April 16, 2007

Church of the Metanarrative: 1

For some arcane reason, people are still talking about Don Imus as though his careless racism were the end of the world. One commenter put it rather adroitly when he said, "Good grief. This is spinning off into the PC Holy of Holies." An adroit description and an appropos metaphor for the topic at hand. The Imus kafuffle is clean-cut and easily discussed - old white guy denigrates black women, then gets canned - while other far more relevant controversies seem to drop quickly from the public eye. Imus' remarks follow the racial inequality doctrine rather closely and are easily remarkable, even while being wildly exaggerated, and yet important controversies with actual real-world consequences vanish quickly if they do not follow the canon.

The Crusade

The first such unspeakable mystery should still be fresh in our minds even if the oracles of our time have stopped discussing it. This past week, the DA in North Carolina completely cleared the 3 accused of raping Crystal Gale Magnum of any wrongdoing. And not just in the evasive, guarded way that someone says "due to lack of evidence we cannot convict." The DA went beyond my expectations and, in the strongest possible words, exonerated these three young men and condemned the shameful actions of the police, DA Nifong, and the deceitful tramp that started this mess.

The result [of our investigation] is that these cases are over, and no more criminal proceedings will occur.

We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.

We approached this case with the understanding that rape and sexual assault victims often have some inconsistencies in their accounts of a traumatic event. However, in this case, the inconsistencies were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night.

The prosecuting witness in this case responded to questions and offered information. She did want to move forward with the prosecution.

However, the contradictions in her many versions of what occurred and the conflicts between what she said occurred and other evidence, like photographs and phone records, could not be rectified.

Our investigation shows that:

The eyewitness identification procedures were faulty and unreliable. No DNA confirms the accuser's story. No other witness confirms her story. Other evidence contradicts her story. She contradicts herself. Next week, we'll be providing a written summary of the important factual findings and some of the specific contradictions that have led us to the conclusion that no attack occurred.

In this case, with the weight of the state behind him, the Durham district attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado. And in the rush to condemn, a community and a state lost the ability to see clearly. Regardless of the reasons this case was pushed forward, the result was wrong. Today, we need to learn from this and keep it from happening again to anybody.

Now, we have good district attorneys in North Carolina who are both tough and fair. And we need these forceful, independent prosecutors to put criminals away and protect the public. But we also need checks and balances to protect the innocent. This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor. What has been learned here is that the internal checks on a criminal charge — sworn statements, reasonable grounds, proper suspect photo lineups, accurate and fair discovery — all are critically important.

Therefore, I propose a law that the North Carolina Supreme Court have the authority to remove a case from a prosecutor in limited circumstances. This would give the courts a new tool to deal with a prosecutor who needs to step away from a case where justice demands.

So at the end of thirteen months, once the old prosecutor had been recused for suppressing exculpatory DNA evidence, the new prosecutors found that the basic story at the heart of the matter – the cause celebre upon which the crusade against inequality had been built – was a hideous lie and that three young men had been the victims of a year long witch hunt. But why were these young men subjected to this inquisition when the evidence against them was so transparent? So nebulous? Why had so many people been willing to put faith in one woman whose stories only ever had a tangential relationship with established fact? Principally, because it was not these three young men who were on trial. These men were not men; they were a symbol, a trope, a writer’s convenience in an overarching metanarrative. Three young white fraternity men were not on trial in this; the mythology of the Young White Fraternity Man was on trial. They were thus pilloried because the story that the rape hustler was peddling was so compelling, so iconic, such a perfect symbol of what certain people believe the world is like, that it must have been true. More than that; it needed to be true.

Several Black Leaders, instead of merely defending this woman as an alleged victim of a terrible crime, treated her as a holy martyr whose truthfulness was beyond question. The truth of her claims was not even at issue: of course it was true, and the issue at hand is why racist people are attacking this poor woman and defending white rapists. The same was true of Nifong of course, and true of the Duke professors, the Duke president, and the media in general. They all peddled this story because it fit so perfectly with the Metanarrative: that "privileged" white men are racist monsters who rape "underprivileged" black women. This story was iconic – mythic even – a Perfect Storm of race, gender, and class that had Karl Marx tap dancing in Hell while the witch hunters raked these young men over the coals.

And now that these young men are declared to be beyond a doubt innocent of these accusations? Will the people who formed the lynch mob for these young men be held accountable - nay, will they even apologize at all - for contributing to this farcical inquisition?

The answer, predictably, is no. The Metanarrative is built upon faith and is only loosely based on reality. It is unfalsifiable - beyond anyone's ability to disprove or critique, and all evidence for and against the individual incidents supports the Metanarrative. According to the Metanarrative, these young men don't even deserve our sympathy, much less an apology.

* One FoxNews panelist says, "Something bad happened, even if they're not guilty of rape."

* Panelists on Barbara Walter's show say, "The little white boy" club must be guilty of something... evidence notwithstanding."

* Terry Moran, writing for ABC, says "Don't feel sorry for them"... "As students of Duke University or other elite institutions, these young men will get on with their privileged lives." Furthermore that, "they had the financial resources to hire top-notch lawyers, unlike many black americans similarly accused."

* And many more, in the face of the failure of this crusade, dismissed the results as an anomaly and affirmed their faith in the Metanarrative by reciting its catechisms: that racial inequalities exist and are malignant white social constructs, that interracial violence has been and forever will be perpetrated by whites against people of color, that criminal justice is the bastard daughter of slavery and serves as a weapon against black people, that though this allegation is not true it is typical of many such instances that no one hears about, etc etc and similar such articles of faith.

So there we have it. The Marxist Gospel was too good to pass up, and it is too good to let die. If these men had been convicted it would have proven the Metanarrative’s doctrine of racism, sexism, and classism all rolled into one. But since they were exonerated in the strongest possible way, it proves the Metanarrative's doctrine of racism, sexism, and classism all rolled into one. Heads you're a rich white racist, tails you're a rich white racist. All of this because the Metanarrative, being a creature of faith, is immune to any kind of evidence.

It is eternal, as eternal as God Himself, and if the [M]etanarrative occasionally causes some amount of cognitive dissonance, that is just a challenge to the faithful to believe even more strongly, and accept that the Metanarrative works in mysterious ways, and we can never fully comprehend all of Its Holy Mysteries.”

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