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Department of Offensive Historical Analogies


As part of his campaign to get Amanda Marcotte fired because if he devotes a blog to a single issue it means that candidates should make being right about all aspects of said issue a non-negotiable litmus test, KC Johnson links to and approvingly quotes this post from Walter Olson:

John Edwards’s life in the law and experience with the justice system is his major resume item dating back beyond the past few years, as well as the major reason this site has given his career extensive coverage. Moreover, the Duke case, which looks ever more like the Scottsboro Boys case of our era, has been convulsing his own state of North Carolina for month after month. Edwards’ dodging of the case—his apparently successful stifling of any urge to speak out at the plight of the falsely accused—might on its own stand as merely cowardly. Marcotte’s hiring, on the other hand, throws an even less attractive light on it, rather as if, in the Scottsboro Boys days, an on-the-sidelines Southern senator took on as a major spokesperson someone who’d been yelling the Boys’ guilt from the rooftops in the most crudely prejudicial language.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Yes, both the Duke case and the Scottsboro Boys involved young men who were almost certainly innocent charged with rape in a southern state. But that’s where the similarities end, even leaving aside that there were much more plausible reasons to suspect the accused in the former case. In the Duke case, the accused were white and came from wealthy families who could afford top-flight legal representation, and the result is that the serious charges against them were dropped and it is highly unlikely they will go to trail on any charges (and if they do, they will receive a fair trial in front of an impartial jury.) The Scottsboro boys were poor, black and illiterate in the Jim Crow South, and hence all were given the death penalty or (in one case) a life sentence after a farcical show trial. And after the convictions were reversed, they were tried again and again in clown-show trials, which meant that they served between 5-20 years in jail. To see these cases as being comparable is mind-bogglingly offensive.

And this isn’t just an academic distinction. Victims of prosecutorial abuse who aren’t as privileged as the Duke lacrosse players end up in jail, and sometimes on death row. It’s hardly a coincidence that so many bloggers have latched on to this particular example of deplorable state action–it allows them to bash feminists, work out resentments about liberal academics, etc. in ways that cases of abuse that have much worse outcomes don’t. And of course, many bloggers (I exclude Johnson here because I don’t know his general politics) latching on to this silly controversy attack the ACLU at every opportunity, support the appointment of people like Sam Ailto to the Supreme Court, and see no issue with the president having the ability to detain and torture people without charges. And to take the hypocrisy to the highest level, jumping on the suddenly absolutist-on-civil-liberties bandwagon is…Michelle Malkin. Yep, Michelle “stripping people of their property and sending them to concentration camps solely on the basis of their race–what a great idea!” Malkin. What a joke.

So, anyway, once every blogger who supports arbitrary power to detain and torture without charges, supports reactionary judges being appointed to the federal courts, and/or takes Michelle Malkin seriously resigns from their job in disgrace, maybe then we can talk about whether making a single insufficiently substantiated assertion of guilt on a blog should be a firing offense. And in case there was any remaining doubt about whether this is a politically motivated witch hunt, check out this risibly specious post, in which Johnson claims that John Edwards must have been personally involved in selecting Amanda (and, implicitly, aware of her post on the Only Issue That Matters) because…a few progressive blogs thought the hire was a good idea. Um, what? Perhaps he studied at Non-Sequitur College under Larry Kudlow.

…UPDATE: Thers has more. And Athenae.

…also Kevin Hayden.

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