The Politics Of Trayvon Martin

Since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, outrage and sorrow has been expressed by everyone regardless of race or political affiliation.  And rightly so.  I am concerned however, that the tragedy of a teenage son is being exploited for political gain.

MSNBC’s Karen Finney is quoted as saying,

People, in Trayvon Martin’s case, a teenager walking home from the  store, are dehumanized into some form of other, unworthy of respect and it’s  justified as a way to make people some kind of separate and unequal status.

So, when Newt Gingrich, presidential candidate Newt  Gingrich says that, quote, “really poor children in really poor neighborhoods  have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. They have no  habit of I do this and you give me cash, unless it’s illegal,” or Rick Santorum  says, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives easier,” or Rush Limbaugh calls  a presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama a magic negro, or Mitt Romney  says nothing at all, the effect is dangerous, because they reinforce and  validate old stereotypes that associate the poor and welfare as criminal  behavior with African-Americans and people of color, calling us lazy,  undeserving recipients of public assistance. In the case of Trayvon, those  festering stereotypes had lethal consequences.

Noting that there is a mistaken assumption in some corners of America that all racial problems went away with the election of President Obama, Jesse Jackson is quoted as saying that,

“There was this feeling that we were kind of beyond racism,”…”That’s not true. His victory has triggered tremendous backlash.”

Even the President weighed in,

You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.

Admittedly President Obama’s projection is, on its face, innocuous.  After all, after he said it, I even see a resemblance to Obama.  However, statements like that can cause people to relate Martin’s killing to Obama in a personal way.  When Jackson paints Martin’s death as racial backlash to the election of a black President, it has the potential to create a retaliatory mentality.  It only serves to stoke racial tensions some people still hold.

It’s unfortunate that a segment of the media and some public personalities want to make a case of individual racism — which appears to possibly be the case with Zimmerman, though denied by his attorney — into corporate racism.  That there is a class of people, with certain characteristics, who listen to certain talk shows, who oppose certain elected officials who are inherently racist — or racist by virtue association of those things.

Trayvon Martin’s death is being used as political ammunition, and it’s disgraceful.


A related post can be found on Sibboleth Nation


  1. I’m glad to hear that there are Conservative voices expressing the fact that this is a tragedy predicated on racism. I don’t frequent Conservative media outlets, so it is heartening to hear that this is an issue that transcends political ideology.

    I agree, in principle, that this should not be hijacked as an opportunity to take Republican Presidential nominees words and contort them in the way that Karen Finney has. Perhaps you could have highlighted the Republican nominees statements specifically on the Trayvon Martin case that were made after Obama’s address on Friday. There are fair points to be made that Romney declined to comment on a direct question about the case, and that Gingrich thinks this is a case where a Grand Jury should be formed before charges are laid. Santorum, I think, made the best statement of any of the candidates. I think it is fair to be critical of the other two front runners, if for reasons not present in Karen Finney’s comment. I also think that you are unduly reading into the comments made by Obama- it is a stretch to assume that he is somehow turning this into Presidential assassination-by-proxy.

    I think in the case of Trayvon, it is fair to question a Florida law that essentially made none of the steps Zimmerman made illegal. I’m no expert on the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida, but my understanding is that it has been used to justify Zimmermans actions. It is also my understanding that local authorities had not persued charges against Zimmerman, and that the comment you highlight by Obama was made during an announcement that Federal law enforcement was stepping in to handle the incident.

    Given my understanding, I think that it is hard to make the case that this is a case of individual racism. There would have likely still been people rightly pointing out the racial element in this tragedy, but if Florida authorities had have done the right thing by arresting and prosecuting Zimmerman- I doubt this would have turned into an examination of a culture of racism. Maybe it would have. That ship has sailed though, and I can’t understand, in light of the way our institutions handled the aftermath, how this could not turn into an examination of institutional racism.

    You would be fair in your criticism if local authorities had done their job- but they undermine your argument that this is individual racism with their actions.

    • I do think this case is being tried in the media and that is the worst way to get the facts of the case considered properly. I think a lot of evidence is yet to be made public.

      My opinion on this is that I believe there have been a string of burglaries in the area. And I think Zimmerman’s adrenaline was pumping, I think he got tunnel vision and was intent on stopping this “criminal”. I think he wasn’t prepared to handle the situation and acted in haste.

      I don’t think ot was an intentional “I’m going to kill this kid” situation. Even if he said fucking coons like it sounds like he did, it doesn’t mean he is racist broadly speaking. I know that sounds weird, but I know people both black and white who genuinely like and have real friends of opposite races who make comments like that when a stereotype presents itself. I have even had one of my black friends say something like that while we were driving about a white (cracker) driver who nearly killed us, and I honestly don’t think the guy is a racist.

      In the end, I think Zimmerman may guilty of manslaughter, not murder. If evidence comes out to show it was a stone cold hateful killing, he should be punished like all other murderers. But I am firmly opposed to hate crime laws. And the left is using this as a political opportunity.

      George, I don’t think Obama is intentionally making it personal by linking Martin’s likeness to his own, but it will have that effect. That’s why the President proper should refrain from commentary on issues like this. Leave it to local and state officials.

  2. People are talking about this too soon. Just read a story this morning; according to the witness who called 911, Martin was attacking Zimmerman, and it’s Zimmerman’s screams that are heard in the background of the 911 call.

  3. As a Christian, as an American, it disturbs me that it appears the “black community” seems to thrive on keeping racism alive and that reaction to racism is the only thing that animates them or makes them indignant. I know evil exists and resides in the hearts of people, but as heinous as it is, racism is not the greatest evil we face as a nation.

    Injustice happens all the time, and not just to black teens. Huddling together in the “black community” and “standing up for one of their own” is continuing racila division. As an American, isn’t Nancy Strait who was murdered in Oklahoma “one of their own?”


    This happened the same day as the Trayvon Martin killing. An 85 year old white woman sexually assaulted and murdered by black teens in hoodies; and her husband, a WWII veteran severely beaten. The couple had recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Is her murder any less egregious because the teens wanted the couple’s stuff rather than because she was white?

    Where is the nation-wide outcry for this heinous murder? Where is the indignation in the black community? Why is injustice only a “black” concern?

    Speaking of injustice, how about the Central Park 5? These criminals were duly convicted by 2 juries based on their own un-coerced confessions, corroborating statements of their actions from the other defendants, and physical evidence. The convictions of these thugs and hooligans were vacated, not on a new trial or on exculpatory evidence, but on the jail-cell “confession” of a criminal already serving time for other crimes. He had nothing to lose by confessing to the rape and beating of the jogger. The statute of limitations had already run, meaning he couldn’t be prosecuted for the crime.

    Now “the community” feels all self-righteous and smug in their delusion that these criminals set free “were innocent all along.” That is injustice as well, but you don’t see the “white community” holding banners, marching and chanting slogans “No justice, No peace” or have race-baiting “reverends” insist “Whites are under attack.”

    This Martin case appears to be an injustice, but the reaction to it is seems to be way out of proportion. The “black community” is not in any greater danger of oppression or extinction. There are no lynch mobs lurking around the block to murder black teens wearing hoodies.

    I don’t know how to solve the race relations problems when people refuse to yield their lives to Jesus. Listening to the poisonous words of “reverends” like Sharpton and Jackson who claim to speak for God doesn’t help. Why is there a “black community” anyway? Why can’t we have “One community?”

    I wish “the community” would be just as indignant at Obama’s mandating we all pay for abortion through his unconstitutional universal healthcare scheme. The children killed by abortion are no less innocent than Trayvon. (Not meaning to turn this into a political argument about abortion, just pointing out the incongruity in what makes “the community” mad.)

  4. TerranceH says:

    Thanks for that link, Kunoichi.

  5. Trayvon Martin has pictures on his Facebook account and he looks different from the pictures I have seen of him. I just found out that he was 6′ 2″ tall and around 180 pounds. Big difference if you ask me from the pictures of a little boy we see in the news media. He also has permanent tattoos, pants hanging, gold grilles on his teeth and doing gang signs with his hands. He is also seen flipping the bird and has a picture of a blunt. The media doesn’t want to show these pictures because it might paint a different picture from the one they want us to believe. A witness has also stepped forward and said that Zimmerman was on the ground with Trayvon on top of him beating the crap out of him and that it was Zimmerman screaming for help not Trayvon. Zimmerman has a broken nose and a gash behind his head. On a side note, why doesn’t the media reveal that Zimmerman is a Hispanic.

    • The media doesn’t make a big deal about Zimmerman being a minority because it causes more outrage if people believe he is white like his name suggests. Even with all the new facts coming out we still don’t have it all, but Zimmerman is being used as a pawn for political gain

  6. I actually read one article that referred to Zimmerman as a “white hispanic.” What the heck is that??

    • If you’ve ever taken an in-depth survey they ask your race. Hispanic is a subset of Caucasian. So you have caucasian non-hispanic and caucasian. So the media is doing their best to keep the Caucasian/white link to Zimmerman. Without it, alot of outrage goes away because it becomes just another murder and not some racist white guy targeting black youth out of prejudice and hatred.

      • “Hispanic is a subset of Caucasian.”
        I see what you’re saying, though most surveys I’ve seen don’t go that in depth into race so much as ethnicity (so I’d have the option of choosing Polish, for example, not Caucasian).

        Not that “Caucasian” actually means “white” at all, as it includes Indians and Arabs, too. Not too many people know that, since the word is almost always used as it if means “white.” :-P

        I’m getting *really* sick and tired of the media framing things so completely different from reality. Getting a LOT of that sort of thing in my neck of the woods, and it’s no where near as bad as the US; especially in relation to the election.

  7. Actually, “race” is a construct which God doesn’t recognize as such. “Race” used to mean tribe or ethnicity. But there is only one human race. Much of our “racial” problem today is because we want to divide humans as the evolutionists do, in regards to which is farther along the evolutionary path. If we quit making arbitrary “race” distinctions based on skin color or facial shapes, it would go a long way towards demonstrating the equality of every member of the human race.

  8. Glenn has a point. Though, in evolutionary terms there is only one human race. The idea that some superficial atributes would show different stages of evolution was abandoned by scientists even before Hitlers time, but it still seems to live on. And why not? If there is something people like to hear, it is that they are better than other people. If not by any achievement of their own, then at least as to whom they are born.

    I do not know this case, but Zimmerman does not sound like a hispanic name to me.

    Was it not this Rivera character who started to bring in politics and racial issues to the matter at hand? At least it seems to me that his comments are the ones that have raised the most indignation around the issue. It is a bit difficult to follow from here in the opposite side of the world.

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