Scott St. Clair: Listening to an Adult in the Room Discuss Trayvon and George

July 23, 2013


Zimmerman BarkleyAbout Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, can we talk? Coming off the not-guilty verdict in the case, everybody claims to want an honest national conversation on race, so might as well throw in my two-cents, which can pretty much be summed up by saying I’m down with what Sir Charles said.

Former NBA star Charles Barkley, in an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, nailed it:

In two and a half minutes, he cuts through the bull, gets to the heart of the matter and outs skullduggery and hidden agendas – refreshing to have an adult in the room.

In saying he agreed with the verdict, Barkley focused on the evidence, which is what trials are about, while acknowledging the tragedy of a young man’s death and the grief his parents feel.

He correctly called out as villains hucksters, both black and white, and the media:

“I don’t like when race gets out in the media because I don’t think the media has a pure heart, as I call it. There are very few people have a pure heart when it comes to race. Racism is wrong in any,  shape, form — a lot of black people are racist too. I think sometimes when people talk about racism, they say only white people are racist. There are a lot of black people who are racist. I don’t like when it gets out there in the media because I don’t think the media has clean hands.”

Plain-speaking truth. And he’s not alone in that – not by a long shot.

The 24/7/365 social-media info-bomb culture prizes sensation over good sense. Everybody points a finger, but few think orzimmerman trayvon hoodie listen.   I doubt whether an “honest conversation” will take place because there are painful and ugly truths that must be acknowledged. And the conversation will have to include holding certain members of the reverend clergy and others accountable.

Face it: racism exists. Abner Louima and Rodney King were racially targeted and attacked (by police, no less) even as O.J. got off scot-free.

As one observer noted, race hustlers gin up anger in the black community over allegations of racism against George Zimmerman not because there’s evidence of it – on the contrary, there absolutely is none (even Bill Cosby said so)— but because there’s evidence of it throughout history.

African-American Charles Ramsey put it another way after he rescued three girls from a decade-long kidnapping in Cleveland:

“Bro, I knew something is wrong when a little pretty white girl run into a black man’s arms – Something is wrong here”:

Why would he say that? And why did everybody laugh knowingly when he did?

Conservatives can be justifiably upset about being targeted by the IRS for their political beliefs, the exercise of their free-speech rights and feeling like they’ll never get an honest break, so maybe they can understand how blacks feel after 200 years of slavery, 100 years of Jim Crow and their sundry baggage.

Funny Obama Trayvon distractionA lot of folks on the right will hate to admit it, but President Obama was correct in saying the reaction of many black Americans stems from “a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”

Just don’t limit the conversation to black Americans. We all have experiences and history, and it’s a tragedy when any young person irrespective of race is killed. They deserve a shout out too.

He was right when he said the case and the verdict shouldn’t be used to “heighten divisions,” advice the president should instruct his own people to follow as well as follow himself.

It was cynical pandering for Attorney General Eric Holder to jump in with a promise to look for civil rights violations when the ink on the Zimmerman verdict wasn’t even dry. Ditto for the president to complain about stand-your-ground laws when (1) they weren’t at issue in the Zimmerman case, and (2) there’s strong evidence to suggest they benefit blacks more than whites.

An “honest conversation” must include hard talk on black-on-black gun crime, fatherless black families and the drug wars.Zimmerman reaction  But raise these issues and you get attacked by the soft bigotry of low expectations of white liberals who refuse to admit they exist and who have their own stereotypical biases toward black men.

It would have been a great for the president to mention that young men of all races are valuable, not just the Trayvon Martin’s of the world. And he could have acknowledged that sometimes it’s a black man who’s found “not guilty” in the shooting of a white teenager.

Yet it is legitimate to ask why Zimmerman carried a firearm while on a neighborhood watch patrol. But he was on patrol because there was a crime problem ineffectively addressed by the police, and the perps wore hoodies. Were you in his shoes at night potentially facing a criminal, wouldn’t you at least consider being armed? If you answer no, you’re not being honest.

Zimmerman cartoon hoodieI’m freaked out when I see a hoodie – on ANYONE. Who wears something designed to conceal unless they have something to conceal?

Then we have the self-aggrandizing reverends who flock to these cases like flies to carrion while encouraging you to have your VISA or Discover card ready.  Serial race-baiter Al Sharpton has a decades-long history of faking racially-based grievances – he has yet to pay damages and make the apology he was ordered to by a court in the infamous Tawana Brawley case. Almost since the day Martin was shot, he’s been braying at every opportunity and post-verdict he’s stoking racial-animosity fires across the country with a series of demonstrations demanding federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman that were, from early reports, sparsely attended.

At the same time, Jesse Jackson insulted every woman in America, white and black, when he complained that Zimmerman’s jury wasn’t made up of black MEN (maybe like his felon son?). That didn’t sound like he was interested in evidence or justice – only that the person who was shot was black, and the person who shot him wasn’t, ergo the non-black person would go to jail if, and apparently ONLY if, the jury was comprised of black men.

Adding insult to injury were Jackson’s calling Florida an “apartheid state” and demanding that the U.N. Human Rights zimmerman_wanted_posterCouncil, with such stalwart devotees of civil liberties as Venezuela and Pakistan, investigate the Martin killing.

There’s more: A local black politician blames Chicago police for the swath of murders of young black men. Some are giving a pass to blacks using language whites regard as racist while parsing their use of the “N” word. Rioters went on a Hollywood wilding as Martin’s death and the verdict as an excuse to loot .

It’s as if the whole thing was a clichéd made-for-TV movie, which is how much to most of the national media scripted it from the get go.  Never mind the facts, let’s make this about a pure and innocent boy set upon by a white racist with hatred in his heart then ignore whatever inconveniently contradicts that narrative.

While we’re at it if we’re NBC let’s doctor some audio to make the bad white guy, who isn’t white at all but Hispanic, look despicable and racist.

From the beginning, the story of Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s trial had the potential to exacerbate tensions and inflame passions. “That made it all the more incumbent on the media to be scrupulously truthful and responsible in their coverage. At this, they have spectacularly failed, with deplorable consequences,“ said one commentator at

It’s the same thinking that put alleged Boston Marathon terrorist and murderer Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on a Rolling Stone cover. Screw the truth and the impression we make – let’s just look cool to each other at cocktail parties.

The media is keeping it up by over-hyping the Sharpton demonstrations as something akin the 1963 march on Washington, D.C. that featured Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I have a dream” speech and saw 250,000 in attendance.

It’s doubtful, seriously doubtful, that the total number of people who attended Sharpton’s “National Day of Action” demonstrations in the 100 cities he claimed would have them approached five percent of the total of 1963’s single march.

Honest national conversation? Not with Al or Jesse hawking their personal agendas, an administration playing politics instead of being even handed and a refusal see how the other guy sees things.  In sum, until there’s more listen and think.

Scott St. Clair is a journalist, rhetorical pugilist, agent provocateur, aider and abbetor of Liberty Lovers and a former competitive Highland piper. He says what he thinks, means what he says and doesn’t suffer fools. He’s also a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce. His opinions are entirely his own, and you shouldn’t expect them to mirror yours.