Sunday, November 12, 2006
Normally I visit the blogs like Durham-in-Wonderland, Liestoppers, Friends of Duke University and John in Carolina with interest. Their takes on the Duke Three case are always interesting and revealing, and based on their POV, even reasoned (I absolutely exclude Johnsville News from that list. He's an irresponsiblef lamethrower who does more harm than good, in my opinion, to your cause, and cowardly hides behind his worthless rhetoric, unlike the other bloggers listed).
But when I read how Harris Johnson's personal remarks about "rich white boys" from the North, regarding the Duke Three, being somehow morphed into disrespecting two outstanding, courageous heroes of the 60's civil rights movement who were white and unselfishly risked their lives so that ALL Americans could have equal rights and citizenship, I was aghast.
I expect that kind of irresponsible nonsense from that bottomfeeder over at Johnsville News - a big shot,classless wannabe who is so stupid, he thinks reporters who write their stories also control the links to them to - but not from you, Liestopper.
And here's why...
- Mr. Johnson's comments are his own, and just like many of you Duke Three supporters meekly and weakly disassociate yourselves from some of the vile, racist emails and message board posts by some of your sidetargeting the accuser, Black leaders, Black voters and the Black community, you are quick to have Mr. Johnson and NCCU student Chan Hall speak for everyone in Black Durham. That is patently unfair.
Mr. Johnson, for whatever his reason for making such a statement, has lived in Durham a long time. I know for a fact that over 20 years ago, the Durham DA's Office did make Duke student cocaine possession cases "go away" at the request of powerful people. I have no doubt that Mr. Johnson, and many other connected Black Durhamites, know that too. They want to make sure that regardless of guilt or innocence, this case at least is handled properly by the court.
- Secondly, it is absolutely ignorant to ignore that ever since this unfortunate case came about seven months ago, Black Durhamites have paid close attention to the defendants (more specifically their families) hiring literally the best attorneys in the state,putting up $400,000 in bond each (meaning none of them spent even ten seconds behind bars), and attracting the kind of national media attention that a comparable Black defendant accused of the same crime, under the same circumstances, would never get. And indeed, has never gotten in Durham, or anywhere else in North Carolina.
- Thirdly, you're assuming the Black community "loves" Mike Nifong. Wrong! They were suspicious of him when this case began last March. A majority of Black voters (56%) voted against him in the May primary, and he wasn't endorsed by the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People then. Blacks felt strongly that if the same allegations were made against a local Black college team, Nifong would have had everyone locked up until those DNA results came back. They felt that way because it has happened far too many times before. So there was already a feeling that the Duke lacrosse team members were the beneficiaries of special treatment, and Nifong was held responsible for it, so much so that when he went to NCCU the day after the negative results from the first set of DNA tests and told students and the community that "This case is not over," they still didn't believe he took the case seriously.
But a lot has happened since April. Nifong secured three indictments; the defense mounted a massive counteroffensive to his multiple pronouncements ofguilt by leaking evidence and castigating the accuser; support for the Duke Three has grown into a national movement with no less than CBS' "60 Minutes' joining the fray on the indicted's behalf.
Just like with Bill Clinton, Black people took all of this opposition in, and decided they didn't like seeing Nifong being ganged up on, especially since a judge or jury hasn't decided the merits of the case yet. And they heartily rejected the notion that they cannot, after hearing possibly three months of testimony as projected, be fair jurors and finders of fact.
Unknown to many of you outside of Durham, we are aware of only one very, very high profile case that ended in a hung jury in Durham, and the only reason why there was no retrial is because the NC Attorney General at the time, Mike Easley, now our governor, decided that no jury could ever decide the case.
Now it is perfectly understandable that Duke Three supporters are very concerned about the defendants getting justice, very concerned about the lack of evidence and prospect of a trial. It is also understandable that the Black voter support for Nifong has disappointed many of you.
But to take the errant comments of one or two people, and twist them into some kind of blanket communitywide racial hatred not only of the Duke Three, but condemnation of two white civil rights heroes - two brave men, in addition to the many, many other white male and female Northerners who were ambushed, dragged off of buses, beaten bloody and even killed, allbecause they believed in freedom, justice and equality- is beyond the pale.
These brave, true patriots were called "communists," "insurrectionists," and "nigger-lovers" by white Southern segregationists. They were marked for death the moment they set foot in the South. They didn't wait for one, two or three of their own to get into trouble before they got involved to bring about justice for all. Those white civil rights workers had selfless reasons for their actions. You didn't find any of those committed to the cause calling the people they were trying to help "savages" like one of your earlier posters cowardly wrote.
Why don't you email Mr. Johnson and Mr. Chan Hall over at NCCU, and ask them how they feel about these brave pioneers before you infer that they would castigate them? Not to suggest that a rape or kidnapping occurred, but to compare the disgraceful behavior of a predominately white university team at a drunken, perverted party - pictures of which were shown on "60 Minutes" and literally shocked, saddened and dismayed Durham's Black community (I know for a fact that those still pictures of the players sitting around, alcohol in hand, watching two Black women making out with each other for the pleasure of white males, may have locked in Nifong's Black vote), to the selfless sacrifices of Northerner whites who respected Black people and would have never engaged in such debased activity, is an outrage on your part.
Many Duke Three supporters make Black Durhamites out to be racists, supportive of the NBPP and haters of Duke. In fact, if you knew anything about Durham, the divisions between Blacks and whites were already here because of constant and pointed battles surrounding the white-controlled but majority Black public school system, and the holier-than-thou behavior of some(certainly not all) Duke hierarchy and students towards Durhamites in general. To expect that the people who actually live here would instantly divorce themselves from that overriding context after negatively being in the national spotlight for the past seven months, is foolhardy.
Those voters decided that the case is in the courts, and that's who will decide what the truth is. That's what happens with innocent Black defendants, so the Duke Three deserve no less. If there's a trial, Black Durhamites want everyone involved treated fairly, and they want Judge Smith to make sure to that. They want all of the evidence and testimony put on the table so that a jury can appropriately decide.
In short, Black Durhamites want to see the state's system of law decide this (you forget, the courts here are creatures of the state, not the county. It's "The State versus...), not people from New York or elsewhere.
Their choice on Election Day boiled down to no choice at all - a district attorney under an ethical cloud that everybody says has no evidence, versus a candidate that wants your vote so he can decline the office, forcing the governor to choose someone they can't vote for or against; and a crazy Republican who couldn't get elected dogcatcher in Durham if he sent everyone fifty bucks in the mail. [emphasis added]
In May, Black voters had a choice.
In November, they had no choice.
If Nifong is wrong, the court will decide, they said. Duke supporters don't like that, understandably, and for solace, point to the fact that 51% of those who voted in total, voted against Nifong.
True, but given that the majority of registered voters that day never cast a ballot, including many Duke students who didn't care enough to switch their registrations to help protect their fellow classmates, it can also be logically said the over 60 % of Durham's registered voters overall didn't care; far, far more numerically than the 51% of those who voted that you cite.
In closing, I respect the right of Duke Three supporters to express themselves. They believe the defendants innocent, and have every right to. But when you start cherrypicking the errant remarks of one or two people in Durham's Black community as a symbol of broad based hatred towards whites, then using your model to suggest some castigation of the sacrifices of historic and heroic white figures of the civil rights movement without a shred of evidence, and then, and this is remarkable, absolutely failing to chastise the vile racists who are using your movement to hide behind as they issue statements that come to represent you because of your failure to firmly renounce them, the credibility that you've built is in serious jeopardy.
You can't go after Johnson and Hall, and leave Johnsville News, or the abc11tv.com message board,alone. You can't elevate Johnson, NBPP or Hall to leadership in the Black community one moment, but dismiss some of the most wretched, racist, unvarnished statements of hate coming from your side. The one thing the Duke case has indeed exposed is that this still is a very divided nation racially, though that is not necessarily desired. Like Katrina, problems of social injustice that have been allowed to fester at the expense of those perceived to be powerless, sooner of later come home to roost.
Many in both the Black and white communities work hard everyday across this country to address those issues of inequality, and the Black community knows who those committed white people were, and are. But they also know when those who suddenly recognize the value of justice and the potential for their criminal justice system to go mightily wrong, only when their interests are now at stake, will say and do anything to gain support for their cause.
Blacks recognize that about many, not all, but many Duke Three supporters, and their reckless behavior -the racial browbeating; cracks about Black leaders, Black intelligence, Black racism, Black women, the Black Press, the community; manipulating civil rights history; quoting Dr. King, etc. - and they have made note of it.
Duke Three supporters say this case is about three innocent young men who are the victims of a hoax perpetrated by "a lying hooker," and corrupt DA and police department. You want Durham's Black community to support your view, your vision and your interests in this regard.
But in the process, Duke Three supporters have, and continue to disrespect Black Durham's vision and interests, in addition to displaying what you truly think of them with distortions such as today's entry, attacking Mr. Johnson. By making him representative of Black Durham's majority view, without any real evidence of what that view is (something I believe I can speak to much more accurately than you, being with the Black Press), instead of at least inquiring WHY he would say such athing, is neither fair nor honest, and sends a signal that Duke Three supporters - the same folks who have beckoned Black voters to see things their way - aren’t to be trusted.
I have seen it repeatedly. Duke Three supporters who demand justice, but act anything but. Criticism certainly is fine, but as I, myself, have discovered, there are many on your side who feel now's their chance to unload all of their racial animus thanks to this case. They get nasty (beyond nasty, really), target specific people, and when those people, as I certainly have on many occasions, fight back in equally harsh terms,we're called wrong, and we had no business defending ourselves or our community.
Let's face it, apart from the court case, this is an online war that will get bloodier before it gets better. Many of you talk of Durham as if it is not even part of America. I could say the same of Wash., DC and New York, but Iknow better.
The fact is the case is in the hands of not only Nifong, but also the defense attorneys and a very capable judge. They will decide what happens next, not you!
And if castigating people you believe disagree with your view of the case makes you feel better, than go the Hell on. It's your choice. But this is a gauntlet many Duke Three supporters threw down long before the election, and given this outrageous Schwerner and Goodman comparison to the Duke lacrosse team, clearly you've shown there is no line you won't cross, no standard of decency you won't destroy. The sacrifices of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodmana nd James Chaney (whom you could only refer to as a"black man from Meridian," instead of at least briefly citing his work in the community) are revered in African-American communities across this nation, and have been since their murders at the hands of those who would deny even a trial for people of color.
Black people are not so stupid, Liestoppers, that they can't see the insidious twisting of history you perpetrated here. Indeed, and ironically, you have, in this instance, committed the very sin Liestoppers was created to expose - hypocrisy.
I expect that kind of lowlife behavior from Johnsville News, a cowardly blog by a cowardly clown who denies those he criticizes the chance to respond and correct his dishonest portrayals (I give you and other blogs much credit for allowing pro and con to respond). But I don't expect that from you. You and I may disagree on many issues, but I have respected your tone and judgment in the manner that you have expressed your side (even tolerated the cartoons and poems)
Today, however, the Schwerner and Goodman comparisons,and your inference that Durham Blacks today would have hatred for them, is way, way off the mark, and does adisservice to your cause.
Sorry for the length, but some things just have to be said.