Without race, there is no explanation for the Martin tragedy, or the reaction to it.
I admit my initial reaction to Martin’s death was based on race – at least in a sense. As an African-American male I am well familiar with the circumstances that led to Martin’s death. Too often was I approached and stopped by George Zimmerman-types for having the audacity for walking into their stores, or through their neighborhoods. Like most Blacks and like Martin, I know what it is to be considered suspicious for no other reason than my skin color.
Whites, too, had a visceral reaction to the Martin tragedy. To many on the Left, it was an example of an all too familiar meme to them, The White Man’s Oppression of the Poor, The Weak, and The Minority, although Zimmerman is not White but a minority himself. It was Kunte Kinte being whipped into saying his name was Toby. It was the reason why so many Blacks are in poverty or in prison. It was the reason why some don’t support Obama.
To Whites on the Right, it was an example of another all too familiar meme, The White Man’s Prosecution by The Poor, The Weak, and The Minority. It was the Duke case. It was Paula Deen being tarred and feathered for calling someone a word 30 years ago that they hear every day on hip hop radio. It was Al Sharpton driving an innocent White man to suicide with false accusations during the Tawana Brawley scheme.
Worse, it was an opportunity for revenge against the Black Thug, who they see – not totally undeservedly, actually – as a threat and a societal cancer.
However, as evidence of the case began to be (honestly) reported, when it became time to put aside our emotional reaction to it, many failed to do so. The case – the crime and the reaction to it would always be about race.
Which makes sense, actually. What other reason could explain why Trayvon Martin was profiled and followed on the last night of his life, when he was simply walking through the neighborhood where his father’s fiancee lived, to be home with his father?
What other reason could explain why anyone would think that Zimmerman had a legitimate reason to believe that his life was in danger, when the medical examiner reported what we should have been able to easily observe from the pictures ourselves, that Zimmerman’s injuries were minor and not life-threatening?
What other reason would explain why anyone would think it was the armed Zimmerman shouting for help on that 911 tape, when the shouts ended the moment the shot was fired?
What other reason could explain why so many still believe Martin jumped out from behind bushes to attack Zimmerman, when those bushes were shown not to exist?
What other reason would explain why so many take as gospel Zimmerman’s story that he – despite being ‘grounded and pounded MMA style’ and ‘having his head bashed repeatedly against the cement,’ - managed the almost physical impossibility of being able to pull out a weapon that was holstered on his back and shoot the teen on top of him in the chest? Or why so few notice “Mr. Zimmerman’s claim that Mr. Martin pounded his head on concrete in his final moments did not fit the crime scene, since Mr. Martin’s body was found on the grass a substantial distance from any concrete,” as Attorney Lisa Bloom puts it in the NY Times?
What other reason could explain why anyone, but especially conservatives, and especially by those in the conservative media, would so easily believe that Zimmerman’s story, when Zimmerman’s story was clearly not credible and often found to be dishonest?
What other reason could explain why Zimmerman was in fact canonized by the conservative media? Karin McQuillan for example in The American Thinker wrote how Zimmerman was “an outstanding race-blind man”, despite Zimmerman’s arrest record and that he posted on his MySpace page how every Mexican he ran into had a knife providing evidence that Zimmerman was neither “outstanding” nor “race-blind”. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh both entertained their audiences with their arguments that Zimmerman should not have even been tried. Ann Coulter, on hearing that Zimmerman was found not guilty shouted out “Hallelujah!” as if world peace had just been declared and the Son had returned to lead his flock.
What other reason could explain why Martin was so savagely attacked by conservatives who – when they weren’t too busy filling their social media pages with examples of Blacks attacking Whites and making apocalyptic predictions of Blacks rioting through the streets – portrayed Martin as a threat to civilization, based Martin’s love of pot, rap lyrics, and other examples of thuggishness?
Pat Dollard – a highly respected right-leaning journalist and columnist – has since the verdict gone beyond dancing on Martin’s grave. He has been using his twitter account to spit upon it too. His best-of tweets include such gems as “the racist criminal in this case got his justice the moment he was shot after assaulting George Zimmerman,” “Here’s what the black community needs to learn from the verdict: You will now be held accountable for your rampant violence and crime,” and “It is appalling & disgusting that the black community is so nearly uniformly despicable in its demand for GZ to be lynched because hes white.” His greatest hit however is undoubtedly “how many victims did George Zimmerman save that night” by killing Trayvon Martin?
Fortunately not every conservative favors such blatant racism. David Horowitz, author of many books on the Left, including the ironically titled Hating Whitey and The Race Card: White Guilt, Black Resentment, and the Assault on Truth and Justice, recently posted a very insightful column at FrontPage Mag, writing:
It is a fact that many, if not most conservatives have already concluded that George Zimmerman is innocent of any crime in connection with Trayvon Martin’s death and should be acquitted if justice is to be served. Indeed, this opinion was formed long before the trial began as a reaction to the outcry of liberals that Zimmerman was guilty — and guilty of being white – and that the crime was murder, and must be punished. But just because a lynch mob has formed to condemn Zimmerman in advance of the facts, does not mean one must conclude that Zimmerman is innocent of Trayvon Martin’s death.
The political melodrama that surrounds, and often overwhelms the judgments in this case reflects a culture war that has been roiling in this country for decades. It is a war in which the liberal ethos of “political correctness” requires that whites are bad and blacks are victims. Right-thinking individuals are justified in rejecting this poisonous standard. But in the interests of justice, the political melodrama should also not be allowed to obscure the reality of this trial: it is about the death of an unarmed 17-year-old, who was not a felon, who was on a neighborhood run to get Skittles, and whose life has been extinguished. Given that the young man was unarmed and that he inflicted very superficial injuries on his adversary during their scuffle, Zimmerman’s claim that he was in fear for his life has to be taken with a grain of salt, to say the least.
What we have learned through the process of the trial thus far is that the only surviving witness, Zimmerman, is not credible. He has lied on several revealing occasions. First about not having any money to post bail when he had $150,000 in his account. Second, about not being aware of the Stand Your Ground Law, when he had taken a class that discussed the law. Third, and most importantly, about Trayvon jumping out of the bushes to attack him — because those bushes don’t exist. So, one has to ask, did he also lie about returning to his vehicle and that only then was he attacked? Or was he still following Trayvon, provoking the alleged attack?”
Nicholas Wapshott, author of Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics, also provides lucidity on the Martin case, pointing out in a column on Reuters that “Young Martin’s death should cause us to stop and consider the broader principles of policing and justice. The reckless pursuit of an unarmed black boy in a hoodie by a vigilante inspired by suspicions based on race shows how dangerously unjust it is to use racial profiling as a means to detain suspected criminals.”
Wapshott also points out that the Martin case underlines that Stand Your Ground laws are “pernicious.” Given how these grounds were used by many to justify the killing of Martin and others like Martin, it is easy to see why he said this. This article from the Rolling Stone magazine http://tinyurl.com/knocsj2 relates the story of Jordan Davis, another unarmed Black Florida teen, who was shot and murdered by White 45 year old Michael David Dunn after a brief verbal argument when Davis would not turn his “thug music” down. As I write, Dunn is on trial pleading not guilty based on the Stand Your Ground law, saying he felt threatened when he fired upon the teen.
It has all been about race. Martin would not have killed if he was not Black. Zimmerman would not have been made a hero if he was Black. And it is impossible to come to this conclusion without also coming to the conclusion that this world is more racist, and more dangerous, than I had previously thought.