As we survey the horror of the Ft. Hood massacre, it might be useful to remember that we’ve been here before, with another shooting 16 years ago. The circumstances were very different, but the reaction of the media and other elite – the excusing, the spinning, the slight regard for the victims – has been eerily similar.
On Dec. 7, 1993, aboard a crowded rush hour Long Island Railroad train from Manhattan to Hicksville, N.Y., a Jamaican immigrant named Colin Ferguson pulled a gun and began firing at fellow passengers. He killed six and wounded 19 before being subdued by three passengers.
The story of Ferguson’s trial is bizarre and tragic, played out against the backdrop of a “Bonfire of the Vanities” New York in the pre-Giuliani era. When the Nassau County commissioner quite sensibly called Ferguson “an animal,” Jesse Jackson parachuted in to condemn the comment as racist. Al Sharpton took time out from inciting arson and murder long enough to warn of a backlash against blacks.
On Dec. 13, the New York Times quoted one Doris Perkins, who, when she first heard about the crime, had hoped the shooter wouldn’t turn out to be black. “‘I figured if he was black, there was going to be hell to pay,’ said Mrs. Perkins, a black nurse from Jamaica, Queens. ‘I told my two teen-age sons to stay in the house and off the streets until this thing blows over.’”