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Emery: Horton Meets a Who

2:56 PM, Nov 28, 2007 • By NOEMIE EMERY
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"Mitt Romney, meet Willie Horton!" enthused Chris Matthews on Hardball, about the commotion created by the news that Romney, when governor, appointed a judge who let a murderer out of jail without supervision, a murderer who went on to kill, in this case two people, again. And there is the end of a great urban legend, still cherished by those on the left.

Willie Horton, you will recall, was the convicted murderer let out of jail in Massachusetts on an unsupervised furlough, on which he raped and assaulted some people in Maryland, on a program defended by Michael Dukakis, who was running for president back in 1988. Picked up as an issue by George Bush 41 as a way to define Dukakis as soft on crime, on criminals, and on predators of all sorts domestic and foreign, the attack was both extremely effective and denounced by the left as a nefarious tactic. No one cared, the left said, that Horton had stabbed a nineteen-year-old boy to death with multiple knife wounds, no one cared that he raped a young woman and stabbed her fiance; no one cared that Dukakis had been indifferent to the complaints of the victims and their survivors, and remarkably solicitous to the feelings of killers; all they cared was that the killer was ... black.

Race was the only reason voters had to object to Dukakis. Why else would they mind having a governor who put the convenience of murderers ahead of the safety of citizens, a governor who refused to meet crime victims (or their survivors) while commiserating with the families of prisoners; why else would they mind having sociopaths moving freely among them? No one would object to being stabbed, raped, or having his relatives killed by someone of his own ethic background or melanin quotient. The answer would have to be race.

Then, along comes Daniel Tavares Jr., a convicted killer released by a judge in, again, Massachusetts, and the public erupts in a Horton-esque furor, blaming the public officials responsible, not knowing it isn't supposed to be bothered, as the killer is - hold your hats, people - white. Imagine that. A 'person of pallor,' as James Taranto would put it, and people still think this was wrong. So, it was the crime after all that made people turn on Dukakis; the crime, not the looks of the criminal, not 'white' fears of 'black' crime, but fears of crime, period; not fear of what some people look like, but fear of what some people do.

Apologies to Bush 41 doubtless will be coming in shortly. It's the crime, stupid. It was the crime all along.