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July 13, 2009

Guilty until proven guilty

Theodore Dalrymple - to whom the Flea is a mere padawan of bile - considers the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and its place in our witch trial culture ten years on. RTWT (Dalrymple, not the Inquiry).

The report’s contention was that the mishandled Lawrence case illustrated the “institutional racism” of the London police force. Poor Sir William tied himself in knots trying to explain the notion of institutional racism, relying in part on that great moral authority on race relations, Stokely Carmichael, the onetime “prime minister” of the Black Panthers. As Macpherson admitted, he could point to no actual instance of racist behavior by the officers involved in the case, though evidence of incompetence and delay was abundant. But if he had concluded from the lack of evidence of racist behavior that the police were not racist, he doubtless would have become an object of execration by all the people who think the right thoughts. Thus Macpherson’s redefinition of racism: “Failure to adjust policies and methods to meet the needs of policing a multi-racial society can occur simply because police officers may mistakenly believe that it is legitimate to be ‘colour-blind’ in both individual and team response to the management and investigation of racist crimes.”

On the very next page, however, Sir William quoted approvingly the assertion of an association of black police officers: “Institutional racism leads officers to act, albeit unconsciously, and for the most part unintentionally, and treat others differently because of their ethnicity or culture.” In other words, if you treat people the same, you are racist; but if you treat them differently, you are racist. It is clear that we are here in the realm not of the rule of law but of the Malleus Maleficarum, and that Macpherson is acting not as judge but as witchfinder-general.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at July 13, 2009 08:03 AM