Source: Noah Rothman / Mediaite
Imagine the pleasant surprise I encountered after reading the headline “just in case George Zimmerman walks free…” adorning the top of a post composed by hip hop mogul and GlobalGrind.com founder Russell Simmons. It was my hope that Simmons, a respected voice in the black community, would spell out for an attentive audience why pundits preparing their audiences for riots in the wake of a possible acquittal were wrong. Instead, Simmons identified a variety of “victories” that resulted from the killing of Trayvon Martin. He cited setbacks for the National Rifle Association and state-level “Stand Your Ground” laws which he believes the activists who turned the trial into a political proxy war made possible. Simmons’ post is just one of many reckless provocations that have become a lamentably familiar aspect of the coverage of this trial and its “effect of inflaming passions without enlightening,” as National Journal’sMatthew Cooper put it.
But worse than the base impulse to score political points and threaten national comity by implying that one or another cultural worldview is threatened by a verdict in a far-flung murder trial are the pundits and officials readily preparing for – and, in some cases, stoking through innuendo – a violent reaction from African-Americans should the jury find Zimmerman not guilty. What is most striking is that few bristle with offense at the obscene implication that African-Americans will be unable to internalize such an outcome without lashing out in an uncivilized fashion.
“Do you think bad things are going to happen if Zimmerman is acquitted?” Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly asked on Monday, not ruling out the “possibility” that a not guilty verdict could result in damage done to “the fabric of the nation.”
He was quick to note that, if Zimmerman is found guilty of second degree murder or a lesser charge, the threat of violence would dissipate entirely.
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