We the people should learn from the O.J. Simpson murder trial nearly 18 years ago and behave as civil Americans now that George Zimmerman has been set free in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
When Simpson was acquitted on charges of killing Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, many people were outraged with that verdict. I was one of them. Did you see anybody burn down cities? Did you see any riots? Did you see any violence? No.
And the many Americans who now feel outrage over the Zimmerman acquittal should learn from how Americans behaved when Simpson was set free and we accepted the verdict. That's our jury system. It is the best in the world and it works well for all of us. We must respect verdicts by our jury system and move on, whether we accept them or not.
As the Florida jury deliberated the fate of Mr. Zimmerman in the death of the 17-year-old Trayvon, some Florida communities were already bracing for possible riots if the former neighborhood watch captain was acquitted.
However, despite the whisperings of violence and riots, Americans of all stripes again showed that we can be civil and nonviolent in these tense and uncertain moments. And if anybody were to defy our system of justice with rioting, violence and burning, they should be arrested and punished to the full extent of the law — absolutely no exceptions.
The bigger social issue in this case is why 90 percent of young black men who are killed are the victims of other black men. This is much more of a social problem in America than whites or Hispanics killing blacks.
But the Zimmerman case was not about race. Mr. Zimmerman is Hispanic, normally one of the protected minorities in America. In order to make the story about race, the New York Times, and some other media outlets, calls him a "white Hispanic" (his father is white, his mother of Peruvian heritage).
When was the last time anybody in America heard a Hispanic called a "white Hispanic"? Calling Mr. Zimmerman a "white Hispanic" is like calling Adam Clayton Powell or Barack Obama a "white black." But the media needed to create hysterics and so injected race into the equation to make it more salable to the American people as a political circus. After all, who cares about two white men or two black men in a fight that results in death.
However, this case was about profiling, in a certain sense. It was about a young man who was in the wrong neighborhood. Mr. Zimmerman worked on the Neighborhood Watch team and saw himself as the police. Mr. Zimmerman pursued Trayvon "in defiance" of authorities, who told him to wait until the actual police arrived.
A fight ensued and it clearly appears that Trayvon was getting the best of him. Mr. Zimmerman became frightened but he had a gun. I own guns. There's a certain bravado that a gun gives you. There's a certain security that a gun gives you. There's a certain confidence that a gun gives you.
When you have a gun on you, it changes you whether you realize it or not. If somebody's holding you and beating you down and you realize you've got a weapon on you, and you're in your neighborhood and he's not in his, and it's your job to protect your neighborhood, nine times out of 10 you may think you're going to use that weapon to scare them — but he used that gun.
Although I strongly believe the prosecution presented its case poorly, under traditional American law you must prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. In charging Mr. Zimmerman with second-degree murder the prosecution was unable to find convincing facts that would convince the jury of his guilt. But if Trayvon had killed Mr. Zimmerman the verdict would have undoubtedly been the same.
It is stunning to watch the reaction to the verdict and how many don't seem to care about evidence. This is because it happens to be a white man killing a black man, and therefore the white man must be punished. In reverse it's a historical lynching.
Some people want a lynching and could care less about the facts of the case. When you have conversations with people who are demanding "Justice for Trayvon" and you ask whether they've followed the trial, they look at you as if that is the most unimportant question in the world. The fact that the prosecution's case had more holes in it than pieces of Swiss cheese matters not one bit to their desire to see George Zimmerman in prison. Trayvon, like Zimmerman, is not a human being, but rather a symbol. Yet Zimmerman, like Trayvon, is a flesh and blood person, and both of their lives matter.
Trayvon deserves to be treated like a human being, not as some abstract principle or cardboard figure to be waved around by leftist propagandist for their own purposes. At the end of the day Zimmerman took Trayvon's life, but the incompetence of the prosecution's case left the jury with no alternative but to find him not guilty of the charges the state presented.
The tragedy of this case if that there is no good outcome, no reasonable resolution to the trial that would have satisfied everybody. A young man was killed by another young man under circumstances where there is so much racial static in the background that it's difficult for many to be remotely objective.
If both Mr. Zimmerman and Trayvon had been of the same race with otherwise identical facts, neither the national media nor the Rev. Al Sharpton would have given a moment's notice to this story. Unfortunately, the racial aspect of this case unearthed racial resentments and sensitivities that linger in the background of America. But while historically many blacks were killed in the South, there was no recourse in the judicial system then. Today, there is.
Compare the reaction of the Simpson verdict by many American blacks to this weekend's reaction to the Zimmerman acquittal. In both cases the prosecution did not make its case beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the defendant. Yet blacks generally cheered the result in the Simpson case, while viewing the Zimmerman verdict as a travesty of justice. In our court system of jury by trial, you can't have it both ways. There cannot be a different standard for a white man killing a black man than a black man killing a white man and a white woman.
Thankfully the jury in both cases did its job despite the enormous pressure of the biased media elite and the civil rights establishment. The American system worked, and what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
George Zimmerman, like O.J. Simpson, must spend the rest of his life facing the torment of his conscience having taking the life of a young man in such a reckless way. Mr. Zimmerman must not only someday face his maker but spend the rest of his life enduring the pain and suffering of robbing someone of their God-given life. The rest of society must put this sad chapter behind us and let heal the wounds against racial harmony each case led to.
But we also must be extremely cautious about trying to enact new laws as a result of the Zimmerman verdict. New laws and regulations enacted in response to bad outcomes in particular cases often in the end have unintended consequences. And continuing to prosecute Mr. Zimmerman at the federal level will only intensify racial animosity.
Armstrong Williams is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.” He is a political commentator who writes a conservative newspaper column, hosts a nationally syndicated TV program called “The Right Side,” and hosts a daily radio show on Sirius/XM Power 128 (7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m.) Monday through Friday. Read more reports from Armstrong Williams — Click Here Now.
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