When It Was Okay To Shoot an Unarmed Teen

by Jonah Goldberg

Because of space limitations, there was a lot of stuff I couldn’t squeeze into my column on Al Sharpton last week. In particular, I wish I could have found room to discuss the case of John Harris White, the black man who shot and killed an unarmed white teen. White had testified that he had grown up hearing stories about his grandfather being terrorized by the KKK and he thought the white teens in his New York yard were a lynch mob. He also claimed that the gun went off accidentally. White was convicted of manslaughter, but after six months his sentence was commuted by then-governor David Patterson in one of his last acts of office.

Without getting into the weeds of the case, I do think it’s interesting that Al Sharpton was one of White’s biggest defenders, organizing rallies in his behalf. I also think it’s interesting that White really did racially profile the youths outside his house. A Newsday article — not on the Web — recounts Sharpton saying, “What was he supposed to do?” Sharpton added,  ”My suspicion is if he were not black, people would have been treated differently.” I don’t know about “people” but you can be sure that’s true of Sharpton.