Children in Erie, Pa., attend a vigil for Trayvon Martin. (Jack Hanrahan / Erie Times-News…)
These days, the drama of the Republican presidential primary and the Supreme Court's consideration of the healthcare overhaul law are the hottest topics for American conservative media types.
But conservative thinkers and talkers are also weighing in on the Trayvon Martin case in Sanford, Fla., in which neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman (whose mother is Peruvian) shot Martin, an unarmed African American teenager. Zimmerman, who has not been charged with a crime, has said he shot Martin in self-defense.
A common concern is that left-leaning activists and "mainstream media" are trying to fit this complicated case into the Procrustean bed of a time-worn racism and racial justice narrative.
On his radio show Thursday, Rush Limbaugh said:
To show you how tied to identity the left is... Identity is what defines you. Not who you are, but your skin color, your name, your sexual orientation, whether or not you're a victim of the 1%. But if this guy's name were Jorge Zimmerman, this story would be entirely different than the way it's played. If he had kept his mother's maiden name? I think it is Hispanic. If he hadn't taken his father's name, if he were "Jorge Gutierrez," can you imagine what a different story we'd have? The left wouldn't care.
Mona Charen, at the National Review Online, wrote:
Among the disgusting features of this national drama is the furious search for Mr. Zimmerman’s exact racial/ethnic pedigree. He’s a full Hispanic, claims one website. He’s half white but considers himself a Hispanic, says his father. Do they hear themselves? Could apartheid South Africa have been more exacting in searching for the drops of racial blood?
The left has ginned up the outrage machine, as if America were experiencing an epidemic of white-on-black killings and this was the last straw. This is fiction. According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, only 3.2% of black victims were murdered by whites in 2005, the last year for which data are available. The black-on-white rate was higher — 8.8% — but still, the data show that murder remains very much an intraracial phenomenon.
Radio host Neal Boortz, meanwhile, has been watching with amusement as the case has brought out what he considers to be some of the more irrational elements of the left-wing worldview. He wrote:
Now we have aaaaaaactivists demanding that Skittles donate profits to [Trayvon] Martin’s family? Is this what is passing as rational thought among those who are using this tragic story to advance their own agendas? Let’s see if I understand this: Trayvon goes to the convenience store and buys, as I understand it, an Arizona Iced Tea for his brother and a bag of skittles for himself. On the way back to his father’s house he encounters George Zimmerman … and we’re still trying to figure out what happens from there. But now we have [ignoramuses] demanding that Skittles donate profits to ---- well, they’re not quite clear on that.
Much of this idiocy is happening on Twitter. Here are two of the Tweets making their way around the Internet:
• "Hey @Skittles & @DrinkAriZona you might want to donate some of your HUGE profits from the tragic moment in US history? Or not? #whysoquiet"
• "I bet @Skittles profits are rising because of the tragedy of @JusticeForTray. I'm willing to bet they don't care either!"
Similar Tweets are being sent regarding Arizona Iced Tea.
Longtime conservative columnist Pat Buchanan -- never one to shy away from an inflammatory racial issue -- had this to add over at World News Daily:
If it had been a white teenager who was shot, and a 28-year-old black guy who shot him, the black guy would have been arrested.
And they may be right.
Yet if Trayvon had been shot dead by a black neighborhood watch volunteer, Jesse Jackson would not have been in a pulpit in Sanford, Fla., howling that he had been “murdered and martyred.”
Maxine Waters would not be screaming “hate crime.”
Rep. Hank Johnson would not be raging that Trayvon had been “executed.” And ex-Black Panther Bobby Rush would not have been wearing a hoodie in the well of the House.
Which tells you what this whipped-up hysteria is all about.
It is not about finding the truth about what happened that night in Sanford when Zimmerman followed Trayvon in his SUV, and the two wound up in a fight, with Trayvon dead.
It is about the exacerbation of and the exploitation of racial conflict.
At Breitbart.com's Big Journalism site, Joel B. Pollack reconstructed the snowballing of the local crime story into a national news item and, for some, a referendum on race, concluding:
There is, at the core of the Martin case, a legitimate story. A serious crime may have been committed, one that might reflect a real and persistent problem of racial profiling by police and by members of the public.
And then there is the illegitimate, false, white-versus-black story of how a Hispanic man was made “the scapegoat for what ails this country as far as racial relations go.”
That, in itself, is cause for outrage.
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