My flight home yesterday wasn’t great. I was generally feeling exhausted, and then in the airport, I made the mistake of watching the giant televisions they mount all over the waiting areas. You know, the giant televisions that apparently represent American political thought to every person on the planet who happens to travel through one of our airports. And the news was all about Trayvon Martin. Not about the injustice of a young black man being killed in the prime of his life; not about ghastly gun laws that justify murder; not about the bigotry of the police, who saw a dead black man and a vigilante standing over him, and shrugged their shoulders and let the vigilante walk away; no, different concerns engaged our brilliant news media.
Trayvon Martin had been discovered with an empty baggie that once contained marijuana. Uh, what? Does that matter? Are we now going to declare that past trivial legal offenses justify the death penalty now? If I gunned down that odious racist Dan Riehl, I think I could trust that a little digging would discover that perhaps he had a parking ticket somewhere in his sordid past, or perhaps he shaved the truth on his tax returns. I don’t know of any such crimes, but I’m confident that we could find something ex post facto to slime his reputation and rationalize anything I might do to him. That is, if I thought I was commissioned to act as an executioner for crimes that have not been tried, with the right to deliver the Maximum Penalty for even the pettiest of crimes.
It’s all very Judge Dredd.
And that’s not all! Maybe you’ve seen the usual photo of Trayvon Martin as a smiling young kid in a t-shirt; that’s a sneaky effort used by “hysterical race baiters” to portray him as a normal human being, which he isn’t, because he’s black. So they’ve ginned up photos of random black teenagers (they all look the same, you know) in sagging pants and posturing rudely, all to show how the real Martin conforms to their stereotypes. Or they show other photos of Martin when he’s wearing a hoodie and not smiling…because the sullen black man is dangerous. He better be smiling, and even prancing and singing, or apparently he deserves to be shot.
This seems to be the new strategy of the racist right: if they can show that Trayvon Martin wasn’t like Beaver Cleaver, then they can justify the murder. Trayvon Martin’s crime was not being white enough. They’re going to use this incident to put the whole of black culture — every bit of that diverse group that doesn’t conform to the mandatory Dick and Jane universe — on trial. Black Americans, you better practice smiling real big; you better put away that Wu-Tang Clan stuff and learn to love 1001 Strings and Pat Boone.
That was my ten minutes of outrage in the airport. It made me wonder whether black people might feel a little bit estranged when they step into a giant building like that with huge screens everywhere blaring racist apologetics.
I tuned it out before I ripped the armrest off my chair and started smashing expensive electronics everywhere, and turned to my iPad and the soothing rationality of the internet.
Then I read Jezebel.
OK, people, did you really think pointing me to Crommunist’s post would make me feel better?