almost certainly because the jury believed just what the police did from the outset -- that it could not be established that Zimmerman acted other than in self defense.
The acquittal sparked yet more protest. I have never been able to pin down precisely why this was so, but it seems to have been to make the "point" that black people are perpetually in danger of getting gunned down by whites, and, in this racist society, nothing will be done about it.
My own view of it is that race has no place whatever in the criminal justice system, much less in prosecution decisions about individual cases. Killers are no more or less culpable because of their race, and victims are no more or less dead. Race simply has no moral significance, and thus should have none legally either. But I appear to be on the losing end of that argument, courtesy of activists like Rev. Al.
Query, then, why has he not chimed in on the story below?
News reports relate that a white school teacher, Colleen Ritzer, was knifed to death by a black teenager, Philip Chism. This happened after Chism followed her in to the women's room. He then dragged her body into the woods, apparently leaving a quite-easy-to-see trail of blood.
His lawyer has asked for -- guess what -- a mental evaluation. The story is here.
As I've noted before, the huge majority of murder is intra-racial. But to the extent there is inter-racial murder, whites are proportionately more than 10 times more likely to be murdered by blacks than blacks are by whites. The Trayvon Martin narrative of whites hunting down blacks is almost pure fiction. If we must get mired in race -- which, again, I think is utterly wrong, corrosive and poisonous -- that's how it is.
So where is Al Sharpton about the atrociousness of the murder of Colleen Ritzer? I haven't heard a peep out of him (which is something that can almost never be said of Al Sharpton).
That is not a rhetorical question; the answer actually has a good deal of significance for the criminal justice system.
The answer is that, in order to stoke our guilt and thus undermine the moral confidence essential to enforcing our law and protecting ourselves, there needs to be a constant drumbeat that America is an immoral, racist snake pit, unable and (more to the point) unwilling to give a fair shake to The Oppressed. A country so wicked is in no position to be judgmental. And if, perchance, some judgment might occasionally be required -- say, when a student slices-and-dices a teacher -- it is similarly in no position to impose any serious punishment. That would shamefully rehearse the days of Jim Crow, Bull Connor, the Klan, etc., et al.
And The Oppressed is not just blacks. It's any group claiming victimhood.
Q: Who is the latest group claiming victimhood?
Read any law review. Go to almost any law school criminal law class. Look at almost any criminal law blog. Take a gander at the NYT, HuffPo and MSNBC (among dozens of others). The Criminal As Victim is the main narrative now. If the country continues to buy into it, and thus allow itself to be hectored into standing down from the strong measures we have used successfully to combat crime, last year will be only the beginning of crime's resurgence.