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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Proof? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Proof

Wouldn't you know. The usual suspects in the due-process crowd are raising the roof about the the Durham district attorney's admission that his office didn't bother to actually interview the alleged victim before filing rape charges against the three lacrosse players. What these critics don't understand is that there's a different standard of proof involved in cases involving gender and race. The critics need to realize that district attorney Mike Nifong did in fact meet the crucial electoral threshold in this case, by declaring his sympathy with the alleged victim's claims during his recent tough primary election campaign. He did so to help create common ground among feminists who believe males as such are the source of all evil in the worlds, and African Americans who believe white people per se are the source of all evil in the world. Surely there is no good reason why these two permanently aggrieved constituencies cannot stand together against white male lacrosse players as prima facie agents of oppression — and by "prima facie" we mean to indicate "at first sight" or "just by showing up." Mary Frances Berry, former head of U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, put the matter thus: "Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them." My friends, we would do well in cases like the Duke matter to recall the compassionate words of former Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, speaking in defense of the system of state-sanctioned reverse racism known as affirmative action: "You guys (white males) have been practicing discrimination for years. Now it is our turn." If the alleged Duke victim says she was victimized, the very act of questioning her claim can only serve to revictimize her, irrespective of the so-called "empirical facts" involved in the disputed claim. Along with Thurgood Marshall, let's keep the big picture in mind. Throughout American history, many blacks were lynched by angry mobs of white racists. Regardless whether the Duke lacrosse players are guilty, is it "bad" or "wrong" simply to accuse white males and ask them to stand in for what was done to blacks in years past? True, this kind of categorical thinking may seem "unjust" to the lacrosse players, but that only shows the limits of literal thinking. Try taking a symbolic perspective. Think of history not as an ongoing process of individuation but as an endless power struggle where personal identity is trumped by loyalty to the group: race, gender, ethnicity, tribe, clan, clique, sect, dynasty, and so on. Think: politically correct feudalism. OK, I can already hear the due-process crowd beginning to murmur. "How long before the scales are even?" It's a fair question. I would suggest that a quarter century of retributive justice would do nicely. That dovetails with Sandra Day O'Connor's assertion in Grutter v. Bollinger: "We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today." Meanwhile, let's cut Mike Nifong some slack. He won last spring's primary, but now he's facing a grueling general election campaign. Criticizing him at this time could depress voter turnout. Speaking of right and wrong, does anyone think that would be right, or more to the point, fair?