Sunday, February 16, 2014

Two Nations 7

In his updated 1995 version of Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal, Andrew Hacker has a chapter about the O.J. Simpson trial, and the difference of opinion between many whites and many African-Americans about it.  Incidentally, Hacker states that one of the lawyers for the prosecution, Christopher Darden, appealed to a passage in the earlier edition of Hacker’s book to argue that the n-word should not be spoken in front of the jury, due to its inflammatory nature when whites utter the word.

Overall, Hacker argues that the authorities were irresponsible in how they handled the evidence, and he also defends the jury that found Simpson to be not-guilty.  For example, while some argue that the few white people on the jury were pressured to vote not-guilty, Hacker notes that one of the white jurors was the lone holdout in a previous trial and managed to win over the rest of the jury: this was not the sort of person who could be easily swayed, Hacker was arguing.

On page 62 of Losing the Race, John McWhorter has a paragraph about what he considers to be evidence for Simpson’s guilt: Simpson’s dog not barking when Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered, indicating that the dog knew the murderer; fibers from the carpet of Simpson’s Ford Bronco at the scene of the crime; “fibers from Simpson’s shirt and hairs from his head…found on Ronald Goldman”; a bloody shoe-print at the crime scene matching a type of shoe that Simpson may have owned; cuts and scrapes on Simpson’s left hand; “a blood trail from the murder scene…from a left hand”; Simpson not answering his home phone when a limo driver was calling him around the time of the murder; Simpson sweating in the limo, notwithstanding the air-conditioning; and Simpson not asking about his children when he heard that his wife was dead.  Hacker does not address a lot of this, but he does go into the pros and cons for certain arguments about Simpson’s guilt: how to explain the dearth of blood on Simpson’s Ford Bronco and at his home, for example.

On pages 220-221, Hacker speculates that whites may seek revenge for the Simpson verdict and the humiliation of their justice system: perhaps they’d vote against affirmative action, or adequate funding for inner-city hospitals, or districts that can provide African-Americans with more political power.  This may strike some as a conspiracy theory, but I think that Hacker makes a legitimate point: what would happen if the majority of whites believed a certain way, and whites happened to be the ones with power?

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