Is the Zimmerman trial over?

Did the jury’s verdict and the judge’s dismissal of the defendant really mean the case was closed? Not so fast.

Depending on where you get your news, either the federal government is now going to get involved, or it’s not. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said the Justice Department may investigate possible civil rights violations by George Zimmerman if racial motivation in the shooting of Trayvon Martin could be proven. But the president, who has inserted himself in this case since the early days after the shooting, urged respect for the system and said the jury’s verdict will prevail.

President Obama weighed in Sunday on the trial of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, asking Americans to respect the jury’s not guilty verdict and reflect on ways the nation might curb senseless gun violence.

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America,” Obama said. “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.”

There are too many ways to count that special interest groups and some media are ‘playing the race card’ according to the phrase that was popularized by that media since it was used in the trial of O.J. Simpson decades ago. Reactions to the jury’s verdict flooded Facebook and Twitter for two days after it was delivered and continue still, especially by activists stoking emotions.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece Alveda King wrote about grieving the racial strife over this trial and verdict.

“I believe that the verdict in the Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin Case further exposes a grievous and deep vein of disharmony and racial tension in our nation that can only be healed when people realize that every human being should be treated with dignity and respect,” says Dr. Alveda King, Director of African American Outreach for Priests for Life.

“A trial like this causes public debate, and people have forgotten what is right anymore. Now Trayvon’s tragic death is obscured and Mr. Zimmerman is a public spectacle. The lines of what is right and what is legal/lawful have also been blurred and this trial exposes that.

“We saw the same scenarios in the O. J. trial and the Casey Anthony case. There was reasonable doubt, no matter how minute the reasonable doubt proves to be. Even more recently, abortionists are butchering women in so called legal yet under-regulated facilities where in many cases no arrests are being made; with Kermit Gosnell’s case being a recent exception.

“In Chicago, where random killings are at an all time high, a Black Woman, Tonya Reaves, was recently slaughtered and bled to death for five hours in a Planned Parenthood abortion mill and no arrests have been made.

Alveda King brings it to a finer point here, one that needs to be made and observed.

“My uncle Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that we must all learn to live together as brothers (and sisters) or perish as fools. Too many people are dying today for too many reasons, and the race baiting and strife add fuel to the fire which grieves my soul.

“Again a young American man has perished, another is a public spectacle. Who wins?…

“Let’s face it. If both people in this tragedy were of common ethnicity, there would be no media feeding frenzy. The gun control debate is a smokescreen in that people do use guns to kill other people as Zimmerman did in this case. But guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Yes, sometimes they use guns, but they sometimes use bombs or knives too…

“There are murders going on every day that the media overlooks. Remember Tonya Reaves. Millions of Black babies and many of their mothers are being slaughtered in abortion mills. Where is the justice for that?

Right. And my city of Chicago is getting international infamy for the gun violence making headlines weekly, with no special interest by media in particular victims. It’s the president’s city of Chicago, and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s.

Which brings up Charles Krauthammer’s remarks about the frenzy over the Zimmerman/Martin case and trial conclusion.

What’s interesting here is that we saw every minute of the trial. There was nothing secret, there was nothing hidden. So, for all of those who want to make this into a racial incident, an example of racial prejudice, answer this: where was the racial taint in those hours and hours of that trial? Where was the bias? And what parts of the trial were not fair because the victim was African-American?

The way that these demagogues are comparing this incident to Emmett Till, who was lynched in the south half a century ago I think is a travesty and a desecration of the memory of Emmett Till who was a victim of real brutal racism in a country that at the time had legalized racism. Here was a trial that everybody watched and that was without any doubt a fair trial.

I think the media’s attempt to turn this into a racial incident is disgraceful because the paradigm is white on black, except that Zimmerman is Hispanic. So, CNN and others had to invent a new category, the ‘white Hispanic.’ Up until now we had never heard of that. Why? Presumably because one of Zimmerman’s parents is white. Well, that also applies to the president of the United States. Which means is he a white African-American? This is an absurdity and it’s also a disgrace.

Shelby Steele puts it best in this Wall Street Journal piece.

In fact Trayvon’s sad fate clearly sent a quiver of perverse happiness all across America’s civil rights establishment, and throughout the mainstream media as well. His death was vindication of the “poetic truth” that these establishments live by. Poetic truth is like poetic license where one breaks grammatical rules for effect. Better to break the rule than lose the effect. Poetic truth lies just a little; it bends the actual truth in order to highlight what it believes is a larger and more important truth.

The civil rights community and the liberal media live by the poetic truth that America is still a reflexively racist society, and that this remains the great barrier to black equality. But this “truth” has a lot of lie in it. America has greatly evolved since the 1960s. There are no longer any respectable advocates of racial segregation. And blacks today are nine times more likely to be killed by other blacks than by whites.

If Trayvon Martin was a victim of white racism (hard to conceive since the shooter is apparently Hispanic), his murder would be an anomaly, not a commonplace. It would be a bizarre exception to the way so many young black males are murdered today. If there must be a generalization in all this—a call “to turn the moment into a movement”—it would have to be a movement against blacks who kill other blacks. The absurdity of Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton is that they want to make a movement out of an anomaly. Black teenagers today are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites.

Of all the coverage given to this story, Steele’s piece is one of the most honest, soul-searching and instructive.

Before the 1960s the black American identity (though no one ever used the word) was based on our common humanity, on the idea that race was always an artificial and exploitive division between people. After the ’60s—in a society guilty for its long abuse of us—we took our historical victimization as the central theme of our group identity. We could not have made a worse mistake.

It has given us a generation of ambulance-chasing leaders, and the illusion that our greatest power lies in the manipulation of white guilt. The tragedy surrounding Trayvon’s death is not in the possibility that it might have something to do with white racism; the tragedy is in the lustfulness with which so many black leaders, in conjunction with the media, have leapt to exploit his demise for their own power.

They only have power if we give it to them. Don’t. There are real leaders out there worthy of the title. They’re not the ones calling for vengeance or benefiting from divisions. They’re calling for unity in our shared dignity and humanity, and the courage to be peacemakers. The power is in humility, forgiveness and invincible love.

Who’s stoking racism?

In the past two week, racially charged arguments and accusations have been heating up the air waves. Allegations are out there about the Tea Party movement, the New Black Panthers, the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, and certain members of the Obama administration. What’s going on here?

We’re supposed to be ‘post-racial’.

The election of Barack Obama, America’s first black president, was supposed to be a sign of our national maturity, a chance to transform the charged, stilted “national conversation” about race into a smarter and more authentic dialogue, led by a president who was also one of the nation’s subtlest thinkers and writers on the topic.
Instead, the conversation just got dumber.

And a lot angrier.

Fox News often stars a leather-clad New Black Panther, while MSNBC scours the tea party movement for racist elements, which one could probably find in any mass organization in America. Obama’s own, sole foray into the issue of race involved calling a police officer “stupid,” and regretting his own words.

Since that was written, however, Obama has at least secondarily figured into another flareup, the Shirley Sherrod fiasco.

The ex-official spoke following a whirlwind 48-hour period in which the Obama administration completely reversed its position toward Sherrod. The former Georgia director of rural development was compelled to resign Monday after a brief video surfaced showing her telling a story to an NAACP audience about how she once withheld support to a white farmer. Vilsack said he, not the White House, urged her to resign. The NAACP also initially condemned her…

The NAACP later rescinded its earlier statement and on Wednesday both Vilsack and the White House apologized, calling the incident a “teachable moment.”

Yes, it is. So what have we learned?

Now, that the facts have come to light, we have another one of those teachable moments that keep piling up without, apparently, teaching us anything.

The conservative wing of the media (on the internet, talk radio and Fox News) ran way too quickly with a story that seemed to support the narrative of reverse discrimination in the Obama administration — particularly coming on the heels of questions regarding the Justice Department’s handling of a caught-on-tape alleged voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panthers.

On the other hand…

Here’s one, for those who cringe at the very mention of the Tea Party movement…The leftist organization Think Progress has created a video allegedly demonstrating racism by Tea Party demonstration participants — except that at one of those shown was plucked from another video which clearly shows the clown being shunned by the other demonstrators.  It was a fact that didn’t seem to matter to the video’s creator — and clearly casts doubt over the validity of the overall piece.

Charges and counter-charges have been fast and furious.

If we were all to actually learn something from this incident (doubtful) it might be to slow down and think before reacting to the latest video that happens to support the narrative we have come to believe (and, therefore, are always looking to corroborate).

I happened onto a conversation Dr. Alveda King was having about the current flareup of racial allegations and the longterm civil rights cause, and she and Pastor Stephen Broden gave the best commentary and analysis on this I’ve heard. May calm heads, and hearts with honest intent, prevail.

Is it an Obama moment, or movement?

Now this is a good question socio-political question, and seems like a good time to explore it, which a gathering of black journalists recently did.

The theme was “Obama Presidency: What’s Race Got To Do With It?”

Rhetorical question, presumably. Race has been a tense and ever-present issue in America since Obama rose to the national spotlight. And oddly, for a man touted as a ‘post-partisan’, ‘post-racial’ leader (both terms having been used freely throughout the election year), we’ve been more focused on race-based politics than anytime in recent history.

Mary Frances Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal professor of American social thought and a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, said Obama’s presidency is a moment, and compared it with a love affair. At least she’s honest.

“If you’ve ever had a love affair and been in the deep throes of passion, it’s hard for people to tell you anything,” Berry said. “When we get over the love affair, maybe it will be after four years or maybe eight years, then we’ll be able to think more clearly.”

Trouble is, we need to think more clearly now. Could we convene a panel on that?