Okay, okay. I’ve been trying to be all hands off on Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old African-American who was shot to death by George Zimmerman inFlorida. So inflammatory. And what could I add? Nothing. But I felt I had to say something. I wanted to say something.
Mr. Martin had been to a grocery store, picking up a can of iced tea and candy for his younger brother. He was visiting his father. Mr. Zimmerman is a neighborhood “watchman.” With a gun. Not that he was supposed to have a gun while “watching.”
Eh, who’s counting bullets in Florida?
The case has been brutally and cynically analyzed from every perspective.
The outrageous righteousness of the Right and the Left, the politicizing of the event, has dimmed its humanity. I loathe MSNBC’s Al Sharpton. I loathe Fox News. I loathe “The Today Show” for its “mistake” in editing the vital 911 call from Zimmerman to the cops. Basically I loathe everybody who weighs in on this. Yeah, so I’m hating myself, too. I’ll recover. I always do.
So here’s the vibe I get: Mr. Zimmerman, now—finally!– arrested and charged with second degree murder, will be exonerated. It is his word, and the “stand your ground” law of Florida, against a dead person. So far we know of no eyewitnesses to the actual encounter to say who started what. And even though we have the 911 tapes, and the police telling Mr. Zimmerman to cool it, and not follow the “suspicious” Mr. Martin, we’ll never know exactly what went down in that ultimate confrontation.
If we are to take “stand your ground” for what it intends to be, then young Mr. Martin was also standing his ground—followed by a strange man, in an unfamiliar neighborhood. He might have felt—as Mr. Zimmerman says he felt—threatened to the point of fearing for his life. And using all the weapons at his disposal. In Mr. Martin’s case, that was can of ice tea and a bag of candy.
Here’s what we do know. We can hear George Zimmerman’s voice as he made his distress call. Something he often did. Almost always he was wary of “suspicious” black men.
What do we hear on that fatal tape? I’ll tell you what I hear. He’s not terribly bright. His voice sounds dull and even slightly slurred. (His brother, Robert, who came out to defend him at one point, must have inherited another gene pool.) He is inexplicably nervous and angry and frightened. But why? He’s all safe in his car. He wasn’t even “on watch.” He just happened to notice Mr. Martin. And just noticing him, set something off.
I have listened to this tape, in its entirety, over and over again. It is terrifying. This was a man on a mission. This was a man who had a point of view. It is not a point of view one desires to be on the other side of.
We will never know—and let me stress this—we’ll never know—what happened in that minute nobody saw. Who struck first, what was said, etc. But I know this. If Mr. Zimmerman had gone home, after placing his concerned phone call, Mr. Martin would be alive today.
He was only 70 feet from his father’s fiancée’s house when he died, face down in the grass, with a bullet in his chest.
Mr. Zimmerman’s latest lawyer, Mark O Mara—the first two fled– stresses the difficulties his client has faced—“It must be frightening not to be able to go to a 7-Eleven.” Indeed. Think about never being able to go to a 7-Eleven again. Ever.
Oh, and here is P.S. response to CNN’s excellent Don Lemmon, who has kept his cool in various contentious interviews regarding the Trayvon Martin case. He has asked a certain question, to no avail, because hysteria reigns around Trayvon. That question is–“Should President Obama have weighed in on this matter?”
Dear Don—Prez O. should have kept it to “what a tragedy, etc.” To have personalized it—“If I had a son he would look like Trayvon”—was a big mistake.
So there, Don, at least somebody has finally answered you.