Two weeks ago, entertainer extraordinaire Bill Cosby was handed a hung jury in his sexual assault trial in Norristown, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia.
Regardless of what you think of Cosby and the allegations made against him, a jury of his peers spoke and they concluded that they couldn’t reach unanimous agreement on any of the three charges, thus a hung jury.
That should have been the end of the case and the end of the story. It should have been time for everyone to move on with their lives; it should have been a time for Cosby to get back on stage and do what he does best—to entertain and challenge America; especially Black America.
But that is not what happened on June 17th. Within minutes of Judge Steven T. O’Neill’s declaration of a mistrial, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele vehemently asserted that he would retry Cosby as soon as possible. By law, they have up to four months to make a final decision to retry.
Steele said, “We will reevaluate and review our case and will retry it and move as soon as possible.”
He went on to declare: “[Cosby’s accuser Andrea Constand] is entitled to a verdict in this case.”
Please allow me to interpret this for you. Steele means she is entitled to a verdict that “he” agrees with.
Constand was not entitled to a verdict; Cosby was entitled to a trial by a jury of her “peers,” nothing more, nothing less.
Those who follow my writings know that I rarely, if ever, invoke race into my arguments, but I would be remiss not to point out the issue of race in this particular case.
In 2015, Steele defeated former Republican Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor in a very heated race. Steele made the veiled promise of a conviction of legendary entertainer Bill Cosby, the central issue in the election. In 2005, when Castor was the district attorney, he declined to prosecute Cosby in the rape allegation brought forward by Constand, because “there was insufficient evidence.”
So, Steele comes along in 2015 and says if you elect me, I will re-open the case against Cosby that was dropped nearly ten years ago.
According to the 2010 census, the county is 79 percent White non-Hispanic, 8.7 percent Black or African American, 6.4 percent Asian, and 4.3 percent Hispanic or Latino.
Republicans have a well-earned reputation for using race to scare White folks into voting for them and are rightfully called out on this practice, but I find it amazing when White, liberal Democrats use the same tactic, liberals, especially Black ones, get laryngitis.
So, Steele used a caricature of the world famous Black comedian to convince White voters in Montgomery County that he would save them from thuggish predators like Cosby, a blind philanthropist, who was once called “America’s Dad.”
Aren’t these the same dog whistles that Democrats accuse Republicans of using?
Look at the 2015 campaign TV commercial Steele ran against Castor using the allegations against Cosby. When I saw this ad two years ago, I was immediately transported back to 1990 when segregationist Republican Senator Jesse Helms ran his infamous “hands ad.”
In 1990, Harvey Gantt, mayor of Charlotte, N.C. was leading Helms in his reelection bid for the U.S. Senate. Gantt would have become the first Black senator in North Carolina’s history. As soon as Helms aired the hands ad, the race was, for all practical purposes, over.
There is absolutely no doubt that Helms’ ad was racist and meant to scare White folks to turnout for his reelection. Likewise, Steele did the same thing, but since he is a liberal, White Democrat, there was no public outcry.
Some political insiders have suggested that Steele’s ultimate goal is to run for governor of Pennsylvania; a conviction in the Cosby trial was critical stepping-stone to the governor’s mansion.
It’s all or nothing for Steele. Cosby, and by extension Blacks in Pennsylvania, are simply pawns in the game that the district attorney is playing to get what he wants politically.
The Congressional Black Caucus raised holy hell in 1990 denouncing the Helms’ TV ad; Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were both all over TV screaming racism; the NAACP and Urban League were sending out massive amounts of mail coming out against Helms and Republicans.
These folks and groups all “claim” to be for justice and equality for all, but I guess you have to add, “if” they agree with your politics. It is public knowledge that Cosby has opened his wallet to many civil rights groups lending his celebrity to various social causes for decades.
So, to all the Blacks who are running away from Cosby, like the plague, and have suddenly come down with a severe case of laryngitis, I say that today Bill Cosby has been tried and convicted in the White liberal court of public opinion, but ask yourself, who will stand up for you when it’s your turn?
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Black Press USA.