Peter Erlinder is a law professor recently released from a Rwandan prison, where he found himself jailed for his attempts to represent an opposition leader.
Whatever the merits of his cause, Erlinder strikes me as a typical White American academic/liberal who thinks he can make the world a better place by immersing himself in the messes of Black Africans. The stirring, Academy Award-winning movie based on his heroic life — complete with singing, drumming Africans in the background — plays in his head on the plane ride over. For him, going to jail probably only added to the romance.
Of course, his towering mistake is to think that anything he does will have any influence over the lives of Black Africans. It won’t, largely because black Africans simply don’t operate like white Westerners: they don’t think like them, behave like them, or value what they value.
Neither, of course, do many black Americans, one of whom robbed Erlinder at gunpoint upon his return. (The robber was Black, a fact censored by the press, as usual.)
Does it get any better than this? What will it take for Peter Erlinder to understand that Black people are simply not worth his intellectual energy? We joke about people who wouldn’t know something “if it smacked them in the face”, but for White people, it can truly be said that the vast majority of Whites wouldn’t acknowledge racial difference if it smacked them in the face. Or robbed them at gunpoint.
Attention, White law professors: the people needing heroic advocacy are your own people.
Christopher Donovan is the pen name of an attorney and former journalist. Email him.