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Pierce writes: "Bill Keller of The New York Times can count himself lucky. By deciding that the shooting of Trayvon Martin, for the crime of possessing snack food while wearing a hoodie in what George Zimmerman thought was the wrong neighborhood, was the occasion for a column criticizing hate-crimes legislation."

Trayvon Martin's parents mourn the death of their son. (photo: Reuters)
Trayvon Martin's parents mourn the death of their son. (photo: Reuters)

Trayvon Martin and the White Pundits

By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine

03 April 12


ill Keller of The New York Times can count himself lucky. By deciding that the shooting of Trayvon Martin, for the crime of possessing snack food while wearing a hoodie in what George Zimmerman thought was the wrong neighborhood, was the occasion for a column criticizing hate-crimes legislation - and by wedging the conviction of Dharun Ravi for precipitating the suicide of Tyler Clementi into the argument for the purposes of making it, well, an argument - Keller wrote only the second-most hamhanded piece of punditry on the Martin case these last few days. The top prize goes to old Sparkle Pants himself, former Sarah Palin groupie Rich Lowry, in the National Review, wherein Lowry pounded the keys the hardest on what has become the white conservative Wurlitzer's stock answer to the cries for some sort of justice in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin: How come you don't talk about those black kids who kill other black kids, huh, huh? In this, of course, Lowry is upholding the National Review's long-standing commitment to improving the lives of black people in America, another highlight of which was old Bill Buckley's attempt to pin on King's campaign of non-violent resistance the blame for the Newark riots in 1967 - this included:

You do realize that there are laws against burning down delicatessen stores? Especially when the manager and his wife are still inside the store? Laws Schmaws. Have you never heard of civil disobedience? Have you never heard of Martin Luther King?

Or, perhaps more apropos to our discussion was old Bill's reaction to then-vice-president Hubert Humphrey's attendance at the funeral of Viola Liuzzo, the civil-rights worker who was shot to death in her car. Old Bill noted that a white cop had been killed by a black man in Mississippi and that Humphrey had not attended the cop's funeral, so how about that, huh, huh? Old tunes on the house organ again.

As for Keller, well, there's the argument against hate-crime laws, and then there seems to be his distaste for the volume of the protests calling for some sort of judicial action against Zimmerman for shooting Martin, and never the twain. As to the former, and the argument that crime-is-crime and that hate-crime laws are essentially thought-crimes, I usually propose a one-word answer:


If you hold to the position that Keller appears to hold, then what does one make of Kristallnacht? That it was merely an unusually violent, unusually organized conspiracy to violate the local ordinances forbidding vandalism and assault? That hardly seems adequate. If, however, you hold that it was unusually violent and unusually organized vandalism and assault with a specific political and social purpose in mind - namely, the marginalization and intimidation of a minority group for the purposes of political and social control - then you must conclude that the vandalism and assaults committed in that campaign were of a different, more serious nature than someone who throws a brick through a window or punches someone in a bar. They were crimes directed at undermining and perverting the existing political order. You could argue, I guess, that Kristallnacht was the work of a political movement whereas the crimes prosecuted under hate-crimes statutes are generally the work of two or three individuals, but that doesn't change the difference between what happened to James Byrd and, say, someone who was killed by a drunk driver. Keller admits that we prosecute people for different offenses based on what's in the defendant's mind all the time, but he seems to differentiate between the raw emotion and conscious political or social choice when judging the mens rea, and that the latter, somehow, has a penumbra of constitutional protecting that the former lacks. We disagree, I guess. But this...

In most cases, hate crime laws take offenses that would carry more modest sentences - assault, vandalism - and ratchet up the penalty two or three times because we know, or think we know, what evil disposition lurked in the offender's mind. Then we pat ourselves on the back. As if none of us, pure and righteous citizens, ever entertained a racist thought or laughed at a homophobic slur. just a glib horror. How many of "us," no matter what we may think in the privacy of our own minds, have tied a black man to the bumper of a car and dragged him down a dirt road until his fking head popped off? If someone kills with unique savagery, and that savagery is based not in some dim psychological twisting but in coolly intellectualized race hatred, does the latter really have a constitutional protection because man is inherently a savage anyway?

But when Bill goes wandering into the weeds on the Martin case, well, things go awry pretty quickly.

But fashioning a narrative from the hate-crimes textbook - bellowing analogies to the racist nightmares of Birmingham and Selma, as the reliably rabble-rousing Reverend Sharpton has done - is just political opportunism. This is the kind of demagoguery that could prejudice a prosecution, or mobilize a mob.

It may have escaped Keller's recollection but, at the time the "racist nightmares" of Birmingham and Selma actually were occurring, there was a strong school of respectable opinion - and not just in the South and not just from Bill Buckley - that treated Dr. King the very same way that Keller treats Al Sharpton here: as a "rabble rouser," and as a threat to the public order. That has been the deflection of choice for the defenders of white political power for centuries. It was the primary argument against the abolitionists, and not just in the South, either. Recently, I was looking through the proceedings of the debates over the Dyer Bill, an anti-lynching act proposed in 1922. (It passed the House but it was filibustered to death in the Senate.) Here's what Hatton Summers, a congressman from Texas who opposed the bill, said in explaining why he would vote against it:

"We people who believe we understood the situation are convinced that you men are fixing to cut the cord that holds in leash the passions of race conflict in the South and bring to the South such tragedies as occurred in East St. Louis in which almost as many people were killed in that one city in one riot as are killed in the entire South by mobs in two years.... If the Federal government interposes its power, assumes responsibility now borne entirely by the people, so that the man on the ground will feel that it is not his duty to protect, but that the Federal government has stepped in and will take care of the situation, then you are likely to turn loose the passions of race conflict in that community."

(I also would point out that anti-lynching laws were essentially rudimentary hate-crimes legislation, although the term had not yet been invented, because lynchings were far more than simply well-organized and festive public homicides. They were mechanisms of social control that supported a system of American apartheid. They had a political element to them that did not mitigate them. It exacerbated them.)

(Also, the "East St. Louis" tragedy that Summers mentions was a virtual pogrom during which white mobs ran riot in the city, devastating the black community in no small part because they'd been told by local segregationists that black people were arming themselves. Local law enforcement abandoned the city to the mobs. An estimated 200 people were killed. But, of course, they largely brought it on themselves.)

The Dyer bill was meant to find some kind of justice for the victims of unpunished killings. It was necessary because local government, and local law enforcement, were both unwilling and unable to bring that justice themselves. That is really all that people are asking for in Florida right now. If people think the calls are too strident, they should realize that the voices are calling out all the way through history to be heard. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+74 # Caballero69 2012-04-03 15:27

Let us do what we can of writers and commentators who strive to put a good face on hate or try to conjure up an excuse to blame the victims of hate driven violence, or use precious paper, ink, and air time to slander leaders like Martin and Al who have the courage and the prominence to stand up as speak out for an end to the abominable actions.
+51 # lloydapianoman 2012-04-03 15:46
Who are you, Charles Pierce?!?! You are truly brilliant. I am no intellectual, but I have not had more than a rudimentary understanding of this case and the underlying implications therein. Bravo for helping me understand. Keep up the great, provocative work. This kind of exposure of the right wing apologists is exactly what we need in the media.
-61 # charsjcca 2012-04-03 15:54
Somewhere in my wanderings I recall that in American history from 1880 to 1968 some 4600 Americans were lynched, 3400 Blacks and 1200 Whites. This is an America that has a life of its own. It will continue until the culture of America changes< that will take a factual accounting of the human carnage. No one made Tyler Clementi commit suicide, he did that on his own. There was no crime committed. That's imaginary.
+11 # Billy Bob 2012-04-03 21:59
So, I'm going to go out on a limb and say, "lynching is bad". That said, isn't it in our best collective interests to at least TRY to fix these problems? Disease is also a fact of life. That doesn't prevent me from going to the doctor and taking care of myself.

The reason Tyler Clementi was mentioned in the article was to point out the fact that anyone bringing him into THIS conversation is intentionally trying to cloud the conversation.

Save the "destroying someone's life until they commit suicide is no crime" lecture for an article dealing with that subject.
+31 # PABLO DIABLO 2012-04-03 15:55
Bill Keller should stick to the business of promoting war with Iran. That's what he is being paid to do.
+26 # readerz 2012-04-03 18:35
He shouldn't do that either.
+63 # bugbuster 2012-04-03 16:02
"As if none of us, pure and righteous citizens, ever entertained a racist thought or laughed at a homophobic slur."

Keller has put his finger on a fundamental difference between his kind and my kind. What to him is affected purity and righteousness is to me simple good taste and much more. I grew up with a repulsive racist in my household, my father. I understand his kind all too well.

His racism was not peripheral to his evil, it was part and parcel of it. He had enough hate to go around, and I got my share because I dared to think thoughts of my own.

I am older now than he was last time I saw him, maybe 25 years before they say he died. Time has taught me how right I was to disown him. I am reminded of his evil when I read something like this article.

I know Keller's kind better than I want to.
+29 # cadan 2012-04-03 16:02
You know, Bill Keller was (at least) in part responsible for the Iraq war --- it was not just Judith Miller at the NYT.

But racism is a distinct evil, and not all neocons are racists.

So Bill Keller manages to be evil in a new dimension.

A bad guy among the neocons. What a distinction.
+55 # xflowers 2012-04-03 16:06
Perhaps a large segment of the population is too young to know that the Reverend Martin Luther King was held in contempt by many whites, and not just in the South, for speaking out just as the Reverend Sharpton is today. "He is a trouble maker," they said of King, "he is stirring things up." They said King and the others should be patient and not embarrass the country by making white people who tolerated segregation and worse crimes against blacks look bad, for making white police with their dogs and fire hoses look bad. "Shut up Reverend Sharpton," they say. "Be patient. Let the wheels of justice turn." These commentators fail to note that if it were not for the steady, loud voices of Sharpton and thousands of protestors, there would be no justice for Trayvon Martin. He would have been just another one of the expendable black youths whose lives are cut short. We don't teach history. Our people are ignorant of the past so they are condemned to repeat it. We've white washed the memory of Martin Luther King to conform to our never ending mythology of our innate moral virtue. "We are a Christian nation," don't they say? Racial profiling has replaced segregation and is perhaps as unconscious for most as notions of white supremacy were in the past. But still, most of us would not take a gun and shoot an unarmed 17 year old no matter how suspicious of him we might be when the police were already called and on the way. If that's not a crime, what is a crime?
+34 # readerz 2012-04-03 18:44
Case in point: Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., gunned down in his home in White Plains, NY. His son waited and waited for justice, but now the NY State DA's office may or may not use the audio and video recordings that exonerate his father and incriminate the police who took the front door off the hinges and then shot and killed Mr. Chamberlain for the crime of using a medical alert.
I ask every person here to read up on this (google Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr.), and write to the New York State District Attorney's office. This urgent case is going before the Grand Jury, and may not have enough media attention to promote justice. The police who murdered Mr. Chamberlain have not been named, and are probably still employed.
Which proves your point: exactly, without the "rabble-rousers ," justice will not be done.
-7 # Jmac 2012-04-03 19:20
I would like to know more details about that incident, as cut and dry as i've heard the story ther has to be more details. It's just to cut and dry as i've heard it, but maybe not.
+3 # Jmac 2012-04-04 01:01
wow so many folks downing my post for simply asking for more facts, didn't say it didnt' happen.
-1 # Billy Bob 2012-04-04 09:05
I didn't thumb you down for it. It was probably just a force of habit why others did.
+79 # akc 2012-04-03 16:46
I am a white mother of a black son and as President Obama said, and I paraphrase "...that boy could have been my boy". Trayvon could have been my boy. My 15 year old boy is black, wears hoodies, eats skittles and walks home from friends in the dark, possibly carrying a bag of snack food. The difference between our neighborhood and Trayvon's neighborhood is that our law abiding citizenry do not carry guns. No one carries guns apart from the police and criminal gang members (aside from hunters in the rural areas). There would be no 'Zimmerman' like case in Canada. Is there racism in our neighborhood? Yes. We have neighborhood watch committees and if someone observed a threat of some kind, the police could/would be called. That is why they exist. The whole world is watching and listening and feeling so troubled by this incident. Our hearts go out to Trayvon's parents and all parents who have to worry about something like this happening to their child. The guns have to go.
-32 # Jmac 2012-04-03 19:21
Guns are not the problem, people stepping beyond thier authority to use deadly force is.
+22 # Billy Bob 2012-04-03 21:45
Allowing the wrong people to own guns is certainly a BIG PART of the problem.
-13 # Jmac 2012-04-04 01:02
Martin could be anyones son. Please don't incite things for simply forwarding an agenda, as I've seen this post on muliple stories.
+7 # Billy Bob 2012-04-04 09:12
No. Actually, he couldn't be just anyone's son. Sorry, but thems the facts, son. We aren't all living under the same circumstances whether you choose to believe it or not.

Let's do a thought experiment. What if we take out race ALTOGETHER...

A man calls 911 because he sees TRULY suspicious behavior in a corner store late at night.

The 911 dispatcher warns him not to enter the building, but he decides to go ahead and do it anyway.

It turns out the suspicious behavior is the OWNER of the store doing inventory.

The 911 caller pulls a gun. The owner grabs the gun and injures the caller in the scuffle. The caller shoots the owner to death in "self-defense".

What would happen if this was never brought to trial even though ALL of those facts were substaniated and uncontroversial ? What would you say about anyone who claimed the owner of the store must have been doing something suspicious to end up dead and that calls for a trial are just an incitement to mob violence?
+2 # wwway 2012-04-05 07:12
We are all Trayvon Martin. How would any of you feel if you were walking through a neighborhood from the store and realized somenone was taking an interest in you? How are you to know why? What if that person approached you?

Zimmerman wasn't driving a marked car. He wasn't represented in uniform. Trayvon can't speek because Zimmerman made sure he couldn't.
Yes, the guns have to go and most certainly the stand your ground laws need to go. In my opinion, stand your ground laws is a human hunting license.
+27 # fredboy 2012-04-03 16:51
Please don't lump all "white pundits" together. I had no choice, but came out of the oven white. I have and will continue my life speaking up for justice. And believing in equal rights and justice truly for all. The Martin case spotlights the despicable racism in Florida and throughout this nation. It's time we all--from the White House to the House and Senate to the front porch--get off our collective asses and unite this nation. And it's time for all people of all colors to get over it and expect and share goodness, honor, and justice with and for all.
+19 # readerz 2012-04-03 18:46
I agree with everything but "get over it."
Sometimes the wheel that squeaks gets the grease, and in a country as large as ours, a minority may have no other method of being heard.
-22 # Jmac 2012-04-03 19:27
It is time to "get over it".
I didn't own slaves, give diseased blankets to Native Americans, operate a concentration camp or steal land from Mexico.
If folks spent more time figuring out how to "get along" things might be better off. it's not about equality anymore, it's about "i want what I THINK I'm entitled to" no matter what.
Oh yea and I'm Native American
+12 # Larkrise 2012-04-04 01:27
And I am married to a Chinese immigrant and have 3 biracial children. I am also 1/8th Native American. I am not going to "get over" racism in America; the vigilante shooting of an unarmed youngster; nor the incompetent and corrupt handling of the tragedy by the police. If I "get over" it, I enable it to occur again and again. We must protest. We must work for justice in this country. Our Constitution says we are entitled to it. I am sorry you do not agree. It is so much easier to live in the land of denial and covert racism.
+9 # Billy Bob 2012-04-03 21:49
"Get over it" could be taken in more than one way in this context. I think maybe fredboy was saying "get over" our racism, and put it behind us. I don't think he was suggesting we get over our need to correct wrongs.
+6 # Billy Bob 2012-04-03 21:51
Thanks to the '90s and people like newt gingrinch, "get over it" has taken on a very particular political meaning. It's a crime when one side hijacks the language to further its narrow agenda.
+5 # aitengri 2012-04-03 17:18
If I am filled with (experiencing) murderous rage and kill someone, why is that not a "hate crime"? 

Yes, one understands the importance of attaching this legal category to egregious crimes of a certain kind, and unifying them under the historical banner ("tag") of bias and racial/cultural bigotry.

But in a case of 1st degree murder, "hate crime" seems to add more confusion. The "hate crime" special case for murder amounts to an illogical "reverse engineering" of the genocide concept.

The whole semantic fiasco is the result of attempts to encode our aversion to killing, per se, and then to add the gravitas of there having been “undeserved consequences” (the legal terminology used in defining hate crime) for the victim. Note the key word there, "undeserved", a kind of internal ethical force field that implies, somehow, that in any crime of murder there could be "deserved" consequences (leaving aside the distinctions between different degrees of murder).
-4 # Smiley 2012-04-04 08:18
I have a lot of trouble with the concept of a "hate crime"", punishing people for what they feel instead of just what they do. Racism is based primarily on fear and it is irrational. Zimmerman should be treated as if he shot a white kid or any kid. Of course then he would have been arrested already. Does anyone believe that hate crime laws prevent hate crimes? Or is it just about how much "hate" we have for racists?
+17 # humanmancalvin 2012-04-03 17:30
Reading the public comments on Trayvon Martin articles I find the same crock of crap. And what about the troops? And other nonsensical arguments. These people would love to be teleported back in time when using the N word was common, but don't do so now because of public pressure against out & out racism. So the dog whistles blow & anyone that can read between the lines knows full well what these pigs are saying.
Disgusting. Disgusted.
+32 # Billsy 2012-04-03 17:31
Well said Mr. Pierce. One might also point out that Lowry, Buckley, Keller et. al. were likely never stopped during a walk or jog because they didn't look like they "belonged" in the neighborhood. Especially not by amateur out-of-their depth police.
-5 # readerz 2012-04-03 18:54
To Buckley, everything was a game. One story I heard about him: he was visiting the Soviet Union with friends, and at that time, you had to have exactly the same number of Rubles when you left as when you came in, minus anything you had receipts for that you had bought. His friend forgot that, and the night before they left they played poker, and his friend won lots of Rubles from Buckley. Buckley handed over the Rubles, and let his friend almost be shot at the border, until the Rubles were handed back to him. Buckley knew how to play the police, even foreign police, his way, and was not above doing it as a game or joke.
+7 # Billy Bob 2012-04-03 21:19
Buckley was clearly not a very decent person.
+14 # dick 2012-04-03 17:42
One of the pitfalls of having a vast public platform, arrogance, & limited self insight, is that you can reveal your true self & never escape your deed. Keller may have just done that. I'm no lawyer, but "thoughts" are often part of the law, premeditation, for example. Conspiracy prosecutions often are based on brain storming, ranting while high, not ANY overt illegal acts. Alleged intent can shape a homicide conviction. Thought crimes? There may be a double jeopardy issue with civil rights prosecutions that FOLLOW another trial.
Unlike Keller, I'm not going to pretend to know all here.
+11 # dick 2012-04-03 17:54
Geez, Keller's original column is even worse than I imagined it could be, given some excellent work in the past. He finds ONE lawyer to consult, one whom he says agrees with him. I think Keller would expect his staff to get more input, & more diverse input, than that. And he mangles the state of mind issue, even saying one cannot choose not to be bigoted, at least not on short notice. That is NUTS. Many people stop & think: "WHAT am I doing?" Many people choose not to be thoughtlessly or overtly or aggressively bigoted. Does Bill?
+12 # lcarrier 2012-04-03 17:59
Bill Keller should rsign in shame. Why is the Times still considered to be our greates newspaper when miserable slime like Keller can write his racist columns?
+13 # dick 2012-04-03 18:53
Is it possible Keller misunderstands misnamed "hate" crimes. The issue isn't hate, per se. LOTs of crimes are motivated by hate. The issue is hatred of what, hatred of whom. So called hate crimes are particularly heinous, & harshly punished, because they are crimes against the SOCIAL ORDER. They threaten society. For example, one could lead to widespread reciprocal racial assaults. Zimmerman did not attack only Martin, he attacked our multi-racial social order. Obviously, he didn't particular HATE Trayvon. It seems he hated something about the way a black teen responded to Zimmerman's STANDING in the social order. "Bang! Nothing personal, dude."
+19 # stonecutter 2012-04-03 19:03
In 1964, SCOTUS Justice Potter Stewart, in regard to hard-core pornography, famously said"...I know it when I see it." A little common sense goes a long way, sometimes into history.

Common sense applied to the Trayvon Martin killing demands an arrest. Not a premature assumption of the guilt or innocence of either principal; not a transparent attempt by some to further assassinate Trayvon's character now that his living body is no longer available; not a trial by public opinion, fueled by malignant racism or political opportunism. An arrest; there's no alternative.

The rest of the country, if not the entire western world that embraces some form of codified British Common Law and Due Process, understands that an arrest, subject to arraignment and possible prosecution, is absolutely warranted, the deeply flawed "Stand Your Ground" law notwithstanding . The absence of an arrest is at best a gross error in judgment by the police, and at worst a conscious act of cover-up and criminal conspiracy on their part.

We all know it because we see it, right in plain sight, and more critically, we feel it in our souls (those of us not consumed by fear and/or race hatred). Arrest this guy, and move to the next steps. To allow him to remain free is to wholly subvert the fundamental meaning of criminal justice in a civilized society. Are we still a civilized society?
+1 # frankscott 2012-04-03 19:25
the case of this murdered young man is a dreadful piece of americana but it has been taken up by all manner of single minded bigots, including those who consider themselves members of some master race of self chosen people sent to us to confirm that we are better than whoever is being trashed, while the system all of us maintain continues to create and thrive on such divisions among us...

"hate" crimes are a wonderful boost to the legal business and lots of "private" non-profit organizations but what the hell has improved - except among those who make money from this newer legal business - in an institutionally racist society that has no problem at all putting an alleged "black" man in the "white" house so long as sanctimony and division are maintained?

some of the murdered dead are more dead than others? some of the suffering are suffering more than others? less? get rid of hate, not individual criminals...tha t's like stopping war by prosecuting one soldier...
of course we do that too...
+5 # readerz 2012-04-03 19:25
Racists drive through a loophole in the Constitution. Defendants have rights (and should). However, legally "society" is always the "victim;" while the person who was assaulted, killed, etc. is legally only a "witness" or "evidence" of a crime against society. (I looked this up in 1985; it is in an ACLU book on victims' rights.) The loophole is that IF "society" determines that a victim isn't worth the effort, there is no law demanding that evidence be admitted, or justice pursued by police and prosecutors. (This would take a Constitutional Amendment). Keep it looking like "victims' rights" and people might not realize that you are also making it possible for victims of racism to demand that a racist criminal be prosecuted and evidence admitted. As long as police, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges are paid by society, also in that Amendment (the only reason that loophole was there in the first place), a victim would have the force of the law behind them. Healthcare ultimately should also be covered by public safety measures; if police are paid for, so should those who protect people from dying from infection or other public safety hazard. This loophole also allows Gitmo; if they are victims, evidence is not necessary, negating due process.
-5 # JCG 2012-04-03 19:34
The media does not have access to all the information or evidence, yet most in the media feel the Hispanic male is guilty of murder. Seems the only fair thing to do, would be to wait for the entire story before making a judgement.
+19 # Billy Bob 2012-04-03 21:17
Seems the only fair thing to do is demand a trial so the the entire story can actually be heard.
+7 # KittatinyHawk 2012-04-03 19:37
It is too bad that people who have awards for writing do not any longer know how to write.
No fact getting, no research, no speaking to people in the area, no listening to audio tapes. No just egos waiting to write, to get recognition of a story whether good or bad.
The fact that public reads news that have no meat, no facts proves what a lazy sleazy society we have in USA.
Writers may as well be writing for SuperMarket Tabloids as that is all their story is worth. That they live with that trash, use of words, probably means they are washed out. Drink up as that is all you probably can do anymore.
+2 # DonnaMarshOConnor 2012-04-03 23:04
First, I love this essay. I can see myself reading it over and over until the sentences become a part of my consciousness.

Second, when I read "white pundits" I felt the injustice that comes when one is captured within an articulation as a part of group. It hurts. My son's faces are beige and in Trayvon's eyes I see their eyes, in his smile I see their smiles. I know my own responsibility for fixing bigotry. Don't group me with all white people, particularly those for whom this is just another crime.

But as I say this, as I feel this, I know that this is what has been done and is still being done to African American people, Latino people, and people that are ripe for the vilification of the dominant group at any point in cultural time.

We should all feel this palpably, particularly when we argue against institutional attempts to make it right.
+3 # Daisy 2012-04-04 03:31
It is not that race/ethnicity need be involved in these discussions of Trevon Martin and his unfortunate meeting with George Zimmerman: it's that Zimmerman wanted to be a cop and, eventually, a judge like his father. He was contact point for a neighborhood watch group. All we need discuss is that Zimmerman didn't follow the rules for a watch group team. First, he was alone (should be at least two on patrol). Second, he ignored instruction from the dispather to NOT follow the "suspicious" person. Third, he was armed and patroling, which is a no-no. Check the rules for neighborhood watch groups.
He assessment of Trevon was clearly wrong. One might guess because he was so intent on catching one of the "criminal element".
Trevon was probably spooked by having some guy following him and managed to get himself disoriented. Look at the complex. Almost every building is exactly the same. How does one reorient oneself in such a situation? Maybe look in windows. If anyone has been in such a situation, it's easy to understand. I, too, have had that problem. But Zimmerman wouldn't consider that because he was too intent on catching the bad element. He should have gone about his business and let the police handle it.
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-04-04 11:34
He was the only one on the neighborhood watch. He started it himself and appointed himself the captain. His neighborhood watch activities were considered as "creepy" by some of his neighbors who say he would just circle the neighborhood over and over.

Trayvon Martin didn't look INTO ANY windows. According to Zimmerman he was looking "AT" houses.
-4 # MidwestTom 2012-04-04 09:38
So now we have had two black teens try to kill a 54 year old white man in Sanford Florida using hammers. Meanwhile the two parties are both promoting the Zimmerman Trasyvon event for their respective benefit. The Democrats to re-energize the blacks who have lost faith in Obama; and the Republicans who see this a s a chance to gain points in the hispanic community. With all of the technology our Ruling Class has, they know where Zimmerman is located, and they do not want him publicly found. Expect more hate crimes as the two parties push their agenda.
+4 # Billy Bob 2012-04-04 10:57
Maybe Zimmerman should be placed in custody, formally accused of a crime and tried.
+2 # Dave_s Not Here 2012-04-04 14:20
Black, white, hispanic, whatever - it doesn't matter.

The facts, as I understand them, are: Trevon was walking down the street, unarmed, minding his own business. Zimmerman stalked him, provoked an encounter with him and shot him dead.

That, in anyone's mind has to be, at a minimum, second degree murder.

Why isn't Zimmerman in jail awaiting trial? I'm pretty sure we all know the answer to that.
+2 # Montague 2012-04-04 17:46
Kittatinyhawk is right. I'm sick of people with columns in newspapers who comment weekly on matters trivial and serious with dunderheaded views based on their own prejudices rather than journalistic research. They are no more or less qualified to comment than any of us RSN readers, yet they pontificate from on high and daft folks gobble it up.
+2 # fredboy 2012-04-06 15:05
Thanks Billy Bob, that's exactly what I was saying--get over our racism. I spent my teen years living in a predominately African American neighborhood during the 60's, the time line epicenter of the Civil Rights era. We were all financially poor, but rich in absolutely remarkable character. Our high school, mainly working class, racially integrated with love and care and helpfulness. My dad, white, championed the freedom of all to run for office there. And countless African American friends and their families lived and breathed kindness and wisdom and courage and care for all.
Now, when I return to visit family and shop there, I sense a great divide. Hateful stares from strangers--I sometimes ask them why.
Yes, let's get over it by celebrating our lives and freedom together as individuals sharing such a remarkable planet. And let's cherish the one thing that has and can erase racial, financial, spiritual and other human-concocted "differences"-- and that is purposeful goodness. And caring. And kindness. And encouragement.
When is the last time you have heard any of those terms? Or dedicated your day to sharing them with others--all others?
+1 # fredboy 2012-04-06 15:08
The purest person I ever met was a remarkable student who was born blind.

She shared a magnificent spirit.

When she was in her 20s she told me she never understood "race" or the concept of "color." Instead, she said she only sensed whether people shared goodness.
-3 # MoonBeamWatcher 2012-04-06 19:47
If a picture is worth a THOUSAND words, then the continued use of Zimmerman in a prisoners orange jump suit (taken ages ago when he had hair) and the picture of Martin from over 4 years ago (when he was 12) - condemns Zimmerman without a trial! Further enhanced by OUR president with his classic "Ready, Fire, Aim", STYLE, which is NO STYLE AT ALL and has contibuted to poisoning the well of prospective jurists . . . if required! With NewsCreators editing 911 tapes and the usual gang of HATERS fanning the seeds of race. Poor black child murdered by the 'man'. . . who in fact is Spanish and works to help dissadvantaged youth.
+1 # MoonBeamWatcher 2012-04-06 20:37
I reflect upon a NewsCreators interview of a Canadian woman at the HEIGHT of the OJ Trial. She was asked if she felt deprived not being able to "WATCH" gavel to gavel coverage of Canadian prosecutions . . . her reply made me proud to be the Canadians neighbor! "We take our courts much too serious to have it reduced to an afternoon serial!"

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