Christopher Donovan: To follow the path of the White advocate is to encounter, every so often, situations of unremarked absurdity that make you want to scream. First, for the absurdity itself. And second, for the fact that nobody seems to notice the absurdity.
The media drumbeat against the “all-white jury” is one such situation. The New York Times is now weighing in again, accusing prosecutors in the South of wrongfully excluding Blacks from juries. Of course, reporter Shaila Dewan never bothers to mention that defense lawyers want Blacks ON the jury for reasons that mirror why prosecutors want them OFF.
The story itself is a farce. Dewan mocks a prosecutor for calling one potential Black juror unsophisticated for spelling “Wal-Mart” as “Wal-marts.” Really? A New York Times reporter doesn’t consider that a sign of unsophistication? It’s pretty easy to imagine Ms. Dewan attributing unsophistication to a White person for doing the same thing.
On this thin reed, Dewan then opines that “Arguments like these were used for years to keep Blacks off juries in the segregationist South, systematically denying justice to Black defendants and victims.” Were they, really? This particular line is both sweepingly unsupported and oddly rhetorical. But precision is never the order of the day when the press deals with race.
Dewan lines up her SPLC-type sources one after the other, never bothering to reach out to anyone but the prosecutor himself for a different take — and knowing full well he can’t talk. I guess this is what Spiro Agnew meant when he called the press “a gang of cruel faggots.”
Sigh. Allow me to reiterate my point. It’s total hypocrisy for Blacks to complain about the exclusion of Blacks from juries because their motivations for doing so are based on the same generalizations as those made by prosecutors. They know — as well as prosecutors — that Blacks don’t convict Blacks. Therefore, Black defendants want them on juries, and prosecutors don’t. It’s that simple. Same analysis, different conclusion. Is this really a quest for “justice”, or a quest for a legal victory, no matter the facts?
Why won’t the press ever look into THAT? If it’s a big racist lie that Blacks are predictable in their behavior as jurors, wouldn’t the press be rushing to tell us so?
And does the press ever wonder why Blacks are such frequent defendants that this is even an issue?
And does the press ever wonder whether the Black defendant did, in fact, commit the crime charged?
And does the press ever stop to wonder whether it’s being racist against whites by casually assuming that no “all-White jury” could ever render a fair verdict?
I’d love to ask Shaila Dewan these questions, but I’m pretty sure she won’t be taking my call.
Christopher Donovan is the pen name of an attorney and former journalist. Email him.