Sunday, July 28, 2013

Justice for Trayvon Martin

" 'If I had a daughter she would look like Nicole Brown Smith,' says President Clinton days after OJ Simpson was arrested for murder. "

No, Bill Clinton didn't say that. He wouldn't have dared. That would have been prejudicial against OJ Simpson, especially coming from the highest public office in the US, and it would have triggered race-riots.

President Obama has no such reservations, "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon." This is no small thing. Even before the facts were known, charges were laid or a trial could begin, the US President signaled that he believed Trayvon Martin was indeed the victim of a homicide. 

After the verdict, President Obama said "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago." 

Does he mean kicked out of school three times, multiple arrests, tattoos, a penchant for street fighting, and stolen goods and drugs in his bedroom?  Did he refer to white people as "creepy-ass crackers?" Would he have beat a man's head against the concrete until the man was sure he was going to die?


President Obama goes on to rationalize the behavior of rioters and, predictably, speculate on what would have happened if the dead man was white. Talk about mixed messages, "they rendered a verdict. And once the jury's spoken, that's how our system works," but hey, wink wink, we all know that "If a white male teen would have been involved in this scenario, ..., both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different."

Is he trying to fuel the riots? I really don't think so, but he is certainly not telling the whole truth, and perhaps worse, he is not concerned about the tidal wave of death threats against the entire Zimmerman family, and anyone with a similar cell phone number. It's pretty clear to the rioters that the President is on their side. 

There are about 16,000 homicides per year in the USA, most committed against clearly innocent victims. The acquittal rate is high, so the number of homicide cases is much higher. Why is this case so much more important, and how did it grow so big? 

The rioters latched onto the version of events encouraged by Benjamin Crump, a lawyer known for civil rights litigation and representing Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, the biological parents of Trayvon Martin. The media's early version of events portrayed Trayvon Martin as an innocent boy who dreamt of going to college for a career in aviation, and was walking home with Skittles for his siblings when he was gunned down in cold blood by a vigilante because he was black. Who wouldn't be outraged by that story? Unfortunately, as we have learned, it's not true. 

Old photos portray innocence beside a sinister looking portrait
The media further deceived the public by publishing photos of Trayvon Martin as a young boy beside unflattering older photos of Zimmerman when he was overweight, instead of easily available, up-to-date photos of them. This was designed to encourage sympathy for Trayvon and support for the false narrative of a racially motivated crime, which Al Sharpton used to mobilize his team of professional rioters at the request of Benjamin Crump.


This more recent photo undermines the narrative
Clear, level-headed analysis was available pretty quickly. To their enormous credit, Reuters published a thorough article by journalist Chris Francescani detailing the events that led to Zimmerman arming himself to patrol his neighborhood. Francescani's article undermines any claim that Zimmerman was racially motivated, and it clearly showed that Zimmerman was responding to threats against himself and his neighbors. Break-ins and robberies were on the increase, and Zimmerman, a devout Catholic, was deeply sympathetic to the fear his neighbors felt, even to the point of offering a place in his home to a young, frightened mother. Neighbors were calling the police about break-ins at least once a week.

But the Al Sharpton train had already left the station. His favored, and chosen, narrative for the case required a white-washed image of Trayvon Martin and his family. They misled readers into believing that the father, Tracy Martin, and biological mother, Sybrina Fulton, had been cooperative co-parents since their divorce 14 years earlier. It wasn't until Anderson Cooper interviewed Trayvon's stepmother, Alicia Stanley, that a more complex picture began to emerge.

By some accounts, Alicia Stanley was Trayvon's only stable and unwavering supporter. Alicia Stanley raised Trayvon Martin as her own son for 14 years. She was his "rock" and "the only real mom Trayvon Martin ever knew,"  one blogger claims. 

When Tracy Martin left Alicia Stanley for his newest girlfriend, Brandy Green, he sent Trayvon, who was entering the turbulent-teen years, to live with his biological mother, Sybrina Fulton, with whom Trayvon, by some accounts, felt little to no connection. After 14 years of relative stability, his "rock" was abruptly removed, and during a particularly vulnerable phase of life. He was sent to live with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar home. That shock marked the beginning of Trayvon's trouble with the law and the decline in his school performance. 

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton are most certainly still grieving the terrible loss of their son. Their failed marriage is no different than the millions of other failed marriages and relationships, and their loss is no less painful and traumatic than that of any other parent who has lost a child. But it is only willful ignorance to pretend that family breakdown was not a factor. This case highlights the importance of protecting children from the most damaging aspect of the breakdown - alienation, instability, the loss of a supportive parent - and the signs of Trayvon Martin's distress were clear: school performance problems, trouble with the law, drugs, and fighting.

Sure, US gun laws can be problematic, and the "Stand Your Ground" law could be examined, but this was not a racially motivated incident, and the defendant was justly acquitted. Here's the crux of the matter. Family instability and breakdown, and the resulting trauma on the child, played an important role in this whole sad incident, but the media prefers to create the race narrative, and they have the support of the President. With Al Sharpton eager to grab the spotlight, and the media all too happy to oblige, it hardly seems to matter to any of them that they have put the lives of the Zimmerman family at risk, fueled racial tension, and undermined the system of Justice.

President Obama has encouraged us to speculate further, so let's follow his lead. What if George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were both black? Would there be protests for justice? Would Al Sharpton, or even Benjamin Crump be involved? No, they would not, because defendant and victim are both black.

What if Trayvon Martin was white? Would there be protests after the verdict? No. Same facts, same jury, same verdict, but everyone quietly goes home, the media is silent on the race of the "victim," and the president keeps his mouth shut. 

We don't even have to speculate on this last scenario, because soon after Al Sharpton fired up the militants on the strength of Benjamin Crumps distorted version of events, two black youths beat a 50-year-old white man to an inch of his life with a hammer. News outlets initially refused to identify the race of the victim or suspects, stating “We don’t generally use the race unless there is a reason.” Real....ly? You haven't heard of this case because it undermines the narrative that Big Media is selling. Former US President Jimmy Carter "reassures" everyone that the "at times physical backlash" will subside. How reassuring is that? 

And President Obama? What is his stake in this? Is he the President of all Americans, equally? What can a citizen, like Zimmerman, do when the President of the US quietly condones his vilification at the hands of a deceitful media and an angry mob looking for blood? Is his acquittal just for show, and the real place of justice, the street? 

Big Media and special interest groups quickly turned this tragedy into a Big Story about race. They were reluctant to trouble their readers, or upset their advertisers, with the complexity of this case, which is why we need citizen journalists, and bloggers, and they are not about to change the narrative either; that would be bad for business. 

Huffington Post continues to pretend that it was Trayvon Martin yelling for help on the recording, and, even after the acquittal, claim not only that Trayvon was murdered but that it was racially motivated. Mobs are gathering around this simplistic lie. They want to believe that it was racial ... no ... they have to believe that it was racial in order to ignore all the other distressing facts surrounding Trayvon Martin. 

We have just gone through 40 years of "deconstructing the family" at the hands of ideological feminists. We all accept that family breakdown is normal and everyone has a right to divorce, and divorce as many times as they want, no matter why, no matter how many kids are involved, and no matter what happens to the kids. In fact we celebrate divorce, and promote single mothers as champions against the oppressive patriarchal male-dominated "system." Even Michelle Obama thinks of herself as a single mother now. 

Certainly some marriages must end, some amount of divorce is inevitable and necessary, and the pain involved, unavoidable. But we live in a time when divorce is celebrated as an accomplishment, a kind of Rite of Passage for women

A few years ago a new contestant on "Who wants to be a millionaire" raised her arms in jubilant triumph and declared that she was a newly divorced single mom. The audience roared their support and clapped as if she had announced that she had won the Nobel prize, cured cancer, or some such genuine achievement. But the fact is that she failed. She failed at marriage, and America applauds. It is a good thing that divorce is no longer an insurmountable social stigma, but is it really praiseworthy?

Against this backdrop, is it any wonder that no one wants to mention family breakdown? In the Trayvon Martin case, we can't talk about family instability as a contributing factor, but we can talk about race, even if we have to lie.

There are racists and bigots of all colors and stripes at large in North America. There are even legitimate incidents to protest, like the Rodney King beating, but this is not one of them. This tragic incident should challenge us to reflect on the impact of family breakdown and the danger of irresponsible, self-serving behavior by the media and influential public figures. 

The fiction that racial tension is the root cause of this tragedy helps us all avoid the truth, is easier to understand, and sells better, but it will not produce justice for Trayvon Martin.