Reading into the Subtext

Reading into the Subtext

Jordan Ma

While reading the subtext of the “Supe’s Message on Minnesota Verdict,” April 29, one risks looking beyond the surface. Pasquale Scuderi opens with “Today’s guilty verdicts in Derek Chauvin’s trial do carry some broader measure of hope for justice.” The implication seems to be that the “hope for justice” would have been diminished, had the verdict been returned as not guilty. The Supe’s pronouncement resonates with President Biden’s pre-verdict commentary; when Biden said he was “praying” for the jury to reach “the right verdict” and that the evidence of guilt was “overwhelming.” Could the President’s remarks be construed as an outrageous interference with the administration of justice?

Maxine Waters joined demonstrators in Brooklyn Center and told supporters that if the trial goes the wrong way, “we’ve got to not only stay in the street, but we’ve got to fight for justice … we’ve got to get more confrontational.” How specifically would “more confrontational” manifest itself? Would either Biden’s or Waters’ remarks be calling into question the legitimacy of the judicial process had the verdict not arrived as what Biden was “praying” for?

While the jury listened to 14 days of testimony, provided by dozens of witnesses, and deliberated for more than 10 hours, I question whether the Supe, Maxine, or the President ruminated as long.

Chelsea Handler called for even swifter justice; she Twittered, “So pathetic that there’s a trial to prove that Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd when there is a video of him doing it.” Perhaps Chelsea and others misread Amendment VI of our Constitution that states: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”

By definition, a declaration of “justice” having been served is not based on a specific verdict, yet the Supe, Maxine, Chelsea, President Biden, et. al. seem to imply that the jury could have arrived at an unjust outcome.

At a minimum, could the question of impartiality have been violented by Biden and Waters? The Supe goes on to acknowledge “the importance of this particular moment relative to the global preposition of fair justice. As Joseph Epstein asks, “Why are people, especially many who make their livings through the use of language, attracted … to hollow words” and redundancies like “fair justice?” Is there another brand of justice other than “fair justice?”

The Supe advocates that for the sake of “Our students, and our children,” we “honestly educate them to understand the way that racism, and racially motivated crimes like this one, have afflicted our cultural past and present.” At this point it is safest to depart the declarative mood and transition to the interrogative mood. We might ask, other than skin color, is there any evidence that the death of the victim was “racially motivated?”

If Chauvin was not charged with a “hate crime” is it accurate to report that the murder was “racially motivated?” Had the victim, in an identical situation, been Asian, would that have been a “racially motivated” crime? Had all the circumstances been the same except that the victim was Jewish, would that have been a crime motivated by anti-Semitism? Would any murder in which the assailant was one minority and the victim a different minority, satisfy the loose definition of a “racially motivated” crime?

Candace Owens writes in her book “Blackout” that public education should not foster a victim mentality. Ms Owens points out that “What you’re seeing happening is victim mentality versus victor mentality.” The Supe ends by extolling us to “educate and enlighten and improve together.” Jason Riley, writing “Race Relations in America Are Better Than Ever”, alleges that the current “pessimism peddled on the left by pundits and elected officials is in the service of an ideological agenda, and it is probably doing more real harm to race relations than any actual racism.”

My alma mater, U.C. Davis has cancelled the words “Land of Opportunity” on campus. If public figures like Kamala Harris remind Americans that “structural racism lives on in our policies and everyday life,” is this contributing to the victims mentality that discourages young Americans from addressing the challenges and hard work intrinsic to successful engagement in life? Should we be propagandizing the youth of America to believe that the deck is stacked inexorably against them?

Candace Owens drops the gauntlet at our collective feet with the words: “My challenge to every American is simple: reject the … victim narrative and do it yourself. Because we will never realize the true potential that this incredible country has to offer — in the land of the free and the home of the brave — if we continue to be shackled by the great myth of government deliverance.”

She adds, “Students are being systematically disempowered, trained to resent the success of others. And that creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. We can never attain what we resent, just as we will never achieve what we loathe. Our subconscious mind will reject its opportunity seeking to prevent us from becoming that which we have been conditioned to hate.”

The Tenth Commandment is “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” This proscription has been inverted, envy and coveting are now prescribed, “Cry havoc and unleash the resentments of our discontent.”

“Privilege” and “Unfair Advantage” are used to explain away success achieved by grit, diligence, and work. What a coincidence that the same political influences that tag people with the victim status, are there to dispense palliatives and bromides providing symptomatic relief. Candace laments that “What you’re seeing happening is victim mentality versus victor mentality. Victim mentality is not cool,” and instilling a victims mentality into young Americans is even less cool.

Jordan Ma lives in Alameda, Encinal High School Class of 2008.