Last word from me, I mean. I could go on and on about this, and it's mainly the fact that there aren't that many people who read this blog, and of those the majority probably more or less agree with me, that holds me back. So I'll get this off my chest and move on to other topics.
I'm appalled at the number of people who don't seem to understand or care about the concept of proof in a criminal case. I'm appalled at the number of people who seem to think a man should be sentenced to thirty years in prison on the basis of their firm belief that he deserves it, regardless of the evidence. I'm appalled that the basis of that firm belief seems to be that the accused is, for polemical purposes, white, and the deceased was black. I'm appalled by "civil rights leaders" who claim to want racial harmony but have unceasingly spread inflammatory falsehoods. I'm appalled by their assertion that there is some sort of widespread pattern of white men gunning down black children, and by the fact that a lot of black people seem to believe it. I'm appalled by the way much of the press has manipulated and even falsified the story in order to serve their preferred "narrative" of a violent bigot attacking a child.
In too many minds the racial situation is forever fixed around 1963, with pure-hearted black civil rights activists pitted against wicked white segregationists. But that world is gone. Nobody with sense would deny that white racism still exists. But nobody with sense would cling to the idea that most white people are, at heart, Bull Connor. (I wonder how many people reading this don't even know who Bull Connor was--if you don't, see Wikipedia.)
One can certainly understand the continuing concern of black people about racism. One can understand why they were disturbed by the initial reports about this matter. The truth might have gone a long way toward reassuring them. But there were too many people who didn't want to tell the truth, or even to know it. The work of division has been done. I hope it hasn't been as successful as it seems.
If you want a detailed account of Zimmerman's version of the events, watch this video:
Yes, we only have his word, and the only person who could contradict the essentials of it is dead. But the story is plausible and consistent, and there is some evidence to support it, and none to contradict it. Here's a good summary of the distortion and misinformation spread by the Al Sharptons of the world and their allies in the media; it includes a note about the almost universally accepted belief that Zimmerman disobeyed the police dispatcher's order not to follow Martin--almost universally accepted, but supported by no evidence.
The most egregious distortion is the portrait of Zimmerman as racist. It is certain that he misjudged Martin, with tragic results. But there is no evidence at all that he was motivated by a general animosity to black people. The fact that Martin was a young black male no doubt had something to do with Zimmerman's taking notice of him, but Martin's dress and behavior would have been parts of the impression, too. It is dishonest to assert race as a factor without also mentioning that the neighborhood had experienced a series of breakins perpetrated by young black males. Bill Cosby would not have attracted the same attention. This news story contains a lot of information about Zimmerman's background and the neighborhood where the shooting took place. It's hard to fit that Zimmerman into a pointy hood, and hard to describe that place as a bastion of white supremacy. And I trust anyone who has followed the story at all knows that Martin was not the cute little twelve-year-old that he was in the widely circulated picture, but a pretty tough seventeen-year-old who showed signs of heading in the wrong direction.
Finally, here is Shelby Steele on the sad state of a once-noble movement:
Almost everyone saw this verdict coming. It is impossible to see how this jury could have applied the actual law to this body of evidence and come up with a different conclusion. The civil-rights establishment's mistake was to get ahead of itself, to be seduced by its own poetic truth even when there was no evidence to support it. And even now its leaders call for a Justice Department investigation, and they long for civil lawsuits to be filed—hoping against hope that some leaf of actual racial victimization will be turned over for all to see. This is how a once-great social movement looks when it becomes infested with obsolescence.
You can read the whole thing here.
It was a tragic incident, the result of misjudgments on the part of both Zimmerman and Martin, though Martin's proved the more grave. It never should have happened, but, having happened, it should never have become a racially divisive issue on a national scale. I don't know the motives of those who have used it to inflame hostility, but I don't think concern for the welfare of the nation is among them.
Trayvon Martin, RIP. In spite of the hostility and suspicion surrounding his death, I look around me every day and see black and white people coexisting on reasonably good terms. Riots, thank God, did not happen after the verdict. The Sharpton-organized rallies don't seem to have attracted huge crowds. We can hope that the stale old product of the race-mongers is not selling as well as it used to.