Just for living in your American skin

Just for living in your American skin March 29, 2012

I don’t understand the partisan response to the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Yes, many liberals are upset that a child was gunned down with impunity. (It’s been more than a month now.) But they are not upset for partisan reasons or for “liberal” reasons or for Democratic Party reasons.

They are upset because a child was gunned down with impunity. That ought to upset conservatives too. I appreciate that the Republican Party ca. 2012 has a knee-jerk opposition to anything that President Barack Obama says, but just because Obama is saddened by the senseless killing of a child shouldn’t have to mean that Republicans should reflexively take the other side.

This shouldn’t be partisan. Those saddened and angered by the killing of Trayvon Martin are not fighting a partisan battle. This child’s death does not advance some liberal or Democratic agenda. Those of us upset by this are not saying, “A child has been shot and therefore we must restore parity between taxes on labor and taxes on capital gains.” We are saying that it is horrifying and wrong that a child can be gunned down with impunity.

There is no reason that conservatives shouldn’t completely agree with that.

Well, there’s one reason, but there’s no decent, moral, legitimate reason.

Here are a slew of links in response to the slaying of Trayvon Martin:

Judd Legum: “Trayvon Martin: The 5 Key Unanswered Questions

Eric W. Dolan: “Surveillance video shows no blood or bruises on George Zimmerman

Bomani Jones: “Trayvon Martin, and When a Black Man Deserves to Die

H. Samy Alim: “#WeAreTrayvonMartin: Breaking the silence around racial abuse

George Takei: “Trayvon Martin deserves justice

Charlie Pierce: “Trayvon Martin and the End of Excuses

Lenin’s Tomb: “Trayvon Martin and the history of lynching” (via)

Crunk Feminist Collective: “On Appropriate Victims: More on Trayvon Martin and Other Names You Need to Know

Judd Legum: “What Everyone Needs to Know About the Smear Campaign Against Trayvon Martin (1995-2012)

The Field Negro: “Let the push-back begin

Michelle Goldberg: “Why Conservatives Are Smearing Trayvon Martin’s Reputation

Chauncey DeVega: “Smearing Trayvon Martin: The Salem Witch Trials, Mass Hysteria, and the Specter of Black Thuggery

Charlie Pierce: “The ‘Color-Blind’ Delusions of the Trayvon Backlash

Zerlina Maxwell: “The thug-ification of Trayvon Martin: smear campaign distracts from the case

Ramona: “When Being Black Is All It Is

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “How Not to Protest the Killing of Trayvon Martin

Leslie Copeland-Tune: “Hoodies, Skittles and a Mother’s Nightmare

Suzannah Paul: “When race is the elephant in the room

Glennon Melton: “For Trayvon

Harold Pollack: “Personal moment: the Trayvon Martin case

Kristen Howerton: “Required Reading on the Killing of Trayvon Martin

Alan Bean: “Learning from messy narratives

Paul @ Disoriented. Reoriented.: “If Trayvon Martin Were a Fetus, Christians Would Be a Whole Lot More Upset

Elizabeth Rawlings: “White Christians Sleeping While Young Black Men Die

Lisa Sharon Harper: “Hoodie Sunday, Trayvon Martin, and the Confessions of a Nation

William M. Welch: “Churches rally around Trayvon Martin on ‘hood Sunday’

Richard Cizik: “An Evangelical Voice for Trayvon

Sojourners’ “Christians and Racial Justice Discussion Guide” available as free download.

David Remnick: “Bruce and Trayvon: American Skin

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  • ako

     Yeah, I also missed that Rue was black on my first read-through, because I sometimes miss details.  But it wouldn’t have occurred to me to be outraged over it.  Because the only reason for anyone to be upset, offended, or outraged is pure racism.

    It is kind of fun seeing the “I’m not racist, I’m just a purist!” crowd have to deal with someone pointing out that they didn’t even notice the details they’re supposedly trying to protect.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    “The Simpsons stated it best: “Fox News – Not Racist, but No. 1 With Racists.”

     It was actually Family Guy, but ehhh…the rest of it is dead on.

    Seriously, though, if you can stand it, go to the Fox News website and look at the comments for virtually ANY story on the Politics tab.  Nearly ANY story that gets any comments from readers at all will rapidly turn into a solid wall of multiple thousands of seething, foaming-at-the-mouth fury- and hate-filled screeds that read like they were written on toilet paper from people who are apparently absolute crazy with rage over pretty much every last progressive change of the last forty years.  ESPECIALLY any story about the Obamas, illegals, or minorities.  The comments for articles on Treyvon Martin were about what you’d expect from people who think Stormfront is too mainstream.  

    So yeah, Fox News knows EXACTLY who their core audience is.  You can’t comment or see the comments on stories more than three days old, and I figure it’s a matter of plausible deniability.

  • Tricksterson

    I’m shocked, shocked I say.

    Shocked that he didn’t say this a long time ago.

  • runsinbackground

    The proper response to any mention of The American Spectator is usually “the what now?” That goes double for their totally hilarious web presence.

  • Lori

    This is true. However, as I said, was having enough trouble not saying something really unpleasant. Getting into my opinion of TAS was not going to help with that.

  • Anonymous

    I used to joke that if Obama admitted to liking puppies and rainbows, the Party of Obstructionism would accuse him of being inverse racist towards cats and of trying to push the gay agenda.  But I was being sarcastic, not serious.  And now Obama says it’s wrong to stalk, harass, and murder a defenseless unarmed child, and they’re disagreeing with him!  I suppose this is the perfect example of Poe’s law.  My sarcastic parody has become reality.

  • I want Obama to say he likes hamburgers. Just to see what happens when Republicans and PETA ally with each other. It would be hilarious.

  • It was actually Family Guy

    Nope.  In the words of South Park, “Simpsons did it!” 

  • Anonymous

    I was talking about the pro-gun-control guys. Also, wow, I know the fringe right was paranoid, but not that much.

  • Anonymous

     Yeah, that blog is totally unbiased and all.

  • nirrti

    The present Republican party is what the Democratic party..or “Dixie-crats” was during the 50s. Same racist folks..Same racist agenda…just with different buzz words. I’m not the least bit surprised on their position on Trayvon. They’re probably more angry about him not “knowing his place” than about the fact he was killed senselessly.

  • nirrti

    The blogger who writes the Field Negro posts said that he allows all kinds of racist comments on his site as a reminder that we’re not so “post-racial” as we think. I admire his reasons but lord, does it make reading the comments about people who look just like me stomach churning and headache producing.

  • Anonymous-Sam

    http://www.democracynow.org/2012/3/29/killed_at_home_white_plains_ny TheAlmightyGuru linked to this today. “We’re all victims waiting to happen” seems more accurate than ever.

  • Anonymous

    That a good chunk of the country used to live in constant fear of slave uprisings is I suspect a factor there.  A century or two of that is going to really warp a culture in ways not easily undone.

  • Ima Pseudonym

     Oh.  My bad.

  • Stardreamer

    It’s more likely to be construed (and rightly so IMO) as a reason to either flat-out repeal the “stand your ground” law or make its application much more stringent. But either of those things will be spun as “increasing gun control”. 

  • dragonet2

    you are correct.  Once they are living breathing children, they’d rather they starve, be homeless, no medical care, etc.  

  • Anonymous

     Right, which is why I aid “clarification.” Even the writer of the Stand Your Ground law said that he never intended it to be used the way Zimmerman used it. Maybe they use use language like “reasonable expectation of harm,” instead of “belief of harm.”

  •  You’re talking about people who are afraid the UN is going to take away their weapons.

    More importantly (and in keeping with one of the central themes of this blog), we’re talking about people who bought every book in the Left Behind series, thought they were all great and important books, and wholeheartedly believe in their underlying theology.

  •  I preached a sermon that mentioned the shooting this past weekend in a purple congregation that’s more red than blue. What I said was that two sinners met in the dark and both were afraid and both felt the need to prove their manhood and one had a gun so the other one is dead. I think what angers the right wing people that I know is the thought that political carpet-baggers are getting mileage out of somebody else’s tragedy. It’s hard not to be cynical about the way that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson cruise into town and create a circus.

    Nothing justifies shooting an unarmed person, but it doesn’t make sense that Zimmerman would have shot Trayvon in cold blood without Trayvon having attacked or threatened him in some kind of way. I think without a doubt that Zimmerman should have been arrested and there should be a trial where if the evidence supports him, he can walk, and if it doesn’t, he can’t. Undoubtedly, that stupid “Stand your ground” law needs to be thrown out.

    Absolutely it shouldn’t be controversial to want to live in a world where unarmed kids don’t get shot and killed. Here’s the question though: if someone jumps on you and starts beating the shit out of you and you have a gun, at what point can you use it? It is possible to get beaten to death. Not saying that’s necessarily what happened, but if it is what happened, how does that impact how you think about this?

  • Dan Audy

    The problem with that assertion is that there is no evidence to support it and quite a lot to dismiss it.  We know that Trayvon fled from the man stalking him, we know that Zimmerman pursued him despite being told not to, and we know that Trayvon was crying out before being shot.  The only person to claim that Trayvon attacked him has a extremely profound interest in claiming that since it is the only way he might avoid significant jailtime.  I find Zimmerman’s (second-hand) account of what happens incredulously unbelievable because it contradicts his established behaviours; racist police calls, harrassment, violence, and stalking.  It also contradicts Trayvon’s who from his girlfriends account was not making a macho stand to fight the man stalking him but was running away – exactly the opposite of what you are claiming.  Without some evidence from a trustworthy source that Trayvon attacked an significantly larger, armed man contrary to his prior behaviour, I don’t think there is any reason to believe Zimmerman’s self-serving lies.

    While it is terrible that political parasites like Shaprton and Jackson are getting airtime and money by taking advantage of Trayvon’s death it doesn’t justify trying to create a false equivalence between the two of them.  Politicians and the chattering class do the exact same thing, left or right, anytime there is a tragedy but that doesn’t make it right to pretend a tragedy didn’t occur just because distasteful people happen to be trying to profit off of it.

  • Dan Audy

    Absolutely it shouldn’t be controversial to want to live in a world
    where unarmed kids don’t get shot and killed. Here’s the question
    though: if someone jumps on you and starts beating the shit out of you
    and you have a gun, at what point can you use it? It is possible to get
    beaten to death. Not saying that’s necessarily what happened, but if it
    is what happened, how does that impact how you think about this?

    The problem with this statement is that it falsely implies that this hypothetical is relevant to the situation being discussed.  It is the same sort of dishonest tactic used by Fox to distance themselves from odious claims and statements by saying “Some people say”.  “What if” is a way of shifting the conversation from reality to a philosophical debate.  Discussing justification for use of violence can be a valid and important discussion for people to have. However, when you bring it up in the middle of a situation where a man stalked and murdered a boy who had threatened him in no way it is an attempt to derail the discussion. 

    It does make sense that Zimmerman shot Trayvon in coldblood because he was an established racist with a history of overreacting to ‘incursions’ into his community.  The fact that this makes you so deeply uncomfortable that you need to invent hypotheticals to create justification for the unjustifiable should be a warning sign that you need to examine your biases.  It shouldn’t be controversial – so stop trying to create a controversy.

  • Lori

    I preached a sermon that mentioned the shooting this past weekend in a purple congregation that’s more red than blue. What I said was that two sinners met in the dark and both were afraid and both felt the need to prove their manhood and one had a gun so the other one is dead. 

    Two sinners did not meet in the dark. One person walked down the street and was chased by an asshole with a gun. I think Zimmerman’s actions, not just in this case but overall, do lend themselves to the notion that he had manhood issues, but there is no indication that Trayvon Martin’s reaction had anything to do with that.

    It’s hard not to be cynical about the way that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson cruise into town and create a circus. 

    It’s equally difficult not to be cynical about the way racists deny justice to POC and then complain about the lengths people go to in an attempt to get it.

    Absolutely it shouldn’t be controversial to want to live in a world where unarmed kids don’t get shot and killed. Here’s the question though: if someone jumps on you and starts beating the shit out of you and you have a gun, at what point can you use it? It is possible to get beaten to death. Not saying that’s necessarily what happened, but if it is what happened, how does that impact how you think about this? 

    As Dan Audy pointed out, there is no indication that anything like this took place, so it doesn’t impact my thinking about this at all.

    If a person fears being beaten to death what that person should do is stay in his car and let the police do their jobs. Zimmerman tried to act as self-styled law enforcement, chasing down the “bad guy”. Now that he’s killed an unarmed teenager he & his supporters want to fall back on the idea that he was just a frightened civilian. This is a pick one situation. If you don’t have the training and the courage to respond to an unarmed person without resorting to deadly force then you need to stay in the car. Full stop.

  • Anonymous-Sam

    Zimmerman called 911 to report a suspicious black male, about 7-9 years of age, about four feet in height with a skinny build. He didn’t bother remarking why he felt this child was suspicious. He just was.

    Does the man sound like he really needed provocation? Does anyone who constantly calls 911 to report African Americans while carrying a loaded gun in his pocket and stalking them down the street really sound like your average everyday sinner?

    Also: Don’t assume someone’s a sinner because they died. And if we’re all sinners, then it doesn’t bear remarking upon anyway. It’s not your place to judge.

  • What say you of the brutal slayings of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom?

  • phantomreader42

    Do you have any idea what YEAR it is, Ginny? Demanding people jump to address your dishonest and desperate attempt to scream GOTCHA is stupid enough to start with, but doing it on a thread that hasn’t been active in over a year makes you look even MORE idiotic.

    And besides, I doubt you actually know anything about the Christian/Newsom case, you’re just regurgitating bullshit you swallowed from some other liars.

  • dpolicar

    Well, she got a response, so I guess it wasn’t unreasonable for her to expect to get a response.

  • phantomreader42

    She didn’t get her precious gotcha, or an excuse to crow about how a bunch of made-up shit makes it okay to murder a black kid.

  • I realize Christian and Newsom were brutally murdered in 2007 and just yesterday did I learn of it! That’s my point, nasty one. On the other hand, who in our entire nation has not heard of Trayvon Martin? Get the picture? I don’t care how idiotic people think I am for I am not a pleaser of people. The thread IS active now, huh? ;)
    By the way, what color skin are you living in?

  • Shall I list more stories for ya, 42. You’re nothing like Jackie Robinson.

  • dpolicar

    I would be much happier living in a world where people like her needed an excuse to be nasty, or to feel superior to others. I don’t seem to live in such a world.

  • phantomreader42

    I don’t actually give a flying fuck about your “stories” that you either made up or couldn’t be bothered to learn the actual facts about. They don’t magically make reality disappear. Your whining that the news doesn’t cover what you want it to when you want it to doesn’t change the facts. And your incessant spamming of idiotic bullshit will not convince anyone that you’re anything more than a stupid, lying troll.

  • Are you one of those unthinking individuals that believes, like Jimmy Carter, that peace is possible?

  • phantomreader42

    Are you functionally illiterate or just babbling nonsense? Because none of that has any connection to anything I said, or to the topic of this post, or to any of the comments, or to any of the irrelevant bullshit you previously regurgitated.

  • Katherine McChesney

    Trayvon Martin was a thug. He was on his way to a life in prison.

    George Zimmerman is a hero for eliminating another criminal from society.

  • EllieMurasaki


  • Katherine McChesney

    We don’t have a President. What we have is a racist, Muslim-loving, Marxist, fascist, bi-sexual in the White House.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Citations needed. And explain what’s wrong with Marxism, bisexuality, and treating Muslims like people while you’re at it.

  • Baby_Raptor

    It must be really sad to have to make up so much bullshit to demonize someone. Can’t you point to something he’s actually done that you dislike?

  • EllieMurasaki

    The sad thing is I doubt she can. Because she’d be perfectly fine with everything he’s doing if it were a white Republican doing it. Whereas I can go on about the NSA spying and the drone strikes and the not even putting single-payer on the debating table and ending up sticking us with Romneycare.

  • Baby_Raptor

    The fact that she mentioned Bisexuality makes me think we have a fundie on our hands. A lot of them default to lying about someone’s sexuality when they need a quick smear.

  • dpolicar

    Judging from a quick persusal of their comment history, I’d say Katherine isn’t interested in policy. It’s the tribal conflict they get off on.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which is extra sad, because I’m not ashamed to be bi, nor (I think) would I be ashamed to be gay, nor (I think) would I be ashamed to be straight except in the sense that that would make me complicit in the general oppression of queer people and I sure as hell hope I’d be ashamed of that. Nor should I be ashamed of my sexuality, nor should anyone else be ashamed of theirs, whatever it happens to be.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Because who needs facts, right? Sigh

  • How does your head not literally explode with all the hatred-baggage you seem to be carrying around?

  • It really looks like he was getting all revved up and ready to go all jets ablaze and then at the very last minute realized what a stupid thing he was about to do. I’ll give him that smidgen of credit for having a somewhat working brain to mouth filter.

  • You know what I love is how folks like you preach from within a faith whose basic tenet is that once the big boss comes back everybody will be at peace with one another.

    Yet you think so little of your fellow human beings you’re practically panting for more violence and more war as proof that human nature alone is incapable of superseding those impulses.

  • What a shame that the law requires us to wait for someone to actually commit a crime before we execute them. Otherwise, we could have people put down for just being that sort of people.

    Of course, I am talking about racist sacks of shit like you, not african americans who wear hooded sweatshirts.

  • Look, will you just roll out the N-word? We can all tell you’re dying to use it to describe the christian heterosexual corporate capitalist we actually elected.

  • there’s a lot of extra space in there.