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Jul-17-2013 18:07printcomments

The Death of Trayvon Martin Has Unleashed a Wave of Demagoguery Which Must be Answered

Few of those urging demonstrations against the alleged "racism" in the jury verdict finding Mr. Zimmerman not guilty have spent very much time examining the law and the trial itself.

trayvon martin

(WASHINGTON DC) - The death of Trayvon Martin is, of course, a devastating event for his family. That a 17 year old boy returning from a visit to a nearby store for a snack should have his life taken is difficult to understand and accept. On many levels, the incident was, as President Obama has said, "tragic."

Still, this event has provoked demagoguery which ignores the complex facts of the case itself and has provided an opportunity for provacateurs to proclaim that race relations in America are similar to those of the segregated Old South, as if the notable progress we have made in recent years had never happened.

Consider some of the things we have heard.

Jesse Jackson referred to the trial as "Old South Justice." NAACP President Benjamin Jealous declared: "This will confirm for many that the only problem with the New South is it occupies the same time and space as the Old South." He invoked the memory of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was killed in 1955 after supposedly whistling at a white woman "and whose murderers were acquitted." An article in THE WASHINGTON POST drew parallels between this case and that of Emmett Till as well as the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 and the 1933 case of the Scottsboro Boys, nine young black men accused of raping two white girls.

"Trayvon Benjamin Martin is dead because he and other black boys and men like him are seen not as a person but a problem," the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnick, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, told a congregation once led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In Sanford, Florida, the Rev. Valerie J. Houston drew shouts of support and outrage at Allen Chapel A.M.E. as she denounced "the racism and the injustice that pollute the air in America. Lord, I thank you for sending Trayvon to reveal the injustice, God, that lives in Sanford."

One of those organizing demonstrations against the verdict and promoting the idea that our society is little better than it was in the years of segregation is the Rev. Al Sharpton, always ready to pour fuel on a fire, and now provided by MSNBC with a nationwide pulpit. How many today remember Sharpton's history of stirring racial strife? In 1987, he created a media frenzy in the case of Tawana Brawley, a black teenager who claimed she was raped by a group of white police officers. A grand jury found Brawley had lied about the event in Wappingers Falls, New York and the case was dropped. The event which Sharpton used to indict our society for widespread racism never happened.

In 1991, Sharpton exacerbated tensions between blacks and Orthodox Jews in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. A three-day riot, fueled by Sharpton's inflammatory statements, erupted when a Guyanese boy died after being struck by a car driven by a Jewish man. At the boy's funeral, Sharpton complained about "diamond cutters" in the neighborhood in what a Brandeis University historian described as the most anti-Semitic incident in U.S. history. Two men died and three were critically injured before order was restored. Clearly, Al Sharpton does not come to a discussion of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case with clean hands.

Few of those urging demonstrations against the alleged "racism" in the jury verdict finding Mr. Zimmerman not guilty have spent very much time examining the law and the trial itself.

Mr. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, claimed that he shot Mr. Martin only after the teenager knocked him to the ground, punched him, straddled him and slammed his head into concrete. The murder charge required a showing that Zimmerman was full of "ill will, hatred, spite or evil intent" when he shot Mr. Martin. But prosecutors had little evidence to back up that claim, according to most legal experts. They could point only to Zimmerman's words during his call to the police dispatcher the night he spotted Martin walking in the rain with his sweatshirt's hood up and grew suspicious. Zimmerman appeared calm during the call and did not describe Martin's race until he was asked.

Lawyers point to what they said were errors by the prosecution. The testimony of Officer Chris Serino, the Sanford Police Department's chief investigator on the case, for example, told the jury he believed Zimmerman's account was truthful. Dr. Shiping Bao, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Martin, came across, legal experts report, befuddled, shuffling through his notes because he could remember very little. "It was horrific," said Richard Sharpstein, a prominent Miami criminal defense lawyer. "It was a deadly blow to this case because the case depended on forensic evidence to contradict or disprove George Zimmerman's story."

The performance was the opposite of that by Dr. Vincent Di Maio, a nationally recognized forensic pathologist, who took the stand for the defense. Dr. Di Maio said the evidence and injuries to George Zimmerman were consistent with the defense's account, that Trayvon Martin was leaning over the defendant when he was shot. The evidence of Zimmerman's injuries may have helped his case, but it was not legally necessary. He needed to show only that he feared great bodily harm or death when he pulled out his gun, which he was carrying legally. "Classic self-defense," said his attorney.

It is quite different to have sympathy for the Martin family, to regret the incident or to be critical of Florida's laws about concealed weapons, or its "Stand Your Ground" law, which never entered the legal proceeding----than to argue that the law was not properly applied in this case. The prosecution failed to prove Zimmerman guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Hence, the non-guilty verdict.

Many black commentators regret that Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Ben Jealous and others have made this case about race. Columnist Armstrong Williams declares that, "...the Zimmerman case was not about race. Mr. Zimmerman is Hispanic, normally one of the protected minorities in America. In order to make the story about race, the NEW YORK TIMES and some other media outlets, called him a 'white Hispanic (his father is white and his mother of Peruvian heritage). When was the last time anybody in America heard a Hispanic called a 'white Hispanic?' Calling Mr. Zimmerman a 'white Hispanic' is like calling Adam Clayton Powell or Barack Obama a 'white black.'

But the media needed to create hysterics and so injected race into the equation to make it more salable to the American people as a political circus. After all, who cares about two white men or two black men in a fight that results in death."

In Williams's view, "A young man was killed by another young man under circumstances where there is so much racial static in the background that it's difficult for many to be remotely objective...Compare the reaction of the O.J. Simpson verdict by many American blacks to the reaction to the Zimmerman acquittal. In both cases the prosecution did not make its case beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the defendant. Yet blacks generally cheered the result in the Simpson case, while viewing the Zimmerman verdict as a travesty of justice. In our court system of trial by jury, you can't have it both ways. There cannot be a different standard for a white man killing a black man than for a black man killing a white man and a white woman."

Liberal columnist Richard Cohen writes that, "I don't like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead. But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize. I don't know whether Zimmerman is a racist. But I'm tired of politicians and others who have donned hoodies in solidarity with Martin and who essentially suggest that, for recognizing the reality of urban crime in the U.S. I am a racist."

Cohen argues that, "What Zimmerman did was wrong. It was not, by a verdict of his peers, a crime. Where is the politician who will own up to the painful complexity of the problem and acknowledge the widespread fear of crime committed by young black males? This does not mean that racism has disappeared, and some judgments are not the product of individual stereotyping. It does mean, though, that the public knows young black males commit a disproportionate amount of crime. In New York City, blacks make up a quarter of the population yet they represent 78 per cent of the shooting suspects---almost all of them young men. We know them from the nightly news."

Those statistics represent the justification for New York's controversial stop-and-frisk program, which amounts to a kind of racial profiling. "After all," writes Cohen, "if young black male are your shooters, then it ought to be young black males whom the police stop and frisk. Still, common sense and common decency, not to mention the law, insist on other variables, such as suspicious behavior. Even still, race is a factor without a doubt. It would be senseless for the police to be stopping Danish tourists in Times Square just to make the statistics look good."

Last year, the New York City Police Department recorded 419 homicides, nearly a 20 per cent decrease from the year before and the lowest rate per 100,000 residents since the department began keeping statistics. If New York had the same homicide rate as Washington, D.C., it would be investigating 800 more murder cases for the year. If it had Detroit's statistics, nearly 4,000 more New Yorkers would be murdered every year.

Editorially, THE WASHINGTON POST states that, "Without question, the Big Apple is doing something right." Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Chief Raymond Kelley say the stop-and-frisk policy has saved 5,000 lives in the past ten years. "New York has never been safer in its modern era," the mayor says.

The policy, of course, is controversial and is the subject of a federal action lawsuit because the vast majority of those stopped are young men of color. Mayor Bloomberg responds: "They keep saying, 'Oh, it's a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group. That may be, but it's not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murder. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little."

Expressing the anguish of many who hate all forms of racism, but are not prepared to turn a blind eye to the reality of urban crime, Richard Cohen concludes: "I wish I had a solution to this problem. If I were a young black male and were stopped just on account of my appearance, I would feel violated. If the police are abusing their authority and using race as the only reason, that has got to stop. But if they ignore race, then they are fools and ought to go into another line of work."

Another liberal commentator, columnist Ruth Marcus, was particularly critical of those who compared Trayvon Martin with Emmett Till: "The comparison is unfair. No doubt race played a part in Martin's death...But there is no evidence that race played a role in Zimmerman's acquittal. If anything, the racial undertones worked against Zimmerman, increasing public pressure on prosecutors to bring the most serious ---and, in hindsight the most difficult to support---charges against him. Contrast the Zimmerman trial with that of Till's murderers. The courtroom was segregated. No hotel would rent rooms to black observers. The local sheriff welcomed black spectators to the courtroom with what was described as a cheerful use of the vilest racial epithets. The New South is not perfect, but it is not the Old."

What is rarely noted is the fact that vast majority of the victims of young black men who kill are other young black men and women. Those engaged in calling for marches and vigils to express outrage over the verdict in the Zimmerman case, say hardly a word about the black-on-black crime which plagues the nation's inner cities. In an interview with black journalist Juan Williams, comedian Bill Cosby noted that the NAACP's headquarters is in Baltimore, a city with one of the highest murder rates in the nation. "I've never once heard the NAACP say, 'Let's do something about this," said Cosby, "They never marched or organized or even criticized the criminals."

The over-heated declarations that our current society is similar to that in which Emmett Till was murdered in 1955----or in which the Scottsboro Boys were convicted in 1933--turns reality on its head. Al Sharpton doesn't really believe it. Jesse Jackson knows it's untrue. Ben Jealous is unwilling to give up the public spotlight he receives by portraying such a false picture.

Those of us old enough to have lived through the years of segregation remember an era of segregated schools, segregated bus and train stations, "white" and "black" restrooms (visit the Pentagon and see the proliferation of rest rooms which were constructed in the years when it was illegal in Virginia for men and women of different races to use the same facilities), water fountains reserved for "whites" and "colored". In many parts of the country blacks could not vote or sit on juries. Black travelers never knew when they would be able to stop for a meal. There was no pretense that racial equality of any kind existed.

Today, we live in an imperfect society, but one in which all citizens, regardless of race,have equal rights. It is against the law to discriminate on the basis of race. Men and women can go as far as their individual abilities can take them. Black Americans hold every conceivable position in our society----from CEO of major corporations to chief of police in major cities to university president to governor---to President of the United States.

None of this would be true if ours were indeed a "racist" society. This is not to say that in a society of more than 300 million people, examples of racism cannot sometimes be found. Using the trial of George Zimmerman to say that it is still 1933 or 1955, as some are now doing, is to paint a picture of contemporary society which cannot be recognized. When it comes to the status of race relations in America today, who are we going to believe, shrill voices such as Al Sharpton, or our own eyes? The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case has brought out the worst in some. The rest of us must move resolutely forward, continuing on the path of creating a genuinely color-blind society, which has long been the goal of men and women of good will of all races.


_________________________________________ contributor Allan C. Brownfeld received his B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary, his J.D. degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law of the College of William and Mary and his M.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. He has served on the faculties of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, Alexandria, Virginia, and the University College of the University of Maryland.

The recipient of a Wall Street Journal Foundation Award, Mr. Brownfeld has written for such newspapers as THE HOUSTON PRESS, THE RICHMOND TIMES DISPATCH, THE WASHINGTON EVENING STAR and THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. For many years he wrote three columns a week for such newspapers as THE PHOENIX GAZETTE, THE MANCHESTER UNION LEADER, and THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. His weekly column appeared for more than a decade in ROLL CALL, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. His articles have appeared in such journals as THE YALE REVIEW, THE TEXAS QUARTERLY, THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, ORBIS and MODERN AGE.

Mr. Brownfeld served as a member of the staff of the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and was the author of that committee's 250-page study of the New Left. He has also served as Assistant to the Research Director of the House Republican Conference and as a consultant to such members of Congress as Reps. Phil Crane (R-Il) and Jack Kemp (R-NY) and to the Vice President of the United States.

He is a former editor of THE NEW GUARD and PRIVATE PRACTICE, the journal of the Congress of County Medical Societies and has served as a Contributing Editor AMERICA'S FUTURE and HUMAN EVENTS. He served as Washington correspondent for the London-based publications, JANE'S ISLAMIC AFFAIRS ANALYST and JANE'S TERRORISM REPORT. His articles regularly appear in newspapers and magazines in England, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and other countries. You can write to Allan at


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Steve Moylett July 20, 2013 6:34 pm (Pacific time)

Bill I did not vote for Romney, nor Obama. My wife of 47 years is considered a minority as per your classification of minorities. She did vote for Romney, and is far more conservative than most people I know. She is also a crack shot and can dress down an elk faster than anyone I've seen do it, other than myself. I am tolerant of all viewpoints, and find that those who ask for tolerance of their viewpoints are generally the most intolerant of those who differ. My wife and I consider ourselves indigenous people of this planet, and congrats making it to 85. Both my parents are living and have been married 76 years this September. Both at this stage in their lives pretty much ignore those who think they know what's going on, and have taught their children from an early age how to pick them out, which is actually very easily done. Just give them enough rope and they'll soon show their real side. Have you also noticed that behavior? My wife belongs to the NRA, I do not, but then I really quit belonging to most anything after my war. Have you ever been to the Northwest and spent time with Indians in this area? There are many different viewpoints, and most I know simply deal in living their lives and solving their own problems, unencumbered with the views of those who think they know what's going my 50% Indian mother which makes me 25% and qualifies me for a variety of benefits from the BIA: No thank you Uncle Sam.

Chris P July 20, 2013 10:29 am (Pacific time)

@Bill Yeah getting caught with breakin tools at school doesnt neccessarily mean you're doing anything wrong. How dare these vigilantes try dettering crime in their neighborhood. They need to just let the professionals handle it, seeing as how theyre doing such an outstanding job.

Bill Annett July 20, 2013 5:23 am (Pacific time)

Steve, your final sentence tells me all I need to know about your disposition toward our society, that you're against women's rights, uppity minorities and you voted for Romney.Accordingly there's really no point in our trying to discuss anything controversial. Thank God your totally converted Indian friend is not representative of the 400 million indigenous people worldwide who have been subjugated since men discovered boats. At least you're consistent - you think that obese oaf Zimmerman is a suitable poste boy for the NRA, so let's just leave it there. No, we're not the same age - I'm 85 and counting.

Steve Moylett July 19, 2013 7:05 pm (Pacific time)

Bill it appears we had different history teachers, as well as different data sources in the other social sciences as well. I assume we are not too far apart in age (I recently turned 70), but we no doubt have a different take on individual responsibility. One of my graduate instructors was a Native American, he prefers to this day to be called either an Indian or an American. He of course taught how the tribes in North America, like people elsewhere in the world, were constantly at war with each other. Often enslaving those they conquered, even eating them during times of scare food. He remarked how strange it was that they had not developed the wheel, and thought it was super that the Europeans brought them them horses and firearms. He believes that government handouts made Indians dependent (like all other people), and provided many examples of Indians who became very successful taking personal responsibility for their own lives and refusing the government rules and regs that came with their assistance. As you also know, we Europeans were also enslaved throughout our recorded history, and I believe it's reasonable to infer that this activity was also happening before recorded history. Making people dependent, and providing them an environment where they can continually blame others for their current life situation simply reinforces their apathy in developing pragmatic solutions to their situation. I do not have a firearm like the one you referenced, but I will always secure a safe environment for myself and loved ones. Self-defense is a very appropriate course of action, as the Zimmerman jury so clearly advocated. I prefer the 45 Colt, Rem 20 gauge semi-auto, and various mags. In fact the 300 win mag is my choice when someone sets off my perimeter monitors set at 1500 yards. My eyes are older, but the new scopes certainly provide a great assist.

Bill Annett July 19, 2013 2:46 pm (Pacific time)

Steve: Gladly. Let me first give you an allegory. Since Columbus, five European empires, with the sanction and encouragement of Holy Rome and the Doctrine of Discovery, seized, plundered and possessed what is now the Western Hemisphere, and in the process committed the greatest genocide in human history, slaughtering 100 million indigenous people who had been here for 10,000 years. In the process, through rape, sodomy, medical experimentation and intergenerational genocide - which is the worst kind - they indoctrinated the 1% of the native population that they allowed to live with the conviction that each generation was more useless than the previoous one, with the net result that a once great civilization was virtually extinguished. And today, we coop the few survivors up on worthless land, where the unemplyment rate is 80%, the suicide rate 20 times the national average, and we pontificate that we are being magnanimous to these worthless people who are leeches on society, are criminal if given the opportunity and therefore above consideration. In a minor key by comparison, concerning black Americans, after 300 years of successive slavery, segregation, complete exclusion and finally grudging admission to the fringes of equality, we ppride ourselves on our magnanimity toward black America, but gasp at the fact that they commit most of the crime and occupy most of the jail cells. Tut, tut. To clarify, Steve, I have a .38 Smith and Wesson, loaded at my bedside, and if any black dude, for whatever reason, enters my house at night, I will cheerfully shoot him between the eyes, as I will any hispanic, white, oriental or native American. However, I will not take my gun into the street, act as a vigilante, challenge, engage or otherwise do what we pay police officers to do, and then plead self-denense when I imitate Wyatt Earp. Is this enough clarification?


Steve Moylett July 19, 2013 1:47 pm (Pacific time)

Bill: Could you clarify your query? Steve

Bill Annett July 19, 2013 12:30 pm (Pacific time)

Steve: Why? Bill

Steve Moylett July 19, 2013 9:48 am (Pacific time)

I just came across the below article which I abbreviated but have linked. It has some interesting info and shows how everyone must become totally honest if we really want to resolve differences. Peace: "Are white vigilantes or white cops really Black America's problem? When Holder delivered his 2009 "nation-of-cowards" speech blaming racism for racial separation, Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald suggested that our attorney general study his crime statistics. In New York from January to June 2008, 83 percent of all gun assailants were black, according to witnesses and victims, though blacks were only 24 percent of the population. Blacks and Hispanics together accounted for 98 percent of all gun assailants. Forty-nine of every 50 muggings and murders in the Big Apple were the work of black or Hispanic criminals. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly confirms Mac Donald's facts. Blacks and Hispanics commit 96 percent of all crimes in the city, he says, but only 85 percent of the stop-and-frisks are of blacks and Hispanics. And these may involve the kind of pat-downs all of us have had at the airport. Is stop-and-frisk the work of racist cops in New York, where the crime rate has been driven down to levels unseen in decades? According to Kelly, a majority of his police force, which he has been able to cut from 41,000 officers to 35,000, is now made up of minorities. But blacks are also, per capita, the principal victims of crime. Would black fathers prefer their sons to grow up in Chicago, rather than low-crime New York City, with its stop-and-frisk policy? Fernando Mateo, head of the New York taxicab union, urges his drivers to profile blacks and Hispanics for their own safety: "The God's honest truth is that 99 percent of the people that are robbing, stealing, killing these drivers are blacks and Hispanics." After researching the FBI numbers for "Suicide of a Superpower," this writer concluded: "An analysis of 'single offender victimization figures' from the FBI for 2007 finds blacks committed 433,934 crimes against whites, eight times the 55,685 whites committed against blacks. Interracial rape is almost exclusively black on white -- with 14,000 assaults on white women by African Americans in 2007. Not one case of a white sexual assault on a black female was found in the FBI study." Though blacks are outnumbered 5-to-1 in the population by whites, they commit eight times as many crimes against whites as the reverse. By those 2007 numbers, a black male was 40 times as likely to assault a white person as the reverse.

Ralph E. Stone July 18, 2013 7:52 am (Pacific time)

I agree wholeheartedly with the comments made in this article. Readers will find watching this video helpful to understand how those jurors made their decisions. (

Bill Annett July 18, 2013 4:52 am (Pacific time)

A wonderfully articulate recitation of the self-satisfied position of white America. Thank God for legal minds like Mr. Brownfield's. It makes one feel warm and fuzzy about "how far we've come" since Emmett Till. Isn't it wonderful that Mr. Brownfield's son - if he has one - can walk at night, even wear a hoodie - without feat that some vigilante cretin will pursue him, accost him, kill him, and then plead self-defense when he gets punched in the nose. The law, sir is not only an ass, but Florida Law fully serves such erudition as displayed by Mr. Brownfield. Meanwhile, Justice is nowhere in sight.

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