Never Let A Tragedy Go To Waste
At a rally in Sanford, the Rev. Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host who gained national celebrity in 1987 touting fraudulent rape allegations against an Assistant District Attorney in New York -- resorted to divisive, race-baiting rhetoric: "Trayvon could have been any one of our sons, he could have been any one of us. Trayvon represents a reckless disregard for our lives that we've seen for too long." The Rev. Jesse Jackson said, "Blacks are under attack" and that President Obama's election "has triggered tremendous backlash" against the African-American community. "Where there is no justice, there will be no peace" tweeted Minister Louis Farrakhan. "Soon and very soon, the law of retaliation may very well be applied." ThinkProgress condemned the Drudge Report's linking to Farrakhan's tweet as a "disgusting" attempt to stoke conservative fears -- but made no mention of the violent rhetoric employed by Farrakhan himself. The New Black Panthers, meanwhile, offered a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman's "capture."
And in the midst of this hyper-politicized mess, President Obama stood in the Rose Garden of the White House and made a racially charged statement to appease the activist left. With the facts of the case still largely unknown, a young college student and neighborhood watchman's life hanging in the balance, and a police officer's career and reputation on the line, the President of the United States buckled to the activist screams and played his part in the narrative. "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon." Now all of a sudden George Zimmerman didn't just shoot a suspended teenager, purportedly in self-defense. He shot the president's son. Think those words won't influence a jury?
WILL WE EVER KNOW what really happened in the struggle between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman? Will we ever find out if Martin "jumped" Zimmerman, as the watchman claimed, forcing the half-white, half-Latino watchman to act in self-defense? Will we ever find out if Trayvon Martin was actually suspended from school for something more serious, more violent, than mere tardiness, as some in the press have reported? Will we ever see the evidence that Lee claims may exonerate Zimmerman? Probably not. These details don't matter. Nowadays, the narrative gets written in the minutes after a tragedy occurs, and anyone who stands in the narrative's way, asking questions and trying to determine facts, will be destroyed. After all, Al Sharpton has marches to organize. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Alexandra Petri have columns to write. MSNBC has ad dollars to gain. And President Obama has an election to win -- if this is the way he thinks he can win it.
Newt Gingrich, God Bless his soul, said the only sane thing in this entire sad episode in human history. "What the president said is disgraceful," said Newt. "Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it didn't look like him? That's just nonsense dividing this country up." Newt was instantly smeared for his comments by the Huffington Post.