JUST as I wish the death of Trayvon Martin was something unusual. The reader is reminded that the state of Florida finds all sorts of ways to facilitate the deaths of black teenagers, and excuse the perpetrators.
I think that, for once, the President's measured tone was correct. We don't need a public execution of George Zimmerman. We don't even need some self-appointed expert to hear Zimmerman say "coon". Whether George Zimmerman is a raving Kluxer, a closet bigot, or a misguided gun nut is a matter for the courts. And he and his gun are nowhere near the courts at present.
We don't know why Zimmerman pulled the trigger. We do know why he was well-known to the local police for parading around like a self-appointed sidewalk security guard: because the state of Florida told him he could. And it told him he could precisely because, like many states--and leave us make no mistake about it, not just in the South--it has pursued a Jim Crow By Any Other Name policy since 1964.
We know this. We've sat still for it. We watched while the Press faux-balanced the retrenchment of institutional racism with specious claims of "reverse" racism. We listened to the "debate" over whether the Willie Horton ads were racist. We've seen the New York Times give prime Op-Ed space to a man who would publicly deny there could possibly be anything suspicious about Ronald Reagan's Philadelphia Experiment.
We've seen fall-back position after fall-back position, and heard equal time given to the denouncers of "race pimps" and "liberals, the real racists". We've watched the Republican party--not exclusively--try to turn Equality into a "special interest", and we've watched the Democratic party--not exclusively--run from African-American support.
Let's just say this: we might disagree about when deadly force is justified. We might disagree about how much force one is permitted when defending not life but property. We cannot pretend that an unarmed teenager shot in the head because some citizen thought he might be virtually threatening someone else's virtual property has died in a way any civilized society worthy of the name can accept.