Racial Storytelling and the O.J. Simpson Case

By Grenier, Richard | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 3, 1996 | Go to article overview

Racial Storytelling and the O.J. Simpson Case


Grenier, Richard, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Now this is just a personal preference and I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but I think a friend of mine who kills his wife shouldn't be convicted of murder. No, I don't. But I don't feel he should get away scot free either. He should be sharply reprimanded and made to pay a stiff fine.

Perhaps I should add a qualification here. This only applies to my black friends, and even - I'm strict about this - if the wife he kills is white. So if you're thinking of killing your wife pay attention. The person who should receive lenient treatment from the law: 1) must be a good friend of mine; 2) his wife must be white; it serves her right for stealing a good man away from the lovely black woman for whom God intended him; and 3) my friend of course must be black. After all the suffering we white people have inflicted on blacks, they should have carte blanche to do anything they want, particularly to white people.

Now you might think this is slightly insane of me, but when I was at Harvard the ginger group at the Law School was known as the "Crits." Their central belief, as I remember it, was that what simple-minded people consider the "law" was simply a collection of rules and regulations that protected the interests of the propertied class and otherwise was sheer blather. But now, beautifully synchronized with the O.J. Simpson trials, there's appeared at Harvard something more specific known as "critical race theory."

It runs along pretty much the same lines, but now what simple-minded people consider the law is simply a series of constructions to protect whites from blacks, to keep blacks down, to keep whites up, or whatever. At a swift reading of the new Crits' scholarly texts it would appear that a black man can do no wrong, and that a white man can do no right - at least in his dealings with blacks. What blacks do to other blacks may be criminal. But when a black man does something nasty to a white man or woman, he gets a pass because of all the suffering his ancestors have endured at the hands of whites.

An excellent, scholarly study by Jeffrey Rosen in The New Republic will tell you everything you want to know about critical race theory which, starting small, seems to have been gaining ground for a decade. Critical race scholars argue that the abolition of formal segregation in the 1960s failed to purge America of its endemic racism or to really improve the lot of blacks. One's perception of the world around us, they argue, depends entirely on our racially defined experiences, and since the white majority can never transcend its white experiences, laws which are nominally neutral will continue to maintain white domination.

Critical race scholars have therefore largely rejected the law as the road to social progress, and have turned instead to curious strategies such as "storytelling. …

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