Cross-posted from by blog at The All American Politico.
The George Zimmerman trial has generated much comment across the political spectrum, including a recent post by my friend and All American Politico colleague, John Bruhns. Here are a few of my own thoughts.
- While John discusses the demonization of white men, I would note that most commentators on the “left,” from Trayvon’s parents to the president, are calling for respect for the verdict and for nonviolence. On the right, however, there is an overt attempt to instill fear of young black men in particular. (See Bill O’Reilly.) I would note that, per the latest FBI statistics, a white person is twice as likely to be killed by a white stranger than as a black one.
- With regard to the verdict, the judge’s instructions were quite clear. It made no difference whether Zimmerman racially profiled Martin, stalked or attacked him, or if his life was actually put in danger by Trayvon, whose body was found in the grass, beating his head against the nearby sidewalk. All that mattered, per Florida law, was what he thought in the seconds before he shot. Did he think that? Of course, all the jury had to judge by was Zimmerman’s statement, via the police interview, and without any cross-examination.
- It is therefore not unreasonable for the Justice Department to look at the above issues, since they were not considered relevant in the trial.
- As to whites not “understanding” the black experience, there are many studies demonstrating that this is the case. These range from the anecdotal to the academic. My personal experience is a good example. I grew up in a segregated community in the Bronx, and did not interact socially with a black person other than our cleaning lady until I was in high school. (There were three black students among the 900+ in my class.) I only saw them on the street in (to my mind) potentially threatening situations. It has taken me years to suppress the involuntary negative tic I experienced upon meeting a black person. Fortunately, the superego finally prevailed.
- Finally, being a member of the ruling dominant class has responsibilities as well as privileges. Those without power should not have to depend upon the kindness of strangers, but should have their rights protected by the government. Unfortunately, such protections are being eroded daily.
 See Figure 20a on p. 13.
 “The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force.” [Emphasis added.]