THE HUTCHINSON REPORT
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
There was national fury, outcry and indignation over the Capitol terrorist insurrection egged on by President Donald Trump.
There is loud demand from nearly all quarters of the general public for nabbing, jailing and punishing the insurrectionists. More than a few observers, including new President Joe Biden angrily pointed out the glaring double standard of the Capitol police in their gentle, accommodating handling of the mostly white insurrectionists versus their take-no-prisoners handling of Black Lives Matter demonstrators last summer.
However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is far more to the racial double standard story than just the embarrassing optics of selfie-posing Capitol cops and insurrectionists and bare-knuckle treatment of police abuse protesters.
Jake Angeli is a good starting point to underscore that. He is the bare-chested guy who is the self-anointed shaman with the weird, horned headdress seen in countless shots of the insurrectionists. He was quickly identified (how could he not be), charged and jailed.
He then launched a hunger strike until his demand for organic food was met. Marshalls and jailers scrambled quickly to accommodate him even as prisoner rights advocates tweet furiously that the demands of Muslim prisoners and other prisoners of color with special dietary needs are rejected or provided only after public protests or lawsuits.
Similar stories abound about white insurrectionists arrested with prior multiple arrests, including felony convictions. Some were caught throwing punches with no charges against them. Others were slapped with mild reprimands by their employers after brazenly posting pictures on social media of themselves.
Despite the public anger, there have been no hysterical screeches branding them thugs, gangsters, animals and vermin. There have been no relentless calls from the press, citizenry and elected officials for a swift, harsh and massive crackdown on these insurgents, the kind that we instantly hear from many mouths amd on the airwaves when it’s a young Black on the hot seat.
This tired, double standard script is so well worn we can mail it in. Young whites tear up streets, overturn cars and battle police after a championship hockey or basketball victory or loss. It’s simply tagged as boys being boys, acting out. The same when a young white male shoots up a school or theater.
There’s the endless string of psycho-babble pronouncements about troubled childhoods, drugs and medications, addiction and dependence and psychological traumas.
Or how about when young whites are popped for drug use? The pipeline for them is not to courts and jails, but to counseling and treatment, therapy and prayers. Their drug abuse is chalked up to escape, frustration or restless youthful experimentation.
They get heart-wringing indulgent sympathy, compassion and a never-ending soul search for rational explanations, or should I say justification for their criminal, violent and yes, thug behavior.
The dual racial standard rests squarely on the pantheon of stereotypes and negative typecasting of Blacks that continues to have deadly consequences in the assaults on and the gunning down of unarmed young black males under questionable circumstances. Numerous studies repeatedly find that many of the old stereotypes about crime and Blacks remain just as frozen in time.
The studies find that much of the public still perceives those most likely to commit crimes are poor,v and Black. They show that once the stereotype is planted, it’s virtually impossible to root out.
The arrest of Angeli and other whites who terrorized the Capitol also raise another question. What happens when whites such as him are arrested? What charges are filed against them? What is their bail? How vigorously are they prosecuted?
Are some or all the charges subsequently dropped when the public furor and media spotlight die down?
Then, what happens when or even if they are convicted or plead guilty to a crime? Will they get serious or, even any, jail time. Or, if convicted and get probation, will they get a glowing probation report and released early from supervised probation.
That raises still more questions. While African Americans are more likely to be jailed when convicted of crimes, how many whites can plea bargain lesser sentences, receive probation, community service, get fined and make restitution, get referred to diversion or rehabilitation programs, or get placed under house monitoring when they commit crimes, even violent felonies?
Angeli gave a strong hint that he won’t be treated like any ordinary criminal. He got his organic food. He got his rights protected.
He got lots of press attention that included lengthy quotes from his mother telling us what a patriotic, true blue American son he is. He even got his chance to wrap himself in the mantle of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and claim his was a lawful protest against injustice.
The Capitol insurrectionists proved, if proof be needed, of one thing. That when it comes to law-breaking, even terrorist lawbreaking, no one should really be surprised that the kid glove double standard treatment is rolled out for white insurgents.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is “Why Black Lives Do Matter” (Middle Passage Press). He also is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One and the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.