Zimmerman News Coverage Has Turned Favorable

When Trayvon Martin was killed during a physical struggle with George Zimmerman, the mainstream media discovered, from the Martin family, that six weeks after death, George the survivor had not been arrested and charged. So our print and broadcast reporters took sides by supporting what I can only call a racist reaction from the black community and its so-called leaders, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Calypso Louie Farrakhan, and of course, our president, Barry "You Can Call Me Barack" Soetoro. Rallies were organized across the country, stories made up, and the New Black Panthers put a million dollar bounty on George Zimmerman's head.

Thanks to some very fine research and analysis performed by two exceptional bloggers, Tom Maguire at his JustOneMinute blog and Jeralyn Merritt, who blogs at TalkLeft, the truth about the tragic incident has begun to trickle out.  It now appears that Tom and Jeralyn, with the help of other bloggers, exposed the emotionalism of the leftist black community and has encouraged some media reporters to look into the events that ultimately ended in the unfortunate death of Trayvon Martin.

Chris Francescani of Reuters did some original interviewing with friends, relatives, acquaintances and neighbors of George Zimmerman.  His recent articles need to read for a complete background picture of George's family and the events that ended Trayvon's life.  When you get through it all, the impression left is that George Zimmerman has compiled a record of helping people. I do not need to summarize Chris' writings because Tom Maguire already has done so:

Jiminy - Reuters has a long profile of George Zimmerman and we learn in the lead that he got his gun permit and gun because a neighbor wouldn't control his large, menacing pit bull:
(Reuters) - A pit bull named Big Boi began menacing George and Shellie Zimmerman in the fall of 2009.
The first time the dog ran free and cornered Shellie in their gated community in Sanford, Florida, George called the owner to complain. The second time, Big Boi frightened his mother-in-law's dog. Zimmerman called Seminole County Animal Services and bought pepper spray. The third time he saw the dog on the loose, he called again. An officer came to the house, county records show.
"Don't use pepper spray," he told the Zimmermans, according to a friend. "It'll take two or three seconds to take effect, but a quarter second for the dog to jump you," he said.
"Get a gun."
That November, the Zimmermans completed firearms training at a local lodge and received concealed-weapons gun permits. In early December, another source close to them told Reuters, the couple bought a pair of guns. George picked a Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm handgun, a popular, lightweight weapon.
Oh, man - if only the First Dog Diner had been around in September 2009.  We can hear him now - "If I had a dog it would look like Big Boi and Big Boi would look like dinner."
The real juice in the story is a bit later, where Reuters describes the crime wave that had vexed the Retreat at Twin Lakes. Two snippets:
Though civil rights demonstrators have argued Zimmerman should not have prejudged Martin, one black neighbor of the Zimmermans said recent history should be taken into account.
"Let's talk about the elephant in the room. I'm black, OK?" the woman said, declining to be identified because she anticipated backlash due to her race. She leaned in to look a reporter directly in the eyes. "There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood," she said. "That's why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin."
And one of the burglaries was unusually upsetting:
At least eight burglaries were reported within Twin Lakes in the 14 months prior to the Trayvon Martin shooting, according to the Sanford Police Department. Yet in a series of interviews, Twin Lakes residents said dozens of reports of attempted break-ins and would-be burglars casing homes had created an atmosphere of growing fear in the neighborhood.
But it was the August incursion into the home of Olivia Bertalan that really troubled the neighborhood, particularly Zimmerman. Shellie was home most days, taking online courses towards certification as a registered nurse.
On August 3, Bertalan was at home with her infant son while her husband, Michael, was at work. She watched from a downstairs window, she said, as two black men repeatedly rang her doorbell and then entered through a sliding door at the back of the house. She ran upstairs, locked herself inside the boy's bedroom, and called a police dispatcher, whispering frantically.
"I said, 'What am I supposed to do? I hear them coming up the stairs!'" she told Reuters. Bertalan tried to coo her crying child into silence and armed herself with a pair of rusty scissors.
Police arrived just as the burglars - who had been trying to disconnect the couple's television - fled out a back door. Shellie Zimmerman saw a black male teen running through her backyard and reported it to police.
After police left Bertalan, George Zimmerman arrived at the front door in a shirt and tie, she said. He gave her his contact numbers on an index card and invited her to visit his wife if she ever felt unsafe. He returned later and gave her a stronger lock to bolster the sliding door that had been forced open.
"He was so mellow and calm, very helpful and very, very sweet," she said last week. "We didn't really know George at first, but after the break-in we talked to him on a daily basis. People were freaked out. It wasn't just George calling police ... we were calling police at least once a week."
I guess he didn't come off as an annoying contol [sic] freak at that moment.
This is the second recent 'new perspective' story from Reuters. Obviously, this might have been more helpful in easing our national blood pressure had it been run last March, but hey.
I will add that I read about the home invasion back when the City of Sanford had more of their police reports online. The prosecutor asked to have them taken down; they live online, but where? In the Google Cache, of course, and now also here: TwinLakesBurglaryReports; the home invasion is p. 13.
The Tampa Bay Times wrote about a neighborhood in transition battered by falling home prices and crime back on March 25. I do not think the Tampa Bay Times crime stat jibes with the Reuters numbers, but here we go:
For the first two months of this year, at the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the Sanford police logged 51 calls for service. Half were just people requesting information. The others included eight burglaries, two bike thefts and three simple assaults.
Special Prosecutor Angela Corey has bit off more than she can chew with the 2nd Degree Murder charge against Zimmerman.  She didn't even get out of a bail hearing unscathed.  Now she needs to find an easy way to drop the unsustainable charges against a defendant who should never have been charged in the first place. Commenting on the prosecutor's arrest affidavit, Jeralyn wrote:
Every affidavit tells a story, and this one was about projecting motive onto Zimmerman. It's all his feelings, perceptions and assumptions, portraying him as someone who profiled people he unjustly "felt" and "assumed' were criminals. Whatever happened to objectively stating the facts? Apparently they don't count for much in the state prosecutor's office.

Brits Burning Over Smoking Ban Bull

original work by David Hockney for the Mail
Daily Mail columnists enjoy a refreshing freedom to write what they think without fearing the pressure of political correctness. I do not mean that the British press is without bias, I simply am pointing out that one opinion is not pounced upon by another journalist in order to make themselves the news.

Case in point is Steve Doughty's attack on the persecution of smokers. He points out that under the law there are forms of self murder that are supported or ignored but death by smoking is simply not permitted.
There are two ways to damage yourself: the ways which are condoned by the Government and the ways which are not.

These two categories do not necessarily align with the laws of the land, but the law is a flexible instrument these days, enforced only where the authorities concerned choose to enforce it.

So if you want to harm your health by taking illegal drugs, be pleased to go ahead. If heroin is your poison, Whitehall ministries have in recent years established needle exchanges to help you with the required equipment and shooting galleries which have provided junkies with the finest ingredients to feed their habit. [. . . ]

If you wish to drink yourself to death, a preferred option of a good proportion of the population, the Government will merely tax you on your way.
But as we have found here in the states, tobacco smokers are second class citizens subject to "thou shalt not" laws everywhere.  Mr. Doughty's classic description of the real world of tobacco smokers follows:
I hold no brief for the tobacco industry or for any part of the smoking lobby. I fully accept that smoking is highly dangerous to the health of the smoker. I know that a large number of people, perhaps even a majority, regard smoking as unpleasant and they don’t want smokers around them.

None of this justifies the absurd persecution of smokers that is beginning to stink more than a pub’s worth of used ashtrays.

The retreat of smokers from offices, shops, factories and restaurants during the 1990s was broadly popular and widely welcomed. But why did the 2007 anti-smoking legislation have to ban smoking rooms in office blocks? The smokers who used them could not conceivably have been harming anyone else.

Why was it necessary to ban smoking in all pubs and restaurants, even those that wanted to provide a haven for smokers? The pretext for this was that it was important to protect bar and restaurant staff from the dangers of passive smoking.

Passive smoking remains no more than an assertion backed by the force of the nanny state. There is no serious evidence that people who do not smoke are harmed by tobacco smoke in the general atmosphere. It is just something we are expected to believe.

The idea that bar staff might choose whether they wanted to work in a smokers’ pub or otherwise is not entertained in this thinking. They appear to live under different rules from Christians, whom the Government is now advising to go find another job if their employer is unwilling to allow them to wear a token of their beliefs.
Perhaps the only argument that Doughty missed was the imposition of government fiat that amounts to trespass against the private property rights of business owners.  That I think is understandable since the march of socialism has been tolerated in Europe for far longer than Americans have experienced - but we are getting there as highlighted by New York's extension of smoking bans to outdoor venues. Now the nanny-staters even want to regulate fake cigarettes.

Orwell's "1984" scenario is upon us, complete with government propaganda about second-class smoke being harmful because Big Brother says it is. In jolly old England, Parliament is about to ban cigarette brands. Yes, you can buy Marlboro, but the package cannot have a proper  logo.  And in Indiana, a state-wide smoking ban was passed by a Republican legislature without much debate and immediately signed by our so-called conservative governor, Mitch Daniels.

Shelby Steele: The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin

The Wall Street Journal is carrying a piece written by one of America's foremost authorities on race relations, Shelby Steele.  Mr. Steele is a conservative black man whose most recent book is "White Guilt." I found this interview with Dr. Steele conducted by Peter Robinson back in 2001 which explains the man. When you finish reading the WSJ article, I am sure that you will agree with me that this one of the few sane discussions that has been written on the Trayvon Martin case.

ROBINSON: Shelby, let me quote you. "Today ideology is identity, thus it is not altogether absurd for President Clinton to consider himself black." Explain.
STEELE: Since the 1960s the black American identity has moved away from a culturally based identity to a highly politicized identity that is focused on the idea of government programs, government preferences, and a kind of preferential liberalism. To be black in America today means that you must subscribe to preferential liberalism, and if you don’t then your identity itself is kept from you. The black conservative who does not agree with preferential liberalism is by definition not black. So we say Clarence Thomas is not black, Colin Powell is marginally black, and Condoleezza Rice is marginal.
ROBINSON: And Shelby Steele?
STEELE: Shelby Steele is probably not black because I’m against the use of racial preferences. That political position in effect denies me my racial identity. Racial identity—it’s why we see 90-some percent of the black vote coming out for whatever Democrat runs for president.

The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin

The absurdity of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton is that they want to make a movement out of an anomaly. Black teenagers today are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites.

Two tragedies are apparent in the Trayvon Martin case. The first is obvious: A teenager—unarmed and committing no crime—was shot dead. Dressed in a "hoodie," a costume of menace, he crossed paths with a man on the hunt for precisely such clich├ęs of menace. Added to this—and here is the rub—was the fact of his dark skin.

Maybe it was more the hood than the dark skin, but who could argue that the skin did not enhance the menace of the hood at night and in the eyes of someone watching for crime. (Fifty-five percent of all federal prisoners are black though we are only 12% of the population.) Would Trayvon be alive today had he been walking home—Skittles and ice tea in hand—wearing a polo shirt with an alligator logo? Possibly. And does this make the ugly point that dark skin late at night needs to have its menace softened by some show of Waspy Americana? Possibly.

What is fundamentally tragic here is that these two young males first encountered each other as provocations. Males are males, and threat often evokes a narcissistic anger that skips right past reason and into a will to annihilate: "I will take you out!" There was a terrible fight. Trayvon apparently got the drop on George Zimmerman, but ultimately the man with the gun prevailed. Annihilation was achieved.

If this was all there was to it, the Trayvon/Zimmerman story would be no more than a cautionary tale, yet another admonition against the hair-trigger male ego. But this story brought reaction from the White House: "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon," said the president. The Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, ubiquitous icons of black protest, virtually battled each other to stand at the bereaved family's side—Mr. Jackson, in a moment of inadvertent honesty, saying, "There is power in blood . . . we must turn a moment into a movement." And then there was the spectacle of black Democrats in Congress holding hearings on racial profiling with Trayvon's parents featured as celebrities.

In fact Trayvon's sad fate clearly sent a quiver of perverse happiness all across America's civil rights establishment, and throughout the mainstream media as well. His death was vindication of the "poetic truth" that these establishments live by. Poetic truth is like poetic license where one breaks grammatical rules for effect. Better to break the rule than lose the effect. Poetic truth lies just a little; it bends the actual truth in order to highlight what it believes is a larger and more important truth.

The civil rights community and the liberal media live by the poetic truth that America is still a reflexively racist society, and that this remains the great barrier to black equality. But this "truth" has a lot of lie in it. America has greatly evolved since the 1960s. There are no longer any respectable advocates of racial segregation. And blacks today are nine times more likely to be killed by other blacks than by whites.

If Trayvon Martin was a victim of white racism (hard to conceive since the shooter is apparently Hispanic), his murder would be an anomaly, not a commonplace. It would be a bizarre exception to the way so many young black males are murdered today. If there must be a generalization in all this—a call "to turn the moment into a movement"—it would have to be a movement against blacks who kill other blacks. The absurdity of Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton is that they want to make a movement out of an anomaly. Black teenagers today are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites.

So the idea that Trayvon Martin is today's Emmett Till, as the Rev. Jackson has said, suggests nothing less than a stubborn nostalgia for America's racist past. In that bygone era civil rights leaders and white liberals stood on the highest moral ground. They literally knew themselves—given their genuine longing to see racism overcome—as historically transformative people. If the world resisted them, as it surely did, it only made them larger than life.

It was a time when standing on the side of the good required true selflessness and so it ennobled people. And this chance to ennoble oneself through a courageous moral stand is what so many blacks and white liberals miss today—now that white racism is such a defeated idea. There is a nostalgia for that time when posture alone ennobled. So today even the hint of old-fashioned raw racism excites with its potential for ennoblement.

For the Revs. Jackson and Sharpton, for the increasingly redundant civil rights establishment, for liberal blacks and the broader American left, the poetic truth that white racism is somehow the real culprit in this tragedy is redemption itself. The reason Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have become such disreputable figures on our cultural landscape is that they are such quick purveyors of poetic truth rather than literal truth.

The great trick of poetic truth is to pass itself off as the deep and essential truth so that hard facts that refute it must be dismissed in the name of truth. O.J. Simpson was innocent by the poetic truth that the justice system is stacked against blacks. Trayvon was a victim of racist stereotyping—though the shooter never mentioned his race until asked to do so.

There is now a long litany of racial dust-ups—from Tawana Brawley to the Duke University lacrosse players to the white Cambridge police officer who arrested Harvard professor Skip Gates a summer ago—in which the poetic truth of white racism and black victimization is invoked so that the actual truth becomes dismissible as yet more racism.

When the Cambridge cop or the Duke lacrosse players or the men accused of raping Tawana Brawley tried to defend themselves, they were already so stained by poetic truth as to never be entirely redeemed. No matter the facts—whether Trayvon Martin was his victim or his assailant—George Zimmerman will also never be entirely redeemed.

And this points to the second tragedy that Trayvon's sad demise highlights. Before the 1960s the black American identity (though no one ever used the word) was based on our common humanity, on the idea that race was always an artificial and exploitive division between people. After the '60s—in a society guilty for its long abuse of us—we took our historical victimization as the central theme of our group identity. We could not have made a worse mistake.

It has given us a generation of ambulance-chasing leaders, and the illusion that our greatest power lies in the manipulation of white guilt. The tragedy surrounding Trayvon's death is not in the possibility that it might have something to do with white racism; the tragedy is in the lustfulness with which so many black leaders, in conjunction with the media, have leapt to exploit his demise for their own power.

Mr. Steele is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Among his books is "White Guilt" (Harper/Collins, 2007).

A version of this article appeared April 5, 2012, on page A15 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin.

Local Racism In The Trayvon Martin Case

Today I opened my browser to read Frost, Illustrated - Fort Wayne, Indiana's weekly black newspaper. I was greeted, of course, with the local news surrounding the Sanford, FL killing of a black teenager in February by a "white Hispanic" Neighborhood Watch captain. Everyone has read about the case, bur I want to add some comments after first describing what I believe is "race-baiting" in Fort Wayne.

The Frost, Illustrated headlines read: "Indy, Fort Wayne citizens stand up for justice in Trayvon Martin case."  Then the article, written by Nikki Tabron-Booker, most likely an activist, went on to describe a rally in Indianapolis which was intent upon showing support for the claim that justice is not being served with regard to the shooting death of the teenager. The news story is fair game, but the details presented focused on the emotions of the speakers and the mob, not the known (and for that matter any unknown) facts in the case. Conducting rallies that recognize only selected or sometimes misunderstood "facts" is forgivable but failure on the part of the media to present both sides of the controversy is not acceptable.  The one-sided version was sparse:

As a general consensus, the feeling of discontent over the mishandling of Trayvon Martin's case has lead supporters to question the Sanford police department. As of today, Zimmerman, the admitted shooter, has not been charged in the teen's death. Zimmerman has claimed he was only acting in self defense and has now went into hiding for fear of his life. With a hefty bounty attached to his head now, Zimmerman has made public his remorse for his actions. Despite this somber statement, his defense team states that there is other evidence that will support Zimmerman's claim to self-defense. No charges have been made due to Florida's controversial "stand your ground," law ...
What followed was opinion by local black leaders: Fort Wayne NAACP President Paulette Nellems bemoaned the fact that George Zimmerman, the shooter had not been arrested and went on to infer that similar incidents happened all the time here; Rev. Phillip Johnson flat out accused authorities here and across the nation of "racial profiling;  Even Rev. Carlton Lynch's prayer about the negative persona given off by black youths because of their clothes choices was not germane to the issue at hand. A "peace activist " attacked the "stand your ground" law and a pastor praised the local rally as a driver of "intelligent discourse!"

That is about all that was said and covered - except Frost Illustrated added a special report from Rev. Bill McGill who is "Tired of People Operating On Dangerous Assumptions." It soon became obvious that it was he who was making "dangerous assumptions." First he celebrated  the words of Martin Luther King which criticized race solidarity in war, followed by race separation in peace and then McGill  decried that our first black president had not solved our racism problem.

It was all downhill from there. Reverend McGill and Frost Illustrated have decided that this whole incident is racism.  McGill cited Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, who said that “it does not matter how often a Negro washes his hands, then, he cannot clean them, and it does not matter how often a white man uses his hands he cannot soil them.” The Reverend missed that the unbiased Woodson also saw race relations as "the Negroes do the co-ing and the whites the operating."

But wait -  Bill McGill was not done yet.  His theme, which took on a sense of rhyme popular with Reverends M.L. King and Jesse Jackson was suddenly that the address where the shooting took place was 1111 Retreat View Circle.
A retreat view, where in the words of Debra J. Dickerson, “whites insist on seeing themselves as America and entitled; therefore, to equate their good with the common good, their preferences with justice. Deviation from their preferences is inherently dangerous, fragmentary and wrong.”
A retreat view, where one George Zimmerman decided this young black man was out of place and invading his space, so he decided to take him out and created a scenario with no evidence to trace.
Unfortunately, he’s using the usual alarm that “a black man was about to do me harm.”
We should be tired of hearing this same old song when history tells us it’s almost always wrong.
We should be tired of people who operate from a dangerous set of assumptions that continue to lead us down the path of racial disruptions.
We must rid our nation of this immoral psychology that continues to denigrate people based on their racial biology.
We must abandon our nice and safe-sounding phrases and concede that we are still stuck in some racially unseemly phases.
We must move from retreat view and repeat view or forever be destined to live on defeat view.
I can only conclude that blacks cannot get past the meme that whites are out to get them.  Is that reverse racism?  If I were to ask, I likely would find that not one of the black leaders that I wrote about here would believe that George Zimmerman was not a racist.  They probably don't know or care that Zimmerman's most public defender early on, was a black journalist, Joe Oliver. Neither would participants in this rally believe that George Zimmerman actually organized a campaign to help a homeless black man who had been brutalized by a Sanford policeman.  It also matters not that an eye witness, "John," interviewed last January has testified that Trayvon Martin was atop Zimmerman, beating him - just prior to the shooting.  News breaking today includes a Sanford police report that George Zimmerman had passed a voice stress test at the time of the shooting which proved that he was telling the truth.

One final point:  the timeline of the movement of Martin and Zimmerman through the housing complex would indicate that Martin arrived at the walk leading to the condo that he was staying in, ahead of Zimmerman's arrival at the intersection of that walk and Twin Trees Lane in his vehicle.  My take is that Trayvon, had he simply continued to his condo destination, would be alive today.

A Populist Is Not About Popularity

Richard Hofstadter, an anti-capitalist and former member of the Communist Party, had a faulty viewpoint of American history (sad for an historian). In the 1950s, he firmly believed that an uprising of "right-wing fascists from the mid-west" would overthrow the liberal status politics elitism of the times (obviously, no on told him that fascism is not likely to be a right-wing concept.)

McCarthyism loomed large in the background of Hofstadter's ... book, The Age of Reform, published in 1955. There, Hofstadter searched the past for the roots of the "conspiracy theory" and "paranoid tendencies" that he saw in popular anti-Communism. [...]

Hofstadter's argument that the historical roots of McCarthyism lay in the Populist tradition ... is simply wrong. He argued that the Populist movement of the 1890s was deeply irrational and essentially protofascist. The Populists saw the principal source of injustice and economic suffering in rural America in what they called "the money power." In Hofstadter's analysis, this was evidence of irrational paranoia, of "psychic disturbances." [...]

Hofstadter's "status politics" thesis held that the Populists were driven to irrationality and paranoia by anxiety over their declining status in an America where rural life and its values were being supplanted by an urban industrial society. Populism, in this view, was a form of reactionary resistance to modernity. [...]

In 1967 Michael Rogin published a powerful book, The Intellectuals and McCarthy: The Radical Specter, showing that the people who voted for McCarthy, by and large, were not former Populists but rather upper-middle-class suburban Republicans. And it was not just leftists like Williams and Rogin who questioned Hofstadter's "status politics" thesis. One of C. Vann Woodward's greatest essays, "The Populist Heritage and the Intellectual," insisted that the Populist program of the 1890s was far from irrational, that the Populists were not proto-McCarthyites, that many McCarthy supporters came from "college-bred, established-wealth, old family" sources. But if Hofstadter's argument was challenged effectively at the time, his anxiety about an American fascism stayed with him for the rest of his life.
The latest assessment of the agrarian Populism movement of the late 19th century comes from Professor Charles Postel's "The Populist Vision."
Postel suggests that the Populists took an approach toward the crushing inequalities of the Guilded Age [in] America that, in essence, said, "If you can't beat 'em , join 'em." In other words, Populists, by championing what they called "business methods," embraced science, bureaucracy, and the power of the emerging national state in an attempt to fashion a version of capitalism more humane and equitable than the one that seemingly left farmers and laborers behind.
In terms of today's conservative viewpoint, these Populists advanced many of today's socialistic concepts involving "the subtreasury plan to solve the problems of farm credit, commodity prices and a contracted currency" as well as promoting labor unions.  Suddenly, America's largest and most influential lobbyist groups were formed - and our liberties have suffered since that time. The Department of Agriculture, formed to lavishly support America's farmers is expected to spend in excess of $90 billion in 2012, much of it to remove all risk from farm operations. For this largess, our farmers are subjected to incredibly detailed rules and often stupid regulations.

Anyway you slice it, Populist, the movement, has left-wing roots. Unfortunately the un-capitalized version of the noun, has a broader, far more encompassing definition that essentially makes almost any politician (at least those who propose any political change) a "populist."  So it seems that we must find a new word to remove the negative connotations from "populist."