The death of any teenager is a tragedy. A life cut short causes us all anguish. The shooting death of unarmed, black Florida teen Trayvon Martin fits that description to a tee. The fact that this incident has become riddled with racial and political overtones, even causing the President of the United States to jump into the fray and declare, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” raises the profile to even higher proportions.
Protest marches from coast to coast — including here in Phoenix — feature professional athletes, celebrities and the now-standard self-appointed black “leaders” Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Activists from the ACLU and Urban League are capitalizing on the momentum.
An interjection of sanity comes as former NAACP leader Rev. C.L. Bryant accuses Jackson and Sharpton of “exploiting” the Trayvon Martin tragedy to “racially divide this country.” Bryant, quoted in the Daily Caller, says, “His family should be outraged at the fact that they’re using this child as the bait to inflame racial passions.” The pastor called Jackson and Sharpton “race hustlers” and said they are “acting as though they are buzzards circling the carcass of this young boy.”
But it turns out even the family is cashing in on the bounty, with Trayvon’s mother Sybrina Fulton filing documents to trademark her son’s name. In case you find that difficult to believe, The Smoking Gun website has six pages of applications.
George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch captain, shot Martin, a 17-year-old youth last month. Zimmerman, also a minority with a mother who is Hispanic, was bruised and bleeding from head and face wounds following an altercation with Martin. He says he shot Martin in self-defense. Though he has not been charged with a crime, Zimmerman has gone into hiding, as the New Black Panther Party vigilantes have offered a $10,000 reward for his “capture.”
The Obama Justice Department and the FBI have opened an investigation into the death and a state grand jury is set to convene April 10. And in the most glaring example of the racial overtones undergirding the situation, the Sanford Police Department has replaced the white chief, who they say has “temporarily stepped down” with a black appointee.
The Martin case captures the essence of Tom Wolfe’s 1987 classic The Bonfire of the Vanities. In the novel, a hot-bed of racial tensions erupt as a young black victim sets a city seething. The youth is given sainthood status and the unintentional perpetrator becomes the hunted prey. It’s probably still in the library and chances are you haven’t ventured into one lately. Take this opportunity and pick up the book. It’s all there — 25 years ago mirrors today.
In that accounting, the youth became an honor student in death. In the Martin case, the inadvertent victim has had his third, and still current, school suspension for drug possession mysteriously erased and a president with two daughters wax eloquent about his “son.”