In the right-wing mind, Trayvon Martin serves as a proxy for Barack Obama.
(The Root) — The killing of an unarmed teenage boy isn’t something you’d expect to be political. You would certainly never expect it to inspire gleeful adulation from any American of supposedly “good conscience.” But it appears that some Republicans — and prominent conservative talking heads in particular — have developed a metastasizing form of ”Obama Derangement Syndrome” in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin, such that Trayvon has become an object of their putrid ridicule and unapologetic racist innuendo.
What is most curious about the reactions to the Zimmerman acquittal this week is how easily, in these conservatives’ minds, Trayvon serves as a proxy for Barack Obama. For, you see, what conservatives have wanted all along was to destroy the personage and legacy of this first African-American president — for fear that his ascendance would signal a shift in the inequitable racial power dynamics that exist throughout American society.
They failed to make Obama a “one-term president” and have faltered in their incessant calls for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to resign. The likes of radio host Rush Limbaugh and musician Ted Nugent appear to long for a golden age in which blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” Zimmerman’s fatal actions against Trayvon provide a perfect metaphor for their sentiments. They see in this victim — whose life President Obama respected and elevated when he said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” — a Barack of whom they could actually dispose. Trayvon by proxy becomes the Obama they can dispatch with impunity. All the racially motivated disrespect of and disregard for President Obama is, for the moment at least, displaced upon this innocent black boy.
Take a look at what we have been forced to witness this week: Limbaugh, the master race-baiter, explicitly tied the verdict to partisan politics, suggesting that Zimmerman’s acquittal was, somehow, a win for conservatives. According to the radio jockey, the verdict served as an “interruption in a string of victory after victory” for liberals. He begrudged how rarely Democrats lose anymore, citing Obama’s election and re-election, judicial and legislative wins on marriage equality and universal health care. It was here, as MSNBC’s Alex Wagner pointed out, that Limbaugh became the first to “put a killer’s acquittal on par with historic progress.” She continued, “His comparison was telling, as much as it was reprehensible: Limbaugh put a spotlight on the partisan lines that cross-hash the death of Trayvon Martin. His killing and Zimmerman’s exoneration have now officially entered the conservative arsenal as weapons to be deployed.”
Nugent followed Limbaugh’s lead. In response to the verdict, Nugent penned an op-ed claiming that Martin was “a dope-smoking, racist, gangster wannabe.” He went on to blame President Obama for a “surge in black racism” and concluded, “The jury got it right.” This isn’t surprising given that Nugent, at a 2007 concert, raged that Obama could “suck on his machine gun.” In 2012, the musician notoriously was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service after making suggestive threats to the president’s life, claiming, at an NRA convention, that he’d either be “dead or in jail" if Obama won re-election. (None of this, of course, stopped Mitt Romney from fundraising with Nugent during the 2012 contest.)
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a Tea Party favorite and regular Obama critic, told Fox News he believed no charges should have ever been brought against Zimmerman. This from a man who in July 2010 claimed that black farmers in the USDA Pigford case only wanted “reparations” and who criticized President Obama for having a “mechanism” in his brain that “favors black people.”
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Wagner outlined the curious response from conservatives like Ann Coulter, who, within minutes of Zimmerman’s “not guilty” verdict, tweeted “Hallelujah!” and Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera, who suggested the child victim got what he deserved, saying, “If you dress like a thug, people are going to treat you like a thug.” Rivera empathized with the jury of mostly white women, opining that they “would have shot Trayvon Martin a lot sooner than George Zimmerman did.”
MSNBC’s Joy Reid put it best when she compared the celebratory reactions to disturbing photos of Jim Crow South lynching parties. Speaking to Wagner, she described the smiles on faces of white attendees to the brutal murders, hanging and (at times) burning of black bodies, and compared the images to those of people who now appear to dance on the grave of Trayvon Martin. ”Think about what they’re rejoicing about. They’re rejoicing about the fact that somebody got acquitted for shooting and killing a teenager.” Reid questioned what kind of mind would “find that glorious," and concluded that there are people “with that much hatred and that much bile."
And then there was this: Just a day after declaring the verdict a victory — and in response to an interview of Trayvon’s friend Rachel Jeantel — Limbaugh gleefully told his audience he’s now free to use the n-word, as long as he adds an “a” at the end. His mocking tone and callous indifference to Trayvon’s life exposes why some have chosen to see Zimmerman’s acquittal as a personal political win: because this is the kind of validation and affirmation they’ve been seeking since Jan. 20, 2009.
It is a modern-day lynching party. And conservatives are smiling.
One of the key strategists for the defense in the George Zimmerman murder trial describes the planning and thought that went into selecting the jurors who ultimately freed the killer of Trayvon Martin
SANFORD, Fla. — One of the people instrumental in helping George Zimmerman’s defense team pick an all-women jury says that he decided months in advance that a female panel brought the best chance for acquittal.
Robert Hirschhorn, a jury consultant with more than 28 years experience, told USA TODAY that women are better listeners, less judgmental, and would more easily understand the fear Zimmerman felt when he shot Trayvon Martin.
"I wanted to make sure we were going to get jurors that would follow what the court of law required not what the court of public opinion wanted," Hirschhorn said. “My number one goal was to get fair jurors that would really be able to listen to the evidence and decide the case on facts and law not emotion."
Hirschhorn’s instincts paid off Saturday when a jury of five white women and one Hispanic woman acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the Feb. 2012 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Hirschhorn got involved in the Zimmerman case in April when Zimmerman defense attorney Don West brought him in. Hirschhorn, who is based in Lewisville, Texas, has worked on several high profile cases including the trial of Enron founder Kenneth Lay, who was convicted of fraud and conspiracy as well as New York millionaire Robert Durst, acquitted of killing and dismembering his elderly neighbor.
Hirschhorn, who was in court every day until the jury was picked, said he was most concerned about two things: guns and honesty. And Juror B37, the first one to publicly speak in an interview with CNN, was actually Hirschhorn’s second favorite juror because she was a former concealed weapons permit holder and seemed truthful, he said.
In doing so, he decided women would be more favorable in getting Zimmerman acquitted and that people with anti-gun stances would have to be eliminated.
A spokeswoman for state prosecutors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Zimmerman, a Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer, said he shot the black teen in self-defense after being attacked. State prosecutors said Zimmerman profiled and murdered Trayvon — then lied about initiating the fight.
A beginning group of 211 people filled out juror questionnaires, which were then read by lawyers and Circuit Judge Debra Nelson. They chose who would make it to the next round for individual questioning about media exposure to news of the shooting in open court. Later, lawyers went down the list, striking jurors individually. At least six people were dismissed during this phase.
"I bet I spent 20 hours on what took 15 minutes to do," said Hirschhorn of the final phase where the jury was announced.
In Zimmerman’s case, Hirschhorn did two rare things: Hirschhorn didn’t recommend lawyers ask for a change of venue and he didn’t have Zimmerman’s lawyers use all their strikes against jurors.
"Sanford was the epicenter for this event," Hirschhorn said, explaining what he told lawyers."If we want George to get a fair trial, we want people from his county to decide this case."
Early on, Hirschhorn thought women would relate to Zimmerman’s story better than men and would understand the position Zimmerman found himself in the night of the shooting.
"I believed in my heart that an all-female jury was the right jury for George," Hirschhorn said. “My experience has been that women are better at listening than men."
The thinking behind his theory was that women would be less judgemental in a self-defense case where lawyers would be asking them to put themselves in the position Zimmerman found himself when he killed Trayvon.
Hirschhorn also knew he would need to eliminate potential jurors who held anti-gun views and who were not completely honest with their knowledge of the case and the opinions they had formed.
"In the typical high profile case, jurors have typically formed an opinion against your client," he said, adding that Zimmerman’s case was different. “There was a large segment of the community that was against George.There was a large segment of the community that hadn’t formed an opinion that George was guilty. The challenge for me was to find those people that can be fair to George."
It was also Hirschhorn’s job to find out which potential jurors were not being completely honest. That thinking led to the elimination of at least three jurors. Zimmerman defense attorney, Mark O’Mara told Circuit Judge Debra Nelson one older black woman failed to tell the court about a leader of her church being a Trayvon supporter and a younger black woman failed to disclose that she was Facebook friends with a potential witness. The defense also eliminated at least one juror —a white man—who said he had issues with guns.
Hirschhorn’s favorite juror was a black man who was a gun owner who frequently watched FOX News. The state eliminated him.
Juror B37, who was the first juror to speak publicly, was Hirschhorn’s second favorite and one he thought the state would strike. Hirschhorn thought Juror B37 was honest, sincere, and thoughtful.
The juror told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Zimmerman was “a man whose heart was in the right place,” but he went too far and did not use good judgment. Juror B37 also said she thought Trayvon threw the first punch and attacked Zimmerman — and that Zimmerman had the right to shoot the teen.
"She really did try to do the very best job," Hirschhorn said. “I thought she felt a lot of pain going through all this process."
Four jurors in the Zimmerman trial issued a statement Tuesday night that said earlier comments by Juror B37 “not in any way representative” of their views.
Hirschhorn wasn’t surprised by the four other jurors’ words because people can have different views but come up with a not-guilty verdict.
After jury selection, Hirschhorn, who considers himself the “seventh juror” of Zimmerman’s trial, spoke with Zimmerman’s attorneys almost every day during testimony and highlighted for them weaknesses and strengths in their case.
In the end, Hirschhorn is pleased with his work. He believes Zimmerman was attacked and shot Trayvon in self-defense.
"These jurors were on the frontlines of a combat mission," Hirschhorn said. “They should be commended. They shouldn’t be criticized"
Instead of saying “I am Trayvon Martin” it would do more good for white people [and non-Black people] in solidarity with the Trayvon Martin case to recognize all the ways they are Zimmerman.
As in, if you live in a “safe” suburban or gated community that is mostly white and that is considered a “good” neighborhood because it excludes people of colour [especially excluding Black people] then you benefit from the same conditions that created Zimmerman.
If you benefit from “police protection” to your property that depends on racial profiling of people of colour [especially Black people] and brutality towards them then you take part in the same systems that create Zimmerman.
If you have the racial privilege to work, move, live in mostly white spaces and have limited contact with… [Black people], particularly “low income” …[Black people], then you live with the same social and economic policies of casual segregation that create Zimmerman.
It’s good that people recognize the injustice of Trayvon Martin’s death, but if that recognition is not accompanied by the work to recognize and undo the systematic economic, social, educational and employment policies that create neighborhoods where Black people are seen as threatening trespassers - and how people benefit from this racial privilege - then no true anti-racist work can occur.
Nobody wants to say “I am Zimmerman” but until we recognize how Zimmerman reflects institutionalized racism there will continue to be more Trayvons.- El Jones (via writeswrongs)
The Department of Justice’s Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continue to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial," the Justice Department said in a statement Sunday. “Experienced federal prosecutors will [now] determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the Department’s policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial.- The Next Three Trials of George Zimmerman - Philip Bump - The Atlantic Wire (via aboriginalpressnews)
Soon-to-be infamous ‘Juror B37’ sat down for an interview with Anderson Cooper on Monday night to discuss the jury deliberations during the George Zimmerman trial. This is the same Juror B37 who took less than 48 hours after delivering a not guilty verdict to sign a book deal that will probably earn her a few hundred thousand dollars. The Cooper interview revealed that this woman is not only too stupid to have been a juror, but will also raise questions about how her own interest in writing a book might have affected her judgement of the case.
Here are the key quotes—
In her interview with Cooper, she said, “I had no doubt George feared for his life in the situation he was in.”
Perhaps he did! But then there’s this—
“It was just hard, thinking that somebody lost their life, and there’s nothing else could be done about it,” said the juror. “It’s what happened — is sad. It’s a tragedy it happened, but it happened.”
No, ma’am. Something could be done about it. George Zimmerman could have listened to the 911 dispatcher, left his weapon in his vehicle, maybe even asked Trayvon Martin, ‘Hey, excuse me, are you lost?’ Also, the rapid dismissal of a child’s life. It just happened, it happened, it’s just a thing, you know how things happen? This also happened.
Cooper asked if she felt sorry for Trayvon Martin. “I feel sorry for both of them,” she answered. “I feel sorry for Trayvon, and the situation he was in, and I feel sorry for George because of the situation he got himself in.”
Wait, hold on a second. Which one was it? Was it something that happened, and nothing else could be done about it? Or was it avoidable? I mean, she just said that she feels sorry because of the situation he got himself in, so here’s a person that simultaneously believes that a situation was inevitable and avoidable. Great.
In her interview with Cooper, she said she thought Zimmerman had been driven to recklessness in pursuing Martin by a string of burglaries in his Sanford, Fla., neighborhood, but also thought that Martin could have walked away from the confrontation.
“I think both could have walked away; it just didn’t happen,” the juror told Cooper. “It’s very emotional.”
Now you can start to see her thinking, and the thinking of a lot of people. There were no laws broken before the confrontation. That’s true. But these people also believe that there was nothing wrong with George Zimmerman following and then stalking Trayvon Martin with a loaded weapon. Trayvon could have walked away! Nothing wrong with a stranger walking up to you in the middle of the night while you’re going home, not even if the guy has a weapon. Trayvon could have walked away, even if George Zimmerman was already feeling reckless because of burglaries in his neighborhood. Trayvon is at fault, clearly.
"I think George got in a little too deep, which, he shouldn’t have been there," the juror said. “But Trayvon decided he wasn’t going to let him scare him … and I think Trayvon got mad and attacked him.”
HERE IT IS. THIS IS HOW GODDAMN STUPID THIS WOMAN IS. She excuses away alllllll of Zimmerman’s actions by saying he got in a little too deep. Everything was fine! He was doing the right thing! He just went a litttttttle too far while he was doing it. SHE STILL BELIEVES HE DID NOTHING WRONG. NOTHING AT ALL. The only person that did anything wrong at all, the aggressor in the situation, the one that, yeahh, I mean, he could have walked away, was a 17-yr old kid who was LITERALLY WALKING AWAY AT THE TIME.
And this is is white privilege at it’s most blatant. Zimmerman meets the social standards of ‘whiteness,’ and if you followed this trial at all you should know that. This is a white woman feeling sympathetic toward a white man with a loaded weapon for accosting a black child. It wasn’t Zimmerman’s fault that Martin was scared, it wasn’t Zimmerman’s fault that Martin got mad, it wasn’t Zimmerman’s fault that Martin attacked him. This woman reasonably expected Trayvon Martin to act docilely, deferentially, really however George Zimmerman needed him to act because all Zimmerman did was get in a little too deep while doing the right thing. This is exactly what Cord Jefferson was talking about, that black people need to always be mindful of how whites expect them to act. If not, their own murder will be seen as entirely their fault.
But here this quote is what will make you flip your desk over, or an entire house.
The juror told Cooper that race and racial profiling was not discussed inside the jury room. She added that she didn’t mind that Zimmerman would get his gun back, saying, “It’s everyone’s right to carry a gun.”
"I think he would be more responsible than anybody else on this planet right now," she continued.