The Meaning of the Zimmerman Trial
July 18, 2013
This column by ACRU General Counsel and Senior Fellow for the Carleson Center for Welfare Reform (CCWR) Peter Ferrara was published July 17, 2013 on The American Spectator website.
There has been only one responsible party in the entire Zimmerman affair. Everyone else in positions of power and authority has fallen into one of two categories.
Those on the Left have sought to exploit the incident for political gain, thinking they can manipulate the general public, too often distracted and gullible, into believing the false narrative they were painting. That started at the top in the person of President of the United States Barack Obama, who immediately seized on the incident to exploit elements of the black population into thinking that the racists were coming after them again, “to put y’all back in chains,” in the immortal words of the execrable Joe Biden.
Obama/Biden achieved their goals in this, maximizing the black voter turnout in the 2012 elections. That same black voter exploitation goes on in the allegations that voter integrity laws like Voter ID suppress the black vote, when the evidence shows just the opposite. Those allegations universally arise from effective co-conspirators in voter fraud (and that includes the Attorney General of the United States).
That goes on down to the news media, which actually doctored transcripts, and otherwise manipulated the evidence in their cause to “teach America that it is a racist society.” People believe in and promote that for the same reason that some economists still profess belief in and promote illogical Keynesian economics, or that some so-called environmentalists profess belief in and promote alarm over supposedly catastrophic, man-caused, global warming. These beliefs all serve the larger goal of the government takeover of American society.
As Daniel Greenfield explained the Martin/Zimmerman social catastrophe and controversy in Front Page magazine on Monday, “While the shooting was not about race, the case has become a political juggernaut that is not about what actually happened between Zimmerman and Martin, but about the guilt and violence churning through the liberal exploitation of race and racism for political power.”
We can easily dispose of the charge that America is a racist society right here and now. Yes, there are dark recesses of American culture where particularly the lower classes and uneducated still harbor racist sentiments. But the bottom line is these racist attitudes no longer have any power or influence in American society.
That is why we have a black president of the United States today, who astutely recognized and used to his political advantage the modern truth that a black candidate for president had a social and political edge in running to be the first black president. And it was the predominant and overwhelming goodwill of the American people that resulted in his election, and now reelection, despite his lack of experience, and consistent associations with and displayed affection for disreputable, left-wing extremists. And it is that same overwhelming goodwill that has resulted as well in blacks and African Americans serving throughout the highest levels of American government, in both Republican and Democrat administrations, and in elected offices even in the formerly racist deep South.
I apologize for being politically incorrect here, but my job is to explain and illuminate the truth, not to serve exploitative and dishonorable political causes. I will leave that to NBC and its affiliates.
This same liberal/left exploitation of Martin/Zimmerman continued all the way down to the state appointed prosecutor, whose abuse of office is discussed further below, and even the judge, both of whom played the case with dreams of abusing it to gain higher office.
The other category of those in power in regard to the case is on the right, which has mostly scrambled to avoid the gathering Progressive mob substituting name calling and rhetoric for reasoned thought, rather than trying to put a stop to the nonsense. That even includes the Tea Party Governor of Florida, who chose to side-step the mob by appointing a state prosecutor known for stretching the law to win her case.
I even applauded that at the time, in this column, arguing that a trial and jury verdict was the only way to resolve the controversy, and that there was no way Zimmerman could be convicted under the law. I was right about the law, but wrong about the politics, because the Left has now escalated the developing crisis French Revolution style.
The Jury of the Common Woman Takes Responsibility
Into this developing political maelstrom, it was the jury reflecting the good sense of the average American that stepped up and did their job, bravely applying the law to the facts. Just when I had given up hope in the system — and as a graduate of Harvard Law School, former Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States, and a member of the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court, I DON’T have faith in the legal system — the jury proved me wrong again. That reflects the fundamental integrity of American civilization, honed through centuries of Roman Law, and then Anglo-Saxon, British Law, so that it continues to function, even when the nation’s leadership, in government, in academia, and in the media, acts out like the leadership of Roman society in its last days.
Progressive callers to the Chris Plante radio show in Washington, D.C., including the proportion of the black population most exploited by the Progressives, in recent days have effectively been arguing the following: If a white man follows a black man walking around the neighborhood, to observe what he is doing, the black man has the right to beat the white man to death. What would you expect him to do, some callers have even asked. If the white man resists, then he must be held criminally liable for any harm that results. That is not the law, which is why the jury found Zimmerman innocent.
Some callers tried to rationalize their position, arguing that by getting out of his car and following Martin, Zimmerman started the fight, and self-defense is not available to anyone who starts the fight. But that is not what the law means by starting the fight, or “initiating the confrontation.” Starting the fight is punching someone in the face, which is what the evidence suggests Martin did to Zimmerman. There is ZERO evidence in the record that Zimmerman did anything that the law would consider starting the fight. Which, again, is why the jury found him innocent.
Following and observing, while calling the police when appropriate, is exactly what neighborhood watches do, regardless of race. This is exactly what Zimmerman did, the evidence indicates. There is even zero evidence of any racial profiling in the case. It would be standard neighborhood watch practice to follow and observe anyone not recognized as living in the community where there had been a rash of burglaries, regardless of race, and even if they had not been walking around in the rain and peering into windows. The Progressive argument would effectively criminalize neighborhood watches, which has been considered an effective and desirable community response to crime for decades. Or at least it would deny the right to self-defense to anyone involved in a community watch.
But there is more to the actual law. Who started the fight is relevant to whether a defendant has a right to stand his ground under Stand Your Ground laws. But Stand Your Ground was not relevant to this case, because Zimmermann’s attorney brilliantly decided not to even raise Stand Your Ground in Zimmerman’s defense. (As I said in my first article on this case, “How can you stand your ground when you are lying flat on your back?”).
Zimmerman’s defense relied instead on standard self-defense, which requires only that the defendant believe his life was in danger,
as Jason Riley explained in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, writing,
In cases of self-defense, it doesn’t matter who initiated the confrontation; whether Zimmerman singled out Martin because he was a black youngster in a neighborhood where there had been a series of burglaries by black youngsters; or whether Mr. Zimmerman disregarded what the police dispatcher told him before he got out of his car….All that really mattered in that courtroom is whether Mr. Zimmerman reasonably believed that his life was in danger when he pulled the trigger.
That, and the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases, is the real reason why the jury had no reasonable choice but to find Zimmerman not guilty.
Rush Limbaugh is right that the so-called “Progressive” Left wants to deny the American people the right to self-defense, just as they have succeeded in denying that right in most of Europe. That is because the “Progressive” Left is all about government control of the population, which they believe they can run better for the common good, and so adamantly against the freedom and self-reliance that is involved in self-defense.
We need more of the common sense, free of intellectually corrupting “political correctness,” displayed by the Zimmerman jury among our national leaders. They should be put in charge of Obama’s economic policies, to begin with. Then maybe we could restore the American Dream, which is hunkering down deep inside this economy, waiting for its first chance to break out.
The More Fundamental Problem
Riley went on to address the more fundamental problem regarding race and crime in yesterday’s Journal:
Any candid debate on race and criminality in this country would have to start with the fact that blacks commit an astoundingly disproportionate number of crimes. African-Americans constitute about 13 percent of the population, yet between 1976 and 2005 blacks committed more than half of all murders in the U.S. The black arrest rate for most offenses…is typically two to three times their representation in the population. The U.S. criminal justice system, which is currently headed by one black man (Attorney General Eric Holder) who reports to another (President Obama), is a reflection of this reality, not its cause….Black crime and incarceration rates spiked in the 1970s and 1980s in cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and Philadelphia, under black mayors and black police chiefs. Some of the most violent cities in the U.S. today are run by blacks.
It is black people themselves who suffer the most from these high black crime rates, because most black crimes are committed against other blacks. As Riley added yesterday, “The homicide rate claiming black victims today is seven times that of whites, and the George Zimmermans of the world are not the reason. Some 90 percent of black murder victims are killed by other blacks.”
But so-called Progressive policies generally harm the most vulnerable. The African-American community is the greatest victim of Obamanomics, with black unemployment at or near a depression-level 15 percent for President Obama’s entire term, and black teenage unemployment at or near a genocidal 40 percent or more. And Progressive welfare dependency, which has soared by design under Obama, for political reasons, has decimated the black family, which is the real root of explosive black crime.
Martin Luther King, Jr. himself recognized the real problem, saying in 1961, as quoted by Riley yesterday,
Did you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58 percent of its crimes? We’ve got to face that. And we have got to do something about our moral standards. We know there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world too. We can’t keep blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves.
If only today’s “Progressives” were as honest as King, we could make some changes that would truly benefit black communities, starting first and foremost with jobs and rising wages, instead of welfare. Riley added yesterday, “negative perceptions of young black men are rooted in hard data on who commits crimes. We also know that young black men will not change how they are perceived until they change how they behave.”
Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, who I had for my own criminal law class at the school, is a true, career liberal, literally a card carrying member of the ACLU. Dershowitz yesterday called for a federal civil rights investigation into the Zimmerman case, focusing “on prosecutorial misconduct, rather than on allegations of racial profiling and misconduct,” as he told Newsmax.
Dershowitz explained, “The prosecutor sent this case to a judge, and willfully, deliberately, and in my view criminally withheld exculpatory evidence. They denied the judge the right to see pictures that showed Zimmerman with his nose broken and his head bashed in. The prosecution should be investigated for civil rights violations, and civil liberty violations.”