Letters to the Editor

Dick Robinson: Troubling change of view

I was mystified and somewhat troubled by John McWhorter’s qualified endorsement of the widespread and enthusiastic African-American approval of the acquittal of O.J. Simpson by a majority-black jury (“What Simpson trial taught me,” Feb. 5 column).

Although he first expressed the belief that “Simpson’s innocence seemed decidedly unlikely,” he eventually works his way to the conclusion that this apparent instance of “jury nullification” was an understandable reflection of pervasive black outrage about “the centrality of police brutality to black Americans’ very sense of self.”

But how this case, involving no police brutality, is conflated into an “understandable” response to “endemic racism in the justice system” is a startling leap. If Simpson had been roughed up or otherwise abused by the police, perhaps McWhorter’s sympathetic view of a black rationale for the highly dubious acquittal of a black murder suspect would make sense.

Most troubling is McWhorter’s logically implicit conclusion that such acquittals can and understandably will occur in future trials of black defendants, as a manifestation of black rage.

Dick Robinson

Chapel Hill

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