Zimmerman tried for racism by the media


On Monday, the Daily Caller published a letter from one of George Zimmerman’s family members, “whose identity TheDC has confirmed but is withholding out of concern for the Zimmerman family’s safety.” Spike Lee and Roseanne Barr can testify those are valid concerns.

The letter, sent to Seminole County, Florida NAACP president Turner Clayton, asserts that George Zimmerman “has been hiding for his life because of the death threats made against him by the black community.” 

He has been found guilty (in the public eye) until proven innocent.  He has been called a racist and a bigot and there have been very few that have stood up for him.  There has been an unprecedented rush to judge George regardless of the facts.  The black community as a whole has turned their backs and blindly followed the furor stirred up by self-proclaimed leaders of your community.  These leaders have rallies and chant horrible things of a person they know nothing about.  If justice is what the community wants don’t you think you should wait for the investigators to do their jobs first?  Isn’t that justice? 

(Presented as written in the original.)  The letter encourages Clayton to “end the race issue in this matter and call for cooler heads to prevail,” and “call off the dogs.  Period.  Publicly and swiftly.”  Otherwise, “if something happens to George as a result of the race furor stirred up by this mischaracterization of George, there will be blood on your hands as well as the rest of the racists that have rushed to judgment.”

Clayton, it should be noted, has not joined the assorted agitators and MSNBC hosts calling for “escalation” in protest tactics.

The letter also introduces a potent argument against the notion that George Zimmerman is a racist:

You will recall the incident of the beating of the black homeless man Sherman Ware on December 4, 2010 by the son of a Sanford police officer. The beating sparked outrage in the community but there were very few that stepped up to do anything about it. I would presume the inaction was because of the fact that he was homeless not because he was black. Do you know the individual who stepped up when no one else in the black community would? Do you know who spent tireless hours putting flyers on the cars of persons parked in the churches of the black community? Do you know who waited for the church-goers to get out of church so that he could hand them flyers in an attempt to organize the black community against this horrible miscarriage of justice? Do you know who helped organize the City Hall meeting on January 8, 2011 at Sanford City Hall?? That person was GEORGE ZIMMERMAN.

I believe this should be treated as an unverified claim until independent authorities verify it.  I know that sounds like a tautology, but plenty of unverified claims have been transformed into “facts” in this case, and I don’t want to add another one.

Even if the claim that George Zimmerman helped organize the Ware city hall meeting, it doesn’t change the known facts of the case: Trayvon Martin is dead, and George Zimmerman shot him.  However, Zimmerman’s possible racial motivations will become relevant if he’s tried by the federal government for a hate crime.  It’s also relevant to the media framing of this story, which has always been based on the presumption that what transpired on February 26 was not a tragedy, but an outrage.  It’s necessary to portray Zimmerman’s actions as incomprehensible, and obviously sinister, in order to build an outrageous story about the supposedly catastrophic and complete failure of the society that failed to immediately arrest him. 

That’s why major news organizations have deliberately edited audio and video to slander Zimmerman as a racist and liar.  The stirring of the racial pot continues.  On Tuesday, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien talked with a former neighborhood watch officer from Zimmerman’s neighborhood.  After hearing his account of the burglaries plaguing the area, she exclaimed, “So it sounds like you’re saying it made sense to you that George Zimmerman would be fearful of young black men!”

Her guest corrected her: “No, it would be consistent that the perpetrators were all of the young black male ID.  That’s a fact.”

O’Brien went right back to race-baiting him: “So when he saw Trayvon Martin, in your mind it would make perfect sense to say he’s a young black male, he probably is a robber.  Is that what you’re saying?”  (Hat tip to The Right Scoop for the transcript.)

Besides shopping for a sensational sound bite, O’Brien is trying to move the story away from the realm of logic – burglaries had been committed by someone who matched Trayvon Martin’s general description – into the realm of outrage, furiously pushing the idea that either George Zimmerman, or society in general, are racist and irrational.

This is also why so many details of the case are treated as “emerging revelations” when they’ve been clearly spelled out in police reports all along.  The real story was always more complicated than its media caricature.  More importantly, it was less incomprehensible, which makes it less outrageous, if no less tragic.  Lazy reporting facilitated the initial rush to judgment.  Sustaining the rush takes hard work.