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Post Race and the Chauvin Trial (from Gary Moore)
Created by John Eipper on 07/26/21 5:24 AM

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Race and the Chauvin Trial (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 07/26/21 5:24 am)

Gary Moore writes:

John E has asked for refinement of my comparison of the two "trials of the century," in the 1890s and 2020s: Dreyfus and Chauvin. I appreciate John's dilemma when faced with my insistence on ignored evidence on Chauvin, for John knows Chauvin is a monster; he's seen the viral cellphone video and felt its deep shock. Arguments on evidence don't matter to a larger sense of rightness. The feeling at one's core has great weight.

In the Dreyfus case, even as passing years brought mountains of new evidence, at least half of France ignored that evidence. Because it didn't feel right. They knew Dreyfus was a monster; their most trusted authorities had said so, and presented what looked like tons of proof (and it could easily look that way from a distance, when one didn't see that these were assumptions drawn from other self-righteous assumptions, not to mention more serious rigged props). Even a half decade into the Dreyfus excitement, as the world at large accepted the new evidence, much of France did not. Dreyfus's attorney was shot in the back and barely survived. Even after Dreyfus himself was officially exonerated in 1906, he was attacked and injured, and a court let his attacker off, suggesting the attack was just. Because he was a monster. They knew he was. Because it felt right.

As with the racial arguments JE now raises on Chauvin (and not even the trial prosecutors ever brought up race or suggested it was a motive; one of the police assisting Chauvin was African American), anti-Dreyfusard France knew that the larger history was what mattered, the making of a statement, the taking of a stand.

John wrote: "Dreyfus was on the right side of History, and Chauvin is not--and never will be. With the stakes this high, the matter of guilt or innocence can easily become secondary."

"The matter of guilt or innocence can easily become secondary."

Did I hear that right? Coming astonishingly from our elaborately fair-minded moderator, this is the ideology of the mob.

When I exhumed the Rosewood racial cleansing case from the 1920s, at a time when many survivors were still alive, many if not most of the elderly whites shook their heads sadly about the case, saying they agreed it was horrible and they wished they could have stopped it. They said it was just some white hotheads and drunks who got out of control.

However, if you continued talking to these sincerely saddened whites, it would begin to come clear that they felt the hotheads and drunks were provoked into it. The mainstream newspapers of the day--all feeding off a single Associated Press source--were unanimous nationwide in portraying Rosewood's destruction as a white response to a mysterious black uprising, about which details were never forthcoming. Because there was no uprising. The core belief, shared unwittingly by whites throughout a large area, was that the sin of the destroyers was not the destruction, but just that they carried retaliation a little too far.

In mob incidents generally, the actual violence is often done by a desensitized few, but those few take energy from masses who seem to be only shocked onlookers. At Rosewood they were in fact tacit endorsers, who swelled the actual atrocidaires with proud feelings that they, the perpetrators, were taking action that the mainstream would have loved to take--if the mainstream was just not so cowardly and timid. Because it felt right, their serving as violent proxies for those feelings. The guilt or innocence of the people whose houses were burned was "secondary." A statement had to be made.

JE comments:  I tried to choose my weasel-words carefully:  Guilt or innocence can easily become secondary.  Not that it is, or certainly that it should be.  Can anyone deny that the Chauvin case is about race?  There was no need for the prosecution to point out the obvious.

I'm still satisfied with the blanket pronouncement I made yesterday:  Dreyfus was on the right side of History, and Chauvin is not.  Gary, you suggest that "history" here is little more than mob-think.  Yes, but... I'm going to take a break now and reflect.

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