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Elliot: What's going on here, Marvin?

BY BEAU ELLIOT | JULY 23, 2013 5:00 AM

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The reaction to the verdict in the death of innocent teen Trayvon Martin continues to roil this nation, which I have to admit surprises me somewhat, because generally Americans have the attention span of a squirrel.

(Well, OK, you’re right — I haven’t the slightest idea of what the attention span of a squirrel is. I will note that we have oak trees all over the landscape, and legend has it that those oaks sprung from acorns that squirrels stored and then forgot about them. But that might just be an urban legend. So much is these days.)

I also have to admit the reactions of the defenders of George Zimmerman — who famously was charged in Martin’s slaying and even more famously found not guilty — has surprised me in their vociferousness. I mean, c’mon. This was an innocent teenager walking to his father’s house (or his father’s girlfriend’s house — I’ve read it both ways) who was being followed and was nervous about being followed.

But some of the comments I’ve read makes it sound as if we’re a nation of nutcases. Just take some of the emails the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart has received in reaction to his writing on the Martin case, which he made public in the July 16 Post (I will note that I had no idea Capehart was an African American until reading this article):

“Would you do us all a favor and stop wearing your race on your sleeve. You and many other blacks that have come out in droves in all the networks to render their opinions about the Martin case, are coming across as extremely biased; your opinions tainted black …

“Race relations WILL NEVER IMPROVE until the black community cuts the crap by making everything racial …”

Or this:

“There’s a special place in Hell for race-baiting white-hating hypocrites like you and Al the convicted slanderer Sharpton whose whole reason for being is to promote racial discord. Trayvon Martin = Tawana Brawley and you’re no different than David Duke.”

There are many more that Capehart published along the same lines. And yes, I know, the Martin/Zimmerman case has seemingly inflamed passions, and yes, I realize that people will write quite dumb things in emails, things that they probably wouldn’t say face-to-face. But.

Comments such as those speak more to the bigotry of the writer than anything else. And it’s just numbingly depressing that there’s still so much of that B-stuff still lingering, and festering, in American society.

Yes, I realize we’ve come a long way as a country. But we have a long way to go. And I’m looking at you, white people.

I’m old enough to remember segregation in the South, albeit I was a pretty young kid in those days. But I was old enough to know it was wrong.

And then there’s the case of Marissa Alexander. She also lives in Florida, she also happens to be an African American and the mother of three children, and she is serving a 20-year sentence for firing a warning shot into her kitchen wall.

Same prosecutor in her case as in the Martin/Zimmerman case, by the way.

According to the Reuters news agency, she had been involved in an argument with her estranged husband when, she said, he moved toward her in a threatening manner. She had a protective order against the man, so one wonders why he was in her house in the first place. Anyway, she fired the warning shot into the wall, and prosecutor Angela Corey charged Alexander with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

As Jesse Jackson said, according to Reuters, “In one case, Mr. Zimmerman kills a young man and walks away, free to kill again,” Jackson said. “And Marissa shot no one, hurt no one, and she’s in jail for 20 years.”

This is justice?


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