FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Trayvon mythology and anti-civilization
The “Justice for Trayvon” crowd is perpetuating a number of myths that have nothing to do with the facts of the case, beginning with the fashionable new notion that “justice” was not served at George Zimmerman’s murder trial. On the contrary, the law was bent and warped out of shape to allow that trial to exist at all, leading celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz to say her conduct “bordered on criminal” and she should be disbarred. The President of the United States actually put in his two cents’ worth, opining at a crucial juncture that Trayvon Martin looked like the son he never had. The prosecution knew its charges were absurd. Evidence was withheld from the defense. The judge was, to put it delicately, sympathetic to the prosecution. When the second-degree murder charges proved to be as ridiculous as every sober legal observer always knew they were, lesser charges were hastily thrown into the mix, including the deranged effort to pin aggravated child abuse on Zimmerman.
The full machinery of government was brought to bear against George Zimmerman, and he nevertheless won acquittal in court. Anyone who still agitates for “Justice for Trayvon” is part of a lynch mob, pure and simple.
The mythology of Zimmerman as a murderous racist is also invulnerable to contrary evidence. The FBI conducted dozens of interviews and found no evidence of racism on Zimmerman’s part. There is considerable evidence to the contrary, starting with Zimmerman’s own racial background. The prosecution desperately needed to prove malevolence on his part to secure that second-degree murder verdict, and they couldn’t do it – not even with a playing field slanted to prevent discussion of Trayvon Martin’s background, disciplinary history, and personality. If a federal civil rights case is brought, or the Martin family pursues a civil lawsuit, Zimmerman’s defense will be free to introduce such evidence, because it will become necessary to get inside both Martin’s and Zimmerman’s heads, and determine which of them was more likely to have initiated and escalated a confrontation.
That would make it difficult to sustain the mythology that Trayvon was an innocent “child.” The media went to great lengths to trick readers and viewers into thinking he was a cherubic 12-year-old at the time of his death. Once recent photos of him began to circulate, the “Justice for Trayvon” argument shifted to the assertion that he had never done anything wrong. That’s not true. Martin was only visiting Sanford, Florida at the time of his death.. He lived in Miami, where he committed several infractions that might have led to prosecution, including the possession of stolen property. School district policy designed to artificially reduce crime statistics in the Miami-Dade system commuted his offenses into relatively minor disciplinary problems, for which he received suspensions. He was in Sanford following his second suspension of the year.
A “Justice for Trayvon” protester would probably respond by saying those suspensions did not merit his execution. True, but that’s not what happened, and it’s not the topic under discussion. What we’re discussing is the assertion that he was an entirely innocent young man who never did anything wrong, and that is not true.
A related bit of mythology is the claim that Martin was gunned down just because he was walking through the neighborhood where he was staying. It has become commonplace to hear the Zimmerman verdict described as granting nervous white people (and “white Hispanics,” presumably) an open-season hunting license to randomly murder black teenagers.
But Zimmerman did not randomly pick off Martin with a sniper bullet. The neighborhood in question had a history of crimes perpetrated by people who resembled Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was volunteering his time on neighborhood watch patrol, which is not an unreasonable thing for the residents of a development with theft and vandalism problems to do. Mainstream media myth-making has obscured the severity of the neighborhood’s woes, which ran all the way up to outright home invasion, with the life of a woman and her young child in jeopardy:
So Zimmerman had understandable reasons to view Martin with some suspicion – it wasn’t some pointless paranoid lust to start trouble with a black kid. And if Martin had simply ignored Zimmerman and gone home, or had even hailed him from a safe distance and asked why he was being followed, nothing violent would have occurred that night. We can zoom back and forth through the chain of events as much as we like to establish varying levels of culpability – the great missing link from that chain remains absolute proof of whether it was Zimmerman or Martin who initiated physical conflict – but it simply is not true that Martin was randomly assaulted for no reason. Testimony during the murder trial left little question that Martin decided to confront Zimmerman at close quarters. He would unquestionably be alive if he had not made that decision.
Some people have lately gotten very hung up on the idea that the police “ordered” Zimmerman to leave Martin alone, but Zimmerman wantonly disobeyed those orders and provoked a confrontation. In fact, Zimmerman was on the phone with a 911 operator, not a police officer, and he wasn’t given any direct orders he disobeyed. The operator in question, Sean Noffke, testified at Zimmerman’s trial, and specifically rebutted the notion that he had the authority to issue any such orders. From the L.A. Times:
“How come you didn’t … say ‘don’t follow’?” the prosecutor asked him.
Noffke explained that for legal reasons, 911 operators may not give such orders. “We’re directly liable if we give a direct order,” he said. “We always try to give general basic … not commands, just suggestions.”
Under cross-examination, Noffke told defense attorney Mark O’Mara, “It’s best to avoid any kind of confrontation, to just get away from the situation,” a comment that might bolster prosecution allegations that the incident could have been avoided if Zimmerman had stayed in his vehicle.
But Noffke told O’Mara that there was nothing in what Zimmerman said or the way he said it that he found unsettling about the caller, not even the profanities Zimmerman had used in his call to report the suspicious person.
We’re being asked to believe that black teenagers across the country now live in fear of death at the hands of trigger-happy homeowners or neighborhood watch volunteers. That is exceedingly, and dangerously, foolish. The incidence of death by neighborhood watch remains microscopic. We should all be able to agree that far too many young black men are getting murdered, but neighborhood watch guys are not the ones pulling the triggers. Obscuring real problems with manufactured ideological fantasies is never a good idea, but it’s a particularly bad idea when the real problems have sickening body counts.
Political opportunists have moved quickly to bend the “Justice for Trayvon” movement’s energy into gun-control legislation, beginning with a relentless assault on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. SYG had nothing to do with Zimmerman’s defense. There is a much more relevant provision of Florida law that requires the police to accept claims of self-defense if they can find no evidence to the contrary, which is why Zimmerman was not arrested at the time of the shooting. This detonates another bit of Trayvon mythology, which holds that racist or incompetent police officers conspired to help Zimmerman get away with murder.
Likewise, President Obama’s statement after the Zimmerman verdict included a strange admonition to “ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across the country on a daily basis.” George Zimmerman was not part of any “tide of gun violence.” If President Obama would like to see one, I direct his attention to the festering one-party Democrat quagmire he comes from, Chicago, whose streets are bathed in blood despite a liberal wish list of gun control laws, and where the hapless mayor who once politely asked gang-bangers to refrain from shooting innocent people during their turf battles. Another teenager was felled with multiple gunshot wounds to the back in Chicago on Sunday night.
Irresponsible and reckless people are pushing this mythology for personal gain and political ends, to an audience that doesn’t seem keenly interested in the actual facts of the case. The result is a surge of anti-civilization, a force that denies the legitimacy of society itself. The whole system is deemed rotten and unworthy of defense. This is very useful to people who would like to destroy society and rebuild it according to their designs.
It would be nice if George Zimmerman’s development wasn’t plagued by burglaries and break-ins, making neighborhood watch surveillance unnecessary. It’s unfortunate that Trayvon Martin resembled the perpetrators of those crimes. It’s too bad Martin didn’t choose a less confrontational course of action when Zimmerman took an interest in him. Do the forces of anti-civilization seriously want to send the message that confrontation and violence are the proper responses to perceived slights? Or is that only the proper course of action for certain demographic groups?
Consider again the conversation Martin had with his friend Rachel Jeantel via cell phone on the evening of his death. It doesn’t sound like Martin was in the mood to cut that “crazy-ass cracker” any slack. But doesn’t civilization require us to extend some graceful benefit of the doubt to people we encounter in uncertain circumstances? Not foolish levels of blind trust, but at least the courtesy to avoid confrontation, or at least attempt communication in a more relaxed manner?
And now that the justice system has spoken, are the law-abiding people of America really content with letting George Zimmerman become a fugitive from vigilante retribution for the rest of his life? Shouldn’t we be insisting that local police and Eric Holder’s Justice Department guarantee Zimmerman’s safety, with both public pronouncements and the necessary allocation of protective resources? It’s not a good state of affairs that protecting Zimmerman seems to be the last thing on the government’s mind.