Thursday, November 10, 2011


The thought I keep having as I consider both the pro-Paterno riot at Penn State and the continued GOP-base support for Herman Cain is that now we have a pretty good response to a canard that's been kicking around for nearly a generation: namely that some sort of group depravity, or inability to deal with reality, explains the fact that more blacks than whites seemed to believe that O.J. Simpson's not-guilty verdict was just.

Most whites of my acquaintance think it's self-evident that Simpson is guilty (I think he was guilty, too) -- but this goes beyond that. A lot of white people seem to think that no white person could be so blinded by a sense of group solidarity as to believe that so obvious guilty a person is innocent. Yet the GOP base, which is nearly all white, has remained remarkably supportive of Cain, because (race notwithstanding) he became the standard-bearer of Wingnuttia a couple of months ago, and even the massive amount of smoke out there won't convince them that there's fire. Similarly, the overwhelmingly white crowd backing Paterno seems oblivious to the fact that he enabled multiple acts of pedophilia.

So: group solidarity trumping rational thought? If that's what you think happened with African-Americans and O.J., and you think white people are immune to that sort of thing, well, look around you.


BH said...

Excellent post, Steve. And the whole Penn State thing - the crime(s), the post-firing riot - is more proof that if we're ever going to be serious about higher education in the US, athletics and colleges need to be surgically detached. "College athletics" needs to become football's and basketball's Minor Leagues.

Steve M. said...

Thanks. And regarding the elimination of big-time college football and basketball: I can't imagine it ever happening, but it would be a great thing. I'd settle for paying the players openly, and not just because David Brooks disagrees.

c u n d gulag said...


As a lifelong PSU and Joe Paterno fan, I can't believe that this was allowed to happen.

Everyone connected, who let this amoral monster roam around with little children, and had even a HINT about it and allowed it to continue but turning their head, deserves to lose their job, benefits, pension, and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Every day, this story makes me sicker and sicker.

And, of all the worthy things out there to protest (I'd prefer non-violently) against, this is what the kids decided to make a major issue of?

Is it me, or does this remind anyone else of some religious order, with Joe Paterno as the Pope, or Mohammed, or whomever, as the religious figure who is being blasphemed/aggrieved?


Jack said...

The OJ example is complicated because you had an open white supremacist -- Mark Fuhrman -- deeply involved in the case, and he was caught moving evidence from the crime scene to OJ's residence. This doesn't exonerate OJ, of course, and I think OJ was guilty, too, but the jury (and black community) were right in sending a message that they refuse to abide this kind of police corruption and white supremacy.

Jack said...

From the Wikipedia article on Fuhrman:


"In one 1985 recording, Fuhrman gave a taped interview to Laura Hart McKinny, a writer working on a screenplay about female police officers. In another interview, Fuhrman talked about gang members and was quoted as saying, "Yeah we work with niggers and gangs. You can take one of these niggers, drag 'em into the alley and beat the shit out of them and kick them. You can see them twitch. It really relieves your tension." He went on to say "we had them begging that they'd never be gang members again, begging us." He said that he would tell them, "You do what you're told, understand, nigger?"


So, yeah. The OJ example is going to be a complicated one to make any kind of useful comparison about group loyalty.

Never Ben Better said...

As a (white) acquaintance said of the OJ verdict at the time: "This is what happens when the police set out to frame a guilty man."

BH said...

NBB, that's one of the most perfect comments on the OJ case I've ever heard.

Steve M. said...

I;ll second that.

c u n d gulag said...


Julia Grey said...

Furman's little tough guy speech sounds false to my ear. He seems to have been indulging in quite a lot of braggadocio. I don't buy it.

My guess is the incidents he described didn't happen QUITE the way he said, but he hoped to impress the screenwriter with something suitably cinematic, casting himself as the rough, manly anti-hero. He's a stone racist, sure, but I don't think that skinny little blowhard actually indulged in a lot of personal ass-kicking. He wouldn't want to sprain an ankle.

...On second thought, he could have watched other people do it and stood by snickering, I suppose. Worm.