A Trial Ends, And Nothing Changes

The trial of George Zimmerman comes to a close today, and despite the endless hours of cable coverage, those waiting for profound insights into the state of race in America will be disappointed. Zimmerman's guilt or innocence turns on narrow questions, like who got on top of whom during a fight no one saw, not on the jury's opinions about our ongoing struggles with racism.

That hasn't stopped some people from predicting that should Zimmerman be acquitted, those unruly black people will begin rampaging through the streets. Bill O'Reillywondered whether, in the wake of an acquittal, you-know-who would "run out and cause trouble." Piers Morganspeculated that after an acquittal, "There may possibly be riots." The Washington Times ran an online poll asking, "Will there be riots in Florida if George Zimmerman receives a not-guilty verdict by a jury of his peers?"

Oddly, no one wondered whether white people would start rioting if Zimmerman were convicted, despite the fact that the chances of that happening are about the same as those of black people rioting over an acquittal. There hasn't been a massive "race riot" in America in years; if you want to see people smashing windows and setting cars on fire, your best bet is to go to Europe and look for mostly-white people angry about their country's economy.

But if you wanted to find some interesting and insightful commentary about the Zimmerman trial, you'll have to surf over a tsunami of inane cable coverage, ridiculous speculation, right-wing conspiracy theories, and dispiritingly predictable race-baiting. At least it'll be over soon.



“I am not proud of what you’re seeing here today. The disrespect shown to this hallowed ground by hatching this abomination in the middle of the night and forcing it here because of this extremist element is the reason that the American people think higher of North Korea than they do of this body.”

Representative Tim Walz of Minnesota on the passage of the super partisan farm bill


  • Time for a quick check-in with state politics around the country! Starting with the increasingly screwed Bob McDonnell
  • The Virginia governor is being boiled alive in financial scandals. Alexander Burns calls the political conflagration  "a case study in the personal disorientation that stems from ascending to great political heights—the inevitable blurring of lines between one’s donors and friends, and the loss of perspective that comes with winning an office of immense power and limited financial reward."
  • Slightly further south, North Carolina's House just passed new abortion restrictions. The Senate has yet to consider the measure.
  • Outside the legislative chambers, weekly protests continue to rage, and residents re struggling with the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country.
  • In Texas, legislators are set to vote on the abortion bill delayed by Wendy Davis's filibuster. Many, many stupid things have been said on the subject in the past few weeks.
  • And, today, state troopers have been confiscating tampons and sanitary napkins from people going to the Capitol to wait out and protest the vote.
  • In Iowa, the state Supreme Court ruled that a dentist who fired his assistant because he was just too attracted to her was acting in a completely legal fashion. 
  • On Indian reservations across the country, people are hurting from sequestration cuts.
  • On the good news front (it is Friday, we don't want to leave you completely depressed), Pennslyvania is inching closer to legalizing gay marriage.


  • Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom starts again this Sunday. He won’t win over anymore female fans, writes Tom Carson, but his attempts at recycling major news events have gotten somewhat better.
  • The nation’s capital is filled with young, ambitious people. Walter Shapiro writesthat This Town wishes the older folks knew better.


  • In D.C., a disproportionate number of black residents are are arrested for petty crimes.
  • Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napalitano is leaving the executive branch and becoming the first female president of the University of California. 
  • The economic legacy of apartheid lives on in South Africa.
  • Despite prevailing groupthink, Democrats are quite adept at wielding language too.
  • GQ profiles Obama's older brother
  • The story of Astrid Silva, who influenced Harry Reid's thinking on immigration reform quite a bit.
  • Yikes. A two-parent, two-child family in New York City needs to make around $94,000 to have a minimum-level of security.
  • Russia's Federal Guard Agency just placed an order for $15,000 worth of typewriters, in an attempt to stay a step ahead of the NSA.


Though the country is unhappy with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, 51 percent of those questioned in a recent poll by Quinnipiac University say that most gridlockcomes from the GOP’s unwillingness to compromise. This is as opposed to the 34 percent of Americans who think the reason for the so many tie-ups in Congress stems from Obama’s lack of leadership.