The Rise of Jacobin Justice
Earlier this week, I attended the theatrical debut of Dinesh D’Souza’s compelling new documentary Police State. As much as I liked the movie, there was one subject left unexplored: the ironic fact that, today, among those most vulnerable to the “police state” are local police.
Searching for a more inclusive metaphor than “police state” to describe our current state of peril, I reached into the past and came up with “Jacobin Justice.” In the way of background, the left-wing Jacobins were the most powerful political faction to emerge during the French Revolution.
The power of this bourgeois elite derived from their ability to manage the Parisian mobs. To satisfy the mob’s bloodlust, the Jacobins imposed a state of revolutionary justice untethered to any traditional sense of Judeo-Christian morality. The result was a reign of terror that saw more than 10,000 people tried and executed.
There have been outbreaks of mob justice throughout American history, but it is only really in the last ten years or so that America’s Jacobins, our “best people,” gave mob justice their blessing. To be sure, Jacobins have been using mobs since the emergence of the Soviet Union a century ago, but largely for propaganda purposes.
In cases from Sacco and Vanzetti to the Central Park Five, the Jacobins in the media would muster the evidence that seemed to exonerate the accused and suppress the evidence that convicted them. The mobs would rally and nurse their grievances until the next election. Win-win.
Hollywood, meanwhile, created characters that embodied a romantic notion of Jacobin justice. In the way of example, screenwriter Reginald Rose describes Juror #8, the hero of the 1957 movie Twelve Angry Men, as “a man who sees all sides of every question and constantly seeks the truth. A man of strength tempered with compassion. Above all, he is a man who wants justice to be done and will fight to see that it is.” Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird reflects the same virtues, as do a thousand lawyers in a thousand preachy TV shows. The Jacobin, citizen or attorney, resists public pressures and demands justice for the marginalized.
By the year 2012, however, the Jacobins were finding common ground not with Atticus Finch, but with Robespierre. Instead of resisting the mob as Atticus did, they sided with the mob, managed it, encouraged it. Instead of defending the transparently guilty, they felt free to condemn the transparently innocent. Oddly, almost no one noticed what may have been the darkest turn in judicial history.
In February 2012, in Florida, a battleground state, the Jacobins put their revised strategy to the test, transforming a Hispanic, Obama-supporting civil rights activist into a murderous white supremacist. A neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman shot and killed the deeply troubled young Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman aspired to be a police officer. He never got the chance.
With a president to re-elect, the media flaunted their growing indifference to the truth. In the seventeen months between Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal, they would violate all accepted journalistic standards in their effort to help Jacobin handyman Al Sharpton and his cronies convict a transparently innocent man. This was a milestone, the first time in anyone’s memory that the national media writ large conspired to enable so conspicuous an injustice.
With the help of social media, mobs, both real and virtual, descended on Florida to demand justice for Martin. As Los Angeles filmmaker Joel Gilbert proved beyond doubt in The Trayvon Hoax, prosecutors used as their star witness a woman who was not a witness at all. The media pretended not to notice the most flagrant corruption of the judicial process in their careers.
Fortunately for Zimmerman, the six women on his six-person jury paid no attention to the news. For those outside the jury room who did pull their news from the Jacobin media, Zimmerman’s acquittal in July 2013 came as a profound shock. One of them, Alicia Garza, was moved to compose a post on Facebook under the heading “Black Lives Matter.”
In August 2014, protesters chanting “black lives matter” rioted in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. With a major assist from the media, BLM activists convinced much of America that once again, an innocent, unarmed black teen — in this case, Michael Brown — was murdered by a white racist, police officer Darren Wilson. Only an honest St. Louis County prosecutor saved Wilson from prison. The Democrats rewarded Robert McCulloch by driving him from office in the 2018 primary.
The template had been set. In the years after Ferguson, the Jacobins were on the lookout for new “victims” of systemic racism and new white supremacists to pillory, facts be damned. In Minneapolis, in May 2020, they hit pay dirt. The Scottsboro Boys got a fairer trial than the four Minneapolis police officers, two of them non-white, accused of murder in the death of chronic felon and drug-abuser George Floyd.
The case against the four officers was rigged from the beginning. As she recently revealed in a deposition for a sexual harassment suit, prosecutor Amy Sweasy spoke with Hennepin County medical examiner Dr. Andrew Baker the day after Floyd’s death.
“I called Dr. Baker early that morning to tell him about the case and to ask him if he would perform the autopsy on Mr. Floyd,” said Sweasy. “He called me later in the day on that Tuesday and he told me that there were no medical findings that showed any injury to the vital structures of Mr. Floyd’s neck. There were no medical indications of asphyxia or strangulation.”
By the end of that day, with Minneapolis already in flames, Baker said to Sweasy, “Amy, what happens when the actual evidence doesn’t match up with the public narrative that everyone’s already decided on? This is the kind of case that ends careers.”
As is well documented, Roger Mitchell, the D.C. medical examiner and a well-connected black political activist, called Baker once he learned about Baker’s finding that Floyd had not been strangled or suffocated. Mitchell threatened to ruin Baker unless he added “neck compression” to his assessment. Baker gave in, and four innocent officers went to prison for a crime they did not commit.
“There was extreme premium pressure, yes. The city was burning down,” Sweasy’s fellow prosecutor, Patrick Lofton, said in his deposition. He and Sweasy withdrew from the cases against Chauvin’s three colleagues — Thomas Lane, Tuo Thao, and Alex Kueng — for the simple reason they were guilty of no crime. “I can tell you that everyone that I associate with to any degree, professionally or personally, agreed with our decision,” said Lofton in the deposition. The pressure on the prosecutors, he said, was “insane.”
In this last decade, Jacobin justice has been unleashed on everyone from school board protesters to local police to a former president of the United States. Much of it flows directly from the DOJ, but state and local prosecutors have been keen to launch witch hunts of their own. In doing so, they have corrupted evidence, rigged juries, allowed fear to dictate outcomes, and abandoned all traditional notions of equality before the law.
For the time being the Jacobin alliance with the mob seems to be working. As history reminds us, it worked for Robespierre as well — that is, until it didn’t.
Jack Cashill’s new book, Untenable: The True Story of White Ethnic Flight from America’s Cities, is available in all formats.
Image via Pxhere.