On Sunday, Feb. 26, while my son and I were watching the NBA All-Star Game on television at home, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old black male, was walking back to the home of his father’s fiancé in a gated Florida community. He was shot and killed by a member of a neighborhood watch group who had been following him. Martin was unarmed.
George Zimmerman admitted shooting Martin and claimed self-defense. He has not been charged by authorities.
The Sanford city police are reportedly unable to prosecute because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which gives people wide latitude to employ deadly force in self-defense.
In the last two weeks, Trayvon Martin’s death has created a modest uproar, to the point that both the state and federal governments are looking at investigations into the shooting.
President Obama weighed in, saying that if he had a son, “he’d look like Trayvon.”
Obama said, “all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen—and that means that we examine the laws and the context for what happened as well as the specifics of the incident.”
Later that day, Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum responded to Obama’s comments.
“Is the president suggesting if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it wouldn’t look like him?” Gingrich said on Sean Hannity’s radio show.
Santorum said something equally strange.
Geraldo Rivera said Trayvon Martin would not have been killed if he hadn’t been wearing a hoodie.
The Rev. Al Sharpton even made an appearance.
All of it made me really sad, and I suddenly felt very old and tired.
We don’t know all of the facts. Maybe Martin threatened Zimmerman.
Only two people know, and one of them is dead.
But we know why it happened.
A black male teenager in a hoodie walking through a residential area nice enough to have gates.
In a perfect world, no one would think Trayvon Martin looked suspicious.
But this isn’t a perfect world.
Women were given the right to vote in 1920; racial segregation was deemed unconstitutional in 1954. Our country has been at war continuously for over a decade.
We still have a long way to go before we can peacefully coexist with one another.
I wish I could be more patient with the evolution of mankind, but I have a finite amount of time, and I would really like to experience a world where it’s not a capital crime to purchase some Skittles and an ice tea.
Instead, I get a bunch of angry talking heads, and that’s supposed to pass for civilized debate.
Gingrich’s comment was tasteless and classless, and he’s the guy in third place to represent the U.S. as a Republican president?
That’s the best we’ve got?
I used to think I would live to see the day when no one needed a gun.
Now I think I may make it to the point that everyone has one.