Nope. Not Racist At All.

WaPoParker-Racist

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.

This entry was posted in George Zimmerman, Justice, Racism, The Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • i_a_c

    Sanford, FL is 30% black. As you point out, it’s interesting that the “racial characteristic” (blech) of a handful of criminals reflects poorly on the black community as a whole, but nobody claims that white criminals reflect poorly on whites as a whole. There’s that white privilege rearing its head again.

    • i_a_c

      I should mention that the writer ALMOST went on to say that it’s unacceptable to say that viewing black youths as suspicious. But…

      And no, just because a few black youths caused trouble doesn’t mean all black youths should be viewed suspiciously. This is so obvious a truth that it shouldn’t need saying and yet, if we are honest, we know that human nature includes the accumulation of evolved biases based on experience and survival. In the courtroom, it’s called profiling. In the real world, it’s called common sense.

      Common sense! Pfffffft. Yet another weak attempt to explain away racial profiling.

    • missliberties

      That is what drives me crazy.

      Black on black crime is like so much worse than white on white crime. I don’t see the point of singling out blacks, because white boys are doing the same thing.

  • BillAndersoot

    “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.”

    That’s a vast distortion of Parker’s point, which was that several recent burglaries had occurred in Zimmerman’s neighborhood and that they were known to have been committed by young, black males. In other words, Zimmerman may have believed that he was following a burglar. Parker’s is a perfectly valid point.

    • JMAshby

      You cut off the following two sentences that address that.

      • BillAndersoot

        But you said, “She claims that recognizing this characteristic, that young black males tend to be criminals, isn’t racist.”

        That, in my opinion, “is an absolutely horrible choice of words”. Parker did not say, or even suggest, that “young black males tend to be criminals”. She was talking specifically, not generally.

        “Parker alleges that burglary committed by young black males is a “racial characteristic.”

        No, she alleges that being black is a racial characteristic. She went on to say that several recent burglaries had been committed in Zimmerman’s neighborhood by individuals who fit that characteristic. In my opinion, your conclusion doesn’t logically follow from what she said. I think you’re putting racist words in her mouth.

        • JMAshby

          Okay. Quoting myself.

          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.

          One is hardly better than the other.

          • BillAndersoot

            But was she associating skin color with a pattern of criminality? Or was she associating skin color with a specific series of recent burglaries in Zimmerman’s neighborhood? Because it really does matter.

          • JMAshby

            Effectively, they are the same thing. And as I pointed out, a similar association would not be made if the suspected burglars were white.

            If Zimmerman had murdered a white kid, I doubt Kathleen Parker would claim he was simply recognizing the racial characteristics of a white kid because there have been several burglaries in the area perpetrated by white men. In that case, the race of the suspects probably wouldn’t even be mentioned.

          • BillAndersoot

            And what if Zimmerman had a description? You know: white, 17 years old, 6 feet tall, wearing a hoodie? You think he would have ignored those attributes? As Parker points out in her piece, Zimmerman had a long history of vigilantism. You think he was only looking for black kids? Or was he a wannabe cop, looking for burglars?

          • missliberties

            both

          • nasani

            Are you seriously suggesting that Zimmerman would have proceeded to follow a white 17 years-old kid, after the police had advised him not to, and then shoot him to death without incurring any consequences? You and Parker talk about common sense, but you asking the rest of to suspend, not just common sense, but the entire history of this country.

            The constant denial of the deeply imbedded racism is the main reason racism will never be cured.

          • BillAndersoot

            Yeah, apparently. Because that’s what happened. I wasn’t alive during the entire history of this country, and neither were you.

          • nasani

            That’s why we study history! I wasn’t alive when the Constitution was written but I am still governed by it. By the way, I am 68 and I was alive when Jim crow was still rampart, and the lynching of Blacks was still justified on the ALLEGED assertion that Black men were raping white women.

          • BillAndersoot

            Anyway, I can see we’re going to disagree on this one. I’ll just say that calling someone a racist is one of the worst and most hurtful accusations one can hurl at another, and I’d want to be awfully sure I was right before I accused anyone of it. I’ll leave it at that.

          • JMAshby

            Actually, if you read closely, you may notice that I never directly accused her of being a racist. However I did point out how her words provide an excuse for, and rationalize, racism.

            With that said, saying that accusing someone of being a racist is worse than actual racism tells me all I need to know.

          • BillAndersoot

            I agree. You never called her a racist. In fact, in your headline you clearly stated, “Nope. Not Racist At All.” Silly me, I took that as sarcasm.

            “Saying that accusing someone of being a racist is worse than actual racism tells me all I need to know.”

            Now you’re misquoting me? Please point to where I said that.

          • JMAshby

            calling someone a racist is one of the worst and most hurtful accusations one can hurl at another

            Worse than saying you’re probably a burglar because you’re black?

          • BillAndersoot

            This really is going nowhere. I’ve said my piece. You’ve said yours. Have a great rest of the day.

          • nasani

            “With that said, saying that accusing someone of being a racist is worse than actual racism tells me all I need to know.”

            Exactly!

          • Kerry Reid

            Unless it’s “thug.” Nobody gets profiled, stalked, and murdered in cold blood because they’re called racist in this country. But yes — as black folks face unprecedented assaults on their voting rights and other civil liberties, I’ll be sure to keep prioritizing the hurt fee-fees of overpaid idiotic white pundits.

          • Kerry Reid

            As noted — a pundit who gleefully fantasized about running over peaceful protesters. And who then pouted about how MEAN GOPers were being to her when she pointed out that Sarah Palin was a few apples short of a bushel.

          • missliberties

            Saying all black men are thugs is like saying everyone in the South is a bigot.

            So now saying the word racist is politically impolite, and I sort of agree that it immediately puts people on the defensive and they don’t hear anything else that you say.

          • nasani

            This is a distinction without a difference.

          • BillAndersoot

            At any rate, I think it would be great if you posted a link to her piece so people could read it in its entirety and decide for themselves whether they agree or not.

            Never mind. I see that the image is linked to her piece.

      • BillAndersoot

        Here’s a sentences you left out:

        “And no, just because a few black youths caused trouble doesn’t mean all black youths should be viewed suspiciously.”

        I’d say that matters, wouldn’t you? Why not include it?

        • JMAshby

          No, it doesn’t matter, because she said that after explaining why it’s okay to view them suspiciously following recent burglaries. The column is filled with token comments that are contradicted by other things she said, which I pointed out.

          • missliberties

            What is true is these assumptions of guilt by being black are hard wired into American’s subconscious after years of demonizing black men.

            Ask yourself why Trayvon didn’t call 911. Because black youth know in their hearts that the police are NOT on their side.

        • missliberties

          If everything you say is true, it still does not give a satisfactory justification for Trayvon’s murder, especially when you consider that he was told he didn’t need to get out of the car.

          • BillAndersoot

            There is no justification for Trayvon’s murder. If I had been in his position, I would have done a heck of a lot more than rub George Zimmerman’s head in the dirt. How would any kid in his situation feel, being stalked by a nut with a gun? Trayvon had every right to assume Zimmerman meant to kill him and he had every right to defend himself. Zimmerman is a lunatic. As are the people who wrote Florida’s “stand your ground” law. The point about Zimmerman being told not to get out of his car was sort of the point I thought Parker was making. I saw her piece as an attempt to bring some sanity to the discussion. Overheated polemic clearly isn’t getting us anywhere.

          • nasani

            Labeling TRUTH telling as “overheated polemic” is why this country will never solve the centuries problem of racism.

          • BillAndersoot

            Yeah, I’ll bet. Because TRUTH is a known quantity that only certain people with infinite wisdom understand.

          • missliberties

            That is the saddest aspect of this whole affair. “You saw her piece as an attempt to bring some sanity into the conversation”.

            What if a bunch of white kids had been burglareizing the neighborhood? Does that count? Why is it that we never talk about white crime in these stereotypical terms?

            The only thing I see is the never ending non-stop demonization of black people as theives. That is a huge stereotype that she reinforced, consciously or unconsciously. The right uses it and the left buys into it.

            Why not stereotype the thug condition to his age? But no, always go with the skin color.

          • BillAndersoot

            I don’t suppose at least part of that could be your own confirmation bias…

        • nasani

          It does not matter at all because she proceeds to contradict herself by justifying the assumption of guilt of an individual black youth because there had been recent burglaries “ALLEGED” (not even proven) to have been committed by Black youths. That’s just speaking from both sides of her mouth trying to appear reasonable.

    • missliberties

      Why not just leave out the black part, and go with young males. Many teens go through a rowdy phase trying to prove their ‘manhood’. That includes all colors of young males.

      How bad were the ‘burglaries’. Were they minor, major? What was stolen? Was it broken glass, stealing jewelry, computers.

      Yet the ONLY characteristic she focuses on is the skin color.

      • BillAndersoot

        You’ll need to ask her that. I didn’t write the piece. I merely recommended reading it.

  • Kavonde

    “When Al Sharpton went to Florida to organize demands that Zimmerman be echarged, he was acting as the civil rights activist he is, not as the broadcast journalist he plays on television.”

    Now, I read that as a compliment. Being a civil rights activist is far more honorable a profession than being a broadcast journalist.

    • nasani

      By that statement, Parker denigrated Al Sharpton’s standing to discuss a subject that Sharpton knows intimately and not in the abstract as Parker does. This reminds me of what the late Professor Bell said when he formulated what he called “Rules of Racial Standing”:

      ‘Black people…are denied…legitimacy in the world generally when they discuss their negative experience with racism or even when they attempt to give a positive evaluation of another black person….No matter their experience or expertise, blacks’ statements involving race are deemed “SPECIAL PLEADING” and thus not entitled to serious consideration.”

      I don’t know how this society will ever deal effectively with racism when the victims of racism are either ignored or are expected to be silent.

  • Kerry Reid

    Kathleen Parker is forever the idiot who joked about wanting to run over war protesters with her SUV. She’s a feckless pandering nitwit who makes MoDo sound like Hannah Arendt by comparison. But on the off-chance that she or any of her apologists are reading this, here’s the piece of the story you all are ignoring:

    Racial profiling based on a pattern of burglaries in the neighborhood allegedly committed by young black males may – MAY — have made Zimmerman feel justified in calling 911 on Trayvon Martin as someone he hadn’t seen before. However, it does NOT justify him leaving his car after being told by the dispatcher it wasn’t necessary, confronting him, and then MURDERING HIM when Martin himself “stood his ground.”

    Jesus Fucking Christ.

    • BillAndersoot

      I’d suggest reading Parker’s piece in its entirety. I rarely agree with her, but this one is really quite excellent.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-unanswered-questions-in-trayvon-martin-case/2013/07/16/b154e1b0-ee44-11e2-a1f9-ea873b7e0424_story.html

      • Kerry Reid

        I would suggest you not condescendingly assume that I HADN’T read the entire piece. Yes, she acknowledges that Zimmerman shouldn’t have left his car, using just about the most passive construction available:

        “Thus, we conclude that Zimmerman’s actions led to the confrontation that
        ultimately resulted in a fight that ended with the fatal shooting.”

        However, being the unconscionable hack that she is, she goes on to High Broderism with an extra dose of racial privilege. Suspecting young black kids is just “common sense,” and all those upset black folks have a point, but do they need to be so LOUD about their feelings? Which of course they might not have at all if a bunch of outside agitators hadn’t riled them up.

        • Kerry Reid

          Also interesting that the feelings and perceptions of people scared of young black males are just seen as “common sense” while the feelings and perceptions of people rightly horrified at the deliberate slaughter of a young man are seen as weatherlike caprices that will change with “maturity.” Shorter Parker: Just grow up, black folks, and accept that people think your kids are scary just on the face of it.

          • BillAndersoot

            OK, I was wrong to assume you hadn’t read it. Instead, I should have suggested you read it carefully.

          • Kerry Reid

            I suggest you take your patronizing tone and shove it.

          • BillAndersoot

            Whatever.

          • Kerry Reid

            Well, as Parker said — feelings are like the weather.

          • Kerry Reid

            So you agree with Parker that the feelings unleashed in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict are “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.” You don’t think that people who were rightly horrified and enraged by what happened to Trayvon Martin and the failure of the justice system would have felt that way if Al Sharpton and others hadn’t told them to be angry? And that those feelings are “like the weather,” rather than a deep and abiding and soul-sickening wound carried by generations of black Americans?

  • allanbrauer

    “Rapacious”? Really? Holy hell.

    • Kerry Reid

      I didn’t even catch that dog whistle in the brass band of BS unleashed here. God.