Trayvon Martin, Bob Dylan, and Racial Harassment: Opposing the Demagogues

Trying to write a column about race and crime is somewhat like trying to walk gingerly through a minefield. Trying to write a column about race and crime when you’re white is rather akin to running through a minefield with heavy snowboots on. And trying to write a column about race and crime when you’re a white conservative is entirely like stomping through a minefield while covered in gasoline, holding a lit match, and hooked to a Kevorkian machine.

In other words, there’s a good chance it’ll be the end of you.

Yet still, since we have an attorney general who has berated Americans for being “cowards” for not speaking honestly about racial matters, I will forge ahead through this minefield, content in the knowledge that Eric Holder’s admonition to the country is all I’ll need to shield me from any criticism this article engenders (um, right?).

We don’t know exactly what happened in the immediate moments leading up to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin on February 26th. We don’t know to what extent George Zimmerman provoked Martin, or to what extent Martin’s anger at feeling “followed” by Zimmerman helped turn the confrontation physical.

At this point, we just don’t know.

But what we do know, what is clear from the 911 tapes, and from a phone call between Martin and a female friend, is that Zimmerman, against the wishes of police, was trailing Martin, and Martin, who was aware of his “tail,” was feeling unwelcome merely passing through a neighborhood on his way back from the store.

And if that’s all we know with certainty at the moment, that’s more than enough. Because, to the multitudes of angry black community leaders and politicians, the “big picture” here is the fact that Martin was made to feel as though he had no right to simply walk, unmolested, through a local neighborhood. When conservatives attempt to argue that there is no “bigger picture,” that this is simply the story of the actions of one man (Zimmerman), and possibly the reaction of another man (Martin), bringing about a terrible tragedy, many black Americans would answer, “no, it’s a bigger story than that – we feel unwelcome, we feel threatened, when we pass through certain neighborhoods.”

Indeed, that was the point of the lead story on the NBC Nightly News on March 21st – the “victimization” that black Americans encounter when passing through unfamiliar or “white” neighborhoods.

The Trayvon Martin incident is the type of story that liberal black politicians and “community leaders” count on in order to reinforce the “group victimization”-think that the left has fostered in the black community for decades. Unlike the economy, unemployment, foreign policy, the national debt, gas prices, or healthcare, this is the kind of issue guaranteed to get typically non-vocal black Americans angry, energized, and marching in the streets. Indeed, in the past two days, I have seen angry posts on Facebook from every single one of my left-leaning or apolitical black friends. Folks who haven’t posted word-one about politics since congratulating Obama on his election victory, have been brought to vocal anger by the Martin story.

That “group victimization” seed, planted and so lovingly watered by the left year after year, is again bearing fruit. President Obama understood this when he decided to comment on the case from the White House. Others are commenting, too. “Blacks are under attack,” screamed Reverend Jesse Jackson. Black people are “being hunted down, beaten and lynched” by “everyday citizens,” Al Sharpton wrote in the Huffington Post, adding, “I’m still waiting for the day that young black men and women can walk freely in any neighborhood without fearing for their lives.” Not to be outdone, Louis Farrakhan cryptically threatened “retaliation” for the Martin incident.

What I intend to argue here is that perhaps what we all need at the moment is a bit of perspective. That sense of “victimization,” of not feeling welcome in a strange city or town, or in your own city or town, of feeling “at risk” simply because of your race when all you’re doing is carrying out the mundane chores of your daily life, is not uniquely black.

One bit of “perspective” I’d like to start out with is that, in the wake of Martin’s death, the blogosphere has exploded with liberals rewriting the lyrics to the Bob Dylan songs “The Death of Emmett Till” and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” in honor of Martin. What nobody has pointed out is that Dylan himself – a white dude (and Jewish, depending on when you catch him) – was subjected to the exact same type of thing that initiated the Martin tragedy. In 2009, while Dylan was walking through a predominantly minority community in New Jersey, on a break from his tour with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, worried residents called the cops to report a strange man in their neighborhood. The police didn’t recognize Dylan, and they demanded that he take them back to his hotel to prove that he wasn’t up to no good.

Dylan politely complied. No screams of being “hunted down by everyday citizens.” It was a simple case of concerned neighbors who mistook the famous (and famously disheveled) music icon for a potential ne’er-do-well.

Let’s get some more perspective. In the months surrounding the Martin incident, there were dozens of examples of people of other races being subjected to harassment while simply going about their daily lives.

March 18th, O’Fallon, IL: A fifteen-year-old girl with her arm in a cast left her mother’s home at 9:30pm to retrieve her dog, who had gotten loose. Two black girls approached her, stating “This is our territory white girl.” They beat her repeatedly about the head and pulled out chunks of her hair, only stopping after neighbors heard the commotion and scared the attackers away. No arrests have been made as of the date of publication of the linked news story.

March 15th, Kansas City, MO: A fifty-year-old white man who was simply walking home from the store was beaten unconscious by a gang of black youths who used racial epithets during the attack. They did not rob him; they beat him for the sake of it. An officer found him lying on the ground, with multiple injuries. No arrests have been made as of the date of publication of the linked news story.

March 9th (the date of the news story; the actual date of the crime is described as “about two weeks earlier”), Pittsburgh, PA: A white man walking home from work was assaulted from behind by a group of black youths in hoodies. The man suffered head injuries, and was nearly run over after being pushed into the street. One of the youths was videotaping the incident. No arrests have been made as of the date of publication of the linked news story.

February 28th, Kansas City, MO: A thirteen-year-old white student who was walking home from school was accosted by two black teens wearing hoodies, on the street near his home. One of the attackers poured gasoline over the boy while saying, “This is what you deserve. You get what you deserve, white boy.” The victim suffered burns to his face, and damage to his eyes and lungs. No arrests have been made as of the date of publication of the linked news story.

February 14th (date of first news report; the actual date of crime was not provided), Palm Bay, FL: Three black juveniles physically assaulted an autistic fifteen-year-old white student who had been doing nothing more than waiting at a bus stop in his neighborhood. The three juveniles used racial slurs and chased the boy into traffic, where he was nearly struck by a car. The three attackers then posted video of their crime on Facebook, which led to their arrest (the three have been charged with hate crimes and aggravated stalking).

January 28th, Center City, PA: At around 8:25pm, three black teens descended upon a cab that was stopped at a red light. They pulled the passenger, a white male, out of the car, and beat him while screaming racial epithets. When the cab driver, who was also white, attempted to intervene, the attackers began to beat him as well, calling him racially derogatory names. Both men sustained various injuries to the head, face, and body. Police refused to file hate crimes charges against the three attackers.

January 17th, Olney, PA: A sixty-four-year-old white Vietnam veteran, who was doing nothing more than walking down a street to meet his wife at a bus stop, was mercilessly beaten by a group of black youths in hoodies. The victim suffered multiple head injuries, including a broken jaw and fractured eye sockets. Thanks to surveillance video of the incident, a fifteen-year-old has been charged with attempted murder, assault, recklessly endangering another person, terrorist threats, and conspiracy.

Vietnam Vet Edward Schaeffer

January 10th (the date of the first news story about the incident, which happened several weeks earlier), Portland, OR: A fourteen-year-old white girl who was riding on a light-rail train was beaten by three teenage black girls who yelled racial slurs, as spectators watched and cheered. Three girls, aged eighteen, sixteen, and thirteen, have been arrested and charged with third-degree riot, second-degree disorderly conduct, harassment, and interfering with public transportation.

January 6th, Ocala, FL: A mixed-race white/Hispanic middle school student was viciously assaulted by a group of black students while riding a school bus. The victim, while attempting to find a seat on the bus, had been ordered to sit on the floor by black students, who told her their section was “off limits” to her because of her race. The victim was attacked by five girls and two boys, all black. The girl was beaten unconscious, given a concussion, and now suffers from seizures. The attack was captured by bus surveillance video, and the attackers arrested. All felony charges were dropped, and the attackers have thus-far been given sentences of probation, curfew, community service, and having to write a 500-word essay on “the importance of maintaining appropriate behavior on a school bus.”

To be clear, none of the above events ended as tragically as the Trayvon Martin incident did. And until the authorities have had more time to investigate the circumstances surrounding the shooting, it’s not wise to speculate on how Martin and Zimmerman came to physical blows, or whether the local police made the right call by not arresting Zimmerman. That’s why I wanted to stay focused on the “bigger picture” issue – the feeling, expressed by so many African-American protesters and leaders, that black people are uniquely under siege – “under attack,” as Jesse Jackson put it – by whites who provoke, harass, and assault them for simply being in the “wrong” neighborhood, walking the “wrong” way, wearing the “wrong” clothes, etc.

Yet, as we’ve seen, a cursory examination of the months surrounding the Martin incident shows nine separate cases of white people being attacked for doing nothing more than walking down a street, searching for a lost dog, riding a train, or waiting for a bus.

Now, this is the type of post in which it’s very much to my advantage to explain my point as best I can, especially if I want to exit this minefield unscathed. And my point is this: We – that is to say, all Americans – are at risk, in different ways, of being made to feel “unwelcome” because of how we look. But the people who do more damage than the thugs and bigots (of all races) are the exploiters and ideologues who attempt to convince one group of Americans that a different group of Americans is at war with them. This cynical tactic does nothing more than create division, and a siege mentality which – itself – can lead to further tragedies, because when people lose perspective and begin to see individual humans not as individuals but as representatives of a “bigger picture”…well, that’s when perspective gets lost.

So let’s retain a little perspective. Every American, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, can sit around and fume about the wrongs that the “others” have done to his or her “kind.” Or, we can make a conscious choice to reject those who preach division and victimization-think.

Maybe that’s the “big picture” we should be looking at.

Comments
17 Responses to “Trayvon Martin, Bob Dylan, and Racial Harassment: Opposing the Demagogues”
  1. James Bergen says:

    Well done. An intelligent look at an issue that a lot of people are afraid to approach, written with empathy and a conclusion that every American should read. Congrats.

  2. Gabriel Thy says:

    Excellent piece of writing. But I hope the conclusion of peace with honor does not turn us all into fabled self-satisfied ostriches when real danger is lurking…

  3. BobLee says:

    Ah the hypocrisy of it all.

  4. SuzanneD says:

    A thought provoking article. You have listed many examples of violence against whites, but your list is missing an important one: the 13 year old boy in Kansas City who was set on fire by two black youths because he is white. During the attack, the boys made it clear it was a hate crime.

  5. AnnaLee says:

    Excellent article, however, you didn’t cite violence against other minorities, such as Asians – http://yingma.org/2010/05/03/black-on-asian-violence-raises-troubling-questions/

    The media seems to pass up reporting not only black-on-white violence, but also black-on-Asian (or any other minority) violence as well, for the same as you had concluded: it doesn’t fit in with the liberal narrative of black victimhood.

    • David P. says:

      This was not intended to be an exhaustive list, and the demagogues of race are not stirring Blacks to retaliate against Asians. I swear, the victim mentality of this nation. The author victimized Asians for not including them on a list of racial victimization – is that what you’re saying?

  6. David P. says:

    This article is worthwhile for the list of racial attacks the media largely ignores because they are Black on White crimes. I could do without the author’s obsessing about coming out of the article “unscathed by land mines…”

    What I would add to this article is a question which needs to he asked: How many of these racially motivated Black on White violent crimes were borne as a result of the rhetoric of the typical ambulance chasers of race, Sharpton, Jackson and Farrakhan. Now that Obama is chiming in and further legitimizing this racial fuel for the fire from the White House, can we really expect an improvement in race relations? We have not been so politically, racially and economically divided in this country since the 60′s. Sadly, as we get deeper into this election, it is going to get worse.

  7. joeopinion1 says:

    This is a very good article showing that no one is 100% safe and they must be aware of their surroundings. One thing that is glaringly noticeable is the age of the attackers that are black. All of the examples you show are of young immature teenagers attacking, which is very unsettling. These young people need to be taught tolerance and acceptance while they are young and they brains are still developing. But when we look at the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and how black people are made to feel unwanted in America, we are dealing with an entirely different demographic. We are dealing with adults who have the cognitive development to know right from wrong and to fully understand the consequences of their actions, yet it is these very adults who are perpetrating these racially biased crimes. The fact is that these adults should know better and should be held to a higher standard than teenagers. In all of your examples the police force has apprehended the attackers or are actively seeking the attackers. This is not the case with Trayvon Martin and is often not the case when a black person is attacked. It is often viewed as a “well, what did the black person do to deserve this attack”. This is were the “Big Picture” comes in and we, as a society, have to look at all of these attacks and give “equal” justice to “ALL” victims.

  8. A gentleman who was posting comments on one of my articles on the Trayvon Martin case posted a link to your blog post. What a great article this was, well stated indeed. I forwarded this across my social media links –good job my friend!

    Scott Biddulph
    National Conservative Examiner–examiner.com

  9. Brad Baxter says:

    Congratulations! You are now mine-field certified!

    Seriously, thanks for this. I have commented on a great deal of posts by conservative writers as of late, calling them out on some particularly poor pieces of ‘journalism’. I can hardly convey just how refreshing it is to follow a link to an article I am expecting to be laden with bias, and find the opposite. And from a very difficult angle no less.

    It is great to see someone make a valid point without diminishing someone else to justify it.

  10. MikeDD says:

    Thank you for this big picture view of the problem. I’ve posted all along that we need to wait for the investigation to complete. Justice needs to be served. Those calling for the state and feds to get involved need to keep and open mind and accept the outcome. Even if it exonerates Zimmerman.

  11. wb says:

    these blacks are monsters. i sure get tired of seeing my white brothers and sisters act so cowardly when they write all this”can’t we all just get along B****it”. stand up like you have a pair. blacks hate you because you are white, because you are smarter, because your women are hot and don’t act like ghetto trash. i feel for zimmerman because a man actually cared for his neighbors enough to try to stop the rash of crime plaguing these people by black thugs who had no business there. how many whites across this country are going to die now because of holder, obama, jackson, sharpton, and that freak calling himself head of new black panther party? people, your country has been taken from you and your last chance to get in back comes in november. vote like it is the last election you will ever see because believe you me for the white man it is. by 2025 the travon martins of the world will outnumber your white asses and forgiveness ain’t in their vocabulary. why do you think the feds refuse to control our borders? they know that once enough trash gets in they will simply outbreed those having to work for theirs. god help this country if white bail now. where will you run when there is no longer anywhere safe to run to? only white liberals, who live in gated communities, can afford to act like they do. i have lived near blacks, attended black majority schools and i know black racism first hand. the only thing blacks want from the white man is his money and his women. you are already the new wage slave, forced to work till you die to pay for the ghetto monkeys to feed and clothe their 10-15 member broods. where do you think the money comes from dumbass? from each and every one of you who reads this. i feel for all the parents here who have blond attractive daughters, they are about to be hunted down and raped in numbers this country hasn’t seen before. any white family not owning guns right now who venture out in public after dark will become prey to these murderous packs of hyenas. you liberals save your moral agonizing crap because it won’t save you once they begin targeting you as well. please don’t think giving your daughter over to a balck man will save you and yours it won’t. zimmerman comes from a multi-racial family.

  12. Ian says:

    Good topic, but poor exicution of a legitimate point both whites and blacks have historys of hate crime…but 2 wrongs don’t make it ok,and neither of them are a majority of either rac

  13. Mr. Stein,

    There’s a lot of good work in your article, sandwiched between a lot of triangulation.

    However, already before March 24, it was clear that you were blindly accepting the hoax script that Martin’s parent’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump was promoting.

    The call was not a 911 call. The operator had no legal authority to order Zimmerman not to follow a suspicious looking character. Forget about the girlfriend; she was coached on what to say by Crump. And your statement that Martin “was feeling unwelcome merely passing through a neighborhood on his way back from the store,” us ridiculous. No one was obliged to make him, a stranger, feel welcome. (Do people roll out a welcome mat for you in your own neighborhood?) That’s the sort of talk that black racists and their white racist supporters have gotten away with, unchallenged, for too many years.

    “And if that’s all we know with certainty at the moment, that’s more than enough.”

    Wrong!

    “Because, to the multitudes of angry black community leaders and politicians, the ‘big picture’ here is the fact… we feel unwelcome, we feel threatened, when we pass through certain neighborhoods.”

    Those are racist liars. The way to approach is not to say, “I hear where you’re coming from,” but “You’re a bunch of racist lairs.”

    “Indeed, that was the point of the lead story on the NBC Nightly News on March 21st – the ‘victimization’ that black Americans encounter when passing through unfamiliar or ‘white’ neighborhoods.”

    That was part of NBC News’ huge contribution to the Trayvon Martin Hoax. The safest place for most black Americans to be is in a white neighborhood. Trayvon Martin wasted that safety by acting suspiciously, and then trying to murder a non-black who followed him, as was George Zimmerman’s right.

    “Folks who haven’t posted word-one about politics since congratulating Obama on his election victory, have been brought to vocal anger by the Martin story.

    “That ‘group victimization’ seed, planted and so lovingly watered by the left year after year, is again bearing fruit.”

    No, that is black racism that you are seeing. Your black “friends” are merely showing their true colors. You previously misjudged them.

    It is whites who are under attack, who can be maimed or murdered just for walking on the “wrong” street, based solely on the color of their skin, and this has been going on for at 50 years all over the country, and for generations more in places like New York City.

    Then there’s a lot of good work, followed by your second triangulation effort.

    “But the people who do more damage than the thugs and bigots (of all races) are the exploiters and ideologues who attempt to convince one group of Americans that a different group of Americans is at war with them.”

    Blacks have been waging war on whites for at least 50 years. When blacks tell me, as one first did in 1972 or ’73, that they are going to kill all whites; when they publish such statements in books, and teach them to black kids in government institutions, at white taxpayer expense, I take them at their word. When they rape, maim, and murder whites, day after day, just for bring white, and say so, I take them at their word. You would do well to do likewise.

  14. Berkeley says:

    Did I read this right?

    “Al Sharpton wrote in the Huffington Post, adding, ‘I’m still waiting for the day that young black men and women can walk freely in any neighborhood without Whites fearing for their lives.’”

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