By Meg Storm
TRAY-VESTY. That was the quippy headline plastered on the front cover of the New York Post on Sunday morning. Meanwhile, so-called journalists and legal experts flooded the airwaves using words like “stunning,” “shocking,” and “surprising” to describe the jury’s decision to acquit George Zimmerman.
But the most “stunning,” “shocking,” and “surprising” aspect of this sensationalized trial is not that Zimmerman is now a free man (though it’s safe to say his life has been irreparably changed). The most “stunning,” “shocking,” and “surprising” aspect of this trial is the overwhelming hypocrisy of the media and the leaders of the black community when it comes to race and justice.
The disturbing trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor, Kermit Gosnell, was almost completely ignored by the mainstream media because it was considered a “local crime story.”
Forget about the fact that Gosnell was primarily murdering minority babies. Forget about the fact that Gosnell operated two separate offices – one for wealthy clients, who were primarily white, and one for poorer clients, who were primarily not white. It took weeks of horrid testimony for “news” outlets like ABC, CBS, and NBC to even acknowledge the trial existed.
Likewise, we never heard a peep from President Obama about the Gosnell trial. Instead, Press Secretary Jay Carney told us, “The president does not and cannot take a position on an ongoing trial, so I won’t as well.”
I could speculate for days about why the media and the president didn’t want to comment on a story that exposed the underbelly of abortion. Heaven forbid they appear to be waging a “war on women” – but that is another story for another day.
One thing, however, is certain. The “local crime story” and “the president can’t comment on an ongoing trial” logic was not extended to the George Zimmerman trial.
“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” President Obama said earlier this year. “I think [Trayvon's parents] are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”
Yes, if President Obama had a son, he could look like Martin. But as President of the United States, he was out-of-line to insert himself into the national conversation.
So-called leaders of the black community, like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, were already rallying in the streets, demanding justice for a young black male killed at the hands of a middle-aged man of mixed ethnicity, and all the president did was add fuel to that fire. President Obama should have known better.
Looking specifically at the actions of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s death, one cannot help but be discouraged by the state of racial politics.
“I think that this is an atrocity… It is probably one of the worst situations that I have seen,” Sharpton said Saturday night. “What this jury has done is establish a precedent that when you are young and fit a certain profile, you can be committing no crime… and be killed and someone can claim self-defense… we had to march to even get a trial and even at trial, when he’s exposed over and over again as a liar, he is acquitted.”
He went on to add that Saturday was “a sad day in the country” and “a slap in the face to those that believe in justice in this country.”
Jackson sang a similar tune. In an interview with KPNX he said, “[Zimmerman] pursued him. Police told him to not. He did it over their objections. Ultimately he killed him. Now he walks away free… Here’s an unarmed young man going home, attending his business. Zimmerman assumes he should not be in the neighborhood. He actually lives there – that’s what racial profiling is… I would think there might be a civil suit filed, no doubt. There will be justice department intervention, no doubt. So this case really is… is not over.”
As a country, we have come a long way from the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s. While tragedies like this expose that we still have a long way to go, we must be able to trust that our media will be able to provide an objective account of what is otherwise an emotional issue. And we must also be able to trust that our federal government will not insert itself into cases for political gain.
In the case of the George Zimmerman trial, this was simply not true.
One can only hope we learn from these mistakes.