Quite frankly, hearing that a 16 year-old white drunk driver who killed four people and injured two others had escaped a prison sentence did not surprise me. And that’s troubling because with my knowledge and familiarity with the criminal justice system, if I am that jaded it shows you the degree to which public trust in our courts has eroded. What I heard next though surprised even me because it was the most bold and profane expression of white privilege I had heard in some time. Counsel for the defense claimed Ethan Couch, the defendant, suffered from affluenza; a condition afflicting the well-to-do who have been pampered all their lives and do not understand their inappropriate behavior is socially abhorrent. Texas Judge Jean Boyd agreed. The judge ignored the prosecution’s plea for a 20-year sentence for young Ethan and gave him no jail time but instead 10 years of probation at a swanky rehabilitation center paid for by Couch’s wealthy parents.
The sentence reeks of injustice, entitlement and the discounting of the lives this rich kid snuffed out in his drunken binge. Couch also had valium and THC in his system, and stolen beer in the pickup truck he was driving. The truck belonged to the company owned by his wealthy father.
With no pretense, Judge Boyd made clear on whose behalf justice works and proved once again that the only reason justice is blind is because she has been blinded by those who are sworn to uphold the law.
At the same time this farce of a sentence is being handed down, one of the Fox News Channel’s blonde bamboozle brigade, Megyn Kelly, decides to declare a fictional character, Santa Clause, is a white man. And while jolly St. Nick has historically been portrayed as Caucasian, the idea that someone feels it necessary to declare a fictional character white exposes the paranoia of fading white privilege. While children might notice that most of the Santas they see are white, few youngsters I believe consciously think about the race of a mythic figure that spreads Christmas cheer. Kelly’s pronouncement smacks of desperation and an attempt to plant the seeds of white supremacy by suggesting to the world, and children in particular, that this symbol of virtue and good could not possibly be anything but white; let alone a Black man. It was classic Fox News Channel race baiting and did not end there.
Kelly also put her racial stamp on Jesus Christ, far from a fictional character, and whitewashed the central figure of Christianity. Like Santa, Jesus was also made a white male, with flowing blonde locks and piercing blue eyes as a way to impose the same caste on Christianity as in the world. It was the Christian church of white Jesus that made Africans an inferior group and cast upon African-Americans the burdens of slavery and Jim Crow. It did not matter that the colorization of Jesus was in contradiction with historical accounts in the Bible, or that a dark man helped carry the condemned Christ’s cross on the way to His crucifixion. The imagery of a white, blonde and male Jesus helped buttress white supremacy by tying the likeness of God to a white man. How could dark-skinned people, and there was no recognition of the humanity of Africans and very little of African-Americans today, be holy if their skin color did not match that of the Creator?
Affluenza is real. It has been a condition that has plagued America from its birth and serves as the carrier of white entitlement. Even poor and working class whites are advantaged by it when in direct competition with Blacks, as history shows on slave plantations and in blue collar occupations. Affluenza causes many whites to see bias and “reverse discrimination” in affirmative action policies despite there being little evidence of systemic disadvantage or harm done to whites due to efforts to create equity in the workplace and on college campuses. The condition causes paranoia despite the fact that African Americans represent less than 5% respectively of doctors and lawyers, two high profile professions, are similarly represented as engineers and are a shadow on most college campuses, with the exception of historically Black institutions.
While many have smirked at the sentence given Ethan Couch, and dismiss Megyn Kelly’s brilliant ignorance as the rants of a Fox News Channel headless chatterbox, the truth of the matter is that affluenza is operative in America. It is a driving force behind inequities in our nation and the maintenance of symbols that perpetuate white privilege.
Walter Fields is Executive Editor of NorthStarNews.com.