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Zimmerman Verdict: Race, Guns, and Baloney

Thoughts on the racial divide in America and what keeps us apart. More: Bill Cosby Agrees with the Zimmerman Verdict

by
Rick Moran

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July 19, 2013 - 12:16 am
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As the unnecessarily divisive and horribly overblown Zimmerman trial and its aftermath begin to fade into memory, it behooves us to gather our thoughts and ponder the notion that there are lessons to be learned from our folly, so that somehow, we can avoid the madness the next time a racially charged incident sears the consciousness of black people, reminding them of past — and present– injustices.

A folly, indeed. The incident that led to the death of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman is pregnant with counterfactuals, any one of which, if they had come to pass, might have allowed us to avoid the bitterness and sense of betrayal felt by so many. To wit:

1. If the shooting of Trayvon Martin had taken place in many other states, there would not have been 45 days between the time of Mr. Martin’s death and the arrest of George Zimmerman. Prosecutors in many states with narrower definitions of self-defense and no “stand your ground” law would have had far less leeway in deciding not to prosecute Zimmerman initially. This means there would not have been a need for a special prosecutor. Nor would the federal government have been given the opportunity to meddle in a purely local criminal matter and ratchet up racial tension by helping organize demonstrations against the Sanford authorities.

This is not to say that there would have been a jury in the U.S. that would have convicted Zimmerman. The reactions of the jurors in Sanford would probably have been the same as any in the country when presented with the same evidence. But the delay in indicting Zimmerman allowed groups and individuals with a political agenda to muscle their way forward to the microphone where they could scream their obscenities, half-truths, and outright falsehoods about Zimmerman, about Trayvon Martin, and about some people’s idea of “justice” in America. It is a sad commentary on the media that it is so often the partisan with the loudest voice and the most outrageous charge who ends up getting undeserved attention.

2. If the press had reported the story accurately, and fairly, the narratives that developed on both sides would have more closely resembled the truth as it was eventually understood and not been so wildly divergent as to give partisans ammunition with which to attack the other side. One expects agenda-driven journalism from most media sources. But one also expects the media to behave responsibly. NBC’s “mis-edit” of the 911 tape from that night that the network twisted to “prove” Mr. Zimmerman was profiling Trayvon Martin went beyond any agenda that might have been at work. In another age, there might have been an FCC investigation into whether the network would keep its broadcasting license. The reporting by Fox News (and much of the conservative media) on Trayvon Martin’s short life should also come in for heavy criticism. It played to the absolute worst stereotypes of a young black man in America. Martin was a “thug”; he smoked marijuana; he got into fights at school; he was perhaps immersed in the “gangsta” culture.

The fact that this description could be applied to a significant subset of young white males apparently was not considered relevant. Martin was no angel. Neither was Zimmerman. But bringing these “facts” forward about Mr. Martin was not intended to illuminate, but rather to justify Mr. Zimmerman’s actions.

3. If President Obama had picked up the phone and called Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, asking that they cease their inflammatory rhetoric, while issuing a statement asking for patience and harmony, the racial temperature might have been kept at a low simmer. Instead, it exploded into a hate-filled, exaggerated, near hysterical outrage, and the president of the United States took sides in the controversy by saying “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” and calling for investigating “every aspect of this.”

No one doubted whose side the president had taken. And in an already polarized situation, it was like throwing gasoline on a fire.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
As a white person, it is true, as the author asserts, that I cannot "comprehend" black life experiences. However, I'm old enough to remember segregation and the civil rights movement. I had the highest of hopes that with all of the government sponsored programs that poured money at the then "problem" would be successful and we, as a nation would rise together above racial divides. I was completely wrong. Maybe racism still exists, but I don't know any white racists. I think that we, as a society have given more than enough and it is time for the black community to accept responsibility and accountability. If you are constantly rewarded for being a problem child, you will never grow up.

I reject the concept of "white guilt" - I don't have any. I lost a job years ago due to racial quotas and moved on. I did not start a riot because of the perceived injustice. I've always paid my taxes and a sizable portion of the revenue has gone directly into black communities where it continues to be wasted. As a second generation immigrant, I never owned slaves nor have any of my ancestors owned slaves, so the concept of reparations for "past sin" is repellant to me.

After all of these years, we are still mired in the same old stuff and I'm sick of it.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
--The fact that this description could be applied to a significant subset of young white males apparently was not considered relevant. --

If would have been if Zimmerman was a tubby, family-type black guy.


--Martin was no angel. Neither was Zimmerman.--

Why are we having this bizarre attempt to find some kind of equivalency between Zimmerman and Martin? Martin was a stupid teenaged boy doing a stupid teenaged boy thing that ended up crossing the line. Zimmerman is looking more and more like a guy who just cared about his community.

Assuming, as indicated by the latest reports, that Martin was pounding his head against the ground and was preparing to smother him when Zimmerman fired the shot, name me one thing that Zimmerman did that night that was either immoral or illegal?
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
What you really meant to say was "if a black gang banger from downtown Sanford killed Trayvon, no one in the black community (or white) would care" and "if a white trailer dwelling guy from Sanford was shot by Zimmerman, no one in the white community (or black) would care".
Despite all the hysteria, make this a black on black or white on white crime - no one gives a hoot. It's only because it's (twisted) into a white on black crime that it has any traction in the media.

As someone who lives too close to this whole mess, I am happy that the city hasn't been burned down and no one locally has been hurt...but appears that the media is trying its hardest manufacture an incident.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (108)
All Comments   (108)
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This is TRAYVON MARTIN before he was shot!!!
This is Trayvon at 17 years old. He was not shot when he was 12. The mainstream media only shows pictures of him at 12.

Why show the same photo at 12 years old that the rest of the mainstream media shows? WHY NOT SHOW THE TRUTH?? Because OBAMA has been caught trying to cause a race war! This is what he needs in order to declare martial law and arrest and jail anyone he wants (political opponents who support the constitution aka Tea Party patriots) without due process!
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200230510233972&set=pb.1489022958.-2207520000.1374636128.&type=3&theater

Government Caught Paying Protesters After Trayvon Martin Shooting To Create Race War http://govtslaves.info/government-caught-paying-protesters-after-trayvon-martin-shooting-to-create-race-war/#sthash.eLEkFghy.dpuf
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Being born and growing up in the northwest, I have not been subjected to the black culture directly. Even my 20 years in the military, there were very few black people I worked with directly. However, there was Mexican culture around while I was growing up. From a female perspective, the Mexican male culture is disturbing. They are mean. They have a tendency to leer at you in a very creepy way, even when they are clearly with their wife and kids. This happened to me as a young person all the time and just last summer when I was minding my own business fishing at a lake. It is simply their gross behavior. The other odd thing is that even though there were not many black people at the second military base I was stationed at, a black guy, who I didn't ever meet, started stalking me. He did not live in the same dorm I did (and I have no idea where he lived) but would show up at my door in his "blues" trying to get me to go out on a date with him. So, my experience with some minority groups, with no intentional interaction with them, has been dismal. On the other hand, I spent six years in Japan, traveling around south east Asia, as well, and cherish the experience, especially Okinawa. So, there is my perspective on race relations.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Look, this is a case in which there was racial profiling followed by an assault purely based on race. In other words, a hate crime.

The victim was George Zimmerman. The person conducting the hate crime was Trayvon Martin. Martin knew Zimmerman was white, employed derogatory racist insults when describing Zimmerman over the phone, and then attacked Zimmerman, who had not said a word to him or directly threatened him in any way. And the sole reason for the attack was that Zimmerman was white and was "disrespecting" Martin by observing his motions from a distance.

There is no other way to view this incident given the known facts. The perpetrator of the hate crime got killed as a result, the most effective form of justice possible.

39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
I absolutely agree with your assessment.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
I had to stop reading at the conservative media was presenting Trayvon as a thug(which the evidence bears out) in order to "justify Mr Zimmerman's actions." To think that showing evidence that perfectly illustrated why Mr. Martin Attacked Mr. Zimmerman was not the correct and informative course of action is merely cowardly equivocation. That information justified Mr. Zimmerman's actions just as much as the Not Guilty verdict did. You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
If Trayvon Martin had just been "walking", he most likely would have not aroused George Zimmerman's suspicions enough to make him put aside his errand to the market, to more closely observe this man (no one had any idea how old TM was until after the incident was over) peering into windows, raising suspicions that he may be "casing" the place - this after a series of break-ins in the neighborhood.
One would think that if one was new to an area, that person would not want to create any tensions in a neighborhood that he meant to call home for an extended time. Of course, if he hadn't been expelled/suspended from high-school in Miami-Dade for possession of drug paraphernalia, he wouldn't have been there in the first place.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
"peering into windows, raising suspicions that he may be "casing" the place"
===
Perhaps trayvon was just a peeping tom?
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
mr. obama, unable and unwilling to let go of a good thing, eg the race card, once again stuck his face into a press conference today. his race blabbering, got this mendacious unpresidential ignorant lazy guy elected. something for the republicans to consider when mouthing off regarding half our population or 47%. the fact is they all stink but at least one of them comes with a phone and some eats.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It’s the same lesson we’ve been trying — and failing — to learn for 150 years: that whites and blacks in America will never be comfortable living together until we understand each other." False dilemma my friend. I don't have to understand someone to treat them with honor and respect. Understanding someone is for self help books, treating people in a loving way is for society.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Had it been a young white boy walking in George Zimmerman’s neighborhood wearing a letterman jacket rather than a black kid wearing a hoodie, would George Zimmerman have been quite as zealous in carrying out his responsibilities as a neighborhood watch commander that rainy night?"
If there were multiple reports in the neighborhood of burglaries by white kids in letterman jackets, ABSOLUTELY!
"Would this incident have even happened if Trayvon Martin had been white?" -YES!
"Would Zimmerman have seen a white kid’s sauntering through the neighborhood in the same light as he saw Mr. Martin’s?" -YES!
"Would he have been as suspicious?" -YES!
"Would he even have bothered to call 911?" -YES!

If you think otherwise, you are revealing YOUR racist side!
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Had it been a young white boy walking in George Zimmerman’s neighborhood wearing a letterman jacket rather than a black kid wearing a hoodie, would George Zimmerman have been quite as zealous in carrying out his responsibilities as a neighborhood watch commander that rainy night? Every fair-minded American knows the answer to that question..."

I don't know, he seems to report everything.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/22/george-zimmerman-s-history-of-911-calls-a-complete-log.html

Of the 44 other 911 calls he made only 14 were for suspicious people and vehicles and Black male calls numbered 4.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Six, actually.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rick, there is so much wrong with this piece I don't know where to start.

You seem to be trying to throw some bones to both sides of an argument in which the facts are pretty darn clear and don't lend themselves to wildly divergent interpretations.

The facts almost totally support George Zimmerman's version of the story.

Zimmerman committed no crime and did pretty much what any other law abiding citizen would have done throughout the incident.

The facts indicate that the only one practicing racism was Trayvon Martin.

Any discussion of "what it is like to be black in America" has no relevance to this incident and injecting that element into the debate is irresponsible and racist itself.

Missing from the debate is a discussion about why so many black people of every age group continue to harbor such a victim mentality and refuse to accept responsibility for their behavior or teach their children to accept responsibility for the consequences of their conduct.

The "both sides are at fault" moral equivalency nonsense, no stupidity, has no place in this case. George Zimmerman should have never been arrested.

"White people" have no, zero none, nada, collective blame, responsibility or anything for a thug or wannabe thug, whichever Trayvon was at the time, attacking and apparently, trying to kill a "cracker' for the offense of being there.

Where is the compassion for George Zimmerman.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not quite "Zimmerman committed no crime and did pretty much what any other law abiding citizen would have done throughout the incident"! It's actually what police around the country encourage people to do! And what people in predominantly poor areas should do as well. Guess what middle class folks don't put up with it, like the people in GZ's complex.

In fact, TM was a Jr. Thug, desperately trying to get his graduation certificate. He was not just a black teenager, he was a teenager that was acting strangely, clearly he was meandering based on the time he took to get home. He was a pothead and possibly on "lean" as well.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think we are in agreement. George Zimmerman's crime was being a white/hispanic defending himself from a black thug.

As for Trayvon. At least it used to be a crime to sucker punch someone, get on top of them and pound their head into the concrete for no reason.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
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