The Flinchum File

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Long ago in Panama, along with a young black captain who had just returned from Vietnam, we caused a private club located on Canal Zone property to integrate and allow black members.  In the course of that, we had to face down seven men holding shotguns.  Later, we received many compliments, including those of the commanding general.  With a “street cred” like that, I felt entitled to have thoughts on the touchy subject of race.  I was wrong.

Over the intervening years, I worked for three different banks.  Each required employees to attend “diversity sensitivity training.”  It was there I realized I was not permitted to do anything other than to nod my head in agreement.  After all, since I’ve never been black, I could not possibly have any legitimate thoughts on the subject of race.  (Of course, I’ve never been a Catholic or a communist or sang in a choir either, but I am allowed to comment on those subjects?  Go figure!)  Of course, no matter what else, a person must always avoid being called a racist.

The inability to discuss race creates more problems.  The prosecutor in Ferguson was so concerned with being called a racist that he made a circus of the grand jury process.  Instead of leading the jurors thorough the evidence, as prosecutors normally do, he simply dumped a massive amount of evidence on them, with no direction.

Solomon Wachtler, former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, is usually given credit for saying that a grand jury would “indict a ham sandwich,” meaning the prosecutor had so much influence over the grand jury that anybody could be indicted for anything.  That does not seem to be the case in Ferguson.

To avoid being called a racist, the Ferguson prosecutor conducted an exhaustive grand jury proceeding, which are always secret and out-of-view.  This creates mistrust and has created a new class of grand juries — for defendants in racial crimes.  Shouldn’t the next defendant in a racial crime receive the same sort of grand jury proceeding?  Why not?  Doesn’t this perpetuate the assumption that the courts have one system of justice for whites and another for blacks?

Note:  Those are just questions, not comments or opinions.
I have no comments or opinions on the subject of race.