Saturday, April 14, 2012
Race, Politics, Riots, and Justice
When I heard the Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announce that second degree murder charges would be brought against George Zimmerman, my first thought was that she was enhancing her resume in the hopes of becoming a judge someday.
By now everyone knows that the 28-year-old Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26 in Sanford, Florida. The media have been meticulous in describing Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic” and Martin as an “African-American.” The Sanford police thought the incident was so transparently a case of self-defense they initially declined to arrest Zimmerman. Moreover, Florida has a law that empowers a citizen in fear of his life to respond with force.
Case closed, right? Wrong, very wrong. As word of the incident spread it became a cause celeb for every race-monger on either side of the black-white dividing line, but especially for people like Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson who were on the first available flight to Florida.
The Zimmerman-Martin case revealed how sharply divided whites and blacks in America still are since the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While strides have been made in the nearly fifty years since then to ensure equality before the law, a relative minority of the black community, some 13% of the U.S. population, has demonstrated progress. By almost any measurement of social disfunction African Americans lead all other races in America.
Walter E. Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University, identified the problem in a recent commentary, saying “there’s a larger issue that few people understand or have the courage to acknowledge, namely that black and young have become synonymous with crime, and, hence, suspicion. To make that connection does not make one a racist.”
Williams quoted a black, former chief of police of Charleston, S.C., Reuben Greenberg, who said “The greatest problem in the black community is the tolerance for high levels of criminality.” Another black, former police chief, Bernard Parks of Los Angeles, has said “It’s not the fault of the police when they stop minority males or put them in jail. It’s the fault of the minority males for committing the crime.”
At this stage in the unfolding drama, a poll cited in an April 12 Reuters news report indicated that “Americans are deeply divided by race over the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, with 91% of African-Americans saying he was unjustly killed, while just 35 percent of whites thought so, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Thursday.”
And therein lies the real story and a very sad one at that. Beyond that divide lies the politics evoked by the incident that included the President of the United States saying, “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon.” This is the second time the President has inserted himself in a story of the arrest of a black American. Presidents are not supposed to do this, especially if they are trained lawyers and alleged experts on the Constitution. It instantly politicized the case.
An April 13 Rasmussen poll revealed that “Americans are slightly less sure that the man who shot black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin is guilty of murder, but more convinced that he’ll be found guilty of that crime. However, a sizeable number still remains unsure about what happened and what will happen in the days ahead. Thirty percent (30%) of American adults now believe George Zimmerman should be found guilty of murder…but twenty-four percent (24%) think Zimmerman acted in self-defense.”
Fortunately the case will be decided in a court of law, not by public opinion.
The famed attorney, Alan Dershowitz was asked on a MSNBC segment what he thought of the case and he expressed the view that the indictment was of dubious merit. That brings me back to my initial reaction to Angela Corey’s self-aggrandizing decision and performance.
Aside from her personal stake in the action taken, I had to wonder how much of the decision was based on the fear of race riots such as those in 1992 when the Los Angeles police officers who sought to subdue Rodney King were acquitted; the two days of rioting in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1996, when a black youth was fatally wounded by police officer after being stopped for speeding; the 2001 riots in Cincinnati following the shooting of an unarmed young black male during a police foot pursuit; and the 2009 riots in Oakland, California following a similar fatal shooting by a BART transit policeman.
You can virtually put money on the likelihood that riots will occur no matter what the outcome of the indictment of Martin Zimmerman. They will not advance the cause of justice.
© Alan Caruba, 2012