Profiles in Sanford
If Trayvon was white, spiked hair, tattoos, piercings, leather & studs, George Zimmerman would have followed him anyway. Shut up about race.
President Obama’s impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room this morning showed the President with a lot of wisdom and common sense, and before I focus on what he could have said and didn’t, let me compliment him for what he did say.
First, President Obama did what President George H.W. Bush did not do following the California jury verdict in the trial of the officers charged with beating Rodney King, and the media did not do after the California jury acquittal of O.J. Simpson in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman: President Obama supported the jury verdict as a final answer that the public has a duty to accept.
This institutional support by civic leaders for the meaning of a trial by jury and the finality of its verdict used to be taken for granted; today it is remarkable and must be commended. It is even more poignant when the President’s own Attorney General, Eric Holder, is looking for grounds to violate the Constitution’s prohibition of retrial of a defendant after acquittal, using weaselly excuses about different trial venues.
Second, President Obama raised a question that heretofore I have only heard raised by libertarians like myself and Brad Linaweaver: if Trayvon Martin had been armed and of age, would he have had the right to “stand his ground” against an unknown stranger who was following him in the rain? We don’t know that this actually happened in the case of Neighborhood Watch Captain George Zimmerman — there is nothing in the trial record that answers this question definitively. Nonetheless it’s the right question President Obama has asked and for those of us who believe in the right to use deadly force when threatened with death or mayhem our answer is: Yes, Mr. President, had Trayvon Martin been trained in carrying a firearm, trained in conflict de-escalation, and armed, he would not have felt he had to put a gang-style “whup ass” on George Zimmerman, resulting in his own death.
Where President Obama failed as a leader of the American people today is his own tunnel vision. As an African-American male he identified with the pain and frustration of African-Americans who are disproportionately profiled and feared. But the President was unable to think outside of his own life experience to affirm that George Zimmerman — regardless of Zimmerman’s lack of wisdom and training that led him into harm’s way in defense of his wife and neighbors — was trying to do the right thing and his family’s frustration and pain needs to be acknowledged as well.
What you missed an opportunity to say today, Mr. President, is that the safety of our families and neighbors is not the responsibility of police departments who are minutes away when seconds count. You missed the chance to say that the job of each and all of us who prize civilization and liberty is to stand watch as George Zimmerman did.
You missed your teachable moment, Mr. President, to tell the American people that the lesson which could be learned from this tragic conflict is that Neighborhood Watch is a vital part of our national defense and that as Commander in Chief of the Militia with the constitutionally defined obligation to arm and train the civilian population known as the militia, you will act to ensure that civilian provision and training in the defensive use of arms will become a presidential priority, as has been neglected for well over a century.
You would have said that not universal spying by the NSA on the American people, presuming all of us to be criminal suspects, but relying on the American people themselves to be the eyes, ears, and arms in defense of our common security and liberty, is how a free people combat crime and terrorism.
Of course it is this very abandonment of Constitutional principles that is the reason Agorists have concluded that your office has become irrelevant, Mr. President, and it’s time for a new guard for our safety and liberty.
Now awaiting release: Alongside Night. Look for it in 2013!