WASHINGTON -- There was a time in America when it was impossible to convict a white man for murdering a black. No matter how persuasive the evidence, all-white juries would produce "nullification" verdicts to express their contempt for blacks as a class.
With the verdict in the O.J. Simpson case, we have come full circle. A great many whites are consoling themselves by blaming the prosecution and the Los Angeles police. They are dreaming. As the comments of the jurors reveal, the prosecution never stood a chance.
If Marcia Clark had produced a videotape of the murders in progress, the defense would have argued that the filmmaker was a racist and the jury would have found "reasonable doubt." The jury did not deliberate, it emoted. If the prosecution's case was so weak, why did Johnnie Cochran argue in his summation that jurors disregard the evidence?
This they clearly did. Any fair-minded person would see that Mark Fuhrman's obscene views on race matters cannot obliterate the clear evidence of the defendant's guilt -- the
motive, the violent history, the time line, the physical evidence, the scientific evidence, the conflicting alibis. This wasn't about Mr. Fuhrman. Huge majorities of black Americans told pollsters that they believed in Mr. Simpson's innocence long before Detective Fuhrman's diatribes became public.
Was the jury fair-minded? Is black America? The reaction of so many American blacks to the verdict was unseemly and offensive. There is a great deal more black racism in this country than anyone in polite society talks about. One of the jurors, a former member of the Black Panther party, gave the black-power salute following the verdict. Only a nation of fools would lull itself into believing that this was not a racially motivated and a racist verdict.
Imagine the reaction
Just imagine the reaction of the opinion elites if, after the original acquittal of the police in the Rodney King case, white Americans had celebrated and rejoiced as so many blacks did last Tuesday? In fact, huge majorities of whites expressed dismay at that verdict.
This is not the first example in recent history of black juries declining to convict clearly guilty black defendants. Marion Barry, the Washington mayor caught on videotape snorting cocaine, and Damian Williams, the Los Angeles rioter who beat Reginald Denny almost to death and then performed a victory dance, were both convicted of much lesser crimes than they had been charged with. And Barry was triumphantly re-elected after a short turn in prison.
In 1990, an all-black Washington jury acquitted Darryl Smith of murder. Later, one of the jurors explained, via an anonymous note, that the jury knew Mr. Smith was guilty but "didn't want to send any more young blackmen to jail." According to the Wall Street Journal, predominantly black juries in cities like the Bronx, Washington and Detroit have conviction rates far below the national average.
In 1991, a Jewish student from Australia was attacked and murdered in Brooklyn by a gang of black youths shouting "Get the Jew." Before he died, Yankel Rosenbaum identified his killer as Lemrick Nelson, in whose pocket a bloody knife was found. Mr. Nelson was tried by a predominantly black jury and acquitted. Following the announcement of the verdict, the jury and the accused repaired to a local pub to celebrate together.
According to a recent poll, 84 percent of American blacks approve of the Louis Farrakhan-led "million man march" on Washington (to which O.J. has now been invited). That doesn't mean they approve of the leader, right? Well, the same poll reveals that only 50 percent have a negative view of Mr. Farrakhan, who described Judaism as a "gutter religion." Imagine if 50 percent of whites approved of David Duke.
You bet we have a racism problem in America. But what many people are just now waking up to -- and what those pictures of African-Americans exulting in the acquittal of an obvious murderer drives home -- is that despite talk of victimization and conspiracies, large numbers of American blacks are exhilarated by anything that can be interpreted as a blow to whites.
Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist.