Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

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to this case is all too familiar with the media’s tireless juxtaposition of Zimmerman’s mug shots alongside the outdated pictures of a prepubescent Martin.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.”

 

As most of us now know, Paula Deen has admitted to having used “the N-word” at some time in her life, most memorably when, some 30 years ago or so, she provided her husband with a description of a black thug who put a gun to her head while he robbed the bank at which Deen worked.  This thug was also an ingrate, as it turned out, for Deen had previously gone out of her way to help him get a loan.

For this, the agents of the Racism Industrial Complex (RIC) have been busy crucifying her.

The treatment to which Paula Deen has been subjected is nothing more or less than an outrage.  Yet, ultimately, her plight has little to do with either Deen or any effort to combat so-called “white racism.”

In addition to being a white Southerner, Deen is a heterosexual and Christian.  She also happens to be a remarkably successful entrepreneur, a “capitalist,” whose rags-to-riches life story at once embodies and vindicates the American Dream.  Yet it is precisely in all of these respects that Deen represents what, historically, amounts to an American norm—an America that the left has been laboring long and hard to destroy.

In other words, the Paula Deen issue isn’t about Paula Deen; it is about the fundamental transformation of America.

That Deen’s critics aren’t in the least concerned with “racism” can easily be gotten from the fact that even as they wail and gnash their teeth over her admission to having used “the N-word” three decades ago, their silence is deafening when it comes to the shocking levels and nature of black-on-white violence.

For example, just six weeks ago or so, George Thomas went to trial one more time in Knoxville, Tennessee—and once more, he was found guilty of the crime for which he was tried.  Chances are, the reader hasn’t a clue as to who George Thomas is.

And this is the problem.

Thomas, you see, is black, and in 2007, along with four other blacks, including one woman, he carjacked, abducted, tortured, raped, and murdered a young white couple—Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

According to Jamie Sutterfield, a reporter for the Knoxville News Sentinel, a medical examiner—Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan—testified at the trial of one of the defendants that “Newsom was repeatedly raped and then blindfolded, gagged, arms and feet bound and his head covered.”  Then, while “barefoot, he was either led or dragged outside the house to a set of nearby railroad tracks, where a gun was placed to the back of his head and fired.  He was shot twice more, once in the neck and once in the back.”

Finally, his “body was…set on fire [.]”

Christian, though, wouldn’t die until hours later—after unrelenting “sexual torture.”

Continuing with her summation of the medical examiner’s findings, Sutterfield writes: “Christian suffered horrific injuries to her vagina, anus, and mouth. She was not only raped, but savaged with ‘an object’…She was beaten in the head.  Some type of chemical was poured down her threat, and her body, including her bleeding and battered genital area, likely scrubbed by the same solution—all while Christian was alive [.]”

Yet Christian’s ordeal was not over.  “She was then ‘hog-tied,’ with curtains and strips of bedding, her face covered tightly with a small white trash bag and her body stashed inside five large trash bags before being placed inside a large trash can and covered with sheets.”

The medical examiner concluded that “Christian died slowly, suffocating [.]”

There is no question that had Newsom and Christian been black and their assailants white, there is no one in America, and probably even in the Western world, who would be unfamiliar with their names.  In the real word, though, thanks to both the hypocritical and cowardly nature of our racial politics as well as the shamelessness and remorselessness of the Racism-Industrial-Complex—including and particularly the media—they and their tormentors remain largely unknown.

And Paula Deen is persona-non-grata.

Jesus said of the Pharisees that they were a “brood of vipers,” hypocrites who “strained out the gnat” while “letting in the camel.” In essence, the Pharisees obsessed over the little things while ignoring those matters that really mattered.  The same is true of the “anti-racists” who are now gunning for Paula Deen—but who turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the George Thomases of the world.

To be sure, the Paula Deen brouhaha has little to do with her and nothing to do with stopping “racism.” It is inspired by a vision to fundamentally transform America.

This vision is typically called “Political Correctness.”  But maybe it would be more accurate to call it Pharisaic Correctness.

 

 

 

As Russell Kirk suggests in his classic, The Conservative Mind, there is no one among America’s Founding Fathers that provides as articulate and discerning a vision of genuinely conservative thought as John Adams.

Adams was a man of great learning and genius.  He also is among the most prolific political authors that the United States ever produced.  Kirk says that his “body of political thought exceeds, both in bulk and in penetration, any other work on government by an American.” Yet uniting his voluminous writings are certain characteristically conservative themes.

Regarding the egalitarian’s dream regarding “the natural equality” of all human beings, Adams is dismissive.  In a letter to his friend, turned adversary, turned friend again, Thomas Jefferson, Adams is blunt: “Jus cuique, the golden rule, is all the equality that can be supported or defended by reason or common sense [.]”

In his correspondence with John Taylor, Adams writes: “That all men are born to equal rights is clear.  Every being has a right to his own, as moral, as sacred, as any other has. This,” he says, “is as indubitable as a moral government in the universe.”  However, as for the egalitarian fiction that was taking his world by storm, “for honor’s sake,” and “for truth and virtue’s sake, let American philosophers and politicians despise it.”

Adams remarks: “But to teach that all men are born with equal powers and faculties, to equal influence in society, to equal property and advantages through life, is as gross a fraud, as glaring an imposition on the credulity of the people, as ever was practiced by monks, by Druids, by Brahmins, by priests of the immortal Lama, or by the self-styled philosophers of the French Revolution.”

The egalitarianism of his contemporaries is an “ideology.”  For Adams, this meant that it is “the science of Idiocy.” Moreover, it is “a very profound, abstruse, and mysterious science” that yields no “discoveries” and “no bottom.”  The ideology of egalitarianism is “the bathos, the theory, the art, the skill of diving and sinking in government.”  It is what’s “taught in the school of folly,” “the academy” of which, along with several prominent French thinkers, such notable defenders of the American Revolution as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine “were the great masters [.]”

Adams warns his American and French contemporaries that “amid all their exultations,” these utopians would be well served to recognize that “the perfectibility of man is only human and terrestrial perfectibility.” Their best efforts will never change the fact that “cold will still freeze and fire will never cease to burn; disease and vice will continue to disorder, and death to terrify mankind.”  Human beings are motivated by “self-preservation” and “emulation.” Adams adds that only “the balance of a well-ordered government will…be able to prevent” the latter “from degenerating into dangerous ambition, irregular rivalries, destructive factions, wasting seditions, and bloody wars.”

However, even if the human perfectibility of the egalitarian dreamers was possible, it wouldn’t be desirable.  “Grief drives men into habits of serious reflection, sharpens the understanding, and softens the heart; it compels them to rouse their reason, to assert its empire over their passions, propensities, and prejudices, to elevate them to a superiority over all human events [.]”  Adams concludes that “in short,” grief makes human beings into “stoics and Christians.”

Particularly in our day, when it has become second nature for Americans, including self-described “conservatives,” to turn to their government to satisfy their material needs and desires, Adams’ individuality is a tough pill to swallow.  But it is true.  Just as importantly, he knew that grief, in conjunction with “the balance of a well-ordered government”—a government comprised of “a balance of power,” as Adam described it—is necessary for the preservation of liberty.

“The numbers of men in all ages have preferred ease, slumber, and good cheer to liberty, when they have been in competition.  We must not then depend alone upon the love of liberty in the soul of man for its preservation.”  The love for liberty is no “more rational, generous, or social, in one” man than in another “until in man it is enlightened by experience, reflection, education, and civil and political institutions [.]”

Liberty is not an abstraction, Adams knew, but a culturally-specific good dependent upon institutional arrangements and moral tradition.

This Independence Day, let us recall the largely lost wisdom of the man who probably is the most conservative of the Founding Fathers.