President Obama gave a brief speech regarding the Trayvon Martin verdict and outcome. I have no doubt it was heartfelt; I would only comment on a couple of points:
First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin…
It would seem to me appropriate to at least recognize the trauma for George Zimmerman and his family. I in no way equate the situation of the two, however it cannot be denied that his life and the life of his family is also changed forever; he will always live at personal risk.
The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.
Obama could absolutely do something about this – repeal all federal drug laws. Setting aside the more principled reason – if one does not have property in his own body, there is no property – the laws are designed to invade the lives of the public; give the police reason to search where there otherwise would be none. This is disproportionately aimed at minority populations.
Now, this isn’t to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.
I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.
It was statements like these that gave some balance to his speech. Pat Buchanan addressed just these issues here.
I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the “stand your ground” laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case. On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?
Would the same apply to those who wear badges?
And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I’d just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?
But he was armed – not with a gun, but with his fists. According to evidence, Martin stood his ground by beating Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk. A firearm does not have to be involved, does it?
And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?
The jury did not find that Martin was justified in standing his ground; else they would have found Zimmerman guilty of being the aggressor.
Number three — and this is a long-term project — we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African American boys.
Stop subsidizing dysfunctional behavior. Children born out of wedlock should not result in reward to the mother and allow for avoiding responsibility by the father. Leave such care in the hands of private citizens, churches, and voluntary community action. This is not only an African American issue; it is an issue wherever such behavior is subsidized.
Stop turning non-violent drug users into hardened criminals. How many fathers are locked up in prison for such non-violent crimes, kept away from their sons?
There is no doubt that the African American community is disadvantaged. Much of this comes directly from the federal government in the forms of drug laws and in the form of subsidizing dysfunctional behavior. Obama looks at the federal government as a source of positive change toward minorities. Perhaps he should consider the significant harm caused by it instead.
He could do something about this.