The prosecutor announced yesterday that he would stop seeking the death penalty against Mumia Abu Jamal, who has been on Death Row since 1982.
Jamal was unquestionably guilty of having shot Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner to death, and became a cause celebre only because he was nice-looking, as I wrote two years ago.
The AP article which came out yesterday stated that, "Over the years, Abu-Jamal challenged the predominantly white makeup of the jury...He also complained that....the judge was racist."
Jamal, in his writings from Death Row, also said the justice system was racist.
I would interpret these statements to mean that (a), he would have preferred an OJ-style jury; (b), he sensed the judge was not particularly fond of him; and (c), he saw a disproportionate number of his racial kin in jail.
Over the past forty years, "racist" is a word which has been used so indiscriminately that it has been rendered virtually meaningless. No one seriously analyzes what it means anymore, it's just a word to throw out when you want to stop people from thinking rationally and analytically. Its original meaning was, to discriminate against an individual because of his race. These days it more commonly refers to anyone who has taken a clear-eyed look at the statistics on crime or IQ or any myriad of other behavioral markers.
Racism is, of course, a charge which is only leveled against white people, since other races are obviously never guilty of such tribal solidarity. But if white people are so naturally inclined to think ill of other races, why do they not harbor these same baseless prejudices against Asian-Americans? After all, Asians are as easily identifiable as "the other" as blacks are.
Yet you never hear a white say:
"Hey guys, I just saw a sign that said, 'Mao Zedong Boulevard' -- better lock those doors and get outa here quick."
"Only reason we have so many Asian students here at Cal Berkeley is 'cause of affirmative action."
"Uh oh. Buncha Koreans walking in our direction -- better cross the street."
"I ran the 100 in high school but no way could I make the team here. You ever see those guys? What chance does a wimpy white boy like me have against those Filipinos?"
"Did you see that end zone dance Watanabe did the other day? Those people can't help themselves -- they just always have to Nip out."
"That electrical engineering class is filled with Koreans. Think of the grade curve -- it's a guaranteed A!"
"All those Chinese-Americans do is breed like cockroaches so they can get more welfare checks."
If white racism is all about ignorance and unfounded stereotypes, shouldn't we be hearing these statements as well?