Monday, December 11, 2017

From the Rear View Mirror: The Run of his Life: The People v O.J. Simpson

Jerry Toobin’s The Run of his Life: The People v O.J. Simpson makes for fascinating reading in the twenty years since the double murder and trial.  In 1996, it was easy for white America to discount the racial angle of the trial as a unique pathology of Los Angeles, and the LAPD.  The Rodney King beating tape appeared to be the locally anomalous behavior of a systemically racist police force.

The Simpson story can no longer be viewed as such an outlier.  The fact that Simpson was indeed guilty of the crime, but got away with it – is the exception that proves the rule.  African-Americans are charged with crimes and incarcerated far out of proportion to white Americans, as the proliferation of digitally captured police violations and crimes in the last few years illustrates.

But Simpson was a black man with the money and influence to play the race card effectively.  Combine this with a mostly African-American jury, numerous missteps by the police and prosecutors, and Toobin’s book details an all too inevitable result: Simpson would get away with murder.

It is hard not to see the Simpson case as the beginning of so much American social and racial pathology that has come to flower in the last two decades.

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