George Zimmerman's trial in the shooting of Trayvon Martin is coming to a close. For what it's worth, I think he'll probably get acquitted, since 1) the lack of any eyewitnesses leaves room for doubt, and 2) my impression is that in Florida it's perfectly legal to pursue somebody, confront them, and then when the confrontation turns physical and you begin to lose the fight, shoot them in the chest. You know—self defense.
In any case, conservative media are feasting on the Zimmerman trial (as are some other media). Their basic storyline goes like this: Trayvon Martin was a thug. George Zimmerman's gated community was beset by roving gangs of vicious black teen criminals. Zimmerman was in the right. And most critically, this whole thing is being drummed up by racial provocateurs, most especially Barack Obama and Eric Holder, to continue their ongoing war on white people, who are the real victims of racism in America today.
Let's take, for instance, this little story. After Martin's killing, when protests were being organized, the Justice Department sent a team of mediators from its Community Relations Service down to Sanford, Florida to try to keep things peaceful. Here's how the Miami Herald described the work of one of the mediators: "[Thomas] Battles, southeastern regional director of the CRS, acted as a trusted third party, gathering opposing factions to address the simmering tension by developing reconciliation strategies. He worked with city and civic leaders to allow the protests, but in peaceful manner. He also worked with the city to create its nine-point plan that aims to improve race and police relations, and tapped into the city’s faith community to help guide the healing."
Sounds like a good thing, right? The (white) mayor of Sanford is effusive in his praise for Battles. But conservative media have a different take on the CRS's efforts to diffuse the anger over the case, which came to their attention when the conservative group Judicial Watch obtained documents detailing the CRS's expenses of a couple of thousand dollars for their time in Sanford. In their reading, it's a Justice Department conspiracy, in which Obama and Holder are working with Al Sharpton to organize anti-Zimmerman protests. "Docs: Justice Department Facilitated Anti-Zimmerman Protests," said the Daily Caller. Fox News, which has been treating its viewers to the commentary of thoughtful race analysts like Mark Fuhrman and Pat Buchanan about this case, was a tad more circumspect, posing it as a question: "Did Justice Department Support Anti-Zimmerman Protests After Martin Shooting?" Breitbart.com ssaw the entire prosecution as a result of the mediators: "Judicial Watch: Zimmerman Prosecution Might Have Been Forced By DOJ-Organized Pressure." Powerline was even more dramatic: "Did the Department of Justice Stir Up Trayvon Martin Riots?" Interesting question, particularly since there were no riots. "The United States government has been converted by Obama and Holder into a community organizing agitator bunch!" thundered Rush Limbaugh in response to the report about the CRS. "This regime saw an opportunity to turn something into a profoundly racial case for the express purpose of ripping the country apart."
This is just one little corner of the way this case has been covered in the conservative media. From the beginning, it has fit neatly into the race-baiting project they've been on since before Barack Obama got elected. They've told their audiences that Barack Obama has, in Glenn Beck's immortal words, "a deep-seated hatred for white people," and everything he does, from health care reform to economic stimulus, is about exacting cruel revenge on white people for long-ago sins of racism. As Limbaugh said yesterday, "Stoking the racial stuff is the way Obama was raised ... He's got a chip on his shoulder about it, and he's here to square the deal. And Holder too. I think all of these guys have an anger about them ...And so all of this is being done so the rest of us can get a taste of it."
You might think George Zimmerman acted perfectly reasonably, and he would have followed and confronted Trayvon Martin if the teen was white. Or you might think there's just no way to know. But one thing's for sure: in the conservative media, they're pleased as punch about this case, because it allows them to renew all their old claims about Barack Obama, and assure their audiences that white people are, as always, the real victims.