Trayvon Martin, left, and George Zimmerman
Trayvon Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin, left, and Sybrina Fulton, center, during the riot (“Million Hoodie March”) supporters held in their honor in New York City’s Union Square on March 21(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
In the editorial below this essay, Rich Lowry observes that even a broken clock is right twice a day.
True, but Al Sharpton is not a broken clock.
Is Lowry’s exercise in either ignoring or misrepresenting the facts of the Trayvon Martin case part of the GOP’s black outreach for the 2012 election? It won’t work.
Or is it a pre-emptive strike, to protect NR from attacks by Sharpton? That won’t work, either. As corporate America has learned, the only “protection” against Al Sharpton, is in paying him at least $50,000 per year in racial extortion money. I doubt that Lowry has that kind of cash available.
To anyone who might argue that Lowry is not a GOP functionary, I say, not officially. Lowry and his crew at NR are GOP sycophants.
Sharpton and Tawana Brawley, circa 1988
And they are not alone. A day or two ago, I caught a snatch of an monologue by former congressman Joe Scarborough, an alleged conservative Republican, and now a popular talk show host at MSNBC (Morning Joe). The passage includes Scarborough saying
Yesterday, we had some really incredible dialogue with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is in Florida this evening for a rally in Sanford.
Scarborough is yet another of those “conservative” Republican attack dogs who has responded to the Trayvon Martin Racial Theater by becoming a lapdog, licking the hands of black supremacists.
Joe Scarborough used yet another ancient picture of Trayvon Martin—who, at the time of his death, was 6’3”
Scarborough and Lowry are representative of today’s “Eunuchorn” Republican operatives—defined as "'conservative' emasculated male who is working for national political organizations, their state counterparts, or one aspring to be any part of this unfortunate class."
The only public figure I know of who ever had a great dialogue with Al Sharpton was Rudy Giuliani, when the latter was mayor of New York City (1994 through 2001).
For over eight years, from Giuliani’s election in 1993—before he was even sworn in as mayor—Sharpton excoriated him, race-baited him, made terroristic threats (he threatened to burn the city down), and incited racist violence.
On December 8, 1995, Sharpton’s terrorism culminated in the Harlem Massacre, when black supremacist Roland Smith Jr., aka Abubunde Mulocko, murdered seven people at Jewish-owned Freddie’s Fashion Mart, after days after Sharpton had given a speech at the besieged store, condemning “white interlopers.”
For as long as Giuliani was mayor, his “dialogue” with Sharpton was to ignore him, and to never permit him to darken City Hall’s doorway.
(In case I sound like a Giuliani-bot, note that I subjected him to the toughest criticism during his tenure, of anyone who didn’t lie, exposing both his fake crime-fighting revolution and his fake welfare reform. Still, this did not satisfy actor Michael Moriarty, who in 2005 accused me of wanting to be “President Giuliani’s speechwriter.”)
The GOP leadership prefers the style of Giuliani’s successor, then-Republican Michael Bloomberg, who after his 2002 inauguration, immediately invited Sharpton to City Hall.
My running corrections of Lowry’s peace offerings are included within brackets.
Al Sharpton is right
By Rich Lowry
Saturday, March 24, 2012 12:04 a.m.
What is true of the stopped clock is also true of the perpetually aggrieved, shamelessly exploitative publicity hound: Through sheer chance, he occasionally will be right.
The Trayvon Martin case appears to be one of those instances for Al Sharpton. The longtime provocateur and MSNBC host has a leading role in the protests over the lethal shooting of the 17-year-old Martin at the hands of a zealous neighborhood-watch volunteer in the Florida community of Sanford.
During halftime of the NBA All-Star Game [wrong: The game hadn’t yet begun] Martin left the home of his father's girlfriend to walk to the local 7-Eleven for Skittles and iced tea. It was about 7 p.m., and he caught the attention of 28-year-old George Zimmerman, who had taken it upon himself to patrol the neighborhood armed with a gun. [Zimmerman had been patrolling the neighborhood for years] He considered Martin suspicious and called 9-1-1 [He didn’t call 911; he called a non-emergency police number], which dispatched police. Ignoring the 9-1-1 operator's urging not to pursue Martin, Zimmerman followed the young man, got into an altercation with him, and shot him dead. [The non-911 police operator’s urging had no legal standing]
Zimmerman claims Martin attacked him from behind and he fired in self-defense. But while he was on the line with 9-1-1, Zimmerman was the one chasing Martin. At the same time, Martin [allegedly] talked on his cellphone to his girlfriend, complaining of a man watching him. She [asserts that she] told him to run away, which he apparently did during the interval Zimmerman was on with 9-1-1. The girlfriend claims she heard Martin say, "What are you following me for?" before the call went dead.
The tape of another 9-1-1 call from a neighbor has [Zimmerman’s—don’t leave it to the reader’s imagination to fill in the yeller’s identity] yells of "Help" in the background before the gunshot. We may never know what exactly happened in the altercation. We do know this: Through stupendous errors in judgment, Zimmerman brought about an utterly unnecessary confrontation [This is the single truth of Lowry’s column] and then—in the most favorable interpretation of the facts for him—shot Martin when he began to lose a fistfight to him. [What evidence is there that Zimmerman engaged Martin in a fistfight?—none]
Florida has a "stand your ground" law that stipulates that someone doesn't have to retreat and may use deadly force if facing a threat of death or bodily harm. It is one [one?] of the reasons that the police didn't press charges against Zimmerman. But the law is not meant to be a warrant for aggressive vigilantism. It was Martin, chased by a stranger who wasn't an officer of the law, who had more reason to feel threatened and "stand his ground" than Zimmerman. [Wrong!]
[Does Lowry have no understanding of American legal traditions, or Florida law, or is he simply indifferent to them, seeing everything as politically negotiable, based on momentary expediency?]
So, Sharpton and his usual complement of allies are right [wrong!] about this: The Sanford police appear to have made the wrong call in letting Zimmerman off. Of course, the usual suspects can't leave it at that. In their telling, the case is a wholesale indictment of American society.
One MSNBC anchor compared the case to the notorious lynching of Emmett Till in 1950s Mississippi. On a visit from Chicago, the 14-year-old Till talked to a white woman and was subsequently murdered, mutilated, and thrown in a river. His murderers got off. The Till case exposed a system built on injustice and hatred. The Orlando suburbs in the 2010s aren't remotely comparable, and George Zimmerman manifestly did not set out that night to kill Trayvon Martin, or he wouldn't have bothered to call the police.
News accounts tend to leave out that Zimmerman is a mixed-race Hispanic. That doesn't mean he can't be a racist. (Although it's murky, it sounds as if he mutters a racial epithet on the 9-1-1 call.) But a Hispanic-on-black killing lacks the narrative clarity of a white vigilante chasing down Trayvon Martin in the tradition of the worst practices of the Jim Crow South.
The attention devoted to the case has forced the chief of police of Sanford to step aside temporarily, and it's hard to see the grand jury that is now looking into the shooting not handing down charges against Zimmerman. If so, he shouldn't be effectively tried during street protests or on cable TV. There's already been enough vigilantism in Sanford, Fla.
• Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review.