What the O. J. Trial Did to One Liberal

Long before 9/11, there was the O. J. trial.

Roger Simon — Hollywood screenwriter, author, Pajamas Media CEO, and former leftist — explains the role that the O. J. trial had on changing his political viewpoint. He struggled to understand how the largely black jury could have acquitted the defendant in the face of such overwhelming evidence.

Of course, the obvious answer, the cliché, was that we had not done enough, not enough aid, not enough affirmative action. But sitting there that day, and in the weeks to come, I started to consider that the reverse was true. Well, not quite the reverse. We had not done too much, but we had done well enough. At the point of history America had reached, probably had already reached some years before, affirmative action had become an albatross around the neck of those who received it. Aid given to people – no matter who they are – when it is not earned carries with it a level of insult and denigration. It comes from on high to down low and carries with it an implicit message of lowness.

I began to think of Johnnie Cochran as condescending to the African-American community, as their enabler, treating them like children who would believe something as imbecilic as “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Cochran was in a way the racist in how he dealt with his own people. He was certainly a racist in the way he dealt with white people.

I didn’t say that out loud in those days, at least not very often, but I began to think it. It was the first chink in my very traditional liberal armor, the first time I thought outside a conventional wisdom that I had never questioned in my life. The groundwork was prepared for a larger questioning after 9/11. The OJ Trial began it all.

You can read a more detailed profile of Simon and his conversion here.


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