Written March 26, 2012     

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© 2016 Bob Lonsberry


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I didn’t shoot Trayvon Martin.

And neither did the nation, the police or the criminal justice system.

It wasn’t his hoodie or the gun law or what it means to be black in America.

It was two guys in a Florida subdivision. One of them was a 17-year-old who seems to have been innocent. The other was a 28-year-old who seems to have been belligerent.

How it went down, we don’t yet know. One guy had a bloody head, the other guy had a bullet hole. One was a mostly model citizen, the other was a mostly model student.

And now the president says we need national soul searching. Al Sharpton says we need justice. Any number of protests say we need dialogue. The Million Hoodie marchers say we need racial respect.

What I think we need is less exploitation.

We need less twisting of tragedy into political advantage. We need less grandstanding and fewer crocodile tears.

Because this is about a dead young man. It’s about grieving a life needlessly lost. And it’s about justice in that matter. It’s about finding out whether or not the law was broken and if it was, if the lawbreaker is going to be held accountable.

That’s what it’s about.

It’s not about anything else.

No matter what the president says, no matter what the protestors chant, no matter what the race baiters wish.

Unfortunately, this tragedy has been co-opted by people with political axes to grind. The death of this young man has been twisted to advance the agendas of politicians, civil-rights activists, occupiers, and cop haters.

And that is all illegitimate.

That is all an exploitation.

It is completely illogical to extrapolate the events of that night to make statements about either American law enforcement or race relations. To project the supposed actions of one man onto an entire nation is to abandon common sense and fairness.

Similarly, to designate Trayvon Martin as a representative of all young black men, or of all young black men who wear hoodies, is unfair to his memory and a fundamental distortion.

Some of what is being said is simply inane. The platitudes of political correctness, looked at with the light of honesty, become manipulations and pretentions.

Like the president’s statement that his son would look like Trayvon Martin.

That was intended to be a coded statement about race, an identification with a racial upset that is, possibly not coincidentally, beneficial to the president’s re-election prospects. It essentially translates to, “I am black, too.”

Otherwise, the assertion that his son would look like Trayvon Martin is the equivalent of the old racist claim that all black people look alike. Because, actually, if the Obamas had a son, it is unlikely that he truly would look very much like Trayvon Martin. The Obamas are taller and their daughters are thinner, with facial features nothing like those of Trayvon Martin.

In point of fact, if the first family did have a son, he would probably look nothing like Trayvon Martin.

The only similarity between the young men would be their approximate skin color.

And it is unfortunate when the president of the United States makes skin color a significant identifier or issue.

Some activists have turned this into an attack on the police. They have talked about arrest rates for black people, racial profiling, alleged sentencing differences, supposed disrespect for minority youth by the police. It has been a long and angry litany. And those arguments, pressed by anti-police activists for decades, may or may not have validity.

But they have nothing to do with Trayvon Martin. They are completely extraneous to this tragedy.

There is also an aspect of the response to this homicide that is about the race of the attacker, not the race of the victim.

Unfortunately, there are a great many black 17-year-old lads who are gunned down each year. Worse, black children even younger are murdered on a regular basis. Almost every big city has sad tales of black toddlers and infants killed violently. Little kids out playing, or supposedly safe within the walls of their own homes, are killed by random or purposeful violence.

And yet I don’t recall a national outcry over them.

Yes, there may be a candlelight vigil, and somebody will usually say something for the news cameras, but absolutely nothing like the current national outrage has happened.

In the vast majority of those cases, the killer was black. Black on black crime in which 17-year-olds lose their lives is sadly commonplace.

It’s not the race of the victim that has caused the current upset – it is the race of the gunman. That conclusion is unavoidable.

So, too, is the conclusion that this tragedy is being exploited. Trayvon Martin’s death is being used.

And that’s not right.

Yes, we should watch this case and follow the evidence and the decision of officials. But, no, we should not turn it into another opportunity for racial polarization.

- by Bob Lonsberry © 2012

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