Boston Herald | Monday, July 22 2013 | Op-Ed |
Like O.J. Simpson in search of his wife’s “real” killer, the Obama administration has opened a phony investigation into whether George Zimmerman violated Trayvon Martin’s civil rights when he shot and killed Martin in self-defense.
Sadly, in establishing a “tip line” to solicit “new” evidence against Zimmerman, the administration (like O.J.) searches for something it knows does not exist.
For, as we know, Martin’s death has already been thoroughly investigated.
The evidence has been presented to a jury. And the jury exonerated Zimmerman — who fired his weapon to fight off an assailant who broke his nose and bashed his head against the pavement.
Do juries ever make mistakes?
Do they ever ignore evidence and vote their passions? In unusual cases they do. O.J.’s case is a prime example. But that is not what happened here.
To the contrary, the evidence here so clearly supported the theory of self-defense that, absent public pressure, prosecutors never would have filed charges against Zimmerman.
That a case never intended for prosecution resulted in acquittal should come as no surprise.
So, did Zimmerman violate Martin’s civil rights? Under federal law, a “hate crime” is a criminal offense motivated in part by racial bias. But self-defense is not a criminal offense. What’s more, in 2012 the FBI conducted an investigation of the matter and found no evidence of racial animus by Zimmerman.
Indeed, the notion that Zimmerman violated Martin’s civil rights is so absurd that Harvard Law School’s Alan Derhsowitz has said that the only people who should be charged with a civil rights violation are the prosecutors.
Those who continue to demand that Zimmerman be made to “pay” for Martin’s death should recall John Adams’ words that we are “a government of laws and not men.” Adams, who defended British soldiers charged with killing civilians in the Boston Massacre, understood that a defendant’s fate must be determined impartially without respect to fashionable notions of “social justice.” Anything less is mob rule, and it has no place in a free society.
The president knows this. So, why does his Justice Department pretend that it might find additional evidence with which to convict Zimmerman?
O.J.’s motive in seeking “new” evidence was, of course, to hide his guilt. The administration’s motive is more complicated, but equally nefarious.
By conducting a civil rights probe, the administration buys time to placate political allies like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson — charlatans who peddle racial mistrust to line their own pockets.
Moreover, by keeping the investigation open, the administration seeks to gain political advantage in the mid-term elections. (As Rahm Emanuel once said, “never let a crisis go to waste.”)
Far-fetched? Hardly. Writing on CNN.com, Obama pollster Cornell Belcher urges activists to make 2014 the year of “the Trayvon voter.” Forget soccer moms or Reagan Democrats. This election cycle, activists should “fan out across communities in hoodie registration drives.”
The politicization of a tragedy that ended with one person dead and another’s reputation ruined is shameful enough. But it has policy implications that threaten to harm the black community for generations.
By perpetuating the myth that Zimmerman shot Martin for “being black and wearing a hoodie,” the administration distracts from the more prevalent and sociologically complicated problem of black-on-black/inner-city violence. Obama knows perfectly well that the biggest threat to black youth is not an overabundance of murderous “white” (or Hispanic) vigilantes, but other black youth. But confronting this problem would require work.
And it would require the president to have honest — perhaps painful — conversations with the American public about illegitimacy, drugs, violence, and personal responsibility. Obama could have led the way. Instead, he has taken the cowardly (but politically expedient) path of dividing the country along racial lines and blaming white bias, Republicans, and guns. And that may be the most heartbreaking part of all.