The acquittal this week of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin has been divisive to say the least. It has re-opened old wounds with respect to race and justice in this country. Although these wounds had long since scared over, the self-flagellation of the professional racism-baiters has managed to incite conflict where none existed. Like the boy who cried wolf, warnings against racism are weakened when applied to every event involving hetero-race conflict. Trayvon’s death was a tragedy, but not because he was black and Zimmerman was not. It was tragic because the death of anyone is so, and that label is particularly apt when applied to a child (no matter the age). The self-appointed “leaders” of the black community would have us believe his death was entirely the result of “white” racism on the part of Zimmerman and that it is entirely impossible that Zimmerman was simply an overly paranoid idiot. As an aside it is odd that Zimmerman is labeled a “white Hispanic” because he has one parent from each “race” while Obama is not labeled as a “white black” even though his parentage is similarly divergent – apparently such labels are selectively applied when it is convenient toward advancing one’s biased narrative.
The narrative in this case is that if Person A suggests that non-white Person B acts or appears suspicious then clearly Person A must be racist. No further evidence is needed. For some reason it has been overlooked that not only was Trayvon black, he was also young, and he was a male. If you can “profile” someone for one characteristic, then why would that exclude them being profiled for all other characteristics? Oh, that’s right, if he were profiled as a “young male” then that would have not have been sufficient to turn this case into a media circus. Isn’t it just as possible Zimmerman saw a suspicious male teenager, who, to quote George Carlin “just happened to be black”? There is nothing else in Zimmerman’s background (beyond blogosphere innuendo) to suggest he holds racist views. Had there been you can be sure such information would have come to light at trial. Such information was conspicuous in its absence. My point is not to exonerate Zimmerman, but merely to demonstrate that the deliberate injection of a racial component to this tragedy does a grave injustice to Trayvon’s memory. He will not be remembered for who he was, but rather merely as a hollow symbol. A symbol that the “leaders” in the black community would like to co-opt for their own purposes. They have capitalized on Trayvon’s death solely to bolster their own reputations and bona fides as “leaders”. Perhaps I’m too harsh. Perhaps their actions betray a positive light. If the only racial issues are ones they must manufacture then perhaps we are finally hearing the death rattle of racism in this country.
So, if this case is not about race, what was it about? I was not there, nor were any of you dear readers, so what I will discuss is what we do know: Zimmerman had a gun and that gun was used to kill Trayvon. Although I count myself among those that believe the government has no right to restrict gun ownership, I think it would be intellectually dishonest to ignore the fact that although increasing gun ownership will tend to lower rates of crime, there will be a concomitant increase in accidental harm. This is one of those situations. How can we prevent similar accidents of escalation stupidity? I do not know. Nobody knows. The problem is that in theory we would like to find the exact perfect equilibrium point of gun ownership where both crime and accidents are minimized, but there is no non-arbitrary method by which one can divine that point. Laws will never solve this. Only incentives and technology will move us in the right direction. Those opposed to gun ownership should devote their resources not toward futile “whack-o-mole” efforts toward 20-20 hindsight prevention but rather toward developing the ideal non-lethal defensive weapon (Star Trek phasers anyone?). All things being equal, if one can repel an attack by lethal or non-lethal methods the vast majority of people would opt to do so non-lethally. If such an alternative were available on the market, then that alternative would come to dominate, making such senseless gun deaths like Trayvon’s a distant memory. We can all agree on that goal.
I read your column, “Crying Wolf,” in this week’s edition of the Morgan County Citizen. I must be honest. I rarely read your articles thoroughly because they often make you sound more like someone who just became a Libertarian. Today, I actually read the article in its entirety because I felt that you allowed more of your humanity to emerge. As someone who finds herself becoming more non-partisan by the minute, it was refreshing to see that you did not deny the racist history of our nation. I can also say that we agree that many factions are not interested in allowing this event to prompt serious debate on how much race affects the lives of many; media sound bytes are, by far, more entertaining.
I must disagree with your assertion that, in these United States, Trayvon Martin could have been profiled in any other way. The history of African-American males in this nation does not follow the pattern you use. In spite of your having done your homework, your belief is quite naïve. I would like to refer you to the Huffington Post Black Voices page. Please read the post from actor Lance Gross where he writes an open letter to George Zimmerman, post verdict. His eloquence accomplishes more in explaining what African- American males, and most people of color endure by mere existence in the United States. ( No self-appointed black leader can compare.)
I must give you some credit for wanting to be factual; the truth is everything. Try to understand that we human beings are multi-dimensional; as a result, no one person, or stance will offer all of the answers.
Not sure what you mean by this “I rarely read your articles thoroughly because they often make you sound more like someone who just became a Libertarian.”?
If you mean I have to often “dumb it down” and make it seem simpler then it is, then that is not a reflection on my understanding but rather space constraints in the MCC… I wish I had a lot more space to delve into the meat of issues. But also keeping it short keeps people’s attention… better to get people to at least think about something in a different way rather than explain it to the nth degree and lose their interest in a “weedy” discussion. If you meant something else please enlighten me 😉
Regarding my belief being naive…you’re overlooking the point I was trying to make. I’m not saying there is NO racism and in NO cases is there profiling. I’m simply saying that it is just as absurd to say that race is ALWAYS the controlling influence in any conflict where the race of the two parties differs. This basically paints white people as a class as being all uniformly racist and it is genetically impossible for them to not ever be racist… for if it were possible then it would likewise be possible that sometimes race was not a factor in such conflict… but to hear it from the “racism-baiters” that is not the case – for them race is ALWAYS a factor irrespective of any evidence to the contrary.
The stance given in this case is quite absolutist and non-falsifiable, e.g. if one party is black and the other is not then no further evidence is needed, it was racism, case closed. Some people take it to an absurd degree all the time… if you criticize any black person (Obama being the most often used example) then that is de facto evidence of racism. It makes all black people “untouchable” for fear of being labeled with the “r” word merely because you disagree with someone and their skin color differs from yours.
If it looks like racism is involved, fine check it out, but when the evidence clearly shows there was no racial motivation, as in this case (I mean Zimmerman was the poster boy for being the most non-racist person ever… he had a black business partner, spear headed efforts for accountability of a cop that beat a homeless black man, and on and on… would a “racist” behave like that). The evidence clearly shows there was no racial motivation… so to keep beating that drum just makes those beating the drum looks ridiculous and harms their credibility when something else happens (e.g. “crying wolf” that actually is legitimately racially motivated.