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In an event that illuminates the ongoing politicization of the nation’s public schools, Malcolm X Elementary school in Washington D.C. held an event called “Trayvon Martin Day” last Friday. “The children at Malcolm X know the name Trayvon Martin,” principal, J. Harrison Coleman told WJLA-TV. “They know the incident. They know it basically because of what’s in the news but because of what they experience every day.” The event was framed as part of an ongoing effort by the school called “Let’s Keep Our Children Safe.” But the slant of the agenda was clarified when Coleman announced that every adult who attended the seminar would receive an Arizona Iced Tea and each student would get a bag of Skittles, items Martin had purchased prior to his confrontation with George Zimmerman.
The day was framed as a “teachable moment” with respect to an anti-bullying campaign. Yet once again, Diane Woods, a special-education teacher and the school’s anti-bullying coordinator, framed the incident in a manner that aligns itself, either inadvertently or by design, with a version of the confrontation that remain in dispute. She believes the incident would have ended differently if Zimmerman had walked away. “A child lost his life,” Woods said. “It may not be a racial thing here…And we see so much anger and aggression here…It starts with hitting now, and it leads to more deaths when they get older. And that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”
Apparently the school is also trying to avoid dealing with the possibility that Zimmerman did indeed walk away and was pursued by Martin regardless of his retreat. On March 26, the Orlando Sentinel published an account of the story where Zimmerman claimed he was walking away when Martin approached him from behind, and the two men exchanged words. Martin then allegedly punched Zimmerman in the nose, knocking him to the ground, got on top of Zimmerman and began beating him. “That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say,” reported the Sentinel. “There have been no reports that a witness saw the initial punch Zimmerman told police about.”
An accurate account? It’s difficult to say for certain at this juncture, which is precisely the point. Thus, it is more than a little ironic that a Trayvon Martin Day to promote anti-bullying was named after the man who may turn out to have been the bully.
Such a possibility was apparently irrelevant for principal Coleman. “I wanted to do something in recognition of Trayvon Martin,” she said. “I wanted to capture this incident in order to bring about change…This wasn’t about…dealing with who’s right or who’s wrong” with regard to the incident. That’s nonsense. The implication of an “anti-bullying” event named Trayvon Martin Day is about as subtle as a sledgehammer: Martin is the victim, Zimmerman is the the bully, and his claim of self-defense is not credible.
Ms. Coleman and other school officials are certainly entitled to draw whatever conclusions they choose to draw from the incident. Yet foisting those conclusions on schools students–at the elementary level no less–constitutes nothing more than progressive activism masquerading itself as anti-bullying education.
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