I must touch upon the Trayvon Martin tragedy – as our president called it. The death of any one young man is a tragedy, the death of hundreds is a statistic, to paraphrase the eminent humanitarian Joe Stalin. I do this in the context of the recent verdict and having recently gone to Castle Island in South Boston with my wife and grandkids after a visit to the Children’s Museum.
You may recall Fortnight telling us in his testimony about how he and Whitey walked around the Sugar Bowl at Castle Island. Google it if you want to have an idea what it is like. It’s a peninsular that sticks its head into the entry to Boston Harbor with nice walkways and what was once known as Castle William but whose name was changed to Fort Independence after the British relinquished their rule.
Castle Island and Trayvon Martin come to my mind when I consider the national news media coverage of his killing. When I read some of the articles I could not but think our media is stuck in an Old America where things were simple, or perhaps simply awful, when it came to race relations. If given the opportunity to tell us about South Boston and race relations our national media would be quick to inform us that Southie is a place where blacks dare not tread because of the vicious racist whites. That would have been true in Old America; but that’s not what Southie is now.
When I was at Castle Island within the last month I thought it was the most integrated place in America. It was crowded with whites, blacks, Asians and Latins all going about their pleasure and intermingling in peaceful harmony. Walking down a path I saw a group of young white men and women were sitting on the side of a hill listening to a young black man discourse on something or other; walkers (and runners) of all races perambulated around the fort. I thought this is what America should be like a mutual respect among people and a live and let live attitude.
What I found most shocking about the Zimmerman case, as Trayvon’s killing is called, is the manner in which the media abetted those who would turn it into something racial. This was an incident between two civilians and the death resulted during a fight. The actions of one man acting outside of government can not be said to reflect the attitude of all America.
Yet that’s what the media sought to make it. The media wrongly strove to stoke up ill feeling among the races where it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, many people are readily able to find it when encouraged.
Hardly can one think the media was otherwise that malicious if you look at the following. Here’s the transcript of the call Zimmerman made to the police just before the encounter. .
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
NBC News broadcast on its Today show the following as being the conversation that Zimmerman had with the dispatcher.
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.
NBC’s defense to the suit by Zimmerman is that it was only doing what other media outlets were doing. They were playing up the racial angle of the Zimmerman story. In other words regardless of whether it existed, if it makes a good story and plays into some of the tragic stories of our past then pump it up. The national news media thought maybe we can create something out of it and tell the people this is still Old America.
I’m not saying racism has been eradicated from the heart of every person or that there aren’t any resentments in Southie that the blacks and Latins have intruded on what some consider “our territory.” But those have been suppressed by desire of most to get along. I see us being far away from the media’s stereotyping of us as a racist people and I resent the media’s desire to bring us back to Old America.
There will always be people ready to claim racism. It is a profit industry for some. The most notorious being Al Sharpton who has parlayed hate of whitey into a cable television gig. I have to agree with the Washington Post which wrote: “Unfortunately, though, much of the public debate has done grievous disservice to the legitimacy of these issues. Hucksters and political demagogues exploited tragedy — a boy’s death, a family’s grief, a man’s freedom — and created what has become the now all-too-familiar media circus of oversaturation and rush to judgment.”
President Obama said back on March 23, 2013, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.”
I’d like to remind our president that Joe Stalin’s not the type of guy he should be taking advice from. Everyday on the streets of America young men who would have looked just like his son are being killed. It’s not Trayvon’s death that is the tragedy, it the death of all those young men every day which is the true tragedy in America.
And the other tragedy is the “follow the leader” mentality of our present day news media which stokes up hatred among our American people. It has a right to do it but the concept of a free press was that there would not be a uniformity of voices, but a clash of opinions and an open debate. We are far from that as we’ve seen in the Whitey saga and the Zimmerman killing. Our national media is becoming like what we saw in the USSR when the Old America existed.