I can’t add anything to two posts that I just read. I rarely link to HuffPo because they are usually reflexively liberal on pretty much everything, maybe one in a hundred posts is even close to the middle – but this one by a black actor, Romany Malco, is very good:
I haven’t touched on the Trayvon Martin issue because race matters in this country are the paralysis of the American people. To constructively discuss Trayvon would require empathy, introspection and an understanding of America’s social and economic history. This is why the open forums we have seen thus far seem to fuel more ignorance and bias than reasonable debate.
To be brutally honest, the only reason people are even aware of Trayvon Martin is because it became a topic within mainstream news and pop culture. Meaning: News directors saw it as a profitable, sensational story. Hundreds of blacks die annually in South Side Chicago without even a blurb. Trayvon isn’t in the mainstream news for any reason other than ratings and profit. The news coverage on the Zimmerman case almost implies that the killing of this young black man is somehow an anomaly and I resent that.
In this country, if it isn’t streamlined through mainstream media and pop culture, it doesn’t seem to warrant national debate. Our “government” continues to wreak havoc on our civil liberties and there is little to no protest from the black community because of media diversion tactics that keep such pertinent issues out of mainstream media. But if Jay-Z or Rihanna were to make mention of it, we’d suddenly be jolted out of our sugar comas and protesting on freeways.
My point being, people are up in arms about Trayvon based on regurgitated pundits and manipulated facts aired to elicit emotion while fueling America’s anger and division. That’s how you boost ratings. No different from Piers Morgan’s desperate rant over gun control when he knew his ratings were in the dumps. And from where I stand, anyone who still relies on corporate-owned media pundits to support an argument isn’t equipped to offer worthwhile solutions.
There is another at a legal blog called The Faculty Lounge that is also very, very good and touches on what I was trying to communicate about people who are yelling and screaming in support of what they believe, only that what they believe is based on a bunch of lies and willful ignorance:
I have been struck by the frequency with which many commenting on this case, including the public on social media — but also journalists, scholars, and lawyers, all of whom should prize fidelity to facts — have made bald, confident assertions, often without citing any evidence, and sometimes in direct contradiction to the available evidence. This is all the more startling in light of the egregious editing of Zimmerman’s call to police the night of the shooting made early on in the reporting of the case by NBC, which is the subject of a defamation lawsuit by Zimmerman.
An almost equally egregious error continues to be made by those who cite, in support of the proposition that GZ is clearly a racist, the “fact” that he racially profiled a seven-year-old black boy, calling 911 to report the child’s suspicious behavior. When George Mason Law Prof. David Bernstein read this claim repeated by a fellow law prof on a listserv (see part VI), it struck him as so implausible an action for any non-insane individual to have taken that he spent one minute with Google and discovered what should not be surprising to anyone who hasn’t already committed to a narrative of that night and decided that they have GZ’s number: it’s just flat wrong (more below). Shortly after reading Bernstein’s post, I myself encountered a law professor perpetuating the same myth, this time in a serious, edited publication, The New Republic (emphasis in original):
. . . Zimmerman was an edgy basket case with a gun who had called 911 46 times in 15 months, once to report the suspicious activities of a seven year old black boy.
As Bernstein notes, the confusion seems to be the result of carelessness by The Daily Beast, followed by reliance by other journalists, scholars, and lawyers on The Daily Beast rather than on primary sources readily available on the Internet.
…I meant to note that the tendency to see facts through various lenses — whether their own experiences, their scholarly areas of expertise, or an ideology — does not make people evil. It makes them human. Without swallowing postmodernism hook, line, and sinker, in some very real sense it’s impossible not to approach events through one or more lenses. Indeed, “intellectual conflicts of interests” (as I vaguely group varying tendencies to ignore or distort fact) has become a scholarly fascination of mine, and that is one very strong lens through which I admittedly view commentary about the Zimmerman trial. So we all do it, and sometimes those lenses are valuable and help us see things that others don’t (see, e.g., the wise Latina). But sometimes, of course, they obfuscate. The important thing for everyone, but especially for journalists, lawyers, and scholars, is to strive for as much intellectual honesty, open-mindedness to reconsidering one’s position, and a hermeneutics of charity when hearing others’s views as is consistent with the fact of human finitude and fallibility (told you I have a humanities Ph.D.). Kudos to several law profs who have done just this in the context of some very difficult and painful conversations, including Tamar Birkhead.