The George Zimmerman trial has ended with not guilty verdicts on second degree murder and the lesser-included charge of manslaughter. What does it mean? What broader message should we draw from this verdict? My take on it: the State of Florida placed George Zimmerman on trial for murder, a jury heard evidence over a 3-week period, the judge instructed the jury on the applicable law, including the law of self-defense, and the jury found that the State had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt; and that’s the sum and substance of it. Any lawyer who has been involved in a self-defense criminal trial will not be surprised by the verdict. But we were told from the outset that this case had broad implications, and that’s the problem. A criminal case is a criminal case. Despite the best efforts of the race hustlers and agenda-pushers to turn individual criminal cases into great symbols of broader truth, the facts of a particular criminal case almost never carry great social significance, or any meaning at all beyond the scope of the particular case. But facts are for juries to decide. Agendas are for politics, and the Zimmerman case was almost immediately coopted by the agenda of racial politics.
The Zimmerman case is one in a line of cases that have been used to present America with a “teachable moment.” The Duke Lacrosse case started out that way, but it unraveled too quickly when the alleged victim was demonstrated to have fabricated her tale of sexual assault by a group of white Duke University lacrosse players. Going further back, Tawana Brawley’s wildly implausible and blatantly false 1987 rape accusations were pushed by the Reverend Al Sharpton and company as a vehicle for consciousness-raising in the area of race relations. And in the realm of teachable moments in gender relations, there was a fairly broad-based push by feminists to turn the William Kennedy-Smith rape trial into the case that stood for everything. The template is essentially this: In fundamentally-flawed American society, members of a privileged class, consisting of whites (racial template) or males (feminist template) regularly act out their sense of privilege by harming, killing, or sexually assaulting with impunity members of oppressed classes– females, African-Americans, female African-Americans, etc. The template waits at the ready, needing only the next opportune case to be inserted. The template represents truth. Nothing more need be known to determine that the accused is guilty as charged, or that the case at issue implicates deeply ingrained flaws in American society, than to know that the defendant and the alleged victim fit within the template. But again, the reality is that individual criminal cases are simply that—individual criminal cases that rise or fall on their own particular facts and circumstances and the applicable law.
In the Zimmerman case, it was strange and unprecedented (in my memory) for a President of the United States to directly and publicly personalize a local criminal case, telling the American people that if he had a son, his son would look like Trayvon Martin. In what sense Trayvon Martin might have looked like the son the President doesn’t have (tall, thin, roughly 17 years old?) the President did not say, nor did he point out to us the relevance of his observation. But the President’s observation clearly helped elevate the story of this local criminal case to a position of national importance, paving the way for its use as a national teachable moment.
When the race hustlers arrived on the scene, they did their typical race-hustling thing, working to bend the criminal justice system to their will. After all, those who believe the system is already corrupted against them don’t tend to have compunctions about corrupting it further to serve their own ends. Before the Zimmerman case, in the Duke Lacrosse case, I suspect the race hustlers had a strong hand in encouraging the unethical actions of the district attorney there, as he sought to advance the narrative of privileged white jocks at an elite university treating a poor, working black female as sexual trash, even well after that narrative proved demonstrably untrue. In the Zimmerman case, there was an initial hiccup in the process of fitting the case to the template. The man with the very white name turned out to actually be Hispanic. To advance the narrative, Zimmerman was quickly labeled a “white Hispanic.” Later, when the actual evidence started to look extremely bad for the State, the prosecutors were strongly criticized for presenting witnesses helpful to the defense. While the D.A.’s should have had a better idea of the likely testimony of their own witnesses, and arguably should have refrained from presenting exculpatory evidence to the jury themselves, ultimately the fact that their own witnesses helped Zimmerman simply demonstrated the inherent weakness of the State’s case. When the case inside the courtroom started to resemble irreparably damaged goods, the race hustlers continued to do what the hustlers do– they threatened riots for the wrong outcome, but none of this brought about a guilty verdict. And now that the jury has rendered acquittals, the hustlers continue to push their template as truth. In their narrative, the fact of Zimmerman’s acquittal only demonstrates the power that the privileged hold within the system. So now we hear declarations from some quarters that Zimmerman’s acquittal demonstrates that white people can murder black people with impunity in this country. To their credit, Trayvon Martin’s parents are not among this crowd. Although they must suffer enormous pain from the loss of their son and the acquittal of the man who shot him, they stand back from the race-baiters. Meanwhile, calls have already gone out for a review of the case for a federal prosecution of Zimmerman, for civil rights violations. If and when such a prosecution occurs, won’t that simply be a matter of the godfather having lifted his finger or given the nod? Why should anyone think otherwise? After all, mistrust and villification of the other is the soul of racial politics, and it’s absurd to believe it’s not a 2-way street.
Here’s a link to an example of a successful self-defense claim when the shoe was on the other foot, and there was no national outcry: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/353695/defend-our-law-and-culture-not-george-zimmerman-david-french
A rebuttal to the argument that the Zimmerman verdict is the result of a racist judicial system, here: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/353864/post-zimmerman-poison-pill-heather-mac-donald
Florida v. George Zimmerman and Race Politics In America.