Pat Buchanan on “Whipped-up Hysteria” Over Trayvon Martin Killing   2 comments

Pat Buchanan claims that when it comes to the killing of Trayvon Martin, Black leaders – like Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, Representative Hank Johnson and “former Black Panther” Bobby Rush – have “whipped-up hysteria”, making the case, which apparently wouldn’t have been about race, as it is “now.” What they’re done, he says, has been designed “…to turn this into a national black-white face-off, instead of a mutual search for truth and justice….” and into an “exacerbation of and the exploitation of racial conflict.”

It would be naive to argue that this was or would ever be purely “a mutual search for truth and justice.” Politicians always have their own agenda, and are often quick to sacrifice the truth to exploit a situation for their own benefit. Media outlets want to keep a story going because they have a profit motive. Even so, I don’t believe that either of these forces is sufficient to explain why all this, and why now. In other words, why is everyone so “whipped-up” and in “hysteria” over this?

Buchanan’s explanation is that what we’re seeing is “… an irreconcilable conflict of visions about what the real America is in the year 2012.” And here is Buchanan’s analysis of America today. American 2012 is a place …

1) where Black men are suspect, because black men between 16-36 are responsible for 33% of all US crime, and because their crime rate is seven times what it is for whites. Indeed, in some U.S. cities, 40% of black males “… are in jail or prison, or probation or parole, or have criminal records.”

2) where these realities are “not a product of white racism but of prosecutions and convictions of criminal acts.”

3) where, if you’re black and you wear a hoodie, you’re only asking to be mistaken for a perp, like those who hold up convenient stores and are captured on hidden video cameras.

4) where America is a safe place for young blacks, not  “… a terrifying place for [them] to grow up in because of the constant danger from white vigilantes.”

In this world (Buchanan’s world), it only makes sense that George Zimmerman suspected sixteen year old Trayvon Martin (who just barely made the 16-26 year old cutoff).

Buchanan offers no links or sources for his statements, but I’ll have to leave the fact-checking to someone else. I’ll only say that when I was reading the article, the old saying “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” came to mind. And I’m not accusing Buchanan of deliberately lying. I just think his world view is “skewed up” enough to create a lot of doubt about his analysis. For instance, if everyone knows that you gotta watch out for young black males because so many of them  – almost half! – are criminals (points 1 & 2), then doesn’t that mean that they probably are treated with suspicion everywhere they go, and that they are put in danger more often as a result? (contra point 4) Maybe they’re not so much in danger from white vigilantes, but plenty of times “average” Whites have killed Blacks without any repercussions (like in the famous case of Emit Till in 1955, and the March 3, 2012 killing of Bo Morrison). We also need to consider fear of the police (think “stop and frisk“) that is part and parcel of the lives of many Blacks in troubled neighborhoods, and increase in the danger level that goes with that oppressive approach. And now, with the Stand Your Ground laws are spreading through the states, the perceived and actual danger has increased dramatically.

I’d like to interact briefly with three of Buchanan’s points about America:

1) Agreed, lots of blacks are in prison, and lots of Blacks have been arrested.

2) To say that this is “not a product of white racism” is a sweeping generalization, and by no means obvious. Here’s America in 2012 the way I see it (and someone else can fact-check me as well):  Blacks are very often stopped when whites wouldn’t be (again, stop and frisk). Blacks are very often charged when white’s wouldn’t be. (They don’t all have PDA cards like my four white sons do – and lots of friends who are cops.) Blacks are convicted more often and serve longer sentences than whites in the same or similar circumstances. And, when “things go wrong” in police action, somehow it seems like blacks (and the mentally ill like Ronald Madison – but that’s another story) are often the dead victims. (Think Rodney King, Sean Bell, James Brisette, and many others, including, more recently Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.) Looking on from the outside, it seems to me like Blacks are considered “more disposable.”

3) If it was only natural for Zimmerman to be suspicious of Trayvon Martin, then it wasn’t about his hoodie (according to Buchanan’s criteria) but because he wore a hoodie – and he was a black man. From moment one then, this story has been about race, no one needed to make it about race. (And yes, as Buchanan himself says, it’s likely that if the victim had been a white man shot by a black man “…the black guy would have been arrested.”) But Zimmerman wasn’t arrested, and again, in the light of such stories as I’ve linked above, it seems like race is a factor.

Perhaps Buchanan states the obvious when he says that Jesse Jackson and others like him wouldn’t be “whipping-up a frenzy” over this story “… if Trayvon had been shot dead by a black neighborhood watch volunteer.” No one can know that. Maybe Jesse Jackson isn’t as hard-hearted as Pat Buchanan. Maybe though, the issue would have still been young blacks being unjustly executed by careless or bigoted cops – or armed civilians – no matter what their color. It’s really the same story. The point is that there is a significant possibility that a young black man was unjustly killed, and also originally, failed by the criminal justice system which seemed to do nothing. I think that would have been enough to stir up black leaders, especially since it’s happened plenty of times before – and perhaps (finally) plenty of White’s too, like those who have been showing solidarity with Trayvon’s cause in Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan, and in Miami, D.C., and in other major cities.

Finally I said earlier that Paul Buchanan seemed heartless, and I’d like to explain why. Equating advocacy for justice in the case of the possible execution of a sixteen year old with “whipped-up frenzy” is shamefully inconsiderate. I think that if I were Trayvon’s parents, I would find this an incredibly callous and very hurtful dismissal of the value of my lost child. I know we don’t, but I wish we lived in an America where the killing of any innocent child would bring forth a flurry of passionate protest. Sadly, it happens too often to engender such a response. Nevertheless, using the phrase as he has, only seems to reflect the attitude that is at the heart of this troubling story. I’m White like Buchanan, but I think that the killing of Trayvon Martin was an outrage – even if it just turns out to be what Zimmerman’s lawyer says – “a tragic case of self-defense.” Pat Buchanan’s comment shamefully demeans the discussion, and falls short of showing the appropriate honor that should be given to any and every human being – black or white – simply because each is created in the image of God.


2 responses to “Pat Buchanan on “Whipped-up Hysteria” Over Trayvon Martin Killing

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  1. The bottom line is, a black 17 yr. old kid is dead because he looked suspicious. From the information that I read and heard, all evidence of his suspicion centers around Trayvon Martin being black and wearing a hood. Whatever else he might have been, or done in his past life is irrelevant, if truth is used to seek out the cause of action. When we examine the why’s of his tragic death and shooting, looking suspicious becomes the apparent cause of death, perpetrated by his pursuer. To many whites it’s absurd for blacks to be protesting this tragedy. But perhaps for many in America, being black, and seemingly looking suspicious is enough reason for protest.

  2. No the bottom line is that Pat hit the nail square on the head and the reason a black seventeen year old is dead is because he attacked a neighborhood watch captain and tried to bash his brains out on the concrete!!!! That my MAN is why trevon had a cap popped in his assz!

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