Sunday, July 14, 2013

Strange Fruit

I knew Doghouse Riley would say it well:

Sunday, July 14
I KNOW two things about juries: I don't want my life or my liberty decided by one, and I don't want my sense of justice in the hands of one.

I don't think anyone with a sense of the history of this country imagined that justice was going to come out of that Florida jury. Put another way, Trayvon Martin received the full measure of American justice. Yesterday completed it. George Zimmerman is the model American. George Zimmerman is the fucking walking embodiment of America: we've got the gun, and the guy we don't like the looks of is supposed to jump when we say jump. And then, we it all goes wrong, we change the rules, congratulate ourselves on a job well done, and pretend it never happened.

There was never going to be any justice for Trayvon Martin come out of that courtroom. His chance for justice was killed by some mope who wanted to assume the moral superiority of the small-town bully cop, with none of the restraints. If he didn't die a mean and meaningless death, let that be for the one reason that's left him, and his parents: that what should die with him is the witless song and dance about this country being "over" its racist "past".

I've tried not to watch too much of the train wreck as it occurred in slow motion. I was, however, shocked by several of the comments made by the defense attorneys after the verdict was brought last evening. The suggestion that the trial should never have happened is shocking. The prima facie case--a dead, unarmed teen, and a guy with an attitude towards black teenagers who was explicitly told by police authorities to stop following Trayvon Martin. That there shouldn't be a trial given these facts is a shocking statement. I was also shocked by the assertion that had Mr. Zimmerman been black, there would not have been an arrest. Really? What world does Mr. O'Mara live in. Certainly not the United States. Unless, as it did not seem to be the case, that O'Mara was making a wry comment on the fact that sometimes black on black crime is not taken very seriously. But as commenters pointed out on the Melissa Harris Perry show this morning, the statistics on black men behind bars certainly belie Mr. O'Mara's remark. And had both races been reversed? I thought these tony lawyers were, in the end, "officers of the court." They won their case, or at the least, they received a verdict that they had worked for. To suggest that the trial should never have occurred is to rip away the veil and hope that justice can come from a trial--that our sad, flawed process at least might confer something better, sometime.

Meanwhile, as we saw last week, the Voting Rights Act is on the ropes. Are we then to simply follow the suggestion of the NRA? Would Trayvon have been better served to have also been carrying, and to have been more practiced in the fast draw/accurate fire discipline. Are we to frog-march our civilization, such as it is, back to the era of Billy the Kid and the samurai code? Certainly there is something satisfying about moments when bullies get their just and final desserts in the movies. But it is only in the paper thin spaghetti western that that satisfaction comes without at least some deeper implications, at which point we're really talking pornography.

Charles Pierce was quite right in his assessment of the chances for the Zimmerman trial: nothing good will come of this, he said over and over again.

As for the steaming Right Wing and their disgusting reactions. A picture is worth a thousand words I guess.

Further reading, should you so desire:

Tuesday Update: The long interview with the juror last night confirms what Doghouse opines. My guess is, this woman is typical of white, middle-class women from that area of Florida. Everyday their small-minded ignorance is "confirmed" by Fox "news." This is the situation we have in the United States. A commenter at "They Gave Us A Republic" (see my links section) made a great remark: if Zimmerman had been a guard dog, he would have been summarily put down. She also remarked that Zimmerman and his ilk are the consequence of these "communities" being cheap and using untrained volunteers rather than professional watchmen. Fox, meanwhile, seems to be pushing a theme aimed at creating such consternation in already outraged groups that violent confrontations with police at demonstrations will become more likely. The people who design the "Fox narrative" have no compunctions or scruples. They'd love a summer of "race riots," which they can then smugly say are both "not about race," and "just what you'd expect from those people."

One More Update: Listening extensively to the Anderson Cooper interview with one of the jurors was depressing, but instructive. As I had thought must be the case, the Zimmerman defense team managed to reduce the focus of the jury to a tiny sliver of the overall event which concluded with the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman. As the jury narrowed it's focus down to a mere minute or two, Zimmerman began to seem the victim. What was he to do. If only Trayvon had simply walked away, or even run away. Mr. Edroso wrote the appropriate column a few years back, and links to it today:

One of the great problems we face as a nation trying to struggle to responsibly govern ourselves is a patent amnesia, which lies like a great suffocating blanket over all our efforts at finding clarity. Our Congress cannot muster the will to pass even the tiniest smidgeon of gun regulation in the face of the massacre of children, and in almost the same breath historically speaking, Mr. Zimmerman is not only found innocent, but will be presented with his firearm as he leaves the building, to stuff in his back pocket. Even his lawyers opine that now, more than ever, he'll need it.

Yet there is this filling in of the dots at hand:

The only thing wrong with Edroso's reductio absurdum is, it forces African-Americans into the role of martyrs for the rest of us idiots. We already killed Martin Luther King, Jr., not to mention Fred Hampton:

It's a tricky thing to make lying on the teevee an actual crime. The mechanics of such a legislative rube goldberg would be gawdawful, and we've also watched that chain of consequences in action time and again. But the fact is, Americans are so systematically lied to that we've become a muddled, blinded lot, staggering from tragedy to tragedy. Just listen to that juror as she explains how the thinking in that room went down. At the end of the process, they all cried a lot. Poor dears.

The New York Daily News ran an editorial complaining that liberals suffer from a nostalgia for the racist acts of another era. This is a subtle argument for accepting amnesia with open arms.

1 comment:

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