O.J. was guilty: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. Evoking the certitude of the beginning lines of “A Christmas Carol” is appropriate, for just as Marley’s true status as “dead as a door-nail” is crucial to what befalls Scrooge, O.J.’s guilt is essential to understanding how this awful, episode in American history damaged the nation and the culture generally, and race relations particularly. Looking back, it is clear that all that has followed oozed from this catalyst: a sociopathic celebrity athlete who could not accept that his wife was moving on from the abusive relationship he inflicted on her, so he brutally slayed her and a male friend he didn’t know. Then, because he was rich, he bought the best legal defense team any murder has ever had, and they brilliant exploited racial distrust in Los Angeles and the U.S. to win an acquittal, with no more concern for the long-term damage they were doing than they had qualms about allowing a double murderer to escape justice.
At the end of an ugly trial filled with incompetence and ethics violations, Simpson was acquitted of the brutal 1994 double murder of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Simpson’s lawyers convinced a jury that Simpson’s guilt had not been proved “beyond a reasonable doubt,” though it had been; the problem was that it had not been proved beyond an emotional doubt, which as the all-star defense team well-knew, can be more important. The scenes of black Americans rejoicing because a black man was getting away with a brutal murder of two whites expressed a level of racial hatred that most white Americans didn’t suspect existed. It also should have been an epic teaching moment about the power of confirmation bias. Blacks really believed, surveys showed, that O.J was innocent. It was an early sighting of the “Facts Don’t Matter” contagion that has fueled the Black Lives Matter, “1619” Project and critical race theory wounds inflicted on U.S. society in recent years.