There’s been a lot said lately about racism in the shooting of Trayvon Martin on February 26th in Florida, after Martin was allegedly shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, who claimed he shot Martin in self-defense.
The 17 year old was unarmed, and our society began to demand justice.
T-shirts began to appear with Martin’s photo on them.
The hoodie he was wearing the night of the shooting has become more than a fashion statement, but a statement of support for justice in the case.
Facebook and Twitter exploded in a cacophony of support for the boy’s family, as did online petitions demanding justice in the form of arrest of Zimmerman.
The family asked the Obama Administration to get involved. The President loudly proclaimed his emotional connection to the case, claiming that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin.
The groundswell of outrage grew at the police’s refusal to arrest Zimmerman, who was found near the body with a bloody nose and a wound to the back of his head. This was exacerbated by the fact that Zimmerman apparently violated one of the biggest principles of his Neighborhood Watch manual, which states, “it should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers, and they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles.” (I’ll address that part later.)
Opportunistic swine Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton smelled blood in the water and are race-baiting in full force, and protest marches are planned in a number of cities.
I’m loath to scream “RACISM” as soon as something like this happens. I like to wait and examine the facts and see where the story leads. I just didn’t have enough information to make an informed decision, but I have to admit, even I have wondered if the kid’s shooting was racially motivated, thanks to the media’s consistent pounding of this case.
But this is why I wait. Because once the dust settles, there may be details we previously ignored.
Apparently there was an eyewitness. Apparently the eyewitness gave a statement to police. And apparently that statement is why the police were hesitant to prosecute George Zimmerman.
“The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: ‘help, help…and I told him to stop and I was calling 911,” he said.
Trayvon Martin was in a hoodie; Zimmerman was in red.
“When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point…”
Zimmerman says the shooting was self defense. According to information released on the Sanford city website, Zimmerman said he was going back to his SUV when he was attacked by the teen.
Not as clear-cut as we initially believed, is it?
Now, there are other questions here:
Why did Zimmerman follow the kid when the police dispatcher told him not to?
How was a 28 year old unable to restrain or overpower the teen without fatally shooting him?
Why was he carrying a gun in the first place, contrary to the Neighborhood Watch rules?
These are all legitimate questions, and asking them is not only logical, but obligatory if you’re going to make a fair and rational judgment about this in your own mind.
I will say this:
If I am convinced that someone is about to commit a crime on my watch, I’ll certainly follow at a distance, but I won’t confront until I see a crime actually committed, and I will certainly call the police like Zimmerman did.
I have also seen some very large teenagers. I tend to judge all by the size of my son, who is on the small side, but there are 8th graders on his baseball team who are bigger than I am, who weigh more, and who could probably kill me with one hand tied behind their backs. I have seen reports that Trayvon Martin was the same size as boxer Thomas Hearns, but Zimmerman was a pretty big guy, so it’s difficult to believe that he couldn’t physically overpower the teen.
As for the gun…
Let me tell you something, folks. If I’m alone on a dark street, engaged in activity that specifically has me exposed to potential criminal element, damn skippy I’ll be carrying a gun! I’d be stupid not to! It is also my right to do so, and I’m smart enough and realistic enough to know that given my size and physical prowess I wouldn’t be likely to overpower an attacker. So yes. I carry. I would carry if I was performing Neighborhood Watch duties, and I would carry if I was out for a walk in the dark. It is not a question of “Why?” It is a matter of my taking responsibility for my own safety. It’s not a matter of whether or not I think police will protect me. They will not. Numerous court decisions have confirmed that police have no obligation to protect individual citizens, and even if they did, I certainly don’t have personal police protection on me 24/7.
But all this is irrelevant.
It is the right and responsibility of every individual to defend their own lives and the lives of others, and if we choose to use the best tool available on the market to do so, it certainly should not be used against us.
There are a lot of questions in the case of Trayvon Martin. I certainly ache for his family and friends, and I question whether he had to die that night.
But I’m not going to jump to conclusions in this case. There is no clear winner here.
The only thing I do know is that having experienced pretty severe forms of prejudice and racism while living in the former Soviet Union, I’m clearly sensitive to this issue and admit to having visceral reactions to it.
However, I’m stepping back and examining all sides and details of this case, and I would encourage everyone I know to do the same.
This case is not clear-cut, and having race baiters like Sharpton and Jackson screeching “RAAAAACISM” at the tops of their lungs doesn’t really help the situation.
Stop. Think. Examine.
That’s all I ask.
I’ll add one more thing. This guy first wrote about the previously unknown eyewitness. And for bringing doubt to a case the nation previously thought was a clear case of racist murder, he received a bunch of hatred and vitriol, tossed in with accusations of racism.
Are we racist for discussing additional evidence in a case the media has already convicted of being a white-on-black crime?
Are we racist for discussing doubts?
Are we racist for not falling into lockstep with the media narrative about a black victim and a white, racist gun nut?
No, I don’t think we’re racist. I think we’re rational human beings, and it’s a damn shame that any doubt cast on the existing “common” knowledge about this case is automatically turned into racism. It erodes our ability to rationally discuss issues. It significantly degrades the level of discourse (much like the common assumption that the guy who shot Gabrielle Giffords last year was a disgruntled Republican gun nut)…
…not that our level of discourse was all that lofty to begin with.