Saturday, December 06, 2014

It Should Not Be This Difficult

The establishment left must do better than this.  Fox News' Megyn Kelly went black-on-black crime (without using the phrase) when on Friday night she asked Urban League CEO Mark Morial

Where are the protests -- but where are the protests over the fact that 91 percent of all blacks who were murdered in 2013 were killed by other blacks, seven percent were killed by whites. Ninety one percent of the murders committed against black people were by other black people. 

Morial pointed to the Sunday custom of "hundred African-American churches around the country where there's a conversation about violence, police violence, black-on-black violence."  Still, when Kelly claimed she hasn't "seen rallies like this over the black-on-black crime which is 91 percent in New York City and nationally," Morial might have mentioned, as has Slate's Jamelle Bouie, community protests over the last few years in Chicago, New York, Newark, NJ, Pittsburgh, Saginaw, Michigan and in Gary, Indiana.

Of course, blacks commit crimes mostly against blacks as whites commit crimes mostly against whites because most aberrant behavior is directed against a person one knows, associates with, or does professional or personal business with.  Morial's best argument, though, would have been one given by Bouie when the latter writes "Regardless of cause or concern, a community doesn’t forfeit fair treatment because it has crime. That was true then when the scourge was lynching, and it’s true now that the scourge is unjust police violence."

Morial's response to the black-on-black thing was disappointing primarily because the cliche should loom as a hanging curve by now. But the question Kelly initially posed, fundamental to the interview (video here; transcript here), was "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?"  It was nearly gut-wrenching to listen to the head of the nation's largest civil rights organization flailing about:

KELLY: All right. So, let's start with this, what is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?

MORIAL: Well, it's surprising to me that in both of these instances, Prosecutor McCullough and the Staten Island prosecutor deviated from what most lawyers know and understand -- and I am one, who spent 10 years practicing law including criminal law -- deviated from standard procedure when it comes to managing a grand jury. And that is to present evidence and make a recommendation to the grand jury as to what charge should be brought. 

Then secondarily, both in Ferguson asking in Ferguson not even asking but releasing secret grand jury testimony into the public sphere.  And here in Staten Island asking a judge for the release of such testimony.  The judge for the most part denied that request allowing a release of only a limited summary.

KELLY: All right. It's the release, it's a request by the prosecutors for release of information. That plus the fact in Ferguson the prosecutor did not specifically ask for an indictment. Is that your evidence that these two cases have something to do with race?

MORIAL: In those two cases it's surprising as to why that process would be followed where you have a black victim of police -- of a police killing and a white alleged perpetrator of that killing. And so what I ask is, why were these cases handled differently than most cases?  

KELLY: Do you think it could be the national spotlight that was on those cases as opposed to the race of the policeman and the person who died?

MORIAL: But for a good prosecutor who is experienced, that should not really matter. What should matter is fulfilling the responsibility. Also Megyn I look at the history of the Rodney King case where a state court failed to bring about a conviction. And the federal government brought a prosecution and secured a conviction. Ditto for Abner Louima, ditto for the Danziger Bridge case down in New Orleans. Those are just a few examples, and these are five examples, I'm citing here, no doubt there are others. And I think that there ought to be a careful look at why in these cases do these state grand juries --

KELLY: Okay, but no, but wait. Let me jump in. Because you cite a few examples. But the same examples, opposite examples could be cited the other way. I mean, just doing brief research before we came to air tonight I can site for you several examples of a situation where a black police officer killed a white man, and no charges were brought. So, black cops killing white men, no charges resulted in those cases. Is that racism against whites?

MORIAL: And let me say this though.

KELLY: Let me finish my point and I'll give you the floor. Just today a white police chief who fatally shot an unarmed black man in South Carolina back in 2011 was charged with murder. And we could go on. When there are situations where white cops shoot and kill black men and the white cops are charged, there are few and far between where a white cop is killing a black man, but I can say to you examples where it's happened and the white cop is charged. I can also say to you examples where the black cop killed the white man and he's not charged. What is your evidence that the result in these two particular cases had anything to do with the fact that the dead men were black?

MORIAL: You seem to be really hung up on this question, but let's look at the cases.  

KELLY: I'm not hung up on it. But you're hung up on it.


You, the Congressional Black Caucus that says black and brown lives don't matter, cops can kill with impunity.  

MORIAL: Megyn, give me an opportunity to finish. I'll listen to you.

KELLY: I'm defending the charge you just made--  

MORIAL: Yes. But you're going to have to give me a chance to finish.  

KELLY: You go ahead.  

MORIAL: So, let's look at these cases at hand. The cases at hand did not yield justice. And that's why I am pleased at the Department of Justice and the attorney general --

KELLY: I get that.

MORIAL: I'm going to conduct --  

KELLY: I get that. You're entitled to your opinion on that and to push for an additional investigation. And that's absolutely -- your right.  But to say that this is a racist situation as Al Sharpton has suggested, as Mayor de Blasio has suggested, as many others have suggested, requires evidence.

MORIAL: What would it take for you to acknowledge -- what would it take for you to acknowledge that race is an issue? Maybe you don't want to acknowledge that race is an issue.  

KELLY: I'd like to know the proof, just tell me.

MORIAL: Let us say this, on this issue we have a difference of opinion. And as Americans we have a right to have a difference of opinion --

KELLY: I'm open minded. I don't have an opinion. I would like to know the evidence.  

MORIAL: -- with respect to how this occurs. And I think there are just too many instances. Yes, there's always other cases and to some extent whether a police officer regardless of his color or her color in a case where they in fact take advantage of a citizen, that case should be handled. Those people if probable cause is met should be prosecuted. And I think the outcry you see, Megyn, is not operating in a vacuum. And it's not just one or two civil rights organizations. This is an organic protest.  

This, then, is the best the center-left could come up with on Fox News: You seem to be really hung up on this question.... What would it take for you to acknowledge- what would it take for you to acknowledge that race is an issue?.... And I think there are just too many instances.

The "professional left" (in the derisive words of then-presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs) recognizes additional issues: broken windows policing; the apparent near-immunity of police officers for violence committed against civilians; and, as almost always, class. But we depend on the center-left (neo-liberals in the economic sphere) to make the case- which is easy to make- that race plays a role. The Urban League is unlikely to probe issues of power, except for race. If that is not a hanging curve ball for their spokespersons, then nothing is. At most,it is a sub-88 mph fast ball.

One way or another, it comes down to this with today's GOP on race: we live in a post-racial nation, though more far more often expressed along the lines of "we elected a black president, how come there is still racism?"  Perhaps the corporate-friendly left talks only to people who agree with it, but it must do better.

Democratic politicians and the civil rights establishment cannot leave effective replies to these basic questions asked by the right to journalists and activists. If they do, the rising numbers of black and Hispanic voters the Democratic Party is depending on won't be enough to avert Republican electoral dominance.

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