April 21, 2021- The events of yesterday call to mind several aphorisms of my youth: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”; “People living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”; “The pot shouldn’t call the kettle black”; “What! Cast your finger at another? Behold, three fingers are pointing back at you.”
I thought of these, primarily as there were references to yesterday’s verdict, in Minnesota vs. Derrick Chauvin, as “mob justice”. Seems to me, there were such instances of mob justice in the cases of Emmitt Till, in the trial of the Mississippi sheriff’s posse (1965), and in the Central Park jogger.
Chauvin could have been railroaded, but he wasn’t. The crowd that gathered and yelled, outside the courthouse, could have intimidated the jury, but the jurors were not aware of them. This case, if there were to be an appeal, would have to be shown to have been influenced by the protestors in general and Maxine Waters in particular. Thus far, the walls of the courthouse have not been shown to have let the sound outside permeate the actual courtroom or the jury facilities.
While none of that excuses the pandemonium outside, the parallels between it and the all-too-common lynchings, which took place for over a century, ring a bit hollow. I daresay that, had there been no lynchings, there would likely not have been the welling up of anger among people of colour; there would have been no build-up of smugness, leading to the “gladiator” mentality that has led to excessive force ( in which none of the police officers of my hometown, in the days of my youth, conservatives to a one, would ever have indulged); there would not have resulted in tit-for-tat shouting matches between progressives and conservatives, in cities across the country.
It was the original presumption of superiority, among the de facto aristocracy, that led to the Civil War, to Jim Crow laws and, in our time, to the mass attempts to shrink-wrap the voting laws of various states. Misfits abound, and they are not necessarily those protesting outside the courthouses.