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President Barack Obama’s statement on the acquittal of George Zimmerman:
The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.
First, Martin’s death was a tragedy just as all death is a tragedy, but it was not a specific tragedy for all of America, no more than the death of a child in a car accident in California is a tragedy for people in Montana. No more than the shooting death of a child in Chicago is a tragedy to politicians in Washington, D.C.
Second, the only reason this case “elicited strong passions” is because the media built the stake of racism and President Obama lit the match. Over the last several months, the media, racial activists, legal commentators, and Americans ignorant of the law have stoked the flames.
Third, yes, Mr. President, we are a nation of laws. You would do well to remember that fact when you make appointments like czars outside of the legal process, delay the implementation of laws as in the case of the Affordable Care Act, and ignore rules relating to foreign aid, such as the requirement to cut off money when a democratically elected government has been toppled in a military coup.
Fourth, we should not “ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence.” We should ask one another if we’re doing all we can to raise children who do not resort to violence when they feel disrespected, and we should ask politicians to stop exploiting tragedies to promote gun control legislation, twisting pain and loss into a political agenda.
Finally, collective guilt is as unacceptable as collective redemption. If the president’s call for the prevention of future tragedies is to be taken as he presented it—following a call to “stem the tide of gun violence”—then he thinks Martin’s death could have been prevented if Zimmerman never had a gun.
That’s technically true, obviously. But what Obama and so many others fail to see in this situation (and on the broader issue of gun control) is that if Zimmerman had not had a gun, he might be the one dead today. That’s because Martin attacked him and beat his head repeatedly against the cement.
As the jury determined, Zimmerman didn’t murder Martin, so he must have acted in self-defense as he claimed. Without a gun to protect himself, he might not be alive today. Would that have been a national tragedy, Mr. President? Would we be spreading collective blame in that situation and calling for collective redemption?
It is not the job of each American to try to prevent tragedies by taking away every American’s Constitutional right to defend themselves. That is not the way to honor Trayvon Martin. The way to honor Martin, to honor anyone who has died, is to show love, grace, and compassion to their families. And, yes, where it is appropriate, to examine the cause and to seek justice if warranted. In this case, the cause was a violent attack by a teenager who chose hostility over communication.
That is a reason to reflect, to examine the state of our culture. But the question of why a young man’s impulse was toward violence and not peace is one that is not being asked. Not by the media or activists or social commentators, and not by the President of the United States.Published in