Fighting racism doesn’t justify busting heads
If a bunch of anti-racists bust into a restaurant and beat up a bunch of racists, they are not noble, heroic or in any way admirable, motivation not withstanding.
They are law-breaking brawlers.
But that seems quite the opposite of the message being sent by several attorneys who have signed on to represent, for free, five Indiana men accused of busting up a meeting last month that they believed had been organized by white supremacists. The lawyers took the case, they said, because they believe in fighting racism.
Let’s hope that any jury down the road can see through that one.
We’re all for fighting racism. Who isn’t? But fighting racism doesn’t justify vigilantes cracking heads with batons and hammers, if in fact that is what happened. The ends don’t justify the means.
In the May 19 altercation at a Tinley Park restaurant, 10 people were injured, including a number of restaurant employees.
Five men from near Bloomington, Ind., were arrested and charged with armed violence, aggravated battery, property damage and mob action.
Their alleged target was a group of diners who claimed to be involved in an Illinois European heritage association, not a white supremacist group. The heritage association, however, is promoted on white supremacist websites.
While the defense attorneys obviously are laying the groundwork for a sympathetic jury by emphasizing the high-minded motive of fighting racism, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez finds herself on the weaker side of the public relations contest — going to bat for victims who allegedly have white supremacist ties. That could be a tough sell in the court of public opinion.
But, of course, what Alvarez really is doing is standing up for law and order, regardless of the victims’ beliefs. A noble calling.
To our mind, the most heroic lawyers may be those modestly paid public defenders who go to court every day on behalf of clients whose actions and beliefs, in some instances, may truly appall them.
Due process cannot play favorites.