I know I don’t get out and about as much as I used to, but I feel that I somehow missed the boat back on Feb. 26 when I must have been one of only about 37 people in the whole country who weren’t in Sanford, Fla., witnessing the incident in which neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
From what I’ve read and heard, pretty much everyone saw the awful incident go down and is therefore qualified to expound on what would constitute justice in the case.
From media-whore preachers who don’t mind insinuating themselves into the middle of any controversy that will get them a little TV face time or their names on the front page of newspapers to hate-group instigators who will use any opportunity to stir up racial disharmony, the case has been an unyielding part of the national dialogue since the tragedy unfolded.
And afterward, the absolutely meaningless “Million Hoodie Marches,” the equally pointless bloviation by windbag conservative radio hacks and the shameful exploitation of another tragically killed black teenager — sadly, much of it by his family — has allowed any- and everyone an opportunity to give their take on the case.
It’s not enough that a young man needlessly lost his life and another man has been forever vilified for action he says was self-defense. This country hasn’t been able to pass up the golden opportunity to turn the incident into a racially-charged, confrontation-worthy cause.
I’ve read and listened with interest to the (mostly white) group that has felt compelled to come to Zimmerman’s defense by claiming, their righteous indignation aflame, that “blacks are calling Zimmerman white when he is in fact half-Hispanic, yet they would not be complaining at all if the shooter had actually been a black man.”
I guess none of this group took the time to look in the mirror and realize that if, indeed, the shooter had been a black man, they too would not have been so eager to jump on the Zimmerman self-defense bandwagon. It would simply have been another black-on-black shooting, not worthy of their concern.
Blacks, meanwhile, have tried to turn this unfortunate young man into some kind of martyr, proclaiming him an innocent in this case, no matter what the evidence might say.
None seems overly concerned that a boy on the threshold of manhood had his life — and all the hopes and promises it might have held — taken from him because a self-proclaimed protector of the realm had a deadly weapon and went looking for an opportunity to use it, an opportunity that never should have happened.
Of course, Zimmerman’s defense is a reactionary Florida law that all but gives him the right to do what he did, if indeed the events of that Feb. 26 night prove to have unfolded as he claims they did. Unfortunately, even with all the “witnesses” who have surfaced in the aftermath of the shooting, we may never know what really happened.
Perhaps the scariest element of this sad American tale is the initial inactivity of Sanford police and then the about-face charge, almost two months after the fact, of second-degree murder that led to Zimmerman’s arrest on Wednesday. Because of the timing, and what appears to be a thinly disguised attempt to calm a growing anger that spread from the Sunshine State and has been simmering in all parts of the country, Americans are left to wonder if justice is actually being served or if, in fact, Zimmerman is being served up to calm that anger.
Again, we may never know the truth of the tragic Trayvon Martin case. But one truth is an absolute: The shaky concept of justice in America has taken another hit.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher