Saturday, December 7, 2013

George Zimmerman, Rorschach Test

A lot of stuff has happened during my most recent blogging hiatus. In case you missed it, I want to reach back before Thanksgiving, when it was reported that George Zimmerman posted bond for yet another domestic violence incident. If you're trying to keep track, this one is separate from the incident that occurred with his wife earlier this year. The latest one is with a girlfriend. These two domestic violence cases since the trial verdict are on top of the various instances of documented or alleged violence Zimmerman was implicated in years ago.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has the appropriate response:
It may well be true that, against all his strivings, trouble stalks George Zimmerman. It may be true that George Zimmerman never pointed a shotgun at his girlfriend's face. That Ms. Scheibe smashed a table, took his stuff, started throwing it and then called 911 on herself. That she was simply being poetic when she said "you pointed your gun in my freaking face and told me get the fuck out" and then added "he knows how to do this. He knows how to play this game." 
And it may be true that in September when Zimmerman's estranged wife, Shelly Zimmerman, claimed that he had punched her father and threatened them with a gun she was embellishing*. That when she called 911 and said "I'm really afraid. I don't know what he's capable of. I'm really scared," she was suffering some form of hallucination. That Zimmerman had not smashed his wife's iPad. That it was his wife that assaulted him with it. That Shelly's father had challenged Zimmerman to a fight.
And it may well be true that Trayvon Martin was empowered by a heretofore unknown strain of marijuana which confers super strength. That in a fit of Negroid rage, a boy with no criminal history decided to ambush a hapless neighborhood watchman. That the boy told Zimmerman, "You gonna die tonight, motherfucker," punched him, banged his head against the concrete repeatedly and then reached for his gun. That in killing the boy, Zimmerman rid the world of a gun-runner and drug dealer
This case produced a lot of emotional reactions and jumping to conclusions, including from yours truly. There were some people who encouraged us not to jump to conclusions. That was wise. But I would argue that few took such a disinterested stance. Many were actively sympathizing with Zimmerman, or jumping to their own conclusions about why Zimmerman's actions might have been justified. And that sympathy was always bizarre. Zimmerman's story, as subsequent events have born out, never seemed plausible. 

Yet millions of people found Zimmerman to be a plausible or sympathetic figure. I could never escape the conviction that this plausibility/sympathy came down to two factors: lots of people like guns, and lots of people are suspicious of Black men. We knew all along that the plausibility of Zimmerman's story was vitally dependent upon the nature of his victim. Had his victim been a White upper-class high schooler on the honor roll, that sense of plausibility would have vanished. That is what made the defense of Zimmerman so hard for us to take. 

If anyone who has defended Zimmerman at the time has admitted that they were probably wrong, I would like to hear about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment