Samurai swords are not the new lynch rope 

For reason number 427 about why I’m a black conservative, you need only consider the following question:

“Has the samurai sword become the new lynch rope?”

No, that’s not a rhetorical question; but it sure as heck is a stupid one. And somebody actually asked it.

The person who posed it was a high-school classmate of mine. These days he’s the pastor of a Baltimore church. The question was the title of a commentary piece he posted somewhere in cyberspace.

Yeah, everybody wants to be a columnist these days.

What prompted his question was the death of a Baltimore black man at the hands of a Johns Hopkins University student, who nearly severed the man’s hand with a samurai sword. The student, John Pontolillo, is white.

Last week Baltimore state’s attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, in a decidedly good move, ruled that Pontolillo acted in self-defense when the black man, Donald Rice, invaded the home where Pontolillo and others lived and advanced on Pontolillo after being ordered to stay put.

The incident happened late last year, and caused quite a bit of controversy in the Baltimore area. Some Hopkins students hailed Pontolillo as a hero; some, including those in a writing course I teach on the campus, were reluctant to call him a hero, but did conclude there wasn’t much else he could do, under the circumstances.

And then there was the response from my old high-school classmate, that of the classic black liberal. Black liberals, like their non-black brethren, can be depressingly silly at times. (If truth be told, so can black and non-black conservatives. But it’s the liberals who abuse the privilege.)

Really, the samurai sword replacing the lynch rope? That means, in the eyes of my high-school classmate, Rice was the victim. He was killed for no other reason than his race. And Pontolillo, although there isn’t a shred of evidence to prove it, must be a racist, and killed Rice for racist motives.

The facts support none of those conclusions. Rice was a career criminal. In fact, when he was found burglarizing the home that Pontolillo shared with other Hopkins students, he had just been released from a Baltimore County jail. This guy was so dysfunctional that he could put the “lose” in “loser.”

I read the details about Rice’s death and the unfortunate action Pontolillo had to take and identified immediately with, not Rice, the black man, but Pontolillo, the white guy. And race had nothing to do with it. I identified with Pontolillo for no other reason than that he was the victim of a crime.

As someone who has had family members victimized by criminals, I almost had to identify with Pontolillo.

My youngest brother was stabbed to death over 13 years ago in Easton, Md. I had a first cousin fatally shot in a Baltimore halfway house five years ago, along with two others. The perpetrators of the latter crime were two black men with lengthy criminal records.

So no, race and lynch ropes weren’t an issue with me in the Rice-Pontolillo matter. And I’m wondering why my high-school classmate saw it differently, or saw race at all. I figured that as a pastor, he would have viewed the matter as one of right and wrong, not black and white.

But when you’re afflicted with lib-think, you tend to toss matters of right and wrong out the window and immediately go on a hunt for victims. Pontolillo, as a white male, really didn’t make a good victim. The black career criminal and loser made a perfect one.

Sure am glad I’m a conservative.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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Gregory Kane


Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is an award-winning journalist who lives in Baltimore.

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