United States

Jul 18, 2013

In era of crap, Zimmerman case lurks in swamp of racism

A white neighbourhood protector shoots an unarmed black man through nothing but institutional fear. The fight against racism is so far from done as to be dispiriting to those fighting.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


When you try and think of a term to describe the current period in the United States and the United Kingdom — not in lalalaland Australia, stand down there — one gropes for words. “Stagnation” a la the ’70s? The “downturn”? I suspect that “crapiness” probably covers it. Crapness? Craposity? This era will come to be known as the crap era. There has been no huge victory for the forces of enlightenment and progress, but no huge defeat either. Just a slow grinding backwards, a reminder of how slowly things shift.

Thus the UK government is a bunch of Eton messes, blithering numpties, whose initial election and continued support bewilders — until you look at the Labour Party then and now. Whatever danger they were under of getting tossed in 2015 has been mitigated by the vicious scapegoating brought in by Lynton “Light ’em” Crosby. Resistance there has been, from groups like UK Uncut and the new People’s Assembly, but getting it fired up has been like lighting a fire with damp newspaper … on the moors … with bronchitis.

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32 thoughts on “In era of crap, Zimmerman case lurks in swamp of racism

  1. Anon

    While there are indeed many disturbing facets about the case (and its finding), it seems highly convenient that Zimmerman is referred to here as ‘white’. Why? Because statistics bear out that African-American AND Hispanic people tend to get a rough deal with the justice system. The fact that Zimmerman himself belongs to a persecuted minority kind of ruins the narrative somewhat.

  2. Gavin Moodie

    At least in some contexts Hispanics refer to themselves as ‘white Hispanic’.

  3. Sarah H.

    Excellent article. The main cause of consternation for me was that the jury said it was OK to kill someone because you were scared. That’s not what self defence is! If they believed Zimmerman’s varied stories about his intent at the time of pulling the trigger, they could have returned an alternative verdict of manslaughter.

    To acquit him entirely is just bewildering.

  4. mikeb

    It’s impossible to determine from this distance whether the jury got it right or wrong. Unless you were there to hear all the evidence the it is merely speculation and probably some bias. What is concerning however is the fact that Z could legally carry a gun, chase someone, and then shoot them. It may have been justified self defence, but I’d wager that Z would not have chased down M without his gun & therefore the event would never have happened. One thing GWH got right was gun control legislation in Aust & I thank him for that.

  5. Limited News

    Arguably the jury was right, and the law itself is the travesty. The most glaring problem would be that one can feel “threatened”, enter into a confrontation, and only then produce a concealed weapon, and discharge it. Really as soon as a weapon is produced, any right to feel threatened should be voided. ie produce the weapon early, or not at all.

  6. Venise Alstergren

    I wonder which came first, the fear or the guns?

  7. Guy Rundle

    ‘hispanic’ is a cross-category. you can be white-hispanic or, less often, black hispanic. but the racial categories are really social categories. a young black man is seen by a white-dominated community in a state with a racist history as an ‘other’, in the way that a (half)-hispanic man isn’t.

  8. zut alors

    What confounds me in stand-off situations (including in Oz when police have been accused of over-reacting to a suspect) is that the option to wound – rather than kill – is not taken. If Martin had been shot in the hand/foot/leg he would still be alive today as the clear intention would’ve been to disable him rather than kill him outright.

    The gun culture has produced outstanding results – US citizens are more frightened than ever. They have the gun lobby and their politicians to thank.

  9. It's Just Too Hard

    “with the strong suspicion that she saw a white-Hispanic guy with a gun and an unarmed black kid as a fair fight.”

    Is this statement the definition of an oxymoron? A white Hispanic Guy?..Zimmerman a white Hispanic? Ugghh?. Maybe Sephardic, but more than likely Ashkenazi.

    None of this has any bearing on the case, but I am just miffed at why the author is not dotting his I’s and crossing his T’s.

  10. Christopher Nagle

    Racism is a cliche that hardly begins to describe what is happening in not just the US, but across the industrialized world.

    60-70 years of relentless social and economic deregulation, libertarian self indulgence, the fudging of consumer and civil liberty, and loss of moral compass, has consequences across the entire society, from boardrooms (See GFC) to skid row.

    The social commons has been laid waste and replaced by an agenda of production drivers and consumer responders that are so narrow, they hardly encapsulate more than a fraction of our humanity. The rest has just been lost in a consumer free for all, leaving unfettered whims and egos to rule the roost .

    The miracle is that the behavior we are witnessing as ‘normal’ isn’t worse than it is. And we Australians can thank our luck stars that we aren’t armed to the teeth like our American brothers and sisters.

    Guns give social dissolution that extra frisson and potential for horror stories…

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