Totalitarianism and the Zimmerman aftermath
Let us once again turn to an ugly idea we should be eternally vigilant against: totalitarianism. Everything is politicized, which brings everything under the purview of the government. The government spends a great deal of its time and energy manipulating the public, instead of fulfilling its duties to them. Inconvenient reality is swept aside in the name of politics, individual identity melts into the collective, ends matter more than means. Conclusions are pre-ordained, and if lawful processes don’t arrive at the correct ideological conclusion, the processes must be wrong.
Totalitarianism brought us the great horrors of the Twentieth Century, as industrial and communications technology gave the total State a fevered radio brain and crushing arms of mass-produced steel. What baffles me about the Twenty-First Century is the enduring believe that totalitarianism can be reformed, cleansed of its evil impulses, and put at the service of “social justice.” Why are we so intent on experimenting with a drug we know is toxic poison? Why does anyone think the totalitarian story will have a happy ending, if we just put good people in charge and let them write high-minded mission statements for themselves?
Which brings us to the George Zimmerman murder trial. It’s become a fearful exercise in totalitarian politics. The trial itself was a creation of total politics – a mob howled for charges unsupported by the law, the President of the United States got involved by declaring Trayvon Martin looked like the son he never had, and the state of Florida suffered a political seizure that produced ridiculous second-degree murder charges.
The aftermath of the trial is even worse. For one thing, the two actual people involved in that deadly encounter, George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, have completely vanished beneath ideological caricatures. They’ve been deleted from the hard drive of reality and replaced with political constructs. Nothing they actually said or did before the shooting matters any more. George Zimmerman is a brutal racist killer who cruised the peaceful lanes of his condo community looking for a minority to kill. Trayvon Martin is a saintly child who was attacked and murdered for no reason after popping out to the corner store to buy Skittles and iced tea.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard ideologues, rabble-rousers, and “journalists” repeat the “Skittles and iced tea” line. He did not buy iced tea. He bought Arizona brand watermelon juice. It’s a matter of recorded fact. The can appears in crime scene photographs. But totalitarian ideology changes details large and small, because “Skittles and iced tea” is catchy and easy to remember… and also because there’s a drug cocktail made from Arizona watermelon juice and Skittles, which Trayvon Martin was known to be interested in.
The totalitarians don’t want people dwelling on details like that, because it complicates the desired political narrative. They don’t want people thinking about any of the details of Trayvon Martin’s disciplinary history, or his behavior on the fateful night. An ideological conclusion has been reached; reality must now be edited to support it. Likewise with George Zimmerman, who had good reason to be worried about people who looked like Trayvon Martin behaving strangely in his neighborhood. He’s so non-racist that he’s mentored black youths, and stood up against the police when a black homeless man was beaten in Sanford, Florida. But the mega-State is engaged in a mighty effort to find some speck of racial animosity in his background, so they can put him on trial again.
That’s how totalitarianism works. Individuals don’t matter. The great tide of politics is what matters. People are flotsam and jetsam.
Now we have the astounding spectacle of the incompetent Zimmerman prosecutor, Angela Corey, going on television and openly calling him a “murderer” even after he was acquitted of both murder and manslaughter charges. Power has judged him, so what does the law matter? How can anyone who thinks this way be allowed to remain a member of the bar?
Even more amazing, the even more incompetent Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, actually announced a national tip line to harvest evidence from across America that George Zimmerman is a racist, ostensibly for use in a federal thought crimes trial. This isn’t just outrageous, it’s deranged. How many people in the entire country have spent any significant amount of time interacting with George Zimmerman, or any other typical citizen of the United States? Dozens, at most. But the bloated, wasteful, inefficient government that claimed it can’t reduce spending by a penny without firing teachers and paramedics is going to waste its time scanning the life of one man for any hint he might have held a racially impure thought at some point in his life? And this little project of Holder’s is going to consume significant resources… because they are going to vet and investigate every scrap of information they receive, right?
What happens if Holder manages to find someone willing to testify that George Zimmerman once uttered a racially insensitive word? Would that be good enough to haul him into federal court for his thought crimes trial? Or would it take two witnesses with stories of Zimmerman telling an off-color joke ten years ago to outweigh everything else the man has done in his life?
Holder and others are also busy using the Zimmerman trial as a weapon against “Stand Your Ground” laws, even though such laws played absolutely no role in the trial. That’s a classic example of the totalitarian impulse: events bent into the service of political goals they have no logical connection to. Stand Your Ground is being portrayed as some horrifying menace to the lives of young black men, even though such defenses are rarely invoked successfully. I’ve got a hard, cold dose of non-politicized reality for you: law-abiding young black men have virtually zero chance of being murdered by someone hiding behind a Stand Your Ground defense. By investing time, money, and political energy in this stupid crusade, people like Eric Holder are distracting us from real problems and solutions. They’re going to get innocent people killed.
Why are these people so worked up about Stand Your Ground laws, anyway? Because the total State does not like individuals taking responsibility for their own defense. We’re supposed to be helpless and in need of rescue. If we think crime is getting out of hand, we’re supposed to petition the State for more protection… or perhaps our surviving relatives will need to do it for us, after they get home from our funerals.
This is another illustration of the total folly of wishing for a benevolent Big Government without the whiff of totalitarian fascism. There’s no such animal. When the government grows, politics invades every corner of life. The shark of the State never stops moving, and it’s covered with little fish who feed upon it for money and power. The government uses its vast resources to manipulate the public, instead of serving them. If there’s no political or monetary profit to be found in addressing real problems, profitable imaginary problems will be invented. Facts, logic, and history are steamrolled – the people yelling “Forward!” don’t want you to remember what actually happened in the past.
Just imagine the sort of crazy, politically-approved, ideologically-fueled stories you’ll hear when you ask people about the Zimmerman trial, five or ten years from now. I’ll wager the case, and the two people involved, are remembered primarily in the context of the legislation that was passed afterward. The facts of the case will be dimly legible footnotes to the words and deeds of political titans. There is only one accurate term for a society which works that way. You shouldn’t like it any better because its masters give rousing speeches, look good on TV, or insist they care deeply about you.