We have just spent time talking with Geert Wilders.
A man of strong views. A man of controversial views.
A man who is strongly disliked.
But Geert Wilders was never convicted of any crime. He didn’t break any law.
He was, however, convicted in the court of public opinion. His life was - and is - under constant threat.
And because his views are not popular with the elite, the elite have left him exposed to the threats and the hatred. They have not defended his right to free speech.
So he is a prisoner in his own home. A man who can never be truly free because of the threat of mob justice.
It is an instructive story. And we have much to learn from it.
We find this story shocking. And yet, the story of mob justice is not so distant.
Mob justice is alive and well in America.
Today, a man stands charged with murder.
It is a case many of us have read about.
The case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.
We know very little about the night George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
We can guess. We can opine. We can believe.
But we don’t know.
We can’t know until we have the process of a trial. The process of justice. Evidence collected. Witnesses called. A jury of peers passing judgment.
And so I believe that right now, anyone who does anything to exact justice is committing an act of injustice.
We have seen examples of people intimidating key figures in the case. Lawyers. Officers of the court. Witnesses. And of course, the accused.
These people are in danger because they are connected to the process of justice.
This intimidation is unjust. And if we allow it to continue, we participate in that injustice.
Some politicians have spoken about the case. They have made their views known.
But these same politicians are like everyone else. They don’t know what happened that night in Sanford, Florida.
They don’t know.
And so by voicing their opinion, they are just guessing. Just giving their opinion.
But political leaders must know that they stand astride a system of justice. Where the accused are innocent until proven guilty.
They are the custodians of this system. A system of laws. A system of justice. When they stand astride this system, but then undermine it, they are no longer leaders worthy of the name.
It is one bad thing when they judge a defendant guilty before a trial is even held. That’s bad.
It is even worse when we see them silent in the face of mob justice. The justice of the lynch party.
We are hearing of attacks… where the victims are told: “This is for Trayvon.” The victims, in this case, are white. The attackers, black. The attacks are vicious. Some fatal.
This is not justice for Trayvon. It’s bloodlust. It’s violence for the sake of hatred. And it is wrong in any circumstance.
We have had lynch parties in America. We have seen them before. And we have seen as well the cowards who stood by, and let it happen.
We know that history judges the lynch mobs forcefully. But history also judges the silent. The complicit.
Those in the mob are criminals. Those who don’t stop the mob are cowards. Democracy and justice cannot coexist with criminals and cowards.
Today, a man stands accused. The crime is murder. And the trial that awaits him will determine whether he is to remain a free man.
But because of the gasoline poured on this case by outside agitators. By ill-informed commentators, by opportunistic politicians.
Because of that, George Zimmerman is not the only figure on trial today. Our system of justice is also on trial. It is also being tested.
And my question is this: Who will defend the system of justice against the mob? Who will defend the rule of law… the privileges of the accused… the protections of witnesses… the responsibilities to evidence and precedent?
Who will do this work?
I remind all Americans, of all backgrounds, that justice is blind.
Justice seeks truth. And those who claim to be our leaders must stand on the side of justice. Must stand for restraint. For calm.
And most significantly, our leaders must stand against those who would take the law into their own hands.
God Bless the Republic