“It has been 65 years since Emmett Till … and seven years since Trayvon Martin. Yet, this is still everyday life for young black people in America. Let’s speak that truth.”
So tweeted U.S. senator and presidential aspirant Kamala Harris on May 5, the day after Darian Tawan Atkinson shot and killed 24-year Biloxi police veteran Robert McKeithen, the day after Baltimore concluded a weekend with 18 shootings, two of the victims being infants.
This is “that truth,” Kamala. This is the everyday life for young black people in America. To evoke Emmett Till’s name to explain the mayhem or to compare his fate to Trayvon Martin’s is irresponsible and downright blasphemous.
Till, a 14-year-old Chicago boy, was brutally lynched for allegedly flirting with a white woman in 1955 Mississippi.
Martin took a bullet to the chest while gratuitously bashing in the head of a Hispanic man he did not know in a multi-ethnic Florida community.
At the time of George Zimmerman’s acquittal, not a prominent Democrat anywhere defended the verdict or raised hard questions about the factors that put Martin in harm’s way that tragic night in Sanford, Florida.
Those factors did not include “Stand Your Ground,” guns, or racial profiling. They did include sporadic parenting, indifferent schooling and an inner city culture that openly celebrated guns, drugs and lawlessness.
To discuss these issues candidly was to risk the Democratic stranglehold on a profoundly troubled and dependent population.
Like Harris, then-President Barack Obama was not one to put that hold at risk. Six days after the verdict came down, Obama made an unexpected appearance at a routine White House press conference specifically to address the “Trayvon Martin ruling.”
As a first priority, Obama sent his “thoughts and prayers” to the family of Trayvon Martin. As to George Zimmerman and his extended family, still in hiding after a year and a half of death threats, Obama offered not a word of hope or encouragement.
Expanding on his remarks from more than a year prior, Obama once again identified himself with Martin, now even more intimately. “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” said Obama.
Although at 17 Obama was living in Hawaii with his white family and attending an exclusive prep school, their color apparently was bond enough.
Like all men of color, said Obama, he knew what it was like to be followed in a department store or have women clutch their purses upon seeing him enter an elevator.
Even if true, Obama neglected to mention the motive behind this seeming bad behavior. Even liberally minded non-blacks know that black males commit more than their share of crime, far more.
According to best evidence, blacks commit interracial muggings, robberies and rapes at 35 times the rate of whites.
Obama did acknowledge that young men black men “are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence,” but he abandoned this thread prematurely.
Although he had the opportunity to shake up the debate, Obama instead pulled his ultimate punch, not in what he said, but in what he did not say. He let the idea stand that Martin was one of the victims of violence, but not one of the perpetrators.
If the president had called attention to the fractures in Martin’s domestic life, his suppressed criminal record, his all but unseen descent into drugs, guns and violence, and especially his reckless attack on Zimmerman, Obama might have lent a dollop of moral seriousness to his remarks.
But he did not. Instead, he tacitly encouraged his audience to project their anger and anxiety onto racial scapegoat, George Zimmerman.
He capped the talk off with a cheerful bromide about America becoming, racially at least, “a more perfect union.” If that last sentiment had been true, one could forgive his swap of form for substance here, but it was not.
A comprehensive poll taken by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal during the days immediately before and after his talk showed that Obama failed in the one area in which even the opposition hoped he would succeed: bridging the racial divide.
In the month of his inauguration, 79 percent of whites and 63 percent of blacks held a favorable view of race relations in America. By July 2013, those figures had fallen to 52 percent among whites and 38 percent among blacks, a calamitous decline, rarely addressed, never explained.
And although Zimmerman supported Obama, and lobbied for Obama and voted for Obama at least once, in the final analysis he did not look enough like Obama to be his son, and that made all the difference.
For her part, Kamala Harris did get one thing right about Trayvon. “His tragic death,” she tweeted earlier, “sparked a movement.” That movement is called “Black Lives Matter,” and it was prompted by Zimmerman’s acquittal.
Two years later, BLM took its show to Ferguson. Encouraged by the Harrises and Obamas of the world, the media and BLM spread a new lie, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
The police understandably backed off, and the thugs moved in. As a result largely of the “Ferguson Effect,” nearly 1,800 more African Americans were murdered in 2016 than in 2014.
That, Sen. Harris, is the “truth.” By perpetuating the lie, you have blood on your hands.