Sunday, March 25, 2012

Obama Plays Race Card in Martin / Zimmerman Case

Obama inserted himself into another highly confrontational case this week. This one involving a 17 year-old black teen and an adult white/Hispanic male. Unlike many in the news media, however, this piece will not pass judgment on the guilt or innocence of either Mr. Zimmerman or Mr. Martin.

Last time this president involved himself in a police matter, he accused a white policeman, Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley, of racism when he detained Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who was entering his own house, after a neighbor reported a possible burglary in progress. Instead of simply showing his ID, the professor became confrontational and was arrested for disorderly conduct. That charge was later dropped, but ignited a discussion on whether police were racial profiling. Obama criticized the arrest and arresting officer. The neighbor, Lucia Whalen, who had called 911, was also tagged as a racist, even though it was later shown she never mentioned the men as being black when calling 911. Obama had a beer summit--although he never apologized directly to Sgt Crowley for his remarks. He said he hoped it would be a “teachable moment.” (Lucia wasn’t invited.)

Now Obama has jumped in the middle of a fatal shooting. Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. That is not in dispute. What is disputed is if this was a case of self-defensed, as claimed by Zimmerman, against an allegedly unarmed teen. The media immediately portrayed George Zimmerman as the racist killer of a black teenager, who was merely walking home with a bag of Skittles and a soda. The media emphasized Zimmerman was white, even though his family said he is Hispanic. The police report also described Mr. Zimmerman as white; the media was either ignorant or chose to ignore the fact that often Hispanic people are labeled as white if they have a “white” surname. They didn’t let the fact that Mr. Zimmerman and his family identify with their Hispanic heritage get in the way of stirring the pot, claiming he was a racist, white man from a rich neighborhood who shot an innocent black boy.

Now, one day after President Obama inserts himself into the case by saying that if he, "had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon,” it’s reported police have a witness who backs up Zimmerman’s self-defense story. This, as yet unnamed, witness collaborates Zimmerman, who said he was attacked first by Martin.

In a partial release of a 911 tape, you can hear the operator tell Zimmerman, affiliated with the neighborhood watch, not to follow the suspicious person (Martin) he’s reporting. Later in the tape (not released), screams are heard. Although law enforcement believe the screams came from Zimmerman, it becomes a subject for debate on many TV shows whether it’s actually Zimmerman screaming or Martin. The witness claims that the screams did come from Zimmerman and that he was on the ground, being beaten by Martin.

The only thing that’s certain is no one fully knows what happened except Mr. Zimmerman and now, possibly, a witness. The media, who is fond of reminding us how we shouldn’t rush to judgment, certainly didn’t follow their own advice. If this had been the wild West, they would’ve been the gang of vigilantes out in front with the rope to hang Mr. Zimmerman from the nearest tree. They are the true racists, both for ignoring Zimmerman’s family and continuing to label him as white, assuming he must have been the aggressor and that the young, black teenager was a victim of “walking while black.”

President Obama is having another "teachable moment"--he's again teaching us he likes to play the race card. What he is teaching is to remind, in particular, the black minority of racial tensions, even manufactured ones. Like the case with Fluke, he's also using it as a distraction from his abysmal record: the economy, the failure in the war on terrorism and the Supreme Court about to weigh in on Obamacare.

The media also does not want the public to think of Zimmerman as anything but white; it makes the story more controversial if Zimmerman is portrayed as a non-minority. It would make things more difficult for Obama when he goes to court the Latino vote if he’s seen as pitting the Hispanic community against the black community. No doubt we’ll see Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the other media hogs racing to Florida to stand with the family in front of the TV cameras. George Zimmerman is in hiding, reportedly because of death threats. Rallies and prayer vigils are being held for Trayvon Martin and his family. Pressure to try Zimmerman already being expressed and could ignite communities if he is no-billed. But no one, except the families involved or the community, cares about future repercussions, not the President, the outsiders taking advantage of a charged situation and certainly not the media.

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