the Cincinnati Enquirer
Friday, April 4, 2008
Atlanta judge sorry for ordering whites out
Atlanta - A black judge says he was wrong to evict whites from his courtroom so he could deliver a stern lecture to black defendants, but says he meant no harm.
“I wanted to have a fireside chat,” Fulton Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington said Thursday. “And my grandmother said years ago that if you’re going to fuss at black people, you don’t need to do it in front of white people.”
He added, “I probably made a bad judgment call and I probably won’t do it again. It was not ill-intended. My heart was in the right place.”
Last Thursday - sentencing day in his courtroom - Arrington asked all white people to leave the room before he lowered the boom on the defendants, telling them that bad behavior in poorer black neighborhoods drags down black advancement.
Our society has a very serious underlying problem: public opinion prejudice. I think it is more serious than racism (which remains a problem, of course) because it is like a disease that a person refuses to acknowledge he has.
This little episode from the news story above probably is not a tragedy of epic proportions. But it reveals and illustrates a festering problem in our culture.
If this judge had been anything other than black, and had ordered blacks out of his courtroom, all hell would have broken loose, so to speak. Our culture is ultra-sensitive about real or perceived affronts to blacks, but we have a strange silence about affronts to any other group.
Candidate Obama and his “minister” - the details of which we will not recount here - is another example of this. Any non-black minister saying the things about blacks that this “Rev.” said about whites would be denounced by everyone who had a platform to do so.
In my opinion, it is the collective memory of black slavery that underlies this cultural schizophrenia. Because the ancestors of living blacks were brought to North American as slaves, many of those who came under much better conditions have a bit of inherited psychological guilt that we attempt to assuage by giving blacks a pass on all sorts of misbehavior.
What everyone seems to forget is that blacks living today were never slaves here, and that most Europeans who came to North America were the decedents of serfs. Under feudalism, most people were serfs, and they had almost no control over their lives and labor. For some reason, we seem to have forgotten this significant fact.
If the fact that your ancestors were slaves is an excuse for bad social behavior, then almost everyone in the United States has the same excuse.
It is well past the time, as a culture, to deal equitably with everyone, regardless of race. If public opinion would not tolerate a white judge removing all blacks from his courtroom - no matter how “innocent” the motive - then it should not tolerate a black judge doing the same thing.
If we truly want to get past the illogical idea of judging people by “the color of their skin” then we are going to have to stop issuing these cultural excuses for bad behavior to people of only one color.