Opinion: Columnists

Florida school bus beating was vicious, but not racial

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Education,Gregory Kane,Columnists,Florida,Analysis

Julian McKnight is a man clearly living in denial.

McKnight has a son also named Julian McKnight. There has been no indication in news reports about whether the father should be called Julian McKnight Sr., and the son Julian McKnight Jr.

Son McKnight, only 15, hasn't done Dad McKnight proud lately. On July 9, the son, along with two other 15-year-old boys, attacked a 13-year-old on a school bus in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The attack was vicious, brutal and, like so many things these days, recorded on a cell phone camera. (The beating was also recorded on surveillance tapes on the bus.)

When the beating ended, the victim was left with two black eyes and a broken arm.

Son McKnight appeared in court last week, to receive justice for his part in the assault. The youth had nothing to say, but his dad more than made up for the silence.

"All I can say is that he has had his consequences already, you know?" Dad McKnight said. "This is life. I am sorry what happened to the victim. It's just the way it is. My son ain't never been no bad person. He just got mixed up with bad people. That's all. He's sorry."

Oh, where to begin in picking apart those comments. Let's start with Dad McKnight's claim, "he's sorry."

Sorry, Pop, but those that have seen the video know how vicious the attack was. Those that saw the video know each punch and kick the victim received was delivered with malicious intent to seriously injure or maim.

"He's sorry," amounts to a "Whoops, my bad" apology, and "whoops, my bad" won't quite cut it here.

As for Dad McKnight's claim that his son isn't bad, but those other two boys certainly are:

How do we know that 15-year-old Julian McKnight wasn't the leader in the attack? Why should we assume that he's not one of the bad people himself?

My guess is that the only thing Son McKnight is sorry about is getting caught; he's sorry that the incident was recorded, which allowed authorities to finger him and his two thuggish friends.

"This is life," Dad McKnight said in his comments. "It's just the way it is."

What in the world do those two statements mean? That 13-year-old being viciously kicked, punched and beaten to the point the victim receives two black eyes is "life?"

And the rest of us are supposed to accept that "it's just the way it is?"

Dad McKnight would have served his son much better if he had just shut up. But at least he steered clear of the race issue, which is more than some have done.

McKnight and the other two attackers are black; their victim is white.

There has been no rush from those that beat the Trayvon Martin drum for over a year to comment on this one, but I'm enough of a realist not to expect that.

Former Florida Rep. Allen West isn't such a realist. He had this comment:

"Three 15-year-old black kids beat up a white kid because he told school officials they tried to sell him drugs. Do you hear anything from Sharpton, Jackson, NAACP, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, liberal media or Hollywood? Cat got your tongues or is it that pathetic hypocrisy revealing itself once again? Y'all just make me sick."

West, in his tirade, seems to forget that the beating wasn't about race. It was, as he indicated, a revenge attack. And wasn't it supporters of George Zimmerman who insisted that his shooting Trayvon Martin had "nothing to do with race?"

So now they want to make a racial issue of another incident that had even less to do with race. There are plenty of incidents where black criminals attack white victims that might be compared to what happened between Zimmerman and Martin.

But what happened in St. Petersburg, Fla., on July 9 isn't one of them.

GREGORY KANE, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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