Christine Flowers, 5/26/2016 [Archive]

Not About Race, Yet Still Black and White

By Christine Flowers

Movements are difficult to manage, because they're messy.

Take, for example, feminism. At the beginning, it all seemed fairly benign. Give us the vote, admit us to school, stop treating us as marital property or slightly demented Miss Havishams. Common decency, which some call equality, is what we demand. That's fine.

But then it became all about "my body" this and "your oppression" that, and frying up bacon while spritzing on Enjoli and making you feel like a man (assuming you identified as one). Feminism became fetishism, where women needed to say all the right things and accept all the right principles and bow to the Uterine Goddess.

The civil rights movement followed a similar trajectory. Real racism against black Americans was the justifiable source of anger and resolve, resulting in the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action and the creation of other laws and institutions to pay back, slowly, the debt owed to the children of slaves by the children of white privilege.

So considering all that, why does the acquittal of a white cop, by a black judge, in a black man's death prompt another black man to tweet, "The 'not guilty' verdict is also a reminder that the criminal justice system is not designed to yield justice for dead black bodies."

The author of those 132 characters was Marc Lamont Hill, a outspoken professor at Morehouse College. It's not surprising he'd have something to say about the acquittal of Officer Edward Nero in the death of Freddie Gray. In fact, it would be more surprising if he didn't.

It's predictable that he'd criticize the system for what he and the Black Lives Matter folk believe is institutional racism. Anytime you have a discussion about race on social media these days, you're a fool if you expect subtlety and nuance. It's boring to examine the actual legal principles at play and inconvenient to mention that this was a bench trial with a black judge.

Of course, there are five more chances for a conviction, and three of them involve black officers. Perhaps the criminal justice system will provide justice on one of their backs. Hopefully, that will make the black lives that matter, and chatter, happy.

Maybe not, though. Only days before Nero was acquitted, a black body that did not get justice was given the Medal of Valor. Of course, it was an honor delivered posthumously to Philadelphia Police Sgt. Robert Wilson III, who showed extraordinary courage in a shootout with two criminals and gave his life for his city.

I know you'll say Wilson, for all of his valor, willingly assumed the risk of death. That's true. You'll also say Gray was manhandled and mistreated during his arrest. That, too, might be true. But when color is the same on both sides, victim and hero, we should at least take a step back and realize that of the two deaths here, only one was caused by two armed criminals robbing a store, while the other was at most caused by officers who showed a callous disregard for a prisoner's welfare. In neither case should the color of the victims, or the victimizers, matter.

But we can't use common sense. That doesn't drive cable-show ratings, sell papers or allow shills for the culture wars to pontificate about this evil and unjust society.

Much like the fabrication by feminists of a campus rape culture, we are supposed to believe police officers are out to get young, black men, when the biggest threat to young black men is other young black men.

Sometimes, guilt or innocence is transparent, not black or white. No matter how many lamentations we hear from the Black Lives Matter movement, no matter how cognizant we white people are of our generational privilege, there is no justice to be had for black or white if innocent people are convicted as some psychic, symbolic payback.

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©2016 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at cflowers1961@gmail.com.

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