Another day, another Washington Post columnist rationalizing racism in the same vein as Richard Cohen did yesterday. And just as I suspected, Kathleen Parker has offered an impassioned defense of subjective reality to excuse the racial profiling that lead to the death of Trayvon Martin.
The list could go on. The point is that this is one of those rare instances in which everyone is right within his or her own experience. African Americans are right to perceive that Martin was followed because he was black, but it is wrong to presume that recognizing a racial characteristic is necessarily racist. It has been established that several burglaries in Zimmerman’s neighborhood primarily involved young black males.
This is an absolutely horrible choice of words.
Parker alleges that burglary committed by young black males is a “racial characteristic.” And she claims that recognizing this characteristic, that young black males tend to be criminals, isn’t racist. Even if you offer her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she was only referring to skin color, that isn’t any better. You’re still associating a physical characteristic — in this case skin color — with a pattern of criminality.
I’m not willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, however, because immediately after approving of racial profiling, she recalls an anecdote about a woman hiding from scary black men.
Picture Zimmerman’s neighbor Olivia Bertalan, a defense witness, hiding in her locked bedroom with her infant and a pair of rusty scissors while two young males, later identified as African American, burglarized her home. They ran when police arrived.
I’m sure the incident was horrifying, but that’s no more of an excuse to begin profiling all young black males than a mass school shooting is to profile all young white males. And no one would ever dream of proposing that, would they? Would the same incident have been cited if the home invasion was perpetrated by white men?
To be fair, Parker did offer some words of sympathy for the Martin family and the death of Trayvon, however it’s hard to take those as anything other than tokens in face of the rest of her column. Within it, she also went on to accuse high-profile members of the black community of fanning the flames and stoking racial tension for fun and profit.
So, yes, we understand how everyone feels. But feelings are like weather — they come and go and shift with time. Part of maturity — and fundamental to civilization — is learning to process feelings through thought, reflection and, in this case, debate.
Yes, we understand, but you’ll get over it. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Instead, in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, feelings have been magnified and exploited by enablers — from certain members of the media, who seem more like rapacious rabble-rousers than journalists, to professional activists who, in fact, thrive on disorder.
This is a good time to recognize that activists with television shows are not, in fact, journalists. When Al Sharpton went to Florida to organize demands that Zimmerman be charged, he was acting as the civil rights activist he is, not as the broadcast journalist he plays on television. Now, as he proceeds to organize protests in 100 cities, he has a global bullhorn with which to sound his fury.
Parker accuses Sharpton of being a civil rights activist, as if that’s a bad thing. She stopped just short of calling him a “race-hustler,” but if you read between the lines it’s there. She uses words like “rapacious rabble-rouser” instead.
With such instigation, grass roots quickly erupt into wildfires. News organizations can’t ignore news, obviously, but which came first: The death threats? Or the TV correspondent speculating whether Zimmerman would need to fear for his life?
Damn those negro instigators for demanding justice, amirite?
See, it would be easier to take the sentiments of peace and civility seriously if you hadn’t just offered up a defense of racial profiling and presumed guilt and then tried to shame those who have been personally hurt by this verdict.
Men like Al Sharpton and others who demanded justice are the only reason Zimmmerman was even charged to begin with. He was charged because the public demanded it. The Sanford Police Department couldn’t have given less of a shit.
Yesterday when I said that unless it’s to apologize or reconcile how racist this country still is, white columnists should just shut up, I didn’t mean you should cook up another racial apologia that excuses racism. You’re not helping.