Patterico's Pontifications

4/16/2012

William Jacobson: What Is Left of the “Zimmerman as Racist” Narrative?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:50 am

A very good post that breaks down the accusations point by point.

I think this is a fair description of the racial narrative of the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman:

George Zimmerman (1) shot Trayvon Martin (2) because a black teenager in a hoodie is frightening (3) to whites, as proven by (4) Zimmerman’s description of Martin as suspicious because he was black, and (5) Zimmerman’s use of the phrase “f-ing coons”, (6) in a classic case of racial profiling, (7) inspired by a climate of hate stoked by Republican “right-wing” rhetoric.

What is left of this narrative based upon what currently is publicly known?

You should read the whole thing, and follow the links, but I’ll give you a snippet:

(4) Zimmerman did not describe Martin’s race in the initial 911 phone call until the dispatcher asked the race of the suspicious person, at which point Zimmerman said he “looks black.” The audio broadcast by NBC News omitted this intervening question to make it appear as if Zimmerman stated that Martin was suspicious because he was black.

(5) The assertion that Martin used the racial epithet “coons” is subject to serious doubt. CNN hired three audio experts, only one of whom believed the word was used. In the Affidavit of Probable Cause, two state investigators swore under oath that Zimmerman said “f-ing punks.”

More analysis and supporting links at Prof. Jacobson’s post.

One of the links, highlighted by commenter Random (who passed along Prof. Jacobson’s post), was something I had missed in the initial coverage. (As I have said, I have not followed the story closely.) Namely, evidence that Zimmerman agitated against police officers who had beaten a poor black man:

In late 2010 and early 2011 George Zimmerman, the Hispanic Sanford, Fla., man who shot and killed 17-year-old black teen Trayvon Martin, publicly demanded discipline in a race-related beating case for at least two of the police officers who cleared him after the Feb. 26 altercation, according to records obtained by The Daily Caller.

In a letter to Seminole County NAACP president Turner Clayton, a member of the Zimmerman family wrote that George was one of “very few” in Sanford who publicly condemned the “beating of the black homeless man Sherman Ware on Dec. 4, 2010, by the son of a Sanford police officer,” who is white.

Racist.

By the way, it looks like a couple of these cops were among those who cleared him.

I think the idea that Zimmerman hunted down Martin and killed him in cold blood is not very plausible given that he called the police first. The remaining scenarios depend on a lot of variables: did Zimmerman pursue Martin after the dispatcher’s “we don’t need you to do that” comment; who initiated the final confrontation; who initiated the physical confrontation; who was getting the better of that confrontation; and so on. It’s all a matter of evidence.

But the idea that this was a racially motivated hunt? Yeah, that’s pretty hard to buy at this point.

Was David Carr Slamming Andrew Breitbart, or Praising Him?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:25 am

David Carr had a recent profile of Andrew Breitbart that contained the following passage:

On the Web, there was a huge outpouring of both invective and grief. Dark, unsubstantiated theories that he was murdered mushroomed immediately, while 24 of his friends used the hashtag #DJBreitbart on Twitter to offer a playlist of his beloved ’80s music. His own Twitter account (which included more than 80 tweets sent on the day before his death) now sits as a frozen memorial.

In the days following the death of Mr. Breitbart, many of his admirers adopted a meme of “I am Breitbart,” and vowed to continue his work. But even though his Web site, run by his business partner and lifelong friend Larry Solov, is fully staffed and unveiled a redesign after his death, there could be no real replacement.

For good or ill (and most would say ill), no one did it like Mr. Breitbart.

A friend passed that along, calling it a sneaky smear, and sent me a link to Bill Kristol slamming Carr over it:

“Most would say ill?” Really? I know of no empirical evidence that backs up this statement. If anything, my experience has been the opposite—almost all conservatives would say Andrew was a force for good, and even some liberals would deny he was a force for ill. I think Carr is intelligent enough to know this, and that he wouldn’t have written it. I suspect this parenthesis was added by Times editors who couldn’t stand the notion that innocent people might read Carr’s piece and decide that Andrew’s achievements were, on the whole, admirable.

If I’m wrong, David Carr is free to step forward to take responsibility for this parenthesis—and to defend it. If I’m right, we have here a striking example of the Times’s irresponsibility and mean-spiritedness.

You are about to call me hopelessly naive. But I suggest there might be a third option: Carr meant it as a genuine compliment.

Don’t get me wrong. When I first read the passage, I was angry, and started to bang out an ill-tempered screed about Carr. It was when I started writing the headline that I was forced for the first time to accurate characterize what Carr had really said . . . and I realized that it might actually have been a kind thing to say.

Bear with me.

“Nobody did it like Andrew Breitbart.” Is that a good thing or a bad thing? For his admirers, it’s a bad thing, right? We want more people to do it like Andrew Breitbart. Andrew had his faults, but the qualities we admired were so great that, as Carr points out, many people want to carry on his legacy. But nobody was Andrew Breitbart but Andrew Breitbart. And that is a shame.

So if a guy says: “For good or ill (and most would say ill), no one did it like Mr. Breitbart” . . . I’m going to take that as a compliment to Andrew.


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