Radio news in the last few days has been telling us about the chap who was wrongly convicted of murder thirty years ago, and has only just been released following a retrial. This was in — where else? — the United States of America. He has, it seems, spent 28 years on what is called ‘Death Row’: the row of cells in many American prisons set aside to house those whom the authorities intend, one day, to kill.
I heard reports on BBC, VOA, DW, and even Radio Japan. Not one of them mentioned the chap’s skin-colour. Why indeed should they? What could it possibly have to do with his guilt or innocence? Even so, I must admit to idly saying to myself ‘I wonder if he happens to be black?’ The man himself later confirmed, in an interview broadcast by the BBC, that he is in fact black, that he was black at the time of his arrest, and that he was fitted up because he was black.
For a man who has spent half his life in prison — for anyone — he is a remarkably calm, clear speaker, and seems, as far as one can tell from a radio interview, to be what some of us would call ‘A decent sort of chap’. He suggests that America should set its own house in order before criticizing the human rights records of other countries.
Most remarkable of all, he says he is not angry. Well I for one am bloody furious.