From the Editor

A Guilty Verdict in Jasper

By Charles Michael Byrd
C. Byrd
(Photo by Lynn Goldsmith)

Texas will execute "white" supremacist John William King by lethal injection for his role in the dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. last June. King was the first of three "whites" to go on trial for the murder, which prosecutors said he carried out because he wanted something dramatic to gain credibility for a racist group he was organizing.

The guilty verdict handed down by the jury of eleven "whites" and one "black" on February 23 was the correct one and hardly a surprise. What was interesting were the remarks of three prominent Americans whose longheld public posture regarding the notion of "race" -- that it has validity and is worth maintaining at all cost -- is not far removed from that of King and his two accomplices, Shawn Berry and Lawrence Russell Brewer.

A few words about John William King first. Here is a member of the human family who, quite to his detriment and that of Mr. Byrd, completely swallowed the lies he heard growing up that there exist different and distinct "races" upon the Earth and that the "white race" -- due either to genetics or Divine Will -- is superior in all respects to every other "race," particularly the "black" one. I think we could all pretty much agree with that. Correct?

Now to the three prominent Americans:
Newsday reported Reverend Jesse Jackson as saying: "I hope he receives life without parole. If these three men saw killing as a solution in their sick state, then we in our sober and sane state must know killing is not a solution."

The paper also quoted NAACP President Kweisi Mfume as saying the case "clearly shouts across the world for the urgent need of this Congress to move quickly to strengthen and to pass anti-hate legislation."

Lastly, Newsday reported President William Jefferson Clinton saying that nationwide expressions of outrage over Byrd's death "demonstrate that an act of evil like this is not what our country is all about." The Prez added: "Our work for racial reconciliation and to an end to all crimes of hatred in this country will go on."

For my money, Jackson comes the closest to being on the mark, though he refuses to state the obvious -- that the sickness to which he alludes is a belief in "race" and a "racial" hierarchy (of which "racism," "race"-based violence and "race"-hatred are by-products). In fact, it is an infirmity which afflicts far too many Americans of all colors, including a great many who consider themselves sober and sane. Why can't a "black" politico just come out and say that?

Mfume's remarks border on comicalness as if to say that Mr. Byrd would still be alive today if Texas had anti-hate legislation on the books, and Messrs. King, Berry and Brewer knew of it. In his closing argument, Pat Hardy, one of the Jasper prosecutors, asked: "What makes a person hate so hard to do something like that to a person they don't even know?" My friends, when "race" hatred so consumes an individual, no legislation will miraculously dissipate it. Anti-hate legislation may well result in courts meting out heftier sentences after the fact (though a penalty harsher than death is tough to fathom -- instant karma if you will), but future James Byrds will not be supernaturally resurrected because of such laws.

We should weigh Clinton's comments about "racial" reconciliation in light of his vaunted Race Commission stiff-arming concerned anthropologists who asked to be on the panel. The message the scientists wanted to convey to all Americans was and still is that race is a bogus concept. Clinton's panel, headed by the "venerable" civil-rights leader John Hope Franklin, however, gave them the thumbs down.

For a President seemingly so concerned with how history will treat him, William Jefferson Clinton will be remembered by many for nothing more than the Lewinsky affair, his impeachment and his failed "race" initiative. This man had the opportunity to look into the television cameras and tell his fellow Americans that "race" is a bogus concept, but he choked. Why? The "civil rights" community would not have accepted that since any such declaration would call into question the legitimacy of all "race"-based entitlement programs and all "race"-based remedies for past discrimination. This is why a Jesse Jackson will merely come close to telling the truth but no further, and a Kweisi Mfume will suggest that statutes alone will, inexplicably, cleanse a racist's tortured soul. Add to that Clinton's desire to keep the "black" community firmly ensconced in the Democratic Party's left hip pocket, and you can see why he acquiesced to the "civil-rights" community's demands on his "race" initiative. The man did the country and humanity a huge disservice when he spit the bit on "race."

We should school our children from kindergarten on that "race" is not real, but we won't. We'll continue to focus on battling "racism," "race"-based violence and "race"-hatred, but we'll be content to leave the construct of "race" standing at the end of the day. It sound good and noble, but it's akin to fighting the symptoms of a disease without giving a damn about combatting the root cause.

Such an educational endeavor is way too late for the John William King's of the world, but if we don't start now, how many future Jaspers will we shake our heads and tut-tut over? Considering the deep hole we've dug for ourselves in this country regarding this "race" issue, methinks it will be far too many.


Also related to Jasper:

  • The Whole Story -- King May Be Guilty of Jasper Killing, But All of Us Are Responsible
    By Michael Kroll, an associate editor of Pacific News Service


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