Saturday, June 23, 2012

Republican Racism Example #53: "The Black Guy Made Me Do It"


When police slapped the handcuffs on homophobic Florida Republican state Rep. Bob Allen in 2007, after he offered to pay an African American undercover police officer to perform oral sex on him, the legislator turned to an America tradition to evade responsibility.  He tried to pin the blame on the black guy.


Bob Allen, Republican: A scary black guy made him solicit oral sex from an undercover cop.  Photo from http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,289137,00.html). 

During his undistinguished career in the Florida House of Representatives, Allen had been the classic closet case, a “Family Values” Republican supporting a law that banned gay and lesbian couples from adopting children.  He had also supported a law that would have strengthened penalties from public sexual acts. Allen became a co-chair of Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid and was a member in good standing with the Christian Right. 

That was until he was arrested after offering $20 to an undercover officer in the restroom of a public park in his home district of Brevard County. Allen told police and the press that he made the offer because he was afraid the officer – “a pretty stocky black guy” was going to rob him.  Allen noted that there were “a lot of other black guys in the park,” and that he was afraid he was going “to be a statistic” unless he offered his potential assailant something of value.  Allen was convicted of solicitation on November 9, 2007 and resigned from the Florida House November 16.   (For more, see http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,289137,00.html

In claiming that he offered sex to an undercover cop because the African American officer frightened him, was simply following a path blazed by other cynical sociopaths.  Blaming the black guy often works, at least for a time, in racist America.  Consider, for instance, the case of Charles Stuart, who went to elaborate lengths October 23, 1989 to conceal his cold-blooded murder of his pregnant wife as they drove away from a birthing class in Boston.

Carol Stuart was excited about having a baby.  Charles Stuart saw the child and his wife as an impediment to his dreams of owning a restaurant and hoped the insurance policy he had taken out on Carol would provide the capital for his future busniess.  Charles shot Carol in the face, drove around Boston for a while to make sure the gunblast would kill her, passed the murder weapon off to his brother, and even shot himself in the leg to make it look like he had been viciously attacked by a gunman along with his wife.


Charles Stuart of Boston was photographed by cameramen for a true crime YV show shortly after he murdered his pregnant wife and blamed the attack on an anonymous black man.  The press, local politicians and the police at first believed his story. (Photo from http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19900122,00.html).

He called police from a car phone, acted like he was unsure of his location, and begin spinning a tale that a black man had shot both of them during a carjacking. Carol quickly died and the child she carried, Christopher, was delivered but had suffered damage from oxygen deprivation after the shooting and died a couple of weeks later.  The Boston police at first believed Stuart’s story and began detaining African American men based on Stuart’s phony description of the suspect. A drawing of the mythical black killer circulated.  Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, a Democrat,  jumped in, asking the public’s help and poured oil on the fires of racial tensions in the city by describing the fictitious black killer as an “animal.”

The Boston police essentially were in the act of framing a black man, Willie Bennett, for the murder, when Stuart’s brother Matthew revealed that Charles was the killer.  To give further credence to the carjacking story, Matthew had met with his brother after Charles shot Carol, taken the murder weapon, and the couple’s wedding rings, and threw them off the Pines River Bridge in Revere.   Charles Stuart committed suicide after confessing the crime to his lawyer and Matthew Stuart later went to prison for his role in the crime.  (For more on this case, see http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/10/23/stuart_case_still_felt/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Stuart_(murderer))

Then we have the case of Susan Smith, who was upset because a romance had turned sour.  She decided that her status as a mother  interfered with her romances.  On October 25, 1994, she put her still-running car (containing her three-year-old and 14-month-old sons) in park, shifted the vehicle to drive, and let it run into John D. Long Lake in South Carolina.  She ran to a nearby house and told the residents that a black man had taken her car at gunpoint and drove off with her children in the backseat  screaming for help. As in the Stuart case, a drawing was made of a fictitious black man and African Americans were questioned about the crime.  Inconsistencies in Smith’s story, her inability to pass polygraph tests, and revelation of a frustrated affair, tripped Smith up and she eventually admitted to the evil deed.  (For more, see http://testaae.greenwood.com/doc_print.aspx?fileID=C8338&chapterID=C8338-1097&path=books/greenwood and http://crime.about.com/od/murder/a/susan_smith.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Smith). 



Like Charles Stuart Susan Smith (bottom) from South Carolina blamed a murder -- that of her two children Michael and Alexander (above) -- on an anonymous black carjacker.  Her story, like Stuart's, quickly unravelled, but only after a large portion of the white population demonized black men yet again. (Photos from http://crime.about.com/od/murder/a/susan_smith.htm ).

In spite of a video clearly showing Los Angeles police surrounding and beating a prone Rodney King, unarmed and lying on the ground upon his stomach after a March 3, 1991 traffic stop, a jury with 10 whites, an Asian American and a Latino in Simi Valley California, found the four officers charged with felony assault during the beating -- Stacey Koon, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno and Laurence Powell -- not guilty April 29, 1992, an event that sparked days of rioting in the Los Angeles area.  

Again, the white perpetrators of a crime blamed the black guy -- this time claiming that they beat King (who suffered a broken eye socket and cheekbone, a fractured leg, and cracked ribs) because he seemed “superhuman” and they feared that he was high on crack and would be able to overtake the swarm of surrounding cops.  Blood tests revealed that King had been drinking and had smoked marijuana, not a drug known to promote aggressiveness or to cause a boost in strength. (For more, see http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/06/17/rodney-king-whose-brutal-police-beating-sparked-the-deadliest-riot-in-u-s-history-dies-at-47/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_King).  Powell and Koon were later convicted by a more diverse jury in Los Angeles of violating King’s civil rights and sentenced to 32 months in jail.  Briseno and Wind, again, were acquitted.


Rodney King after his beating by Los Angeles police.  (Photo from http://innerstandingisness.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/racist-responses-to-rodney-kings-death/). 

King died June 17 this year.  Predictably, the twitterverse exploded with racist celebrations.  “That nigga rodney king dead,” tweeted one bigot. “Finally came up with a Rodney King joke, but the LAPD beat me to it,” tweeted another racist jackass with a keyboard. ““Well he shouldn’t have been in a pool, its a known fact black people can’t swim,” tweeted a third white supremacist.  (For more, see http://innerstandingisness.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/racist-responses-to-rodney-kings-death/).   The deaths of other black people, such as entertainer Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, have sparked similar celebrations from racists.  (For more, see my earlier post “Fox News Fans Unleash the ‘N-Word’ Against the Late Whitney House” at http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-19-fox-news.html).

The “black guy made me do it” excuse is also the basic defense being presented by George Zimmerman, the so-called neighborhood watch captain who on February 26 gunned down Trayvon Martin, a teenager carrying nothing more dangerous than a bag of Skittles and who was physically smaller than Zimmerman.  The shooter in this case has said that Martin was supposedly acting “suspiciously” and that’s why he confronted the unarmed teenager with a gun. He apparently had a long habit of finding black teenagers suspicious. And many white Americans, apparently, are willing to assume that Tayvon Martin must have done something to deserve getting shot.  (See my earlier blog post, “The Smearing of Trayvon Martin,” at http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-50-burnt.html)


In America, you’re presumed innocent until prove in a court of law.  And in too many cases, you’re presumed innocent if you’re a white man or woman who beats or kills a black person.




Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).
(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).
(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 
“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).
He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night’: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

No comments:

Post a Comment