UK Telegraph: The shallow anti-Americanism of the ‘I am Troy Davis’ crowd


I wrote about the Troy Davis and Lawrence Russell Brewer executions last week.  I touched on the trial by “public opinion” that was attempted in the Troy Davis case and the hypocrisy of the anti-death penalty crowd who only had room for “I am Troy Davis” T-shirts but no words about the death of Lawrence Russell Brewer.

Today, an article in the UK Telegraph sums up nicely the shallow and politicized efforts of those who tried to “save” Troy Davis based on no new evidence and picking and choosing the facts of the 20-year-old case.

There are few subjects that provoke as much smug condescension and shallow anti-Americanism as the death penalty in the United States. And the “debate” over the execution in Georgia last Wednesday of Troy Davis, 42, convicted of the 1989 murder of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer, marked a new low.

The sheer emotionalism and partisanship of much of the coverage of the case in Britain was an embarrassment. On virtually no other subject could you find facts presented so selectively, conclusions so sweeping and reasoning so simplistic.

American campaigners against the death penalty know the buttons to press. Thus, we have statements like that from Thomas Ruffin, a lawyer for Davis, who said that Georgia had “legally lynched a brave, a good and indeed, an innocent man”.

We saw “I am Troy Davis” T-shirts being worn as far afield as London, the message being that Davis was somehow plucked randomly from the streets and arbitrarily condemned, perhaps because he was black.

Unfortunately, little about the Davis case fits this naïve picture. A jury of seven blacks and five whites found that Davis, who had a street name of “Rah”, standing for “Rough As Hell”, had been pistol-whipping a homeless man in a Burger King car park and had shot MacPhail dead when he intervened.

And this article makes clear that racism was not a part of Troy Davis’ execution…as a matter of fact, all legal efforts were attempted (including recanting witnesses that the defense would not call) that further validated his guilt:

Judge Moore concluded in his 174-page ruling that the “fresh” evidence Davis had gathered amounted to little more than “smoke and mirrors” and the “vast majority of the evidence at trial remains intact”.

Indeed, a reading of his judgement indicates that by not calling two of its recantation witnesses (one was waiting in the courthouse to testify and the other, the homeless man who was beaten, was readily available), the Davis defence team was preserving something they knew would damage his case in court if tested but if left intact could be of publicity value. There has never been a scintilla of evidence that Davis’s race has ever been a factor in his initial conviction or in it being upheld.

The current Supreme Court contains four liberal judges, none of whom issued a dissent in the Davis case. Two of them were appointed by Mr Obama who, incidentally, supports the death penalty himself and declined to make any statement about the execution. Another justice, Clarence Thomas, is a black man from Georgia.

Read the whole article here.

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