Guilt and innocence

Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Thu Dec 16 22:45:35 MST 1999

>>Similarly, the main political prudential issue in the O.J. Simpson virtual
reality maxi-series was its use as a modern injection into the mass
imagination of the myth of the Black man as rapist and murderer, especially
of White women. <<

I think it was also quite instructive as to how U.S. cops actually function,
which is they NEVER investigate a case, to see where the evidence leads, but
instead look around for the most likely suspect, i.e., the nearest Black or
Hispanic, and frame him. In pursuit of this, the police and prosecutors
routinely cheat, lie and plant evidence, as was clearly demonstrated in this


-----Original Message-----
From: Charles Brown <CharlesB at>
To: Marxism at <Marxism at>
Date: Thursday, December 16, 1999 3:27 PM
Subject: Guilt and innocence

>Regarding the issue of the innocence of accuseds criminals from oppressed
and despised social classes, in the 1930's, the Communist Party defended the
Scottsboro Boys on the basis that the racism of the U.S. criminal "justice"
system outweighed the guilt or innocence of the accuseds as the primary
political ,prudential  issue in dispute.
>Similarly, the main political prudential issue in the O.J. Simpson virtual
reality maxi-series was its use as a modern injection into the mass
imagination of the myth of the Black man as rapist and murderer, especially
of White women.
>From: Yoshie Furuhashi <furuhashi.1 at>
>Subject: Ceremonies of Innocence, or, a Secret Affinity with the Lynchers
>Michael Wood writes in _America in the Movies_ (NY: Columbia UP,
>*****   ...I wish now to explore a single, recurring feature of serious
>Hollywood films: the peculiar, almost saintly innocence of the victims
>of prejudice and hatred.
>A trio of innocent men is lynched in William Wellman's _The Ox-Bow
>Incident_, and Higham and Greenberg suggest that the "anti-lynching
>argument would surely have been reinforced had one of them been
>guilty."  The Jew who is killed in Edward Dmytryk's _Crossfire_ is a
>veteran with a fine war record, and Higham and Greenberg ask again:
>"Surely it would still have been wrong to kill him if he had been a
>draft-dodger, a profiteer, a degenerate?"...
>...Why _are_ those Jews and blacks so nice, why _are_ the queers and
>criminals so pure?  Or to sum it up in a question which will cover a
>number of others, why is the lynched man always innocent?
>The lynched man is not always innocent.  There is some doubt about him
>in _They Won't Forget (1937), and one of the slaughtered thugs in _Try
>and Get Me_ (1951) is a murderer.  Nevertheless, the story remains
>compelling and familiar, from _Fury_ (1936) through _The Ox-Bow
>Incident_ and on into all kinds of parallel and related cases.  He
>didn't do it, whatever it was.  His innocence is what makes his
>persecution so terrible.
>Certainly this point of view is a complete, if implicit, denial of
>everything that such films stand for....  If lynching (and all the
>varieties of prejudice against so-called deviants) can be seen to be
>wrong only when the victim is innocent, we have no case against
>lynching (or prejudice) at all.  All of these films tend to suggest,
>against their better intentions, that we are entitled to feed people to
>the dogs as long as we pick the right people, and _The Ox-Bow Incident_
>adds an extra twist to this line of thought by having its victims not
>only innocent of murder, but strung up for a murder that didn't even
>take place.  The man they were supposed to have killed is still alive,
>and this heavy irony seems to imply not so much that we ought not to
>lynch people as that we ought to check our facts out properly before we
>do....It's all right to kill killers: the perfect, leaky corollary to
>the axiom that you mustn't persecute innocent people....
>...The innocence of victims stems from the principle that says that
>victims must be innocnet, that unless you are innocent, you are not a
>victim.  If you're guilty, even only slightly, the whole question
>changes, since merely getting more than your just deserts is plainly a
>matter of moral accounting rather than a miscarriage of justice.  What
>these movie stories articulate, I think, is a secret affinity with the
>lynchers that most of us would probably prefer to deny.  The lynchers
>go too far, of course, and they get the wrong man.  But if they got the
>right man, and if they stopped short of killing him, what exactly would
>be our grief against them?
>Somewhere at the back of all this lurks the American weakness for the
>idea of purity, for the notion of an entirely unflecked innocence.
>Witch-hunts in America are always pursuits of taints and stains, and J.
>Parnell Thomas spoke truer (as well as more comically) than he knew
>when he said in a session of the House Un-American Activities Committee
>in 1947:
><paraindent><param>right,right,left,left</param>Once the American
>people are acquainted with the facts there is no question but what the
>American people will do the kind of job they want done: that is, to
>make America just as pure as we can possibly make it.
>The unattractive thought that being suspected of something is enough to
>make you guilty is backed by the equally unattractive thought that if
>you are guilty you have no rights at all, you simply cease to be a
>human being.  The lynchers steal in on the heels of Joe McCarthy, and
>instead of defending the guilty, we defend only the innocent.  If you
>are guilty, you should expect to be lynched; and worse still, you would
>half-suspect the lynchers were right.... (135-141)   *****
>Liberals who think that whether or not Julius Rosenberg was "innocent"
>in the eyes of American criminal justice is a momentous question are
>thinking like the HUAC.  That you accept the terms of American justice,
>and think in terms of political "guilt" and "innocence," means that you
>have already accepted the terms of ideology that makes the National
>Security State the "protector of American freedoms."
>For many liberals, the only crime of so-called "McCarthyism" is that it
>went too far, "innocent" people lost jobs and reputation.  They are no
>defenders of political liberties, if liberties in question include the
>freedom to reject capitalism.
>Julius Rosenberg passed atomic secret to the Soviet Union?  How
>shocking!  The HUAC got _that_ right, after all!  We _were_ communist
>dupes!  We all must now atone for a sin of defending the guilty!
>(Forget what made the atom bombs secret, forget what the American
>monopoly of the atom bombs meant for the rest of the world.)
>Those who can't reject Americanism and the ideology of the National
>Security State, those who are horrified by Julius Rosenberg's act while
>sleeping soundly under the protective watch of the CIA, can't be
>trusted to defend communists and anarchists the next time we face a
>rising tide of political persecution.
>>>> Yoshie Furuhashi <furuhashi.1 at> 12/09/99 04:11AM >>>

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