There is a strange habit the public and the reporting politicos perform when it comes to presidential candidates. They seem to assume that, since candidate X is running for president, surely he has studied the issues carefully. They don’t question candidates on their knowledge, only their “positions” (assuming they have been formed more than a millisecond before the question was asked). This was evident with Herman Cain’s blank-slate talk of “trusting the generals” and his embarrassing reveries about how to pronounce Uzbekistan. Mitt Romney has similarly shown himself cutely untaught on foreign policy issues by claiming Russia is America’s greatest foe, apparently never before hearing of the MeK, and doing a bit of guesswork of his own on Iran.
In any event, I still don’t think anyone truly knows what happened between Zimmerman and Martin. Moreover, I have my doubts that the calls for arresting and trying Zimmerman, now that they have been heard and answered, will solve anything. Instead of a deep reflection on the racial politics of policing and its possible double standards, which I think is a perfectly legitimate exercise, the upshot is now the precedent that the police will be even more likely to arrest people. They will be terrified not to arrest someone in the killing of a black person, even when there might be some doubt as to the malicious nature of the act or who did it, meaning far more arrests, probably mostly of minorities. One more Latino behind bars who cannot possibly get a fair hearing—and this is supposed to be a victory against institutional bigotry?
As you’ll recall (although nobody else will), Sharpton, Jackson, and Obama were all up in arms in 2007 about the prosecutor in Jena, Louisiana charging six black youths with Attempted Murder for their stomping of an unconscious white youth. This was the Most Racist Thing Ever according to the prestige press brouhaha.
But it turned out that a local reporter named Abbey Brown had already gotten the real story, which was that the six stompers were the stars of the high school football team in this football crazy town, and, with the assistance of their coaches, had been getting away with a “reign of terror,” as a local minister phrased it.