I was going to move on to something else, but so much of the talk about the killing of Trayvon Marting by George Zimmerman, and the state of Florida’s unwillingness to prosecute Zimmerman, is so messed up that I just have to say something.
First example: in today’s (April 2, 2012) New York Times we get this long op-ed piece by Bill Keller about Trayvon and hate crimes. Keller argues that it would be wrong to punish Zimmerman more severely because his action was racially motivated.
Huh? Who’s arguing that? Progressives aren’t saying that Zimmerman should be charged with a hate crime, instead of plain murder. We are arguing that he should be charged! At the moment, he is free as a bird.
To put it another way, the point at issue is not “Is Zimmerman a racist?” — in other words, whether he would have killed Trayvon if Trayvon had been white. The argument is that the law-enforcement system is racis — in other words, that if Zimmerman had killed a white teenager he would probably be sitting in jail now, awaiting trial.
Second example: in today’s Boston Herald, Joe Fitzgerald argues that “history teaches caution.” Fitzgerald reminds us of Charles Stuart, a white man who killed the white woman he was married to, but convinced the police and the media (temporarily) that she had been killed by a roaming black hoodlum.
Again, huh? That was a case where racial stereotyping caused police to arrest the wrong guy. Is Fitzgerald saying that maybe Zimmerman didn’t really kill Trayvon? But – he says he did! There’s really very little doubt about that – so what is history supposed to be teaching us here?
I think what’s happening is that race arouses such strong emotions that this case has ceased to be about the facts, or about guilt and innocence. Instead, it has become something like “what do you think of black people?” For the sake of justice, it needs to be brought back to the facts.