It was a sobering Sunday. Sobered by the awful truth that once again, the judicial system has failed us as a society. It is intended to do so from time to time. It needs be that way if we are to have a better than even chance of not convicting on whims and possibilities. But that does not lessen the pain in the individual case.
Progressives have a serious flaw in our desire for fairness, equality, and laws that “do no harm” to the greater number. We can only equate “us” to the great us of humanity, and humanity isn’t there yet. Confused?
It is seemingly a proven fact that the great march toward more “civilized” behavior is the product of the group, the tribe. We collect into groups for some purpose that seems to serve the individual, but along the way, the group can and does, when working properly, become more important than the self. It allows us to be altruistic, compassionate, and so forth even when not to our individual interests.
Failure to identify with a group leads to what Émile Durkheim’s called anomie wherein there is a mismatch between what the individual conceives of as societal norms and what the society does. In other words, people become adrift, and unconnected to the larger world about them. Progressives push for a world wherein everyone is provided for at some basic level. They stress the individual and they/we argue that “we” are one in our humanity–that is our group. Most of humanity is no where near that place in their own head. There are still too many “others” out there. So Progressives push for a world that the world is not yet ready for.
What has that got to do with Trayvon Martin? Nothing much, and almost everything if you will bear with me.
A young black male travels the streets of a neighborhood at night. He is “profiled” by a man who has self-styled himself as some sort of neighborhood sheriff, carrying his weapon, patrolling his self-designated neighborhood, looking for “bad” guys. He comes equipped with a radio to call the real police should he come upon one of his prey. He stalks the young man, until in fear the young man stops and confronts his stalker. Some sort of physical altercation ensues, and the wanna-be cop now succumbs to a fear of the youngster he stalks, and shoots and kills him.
A law allows him to do this. This law says that he can “stand his ground” if fearful for his personal safety. Even when that situation was entirely self-created. As one twittered or facebooked, “wow, I can pick out people I don’t like, stalk them until they turn to confront me, and then claim I’m scared and kill them. What a cool law!”
It’s a law brought to you by the NRA and ALEC. It is a law designed for white people who carry guns to avoid being prosecuted when they go too far (by normal understanding), killing unarmed people who may or may not be threatening them with a beating or worse. It has been passed in some twenty-five states as of this writing. Homicide rates have gone up 7-9% in the states that have passed such laws, proving that the killing is good in them. That translates to something like 500-700 more dead bodies. There is no proof at all that crime is reduced.
So where is the silver lining?
There is none really, not in terms of the facts, but I would argue that there is still good news out there to proclaim.
Were you outraged? Depressed? Sad? Were you surprised? If you were, any or all of these, AND if you hadn’t thought much about such things before, or considered them this bad, well, change has come your way.
If you believe that it is simply different to be young and black in America than it is to be white and young. If you believe that guns may not kill people but people with guns kill more people. If you believe that a stand your ground law is wrong on many levels since it rewards those who create their own terror from which to shoot from. If you were surprised that this was not at least manslaughter in the eyes of the law. If you were offended that Fox Noise continued throughout the trial to gin up the fear among whites that there would be rioting in the streets if Zimmerman were acquitted. If you were any of the above—
Join the ranks of those of us who have always known and believed these things. Join us in the tens of hundreds if that’s all “you” constitute. Perhaps “you” are tens of thousands. But you will remember and you will join an organization or be sure to vote next time. You have tipped over into a “group” whose success you now champion, something greater than self, something that is good for all.
And when you do, you add imperceptibly to the number needed to reach that magic number called the “tipping point” when we as a human family start seeing all of us as our group, our tribe.
If across the land the GOP remains engaged in the act of denying women the right to choose how to care for their own bodies and how to tend to them medically, and some tens of hundreds of women become enraged, and some tens of dozens join groups and vote accordingly, then they and you will add to that magic number called the “tipping point” when we as a human family start seeing all of us as our group, our tribe.
That is the civilization toward which I cast my vision. That is the future as I see it. It will come slower or faster than I hope, project, or believe, but it is inevitable I contend. We may lose ninety percent of the battles, but even in the losses we convert some, who become so disgusted with power misused and people abused that they join the HUMAN RACE.
The best remark I heard yesterday was “I dream of a time when a George Zimmerman rolls down his window and yelled, ‘hey kid, need a ride?’ to a young Trayvon Martin.” One day it will be a reality.
- Race, Justice, and the Political Economy of Vigilantism (concurringopinions.com)
- The Real Winners Of the Zimmerman Trial Were the NRA and ALEC (politicususa.com)
- Richard (RJ) Eskow: I’m Sorry, Trayvon, But We’ll Walk On (huffingtonpost.com)
- It IS About Race: Study Finds Significant Racial Bias In ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws (addictinginfo.org)