Monday, March 25, 2013

Racism and the Zimmerman family

Racism is when people make negative or derogatory, instead of looking at people as individuals.  It is all about disparaging assumptions.  Sometimes this is directed at an entire race or gender, other times it is directed as a subset of people in a distinct group.

That is true of many of the assumptions and generalities expressed on the right and especially by some of the more rabid talking heads and bloggers.  And now we see it expressed in the Zimmerman family, a continuation of the obvious racism of George Zimmerman's assumption that all black teens were criminals. His brother shares that bias, that prejudice, that ugly assumption about black teen-aged males, missing the key differences, the differences which are not obvious.

Trayvon Martin did not have a criminal record, he did not have a history of violence, he was a good student, he was unarmed and minding his own business on the night he was apparently murdered by George Zimmerman, returning home with a container of ice tea and skittles, harming no one, behaving perfectly legally.  Trayvon Martin was as much a victim of this internal hatred and fear inside George Zimmerman, qualities shared by his brother, as he was a victim of gun violence.

People who think this way are incapable of distinguishing anything else about individuals other than those things they assume and believe, that act as filters to their perceptions. Nothing that Trayvon Martin could have done would have changed these assumptions and perceptions and hateful bias that equates all black male teens as the same, as evil and criminal.  This is part of the problem with the judgment of men with guns, this is why they are inherently incapable too much of the time in forming valid assessments of when it is appropriate to use lethal force -- they are incapable of seeing clearly, of discerning valid differences between individuals.

It is at the core of the epic failure of our gun culture that relies on flawed individual judgment without the checks, balances and oversight that we have for those in positions of those we authorize to use force, and whom we insure against errors and inequities.  It is not that the authority of law enforcement is without error, but rather the difference in accountability and resources for compensation to at least attempt to redress wrongs. Individuals like George Zimmerman feel empowered by firearms to be punitive and coercive, as some sort of authority or superior, to other human beings who are entirely their equals, and over whom they have no such authority and no real superiority.

It explains why George Zimmerman exceeded the directions of the police when forming a neighborhood watch, and why George Zimmerman flouted the instructions of the 911 dispatcher. He didn't want to relinquish his imaginary notion that he could order Trayvon Martin around, that he could try to make himself superior and act as an authority at his expense.  When you have to try to boost your own self-image by bossing around a kid, you're a pretty pathetic human being, apparently from an equally hateful right wing family that thinks the same way. It is part of the gun carrying appeal, of the vigilantism appeal. These racists attempt to justify their racism by exaggerating threats, by exaggerating, for example, any misconduct by Trayvon Martin that would not raise much of an eyebrow with them if it was something done by a middle class white kid, male or female.

It makes the claims of not being a racist show all the more clearly why that is so very thoroughly deserved by the brothers Zimmerman. This is why we distrust the judgment of those who carry other than law enforcement, this is why we see those people - mostly men - as being weak, fearful and badly flawed, as being incapable of making the important distinctions, or even to be able to acknowledge that such differences exist and can exist, and as posing a public danger for reacting emotionally rather than rationally. It makes me question as well the impartiality of their father as a judge; certainly this kind of thinking explains, at least partially, the disproportionate number of black males behind bars too.

Here we have the other Zimmerman brother doing the same thing, trying to equate dissimilar conduct and individuals who are only similar in the most superficial characteristics as the same, when they were not the same in any serious, substantive way. It is the epitome of the epic fail of conservatives, of gun culture, of right wing Americans.

From Think Progress: George Zimmerman’s Brother: ‘Black Teens’ Are Killers

en on Mar 25, 2013 at 9:04 am
Since he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year, George Zimmerman has been trying to convince the public that he was not acting simply out of racist aggression but because Martin attacked him. Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr, is not helping his cause. On Saturday, Zimmerman went on a Twitter tirade against “black teens,” equating the boy killed by his brother with De’Marquise Elkins, the 17-year-old suspect in the murder of a Georgia infant.
As highlighted by Mediaite, Zimmerman tweeted a photo comparison between Elkins and Martin flipping their middle fingers with the caption, “A picture speaks a thousand words…Any questions?”

Zimmerman tweeted the photo at Michael Moore, the NAACP, the NRA, and a editor. He followed it up with another comparison between the two, tweeting “Teen to West: “Do you want me to shoot your baby?” #TrayvonMartin to #GeorgeZimmerman: You’re gonna die tonight Motherf**ker.”
In case the reason for his comparison of the two young black men was unclear, Zimmerman later tweeted:
Robert Zimmerman Jr @rzimmermanjr
.@TheRealPest @michaelskolnik - Lib media shld ask if what these2 black teens did 2 a woman&baby is the reason ppl think blacks mightB risky
33 Retweets 4 favorites 
Trayvon Martin was unarmed when Zimmerman allegedly followed him and shot him. He had no criminal record. Zimmerman had a history of calling the police to report suspicious black individuals, one as young as 7-9 years old. By his brother’s logic, this frequent suspicion of black people was not due to prejudice but because black people pose a genuine and constant threat to everyone around them.
Zimmerman’s trial is scheduled for June 10.

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