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UPDATE: They’re letting him walk! The verdict: if you’re young and black, you can be killed with impunity. While this verdict is not surprising, since this was the way it was looking from the way the trial was proceeding, this is an outrage. This system had to be forced to even charge Zimmerman by people’s protests and this obscene decision must not go down without mass protest.
On July 12, 2013’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” panelist Matt Lewis, a senior contributor to The Daily Caller and columnist to The Week Magazine, responded to Bill Maher’s query about the George Zimmerman trial by describing it as confrontation between “a wannabe gangster” and a “wannabe cop.” Both Cornel West, another panelist last night, and Maher, objected immediately to this false characterization of Trayvon Martin.
But I have to wonder about this: how does a prominent enough journalist such as Lewis come up with this unjustified slam against Trayvon? Because Trayvon got into a fight at school – this makes him a “wannabe gangster?” If so, then a whole lot of young boys in this country are “wannabe gangsters” because it’s pretty hard to get through your entire school life as a boy without getting into one fight or more. Because Trayvon was caught smoking pot? Again, that means a whole lot of young people, male and female, black, white, Asian, Latino, etc., are “wannabe gangsters.”
The confusion that all too many people are having about whether Zimmerman is guilty of murder can be attributed in part to the lackluster performance that the prosecution has delivered in this case. But it can also be attributed to the ongoing problem of white racism: as Miller Francis (a selections archivist at CNN) correctly points out at CNN in an opinion piece, how come Trayvon Martin doesn’t have the right to “stand his ground?” No one on the prosecution has brought this up and Francis is the first mainstream published person that I have heard bring up this very salient angle. A young black man who is minding his own business, carrying Skittles and Arizona Ice Tea back to the house, is racially profiled, stalked, and then shot to death by a vigilante, and precious few are being asked to consider what they would do in Trayvon’s place. Someone with a gun is stalking him, despite Trayvon’s attempts to run away, and confronts Trayvon. Why doesn’t Trayvon have every right to “stand his ground” and fight off a belligerent stalker with unknown motives? The answer to this question, of course, is that only white people have a right to “stand their ground.” Only Empires that provoke confrontations against Third World countries have a right to claim that the Third World country “made us” invade them. “Stand your ground” is supposed to be applied only to the dominant race and dominant nations. It isn’t supposed to be relevant to those who are the dominated.
During the interchange over the Zimmerman trial (which is really a trial of Trayvon and every other black person in this country), Lewis said that Trayvon’s parents should be congratulated for saying that no matter what the verdict, that the response should be peaceful. To which Maher applauded, apparently sarcastically.
Dennis Loo is a member of the Steering Committee of World Can’t Wait, and blogs at dennisloo.com.