The deck was stacked against Trayvon Martin from the very beginning.
As is often the case when trials are litigated in the media, the obvious is overlooked. The prosecution always bears the burden of proving a defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That is not just a platitude but a legal standard. It is not sufficient to prove a preponderance of guilt; that is the standard in civil matters – a “preponderance” of evidence pointing to liability, usually meaning more than 50% of the evidence. In criminal matters, a reasonable doubt is not a percentage but a sensibility – a doubt for which one can give a reason. That is why Zimmerman was not found “innocent” by the jury but “not guilty.” That is the legal standard. He need not have proved his innocence. The prosecution has to prove his guilt.
Is there any thinking person who can honestly state that what occurred that night in Sanford, Florida is so clear that there is no reasonable doubt as to George Zimmerman’s guilt? Of course not. Only the race hucksters, political opportunists and other charlatans looking to profit off this tragedy would ever aver such a conclusion and even then, not seriously.
And it is a tragedy. For sure, the sympathies of the masses were manipulated by the frequent publication of the picture of a 12-year old Trayvon – and not the muscular, tattooed, 6’2” tall 17-year old he was at his death. Nor was there any reference to several scrapes with the law that he had in the year before his death, some manifesting an aggressive tendency that did not accrue to his advantage on the night of his death.
But the tragedy was, sadly, not unlike other tragedies that occur in life for which the law has no remedy. Every time a jury finds a defendant not guilty there is a disappointed complainant who thinks the system is corrupt and too malleable. The judicial system prefers to err on the side of exonerating the guilty than convicting the innocent. From that perspective, the verdict was fairly obvious, even though I thought that the jury would be hung (i.e., incapable of deciding) at least for a lot longer than they were, if only because of the public pressure to convict that the jurors invariably felt. But they followed the law, which is not always synchronized with the emotions and certainly not with the mob sentiment of the race-baiters.
Tragedies occur on the roads and in the hospitals and at home. Often there is no criminal guilt and even no civil liability. Not every mishap or misfortune lends itself to judicial redress or punishment. It is a part of life that can lead to despair, but it can also lead to daily gratitude for what we construe as small things until their absence causes them to loom very large – children, health, marriage, work, shelter, etc. Such is life.
The elephant in the room that cannot be discussed in polite company is the obvious answer to the prevailing question: why did Zimmerman suspect that Martin was up to no good? The answer is that of course Zimmerman was “racially profiling,” a cliché that has attracted a dastardly reputation notwithstanding that all thinking people do the same on a consistent basis. Even Jesse Jackson, adding these days to his resumé of dishonor, said years ago that if heard the footsteps of teenagers behind him on an urban street at night, he would be relieved to turn around and see that they were white teens. Simply put, young black men commit a wildly disproportionate number of crimes in America, and especially in America’s cities. Their rate of incarceration far exceeds their percentage of the population. There are many more black men in America’s prisons than their percentage in the population (probably 6-7%) should warrant. It is not because they are specifically targeted but because they are the ones disproportionately committing the crimes.
The saddest aspect of that is that most of their victims – overwhelmingly – are other blacks, in terms of homicides and other street crimes. Blacks growing in the inner city struggle to remain alive, to stay in schools and to keep their homes intact. The number of young innocent blacks killed in Chicago alone is staggering and a national disgrace.
Such is not the result of poverty of wealth but poverty of values. With more than 2/3 of black children being born out of wedlock, most are raised without strong, stable paternal role models. In certain circles, that abandonment of personal responsibility is still blamed on the legacy of slavery despite its abolition 150 years ago. Despite the best efforts of many black mothers, education is often frowned upon, and the easy money that many inner city youth see in the flaunted wealth of the criminal warlords of their neighborhoods – until they are caught, and if they are caught – remains a tantalizing allure.
They are not helped by the grievance industry nurtured by the hucksters. And it is a lucrative industry that plays on liberal white guilt and is therefore self-sustaining. Nothing can ever happen that will end it. Even the election of a black American president and the presence of a black Attorney General have little impact on the hustlers. According to them, America is irredeemably racist, always was and always will be, and whitey should just keep on paying, and especially paying them. To be called a racist today in American is so hackneyed as to draw yawns, not rebukes.
The double standard is blatant but familiar. Blacks discriminated against in apartheid South Africa had far better lives and were treated far better than today’s black citizens of Zimbabwe. But just like black-on-black crime in America is essentially ignored, so too black governmental dysfunction and brutality in Africa is also ignored. Wherever whites are not the perpetrators of wrongdoing against blacks, the suffering of blacks is of no interest to the hustlers or their acolytes in the media.
That fatal distraction is the real cause of Trayvon Martin’s death. In the best of circumstances, excluding even the issue of self-defense (if, indeed, George Zimmerman was attacked and his head was being pounded into the pavement, what was he supposed to do at that point but defend himself?), Zimmerman was careless in the use of his firearm like countless others negligently drive their cars or wield their axes while chopping wood. Death by accident is always distressing and leaves a bitter taste, a sense of loss than can never be filled. Accidents do happen, and they are terrible.
The real issue is what can be done to reverse the perception that many young black men pose a threat to civil society, and routinely induce fear in passersby. Certainly, that is unfair to the young black men who are decent and hard-working, who long for a life of normalcy away from the maelstrom that is stirred up by the black activists, many of whom reside in tony white neighborhoods themselves. But that is the challenge for the black community – and for its leadership that has already failed them for decades and shows no signs of reversing course. The attempt to impute racial animus to Zimmerman – even to deny and discount that he is Hispanic – has been as unseemly as it has always been typical.
The real victory for the black community does not lie in further persecution of George Zimmerman but in coming to grips with its real problems, of which the Zimmerman episode is only the latest manifestation.
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- Shabbat Hagadol Drasha: "Pesach and the Land of Israel" [audio]
- Great Rabbis of the 20th Century, Part 20: Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski [audio]
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- The Rabbinate as Inheritance [audio]
- Great Rabbis of the 20th Century, Part 18: The Chazon Ish, Rav Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz [audio]
- A History of Israel, Part 12: Crisis and Faith, the 1990's [audio]
- Introduction to Selichot: Old Me, New Me [audio]
- A History of Israel, Part 11: Build-Up and Breakdown, the 1980's [audio]
- A History of Israel, Part 10: Darkness and Light, the 1970's [audio]