OJ Simpson and DJ Trump: An analysis of societal reactions to the unexpected
The year was 1994
For decades the black community had felt maligned and underrepresented by white society, white media, and the white judicial system. Their distrust of the police and judicial system was palpable. Blacks were often unjustly vilified by the courts while whites were slapped on the wrist for similar crimes. They were the underdogs. It wasn’t fair.
And then one of their prime heroes is accused of murder. OJ Simpson. Gasp! What could possibly be worse???
We all watched the trial with unparalleled intensity and we all sat around the TV awaiting the verdict. The differences in reaction to the verdict were stark.
If you were sitting with a group of white people you were stunned. How could someone who was so obviously at fault be declared not guilty? Silence. Shaking of heads. Walking away. A horrible miscarriage of justice.
If you were among a community of black watchers there were instant cheers! Elation! Euphoria! Joyous disbelief!
Was the black community celebrating a murderer’s release? I don’t think so. I think they were intoxicated by the fact that the system had, for once, swung THEIR way, in dramatic fashion.
After that, there was no point in bringing up such things as bloody footprints, OJ’s history of threats and abuse, or the fact that wet gloves shrink. Whether OJ was guilty or not was not the issue. It was much bigger than that. It was the symbolic moment of a long-awaited societal shift.
The year was 2016
For decades the white conservative Christian community had felt vilified and marginalized by the liberal/godless media, courts, and educational system. They felt their culture slowly but surely getting squeezed into irrelevance. And they were not going to go quietly. An army of alternative media sprang up such as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and an untold numbers of conservative and Christian TV and talk radio shows. They were on a crusade to take their country back. Their distrust of Washington and anything that smelled of Clinton was palpable. They were the underdogs. It wasn’t fair.
The 2016 presidential election was coming. Hillary was a shoe-in. Who of import would speak for them? Who could shake up the establishment? Who could win the presidency?? There was a crowd of candidates, but nobody promising. What could be worse??
Normally, this constituency would not be enamored with a pompous, salacious, pampered, self-aggrandizing, reality-show elite from New York City. However, he spoke their language. He assured them that he heard their cries and cared about their causes. An unlikely Moses had arisen. And to everyone’s surprise he gained momentum. It HAD to be GOD’s doing because there was no rational way to explain it. He would be their champion and unflinchingly shake his fist at mainstream Pharaoh.
Everyone gathered around their TV’s to watch the election results. No one, not even Trump’s campaign, expected him to win. The voting results supported that view for about half the night. Then as results continued to trickle the most unlikely thing happened. DJ won. The differences in reaction to the verdict were stark.
If you were in a liberal place a jubilant crowd slowly quieted. Shaking of heads. Disbelief. A miscarriage in American politics. Numb.
If you were in a conservative environment there was elation! Rapture! Praising God! Trump train’s a-comin’ through! Get on board or get out of the way! Finally, a chance to set the country straight again.
Were they celebrating the election of a sexual predator? Were they happy that he knew almost nothing about how the US political system works? Did they think it was befitting of a President to act like a petulant middle-schooler on twitter? Were they not concerned about nuclear war, or the fact that he intended to dismantle every federal protection that had been put in place since the 1960's? I don’t think so. I think they were intoxicated by the fact that the system had, for once, swung THEIR way, in dramatic fashion.
It wasn’t about DJ. It was something much bigger. It was the symbolic moment of a long-awaited societal shift.
And NOTHING trumps that.
Originally published on my Facebook page on 11/28/2017 Mildly edited. https://www.facebook.com/discodoan/posts/10155302266678635