The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

Trayvon Martin and American Justice, Cont’d.

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How do you think the Zimmerman trial would have ended under these circumstances?

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Elspeth Reeve takes Richard Cohen of the Washington Post to task in her Atlantic Column:

Richard Cohen’s column in Tuesday’s Washington Post— arguing that George Zimmerman was right to assume Trayvon Martin was a criminal, because he was a black male—is racist and wrong. More important, it’s wrong because it’s racist. That is, it’s not that Cohen is “wrong” in the oh-that’s-so-politically-incorrect sense. It’s that he’s wrong because the assumptions he makes about race and crime are not based on facts.

Cohen appears to believe all black men are the same, and that they are violent. Cohen says he’s “tired” of politicians and activists “who essentially suggest that, for recognizing the reality of urban crime in the United States, I am a racist.” He justifies Zimmerman’s assumption that Martin was a criminal by citing statistics about crime in New York….While New York’s stop-and-frisk program has been criticized for disproportionately targeting minorities, Cohen says, “if young black males are your shooters, then it ought to be young black males whom the police stop and frisk.” If police “ignore race, then they are fools and ought to go into another line of work.”

“Urban crime” is shorthand for young black people committing crimes in big cities on the verge of collapse. But Martin wasn’t killed in Cabrini-Green. He was killed in Sanford, Florida (population 53,570), inside a gated community called the Retreat at Twin Lakes, which has about 260 townhouses. The alleged crime was a suburban crime. And, just for the record, it was not the black kid who was just acquitted of it.

Studies have shown poverty has more to do with crime than race does. More unexpectedly, research published in the American Journal of Sociology in 2001 found that people are more likely to think their neighborhood has a higher crime rate if more young black men live there. The Retreat at Twin Lakes is a multi-ethnic neighborhood—about half white, 20 percent Hispanic, and 20 percent black, The Daily Beast’s Amy Green reports. George Zimmerman had called police 46 times. He organized the neighborhood watch. Cohen writes, “There’s no doubt in my mind that Zimmerman profiled Martin and, braced by a gun, set off in quest of heroism. The result was a quintessentially American tragedy—the death of a young man understandably suspected because he was black and tragically dead for the same reason.” With his column, Cohen is perpetuating the attitude that made that tragedy possible.

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Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

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