(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/03/Picture-22.gif)The death of Trayvon Martin was surely a tragedy, no matter what the facts are. Nonetheless, the media coverage of and political response to the killing have been absolutely disgraceful – exploitative, cynical, and counterproductive in the extreme.
Let’s begin with the media. The initial narrative they seized upon was one of George Zimmerman, a “white Hispanic,” targeting Martin for wearing a hoodie, tracking him down, beginning a fight with him, and murdering him. Afterward, the narrative goes, Martin was not arrested by the police because either the police were racist, or they completely misconstrued Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
To make this narrative work, the media had to paint Martin as a saint, and George Zimmerman as a devil. If they had cared about accuracy, they would have realized that the character of both the supposed victim and perpetrator was irrelevant – only the events of the night in question matter. Instead, they decided to tell the American public that Zimmerman was a racist pig, while Martin was a clean-cut young man with no history of suspicious behavior.
So they released a picture of Martin that was several years old and emphasizing his youthful innocence rather than a more recent picture showing his gold chains and tatts. They suggested that Martin was a model student, rather than a troubled young man suspended from school for carrying an empty marijuana baggy.
Meanwhile, Zimmerman was portrayed as a latent member of the Ku Klux Klan, even though he was a mentor to two teenage kids of a black woman in Florida, and helped in a fundraiser for a black church.
So what’s the real story? According to police, Martin attacked Zimmerman by punching him and knocking him down; he then began slamming his head into the sidewalk. Witnesses corroborated this account. Zimmerman then shot Martin in the chest. Zimmerman was found with bloody lacerations to the back of his head and a swollen lip, consistent with his story.
Did the media do anything good by pumping it as a racial narrative without clear evidence? Of course not. But they made hay, turning a local killing into a national issue.
And that, of course, opened the way for the politicians to make hay of their own. President Obama quickly chimed in, stating, “”When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together – federal, state and local – to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened … You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. All of us have to do some soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen.”
This is sheer and exploitative nonsense. Obama’s color has nothing to do with the story. Americans don’t have to do soul searching about this killing, because Americans weren’t involved in this killing – Martin and Zimmerman were. In fact, Obama’s comments helped taint the potential jury pool for Zimmerman, if he is indeed indicted and tried.
But Obama is hardly alone in inserting himself into this situation. As we’ve seen since the Martin shooting, liberals have moved into full court press, blaming everyone from Rush Limbaugh to the law itself for the killing. Nobody has isolated the case to the actual shooter, Zimmerman, or the alleged victim, Martin. Nobody has worried about what happens if and when the case is actually prosecuted. Nobody cares about any of that.
All they care about is making hay. That’s why serial race-baiters Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are down in Florida raising a hullaballoo, with Jackson going so far as to state, without basis, that Martin was shot in the back of the head. Media members are condemning Mitt Romney for not speaking up about the case – even when that’s precisely the proper response to a pending legal matter in which the facts are unclear. That’s why Occupy Wall Street thugs are using the Martin killing as an excuse to run around New York tearing up fences and climbing statues.
The Trayvon Martin case is murky. The facts are unclear. The motivations are uncertain. But one thing is crystal clear: nobody ought to be jumping to conclusions, speaking up without evidence, or manipulating for the sake of politics.
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