Rubin Carter Wasn’t a Hero Then . . . Or Now: Myths & Facts About “Hurricane” Carter

Debbie Schlussel, April 21, 2014

Yesterday, the media was all abuzz about the death of “noted civil rights activist” Rubin “Hurricane” Carter whose boxing career was “ruined” after he was “falsely accused” of a murder he did “not commit.” Don’t believe the hype.

Carter, who died Sunday, was the beneficiary of multiple myths and fiction created byHollywood, the media, and a Bob Dylan song, most of it fairy tales. In fact, Carter was a thug who’d been involved in several crimes before the murder he may have committed and of which he was never acquitted or proven innocent.

Even the liberal New York Times wasn’t down wit da struggle on the Hurricane Carter mythology. In 1999, the NYT’s Selwyn Raab wrote this about that year’s hit movie, “The Hurricane,” starring Denzel Washington and based entirely on Carter’s own biased account of his life:

Whatever its intentions, ”The Hurricane” falls into the category of history contorted for dramatic effect.

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But here are a few facts that don’t come into play in most of the mainstream media and race merchant mythology and remembrances of the newly departed Hurricane Carter:

* A bullet and shotgun were found in the Dodge in which he was picked up.

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* The conventional story is that Carter was targeted because he was a civil rights activist. But there’s absolutely no evidence he was ever any such thing. In fact, all of the evidence is that he was just a thug and a lowlife with some boxing skills who was out for himself, carousing at bars and cheating on his wife.

* The claim is that Carter was exonerated. But that’s simply not the case. He was tried and found guilty TWICE. But those convictions were set aside on the grounds that he didn’t get a fair trial. Prosecutors simply decided not to try him a third time because so much time had passed and because of all the bad publicity against them and in Carter’s favor.

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* The Bob Dylan song, “Hurricane,” has a number of false claims in it, just like the movie.

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* Several of Carter’s alibi witnesses from the first trial recanted the alibi testimony at his second trial.

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* Bob Dylan sings of Carter that “one time he could-a been the champion of the world,” but while Carter was a skilled boxer, there is no evidence he’d have won.

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* There is a claim that Carter was about to begin college on an athletic scholarship. This is also bunk, and there’s no evidence of it whatsoever.

Read more on the many myths about Rubin Carter, many of which are masterfully laid out in painstaking detail here, “Top Ten Myths About Rubin Hurricane Carter and the Lafayette Grill Murders.”

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