Why is it the system is broken (according to liberals and conservatives) when a decision doesn’t go their way? SCOTUS decides in Citizens United it limits free speech and liberals are outraged, conservatives rejoice. They later decide in the case of gay marriage that gays are entitled to the same rights as straight couples under the Equal Protections Clause and liberals are overjoyed while conservatives lament the end of the republic as we know it.
In Florida, the six women on the Zimmerman jury were tasked with determining reasonable doubt. The decision was made: Not guilty of murder in the second degree as well as to a lesser charge of manslaughter. Liberals are outraged and protester march in the streets. A great injustice has been done.
Unless they were gifted with remarkable perceptive abilities, I cannot see how the jury could possibly determine—given the evidence presented—what was going through the minds of either of the two individuals involved in this tragic affair. To project onto Zimmerman his motives simply because he was white or a “wannabe cop” is to do the same kind of profiling of him that he was accused of doing to Trayvon Martin.
These two young men made tragically bad decisions at a moment in time. One is dead because of it. The other, although free from prison, will never have a normal life and given the society we live in, will likely live in fear of his own for the rest of it.
George Zimmerman was an overzealous Neighborhood Watch captain in a community that we now know had been plagued by break-ins. Why he felt the need to carry a weapon is a mystery, except the law allows it.
Although Sanford, Florida has had some trouble with crime, these are not the mean streets of Chicago or Detroit we are talking about. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for Zimmerman.
Ignoring the instructions of police after spotting someone he thought looked suspicious, Zimmerman began a cascade of events that have taken on a life of their own, thanks in no small way to the frenzy created by media junkies like Al Sharpton, who never met a potential racial powder-keg he didn’t like to exploit.
Young Trayvon Martin chose to fight, either because he thought he had no choice when confronted by an armed man, or because he didn’t think the man was armed. We’ll never know. We do know he profiled his antagonizer prior to the fateful altercation, calling him a “cracker” when talking to a friend on his cellphone and that may have informed his decision.
This case had all the makings of a perfect storm of racial controversy. That it happened in Florida, a Southern state with an already poor reputation for any manner of transgressions among the liberal establishment—including the theft of a presidential election, in their eyes—ensured a level of scrutiny far more intense than likely would have happened in other locales. MSNBC couldn’t have been more pleased.
Make no mistake—the racial tension in Florida is real, even in 21st-Century America. It might be hard for some of us in the West to comprehend just how deeply ingrained racial divides are in the culture there. There are still those whites who harbor distrust—dislike even—of African-Americans for no other reason than their ethnicity and openly show it.
What needs to be acknowledged, however, is that that tension and the profiling that goes with it, goes both ways.
What is rarely recognized or merely gets paid lip service is the fact that many blacks are every bit as capable of and do show their own prejudices toward whites at every opportunity. I and family members of mine—including one who lived in Florida for an extended period of time—have been recipients of this type of prejudice on several occasions. There’s nothing quite as eye-opening as being treated badly by people simply because you’re white. (I know—the shoe is on the other foot, etc. It is not a lesson that should be taught, especially to people who never had the prejudices to begin with.)
This isn’t complaining so much as it is pointing out that the “racial divide” will not be crossed until all people of all races and ethnicities agree to work together and admit that all sides are contributing to the problem.
I believe Dr. King would agree.