The White Man's Burden

When Mark O'Mara, one of George Zimmerman's attorneys, was asked at a news conference after his client's trial about the role race played in the case, he should have said that his client was found not guilty, and he'd leave the speculation to others. Instead, he said that if Zimmerman had been black, "he never would have been charged with a crime." Because as we all know, the criminal justice system in America is tilted in favor of black people. Sure, whites who shoot blacks are far more likely to get off than whites who kill whites, blacks who kill blacks, or blacks who kill whites (a difference that is especially wide in states with "stand your ground" laws). And sure, white people don't need to worryabout being stopped and frisked for no particular reason. And sure, there's no phenomenon called "driving while white." But with that radical black nationalist in the White House, white men are on the run.

As one author wrote on the Fox News website on Friday, "it is males who suffer in our society. From boyhood through adulthood, the White American Male must fight his way through a litany of taunts, assumptions and grievances about his very existence. His oppression is unlike anything American women have faced." So spare a moment for the real victim here, George Zimmerman, who has been subjected to so much, and all because he did nothing more than chase down, confront, and eventually shoot and kill a 17-year-old kid armed with Skittles. Doesn't he deserve a book deal, a speaking slot at the 2016 Republican convention, a regular gig on Fox & Friends? Maybe he and Joe the Plumber could do a radio show together.

One thing Zimmerman will get is his gun, the same gun that killed Trayvon Martin. Now that he's been found not guilty, the weapon will be returned to him and he'll be free to holster up and start patrolling his neighborhood again, on the lookout for suspicious-looking figures wearing dangerous sweatshirts. And we can take comfort from the knowledge that there are a million more like him out there, insecure men with vivid fantasies of heroism, armed with little to no training but something to prove and a gun. It shouldn't be long until something just like this happens again.

 

So They Say

“It is painful to say this: Trayvon Martin is not a miscarriage of American justice, but American justice itself. This is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended. To expect our juries, our schools, our police to single-handedly correct for this, is to look at the final play in the final minute of the final quarter and wonder why we couldn't come back from twenty-four down.

To paraphrase a great man—We are what our record says we are. How can we sensibly expect different?"

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Daily Meme: After Trayvon

  • NAACP Head Ben Jealous: "We were heartbroken. We had hoped that while this trial had galvanized a generation much in the way of the Emmett Till trial did 60 years ago, that the verdict this time would reflect the gravity of what happened. Reality is that if Mr. Zimmerman had respected the police enough to do what they asked and stayed in his vehicle, Mr. Martin would still be with his family today."
  • David Simon: "Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies:  Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to make that killing entirely permissible.  I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country.  Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American."
  • Representative John Lewis: "I am deeply disappointed by the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. It seems to justify the stalking and killing of innocent black boys and deny them any avenue of self-defense. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I think it demonstrates the distance this nation still must go to fulfill the vision of equal justice Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life to defend. I hope this verdict will serve to open some kind of meaningful dialogue on the issues of race and justice in America."
  • President Obama: "I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin."
  • The New York Times Editorial Board: In the end, what is most frightening is that there are so many people with guns who are like George Zimmerman. Fear and racism may never be fully eliminated by legislative or judicial order, but neither should our laws allow and even facilitate their most deadly expression. Trayvon Martin was an unarmed boy walking home from the convenience store. If only Florida could give him back his life as easily as it is giving back George Zimmerman’s gun.

 

 

What We're Writing

  • Half of justice is moral logic, and Steve Erickson writes that such logic was absent in the George Zimmerman verdict. 
  • Opponents of same-sex marriage have long said that allowing such unions would lead to families defining themselves however they want, including marriage between more than two people. Kent Greenfield writes that it’s time to concede that they’re right.

What We're Reading

  • Mark Jacobson picks apart Anthony Weiner's mayoral run, which is going a lot better than anyone could have hoped for.
  • New York Magazine also profiles the perenially somber faced John Boehner.
  • "After surviving arson, bullets, and pipe bombs during its 40 years in existence, the Hillcrest Clinic in South Hampton Roads closed in April, in part because of the new regulations." Why the right's obsession with closing abortion clinics will have wide-ranging effect on women's health. 
  • Alec MacGillis explains why filibuster reform is kind of a big deal.
  • Wendy Davis raised over $1 million in the last two weeks of June.
  • Brookings looks at the history and future of gun legislation, and why gun control's momentum always seems to be in stasis.
  • "Children crossing the border alone are one of the fastest-growing and most vulnerable demographics of undocumented immigrants in the United States."
  • Why is the Tea Party fighting the Tea Party on solar power in Georgia?
  • Why is the FEC so toothless nowadays? The Boston Globe investigates.
  • The L.A. Times wonders whether Gavin Newsom will be able to escape liutenant governor purgatory.

Poll of the Day

The Democratic position on immigration reform is favored by the majority of those questioned in a new Gallup poll, though there was a stark contrast of opinion along racial lines. Hispanics and blacks overwhelmingly favored the Democratic side by ratios of over two-to-one and nearly five-to-one. Whites, though, favored the GOP position by one percent, 42 to 41.

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