These editorial cartoons pretty much sum it up, methinks.
I haven’t written much, if anything, about the Trayvon Martin case, since I usually don’t blog about incidents of shootings, stabbings, rapes, etc. unless they have a wider significance.
But the Trayvon Martin case, of course, does have a wider significance.
I don’t know which individual on that fateful night of February 26, 2012, in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, physically posed the larger threat to the other, the 17-year-old Martin, who was black, or the then-28-year-old half-Latino-and-half-white George Zimmerman. (Yes, in this case, the race of the individuals involved has mattered.)
But the indisputable facts are that Zimmerman had a gun and Martin did not, and that Zimmerman shot Martin dead.
The indisputable fact is that Zimmerman was playing cop in a gated community (those two words, “gated community,” speak volumes as to the sociological context of Martin’s death*), and that such vigilantism should be illegal in all 50 states.
There is a reason that actual cops, in order to become actual cops, in most instances have to demonstrate a minimum amount of intelligence and a minimum amount of psychological health: Because you don’t want morons and/or those who have head issues walking around communities with guns, playing cops.
And I can’t see that Zimmerman wasn’t racially profiling Martin: What’s a young black man doing in this gated community? (Let’s fucking face it: The No. 1 function of a gated community is to keep certain “undesirables,” who more often than not have darker skin, out and away from the wealthier and usually lighter-skinned denizens of the gated community.)
Oh, wasn’t that Zimmerman’s mindset? Would Zimmerman have pursued, with his loaded pistol, a young white man who was dressed as a preppy?
And once you have made yourself into a pseudo-cop, don’t you want to “have to” play the role at some point? So wouldn’t you be looking for such an opportunity?
Zimmerman was just acquitted in Martin’s shooting death, but, it seems to me, Zimmerman was guilty at least of manslaughter. In a saner and more just state, such as my state of California, Zimmerman most likely would have been found guilty of at least manslaughter, I surmise. However, the backasswards state of Florida (along with other backasswards states) allows yahoos to walk the streets with guns, and to use those guns to “stand their ground.”
That’s Wild-West bullshit.
Martin wasn’t pursuing Zimmerman on that night. Zimmerman, playing cop, was pursuing Martin. Zimmerman was acting offensively, not defensively. He wasn’t “standing his ground” against an unprovoked attack on his person. No, he was playing cop.**
The state of Florida, along with George Zimmerman, killed Trayvon Martin, along with the gun-nut lobby and, of course, the institutional racism that of course still persists and will persist in the United States of America for some time to come. Martin’s murderers number in the millions.
These “stand your ground” laws need to go, or at least need to be modified to make clear that you aren’t “standing your ground” if you are the fucking aggressor — especially if you are the armed aggressor — against an unarmed (or hell, even armed) individual who has made no threatening advance toward you in public. (“In public” is key there; no, I do not assert that an individual does not have the right to defend his or her own home against an actual intruder, for instance, and for actual self-defense I do support the Second Amendment.)
For the reasons that I have just laid out, I support the NAACP’s and other black community leaders’ push to have Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice file federal civil-rights charges against Zimmerman, even though such an action probably would touch off a race-based firestorm, given that the U.S. president and the U.S. attorney general are black.
(President Barack Obama is conflict-adverse, however, perhaps especially when it comes to issues of race — recall that he quickly and summarily threw the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod, all of whom are black, under the bus when they came under attack from the white-supremacist right wing — so I certainly don’t expect the Justice Department to file federal civil-rights charges against Zimmerman, regardless of how appropriate doing so might be.)
However, the seeking of justice for the very apparent race-based murder of Trayvon Martin needs to go waaay beyond George Zimmerman. It needs to encompass the entire state of Florida and every other state with the so-called “stand your ground” laws, which are a white supremacist’s or other racist’s wet dream: the opportunity to commit race-based murders while claiming self-defense.
*On that note, I very much look forward to the upcoming sci-fi film “Elysium,” starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and written and directed by “District 9” creator Neill Blomkamp, whose 2009 “District 9” apparently was a statement on the white-on-black racism in South Africa.
From the previews, “Elysium” appears to be a bold statement on the direction in which the United States of America — as well as other nations, too, of course — with their haves and their have-nots, are going.
**A friend of Trayvon Martin, Rachel Jeantel, infamously testified that while she was talking to Martin on his cell phone shortly before he was killed, Martin reported that he was being followed by a “creepy-ass cracker.”
While I don’t know that I’d call George Zimmerman a “cracker,” as he looks Latino to me, and technically isn’t a “cracker,” I imagine that on the night of February 26, 2012, he indeed looked “creepy-ass,” pursuing his victim with a loaded pistol while playing cop. He probably looked crazed, because he apparently was.
And Rachel Jeantel, was treated horribly in the courtroom, was treated as though her English was not clear when it was quite clear if you actually just listened to the words that came from her mouth. Her mistreatment smacked of racism, and that the court allowed this mistreatment of her is yet another indication that there is a huge fucking problem in the state of Florida — and so that, again, it would be quite appropriate for the U.S. Justice Department to act on this.