Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

George Zimmerman has been acquitted and justice has been done.

Yet the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman issue tells us much about the left’s agenda to “fundamentally transform” America.

First, in a fundamentally transformed America, only government agents will have the right to use firearms.  To repeat, it isn’t just that citizens will no longer be permitted to carry firearms; they will not even be permitted to own them.

The Martin shooting is just the latest nationally recognized shooting that the Second Amendment deniers have sought to exploit for the purpose of disarming law-abiding citizens. Potentially, the deniers promised to gain far more traction from this shooting than from, say, the shooting in Sandy Hook or that of Gabbie Giffords, for in both of these instances, the shooters in question did not own their guns legally.  Moreover, both the shooters and their victims were white.

Zimmerman, however, who was initially thought to be white, was licensed to own and carry his weapon.  Yet if it could be proven that he abused this right, and abused it by, of all things, hunting down and murdering a young black male, then both the Second Amendment and the American majority would reveal themselves to be no less deserving of condemnation for their recklessness—and their “racism.”  Better yet, the Zimmerman case could enable the deniers to forge an inseparable link in the popular imagination between the Second Amendment and white racism. 

In putting Zimmerman on trial, the deniers finally had their opportunity to try the old America.  In the leftist’s mind, the old America—the as-of-yet-to-be transformed America—consists of a bunch of John Wayne wannabe white guys, Bible thumpers who cling bitterly to their guns and religion and routinely deploy both to subjugate and oppress anyone and everyone who isn’t like them.

Ironically, though he looks more like one of the millions of “undocumented workers” who the Gang of Eight wants to call forth from “the shadows,” the brown-complexioned face of the multi-racial Zimmerman (who is white, Hispanic, and black) has been made into that of the old America.  The face of Trayvon Martin has become a proxy for the minority oppression that the old America has perennially perpetuated.

This brings us to a second point.

It isn’t just that the Second Amendment deniers are in cahoots with the agents of the Racism-Industrial-Complex (RIC).  Often, the two groups consist of the same people.  What little difference exists between the two lies in this: deniers use race to disarm law abiding Americans while RIC agents seek to disarm law abiding Americans, most of whom they know are white, because they want to advance their racial agenda.

Though he is a person of color, Zimmerman has been made into a symbol of white America—i.e. white oppression.  By hook or by crook—by “whichever means necessary,” violence, intimidation, humiliation, etc.—this is an America that must be relegated to the dustbin of history and replaced by a new land of the left’s imaginings.

And into what kind of new place will the old America be fundamentally transformed?

As was already noted, the citizens of the new America will not be permitted to defend themselves with guns.  However, if possible to imagine, it gets even worse.

The new America will be devoid of all institutional buffers—those “little platoons” as Edmund Burke referred to them—that lay in between the individual and the government.  We already see the extent to which, say, Obamacare is weakening the premiere buffer, religious institutions.  Our local neighborhoods are nearly as important as the latter, for it is from our communities that the identity and meaning of our lives is gotten—a fact to which Zimmerman serves as a standing testimony.

The neighborhood watch to which Zimmerman belonged is the penultimate emblem of the integrity, the health, of the community that its members sought to preserve.  From her beginnings and throughout her history, America achieved distinction as a liberty-loving nation precisely because her citizens relied less on government and more on contributing to and benefitting from their “little platoons.”

Far from showing that he was a “wannabe cop,” whatever this could mean, that Zimmerman voluntarily enlisted his time and energies into the service of protecting his community establishes his good citizenship.

In bringing the full weight of the government down upon his neck, it isn’t just Zimmerman’s whose head the fundamental transformers sever: it is that of America’s as well.  The long-standing American tradition of localism and limited government is now imperiled, for the persecution of Zimmerman can’t but make many an American think long and hard before involving themselves in local affairs, in helping out their fellows.

Zimmerman has been treated outrageously.  But so too has the America of which the fundamental transformers have taken hold.

 

Contemporary American racial politics have got to be more complicated than any other kind of politics.  In fact, they have got to be more complicated than astrophysics and neural brain surgery.

Even Americans for whom their country’s racial politics have become like a first language to them still have great difficulty in mastering it.  Outsiders aspiring to achieve fluency in America’s racial politics have nearly insuperable obstacles to surmount.

With an eye toward making “the text” of our racial politics at least somewhat less convoluted, I offer the following “cliff notes.”

First things first: “racism” is the worst thing with which to charge a white person.  To repeat, there is no conceivable catalogue of evils in which “racism” does not rank at the top (or bottom) of the list—for white people.  To put this point another way, although every American, of every race, loudly and proudly repudiates “racism,” by the latter they almost always mean white racism.

This brings us to the next note.

There is endless hand wringing over “equality,” “fairness,” and “justice,” it is true.  And “color blindness” is extolled as the premiere virtue.  In reality, though, whites and non-whites—especially blacks—are not regarded equally in America.  All talk of “white privilege” clashes violently with the fact that non-whites, especially blacks, just simply are not judged by the same standards as their white counterparts.  And, as this one example of “racism” illustrates, the double standards are glaring.

Not infrequently, at least nowadays, calls on the part of racial activists and their followers for justice or equality are ideological smokescreens designed to advance their own interests and/or the interests of the groups that they represent.  Such activists, regardless of their color, shout from the rooftops for “justice” for blacks and Hispanics, say.  However, for whites, particularly those whites who have been aggrieved in some way by non-whites, they are nowhere to be found.

Third, though it sounds counterintuitive, race in America is less a matter of skin tone and more a matter of ideology.  Actually, race is as much an ideological concept as any.

There is a narrative concerning American race relations that has become the official history. As it has achieved the status of dogma, it tolerates no competitors.  According to this narrative, for all practical purposes, “racism” begins in the United State with the enslavement of African blacks.  Notwithstanding their tireless attempts to repent of the oppression to which they’ve subjected blacks throughout the centuries, whites continue to fall prey to their delusions of racial “supremacy;” they cannot do enough to make amends.

Now, this narrative is false not entirely for what it says as for what it neglects to say.  Blacks had been enslaving one another for eons before the first white man stepped foot on the African continent—and they resisted European efforts to end the slave trade.  Had it not been for Africans there would have been no Trans-Atlantic slave trade, for it was Africans who sold their fellow Africans to the Europeans.  And what is true of Africans is no less true of America’s aboriginals who had been enslaving one another long before whites reached the Western hemisphere.

Of course, there are other critical facts that the official creed omits.  Blacks enslaved blacks in the antebellum South and blacks fought for the Confederacy.  Blacks have a far higher standard of living in modern America than most people, black white, or other, have living in any other place on Earth.  From their emancipation from the bonds of slavery to the destruction of Jim Crow and everything since then—including the election and reelection of a black president—blacks’ gains in America would never have been possible had it not been for the blood, sweat, and tears of whites.

Today, blacks are murdered and victimized by blacks to a vastly greater extent than they are victimized by whites (or the members of any other racial group).  And the overwhelming majority of interracial crime is black-on-white—not the other way round.

Still, those blacks like, say, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who resist the orthodox narrative are deemed “inauthentic”: Thomas and other blacks, you see, aren’t really black.

That race is ideological in contemporary America is as well borne out by the fact that the Hispanic-looking George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch member in Sanford, Florida who shot to death black teenager Trayvon Martin, is treated as an honorary white man—in spite of being a mixture of black, white, and Hispanic.

For over 20 years, Hispanic gangbangers in Los Angeles have been conducting what the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a “campaign” of “ethnic cleansing” in black neighborhoods. This outrage has been met with deafening silence by the national media and the racial activists.  Thus, it is difficult not to think that had Zimmerman his mother’s Spanish surname, or had he been a gangbanger, as opposed to a community activist, we would never have heard of either him or Martin.

Racial politics in America is tricky business indeed.

 

George Zimmerman has been acquitted in the shooting death of “the child,” the “young boy,” Trayvon Martin.

As should go without saying, it is of course a tragedy that our world is such that it regularly claims human life.  It is particularly tragic when young people, like Martin, lose their lives in circumstances that could have so easily been avoided.

But Martin was no “child.” He was not yet a legal adult, but at 17 years of age he could, with a parent’s permission, kill and die for the United States military. And 17 year-olds, particularly when they are six feet tall, intoxicated on drugs, and physically fit, as was Martin, can and do kill and die in the streets of America.

Yet it isn’t just Zimmerman’s persecutors who are fond of sanitizing Martin’s character.

Writing for Front Page Magazine, Arnold Ahlert castigates his fellow conservatives for acting badly.

In “Framing Trayvon,” Ahlert contends that “many conservatives” have engaged in a “demonization campaign” against Martin—or “Trayvon,” as Ahnert calls him—that runs “parallel” to that promoted against Zimmerman by such “racial arsonists” as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.  Conservatives “have hastily embraced caricatures of Trayvon Martin, painting him as a vicious street thug who deserved his fate.”

Ahlert insists that Martin sounded like “little more than a rambunctious teenager” whose family and friends describe as “a fine young man,” “warm and funny,” and “a standout athlete with an enormous appetite.”

Where do we begin?

First, Ahlert is correct that, from day one, the “racial arsonists” did indeed rush to demonize Zimmerman.  Yet he fails to so much as hint at the fact that the demonization of Zimmerman demanded the idealization of Martin.  By now, everyone who’s paid any attention to this case is all too familiar with the media’s tireless juxtaposition of Zimmerman’s mug shots alongside the outdated pictures of a prepubescent Martin.

Had Ahlert mentioned this, it would immediately become clear that it isn’t “conservatives,” but Martin who supplied us with a negative caricature of Martin.  More accurately, as details emerged since February of 2012, time has exploded the idyllic caricature of Martin that the “anti-racists” have labored to embed in the popular imagination.  The Martin who had that fateful encounter with Zimmerman was a far cry from the 6th grader whose photograph was plastered all over the media for months after the shooting.  As Ahlert himself admits, at the time of his death, Martin “used foul language, made obscene gestures on camera, probably smoked marijuana, and engaged in other troublesome teenage behavior”—like getting caught with possession of what was likely stolen jewelry, getting repeatedly suspended from school, and attempting to assault a bus driver.

This brings us to a second point.

Neither conservatives nor anyone else has made Martin out to be a vicious thug, as Ahlert says.  What the record shows is that he was a thug of a sort, a thug wannabe, if you will.  At the very least, he was thuggish, even if he may not have been a full blown thug.

And we know this, not just from his record, but solely from the fact that he unleashed a torrent of violence upon Zimmerman.

No one disputes that Martin threw the first punch.  From what has been determined, it was he who threw every other punch after that as well.  To be clear, there was no exchange of blows between Martin and Zimmerman.  Rather, Zimmerman was on his back as Martin repeatedly pounded on him.

And it is not as if Zimmerman was in his face posing an imminent danger to Martin. Had this been the case, then perhaps the latter would have been justified in launching a preemptive punch (even if he would not have been justified in punching his face into the ground after he had succeeded in knocking him down).

Had Martin really feared for his life when he noticed that Zimmerman had been following him, and had he conducted himself in a non-thuggish way, then he would have done what Zimmerman did when he first observed Martin: call the authorities.  Martin could’ve ended his phone call with Rachel Jeantel—to whom he referred to Zimmerman as a “creepy ass cracker”—and called the police.

Instead, he chose to lie in wait for Zimmerman before jumping him.

This is the official account of the events of that fateful evening when Martin’s life ended—an account that the jury in Florida accepted and that no one has been able to contradict.

Contra Ahlert, to acknowledge these facts is not to say that Martin “deserved” to be killed.  Much less has anyone, least of all the “conservatives” who Ahlert lectures, even remotely insinuated that Martin deserved to be killed because of his lifestyle.

However, to concede the facts is to concede both that Martin did indeed act thuggishly and that Zimmerman was just as justified in shooting him as an elderly woman would be justified in shooting an assailant who had her pinned on the ground while striking her.

Writing for Front Page Magazine, Arnold Ahlert castigates his fellow conservatives for acting badly.

In “Framing Trayvon,” Ahlert contends that “many conservatives” have engaged in a “demonization campaign” against Martin—or “Trayvon,” as Ahnert calls him—that runs “parallel” to that promoted against Zimmerman by such “racial arsonists” as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.  Conservatives “have hastily embraced caricatures of Trayvon Martin, painting him as a vicious street thug who deserved his fate.”

Ahlert insists that Martin sounded like “little more than a rambunctious teenager” whose family and friends describe as “a fine young man,” “warm and funny,” and “a standout athlete with an enormous appetite.”

Where do we begin?

First, Ahlert is correct that, from day one, the “racial arsonists” did indeed rush to demonize Zimmerman.  Yet he fails to so much as hint at the fact that the demonization of Zimmerman demanded the idealization of Martin.  By now, everyone who’s paid any attention to this case is all too familiar with the media’s tireless juxtaposition of Zimmerman’s mug shots alongside the outdated pictures of a prepubescent Martin.

Had Ahlert mentioned this, it would immediately become clear that it isn’t “conservatives,” but Martin who supplied us with a negative caricature of Martin.  More accurately, as details emerged since February of 2012, time has exploded the idyllic caricature of Martin that the “anti-racists” have labored to embed in the popular imagination.  The Martin who had that fateful encounter with Zimmerman was a far cry from the 6th grader whose photograph was plastered all over the media for months after the shooting.  As Ahlert himself admits, at the time of his death, Martin “used foul language, made obscene gestures on camera, probably smoked marijuana, and engaged in other troublesome teenage behavior”—like getting caught with possession of what was likely stolen jewelry, getting repeatedly suspended from school, and attempting to assault a bus driver.

This brings us to a second point.

Neither conservatives nor anyone else has made Martin out to be a vicious thug, as Ahlert says.  What the record shows is that he was a thug of a sort, a thug wannabe, if you will.  At the very least, he was thuggish, even if he may not have been a full blown thug.

And we know this, not just from his record, but solely from the fact that he unleashed a torrent of violence upon Zimmerman.

No one disputes that Martin threw the first punch.  From what has been determined, it was he who threw every other punch after that as well.  To be clear, there was no exchange of blows between Martin and Zimmerman.  Rather, Zimmerman was on his back as Martin repeatedly pounded on him.

The difference between a thuggish person who fears for his life and a non-thuggish person in the same circumstance is that a non-thuggish person would have fled the danger.  Martin clearly could’ve done as much.  The difference between a thuggish person who doesn’t fear for his life and a similarly situated non-thuggish person is that the latter would not have continued beating his antagonist—even if he wanted to and even if he could have done so.

Contra Ahlert, to acknowledge these facts is not to say that Martin “deserved” to be killed.  Much less has anyone, least of all the “conservatives” who Ahlert lectures, even remotely insinuated that Martin deserved to be killed because of his lifestyle.

However, to concede the facts is to concede both that Martin did indeed act thuggishly and that Zimmerman was just as justified in shooting him as an elderly woman would be justified in shooting an assailant who had her pinned on the ground while striking her.

Though painful, we mustn’t lose sight of the realities of the Zimmerman/Martin case—even if the Ahlerts of the world insist upon calling them “caricatures.”