All of the hoopla, hucksterism, media manipulation and name-calling associated with the campaign to kill Mumia Abu- Jamal seems clearly intended to drown out any rational discussion of the facts of the case. After all, the man has been tried, convicted and sentenced to death. A new governor is committed to carrying out the death penalty. The die, it would seem, has been cast.
So whence comes all the hair-tearing and hand-wringing? Is it simply bloodlust? Is it wrong to question the validity of a death sentence handed down by a jury manipulated by a prosector who played on their fear of the defendant's 10-year-old political statements?
Is it wrong to question a verdict of premeditated murder when a man happens on his brother being brutally beaten by a police officer and attempts to intervene? (And this is only if one accepts the prosecution's theory.)
Is it wrong to question the theory on which a capital conviction is based when ballistics evidence - the path of the bullet through Mumia's body - contradicts it?
It is wrong to question testimony when other witnesses tell of being threatened, bribed and intimidated by police?
Is it wrong to question why none of the testimony indicating another individual running from the scene of the crime, corroborated by three people who did not know each other, was ever followed up?
Is it wrong to question the conviction of yet another African-American defendant in a racially charged and polarized situation, to demand that the process stand up to rigorous scrutiny? And when that scrutiny reveals serious deficiencies, is it wrong to demand another proceeding where all witnesses can be heard, where the racial makeup of the jury reflects the community in which it is held and where inflammatory racial and political statements by the prosecution are not allowed?
Given the retrograde tone of the campaign being waged - and signed onto by too many normally responsible journals - one understands why so many of the disenfranchised find themselves willing to believe the powers-that-be are once again conspiring to remove from their midst an articulate and passionate voice who offers an alternative vision.
If people believe in justice, they must be willing to pay the price, to stand up to the scrutiny, to encourage questions and supply objective, rational, truthful answers.