Now that Trump’s sleazy associates are facing prison, lots of Democrats that never gave a damn about mass Black incarceration are self-righteously blasting the criminal injustice system.
“White people suddenly claiming concern about the racist criminal justice system should have to prove their sincerity.”
By every measure black people are the most oppressed of any group in the United States. We consistently rank last in every positive outcome and first in every one that is negative. The mass incarceration system exemplifies this dynamic more than any of the other woes we face. Black people are a mere 13% of the population yet make up half of those held behind bars. Incarceration is the norm for minor offenses and sentences are usually as draconian as possible.
So it is understandable that the 47 month sentence handed down to Paul Manafort would elicit so much outrage. The man who briefly served as chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential chairman was found guilty of tax and bank fraud. Robert Mueller recommended a 19-year sentence but judge T.S. Ellis decided otherwise.
“Manafort was a hired gun who worked all over the world to further the corrupt interests of United States foreign policy.”
Ellis can be taken to task because he is the hanging, maximum sentence judge for black defendants. He sentenced former Congressional Black Caucus member William Jefferson to 13 years for bribery, the longest sentence ever handed down to a member of congress for crimes committed while in office. Manafort did not lead “an exemplary life” as Ellis claimed. He was a hired gun who worked all over the world to further the corrupt interests of United States foreign policy.
But the response to Manafort’s sentence should not go unexamined either. Manafort has become synonymous with Trump and much of the anger directed at him is not based on the seriousness of the offense he committed. Instead it is based on a need to punish someone, anyone for Trump becoming president in the first place.
The Russiagate faux scandal plays a large role in turning millions of people into a mob demanding a harsh sentence that is often applied to murderers and other violent criminals. Most of what the public have been told about Manafort is untrue and the anger is misplaced. His consulting firm operated in Ukraine, not Russia. Like every other lobbyist doing business there his goal was to pull Ukraine away from Russian influence and toward Western Europe. He advised president Viktor Yanukovych to do just that and to seek out membership in the European Union.
“Ellis sentenced former Congressional Black Caucus member William Jefferson to 13 years for bribery.”
Manafort didn’t give polling data to Russians. He gave it to Ukrainians and he was hoping to drum up business by showing them that his guy was going to win. His business partner Konstantin Kilimnik is said to have connections with Russian intelligence agencies but that charge is unproven. However Kilimnik does have a proven relationship with the United States intelligence state. He worked for the International Republican Institute (IRI), an organization founded by the late John McCain which among other things is dedicated to bringing about pro-western regime change to Ukraine.
The virtue signaling created by the Manafort sentence should be called into question. White people suddenly claiming concern about the racist criminal justice system should have to prove their sincerity.Are they willing to make the necessary political demands on their own people in order to tear down mass incarceration? Social media posts directed against a Trump crony are a poor substitute for the hard work of ending this worst and most durable manifestation of white supremacy.
“Manafort advised Ukraine’s president to pull away from Russia do and seek out membership in the European Union.”
As for black people, we should not allow ourselves to be fooled, not by Russiagate and not by liberals crying crocodile tears. Anyone using our suffering in order to make the case for their own political agenda is a questionable ally at best.
The anger at Manafort and the other Trump affiliated charlatans and crooks should instead be directed at the people who brought this dangerous farce to the public. Perhaps it is time to finally dissect the Democratic Party wrong doing and missteps which led to the Trump presidency. This examination will be particularly difficult for black people. The justifiable fear of Republican Party rule distorts our politics and turns us into dupes. The supposedly inevitable Hillary Clinton victory led us down the path to Trump, a man the democrats determined was the easiest to beat.
Manafort isn’t out of the woods in any case. He still faces sentencing for conspiracy and witness tampering after his plea deal was nullified when Mueller accused him of lying to investigators. But regardless of how much time he spends in jail, there are larger issues that must be faced. Mass incarceration cannot be treated as a subject for debate only when liberals don’t get their way. If they are going to talk about this issue they must put up or shut up. They have a lot of work to do.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com . Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
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