Still piling on the accusations in a case where the defendant looks increasingly likely to be acquitted, CBS’ Face the Nation yesterday featured activists Michael Eric Dyson and Touré, along with correspondent Marc Strassmann, accusing George Zimmerman of racial motivations in shooting Trayvon Martin.
Strassmann is noteworthy because he was the first national television reporter to cover the case, on CBS This Morning, and did not–contrary to the Associated Press, which followed up on the story–mistakenly report Zimmerman’s race as “white.” That error helped create a myth that was subsequently inflamed by Al Sharpton of MSNBC into a national outrage–and Strassmann now seems to buy into it as well.
Strassmann, Dyson, and Touré, unable to accuse Zimmerman directly of racism, tried to associate him with the broader problem of prejudice in American society–and in Sanford, Florida, where the death occurred:
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Right. And– and let’s look at the predictability of the pattern here. It is not the case that young white men in hoodies have been assaulted or who are dressed of the inappropriate fashion. Don’t forget, Bob, that dress for African-American people has always signified beyond fashion or sartorial splendor. How we dress is an indication of where we stand in society. Remember, right after slavery, black people got dressed in extravagant fashion and that caused great resentment to– for white Americans who believed that black people were being uppity because they were trying to out-dress their status.
Now it is the case that whatever hoods we wear, sagging pants, those become part of the folklore of American racism because it now signifies to white America that this is a hood, this is a thug, and the suspicion that is cast not only on Trayvon Martin. Look at the President of the United States of America. Here is a guy who do it the right way. He went to Harvard, he’s the President. Look at the– the ready– the– the steady stream of racism and bigotry–
TOURE: He’s threatening Jan Brewer.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: — the- the– the stereotypes that prevail, right, I’m afraid of him, he’s a– he’s a moron, he’s an orangutan, he’s an animal. Look at all of that.
TOURE: And we see that– I mean, we see that when George Zimmerman is talking to the 911 operator, he’s threatening, he’s on drugs, he’s got his hand in his pants, ergo, he’s got a gun. So– and we see this constantly that young black men are viewed as threatening, something to be feared, on drugs, they are out of their mind, they are dehumanized quickly. And this is profiling, which– you know, which Angela Corey noted right away. So yes, it is mistaken identity in that you’re mistaking an innocent person for a criminal.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Absolutely.
MARK STRASSMANN: The other– that’s America’s history. In Sanford, their history too had been– there have been a lot of suspicion by the minority community in Sanford toward the police department. A couple of years ago, a homeless black man had been beaten up on videotape. For three weeks nobody was arrested and it turned out the assailant was the police lieutenant’s son with the Sanford PD. So there was change at the top of Sanford PD, and now here we got the new chief who is dealing with many of the same issues that the old chief had to deal with– that is these racial tensions that have existed in this town and that is where we are today.
The problem for Strassmann, Dyson, and Touré is that Strassmann’s handpicked example, the assault on a homeless black man, was one in which Zimmerman had been directly involved–as a member of the public urging local police to discipline the officers responsible, i.e. leading efforts to fight racism in Sanford.
As the Daily Caller reported on April 4:
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.
…[A]according to members of the Zimmerman family, George printed and distributed copies of fliers on bright fluorescent-colored paper demanding that the community “hold accountable” officers responsible for any misconduct. TheDC has obtained a copy of one of those fliers.
“Do you know the individual that stepped up when no one else in the black community would?” the Zimmerman family member asked in the letter to the NAACP’s Clayton.
“Do you know who spent tireless hours putting fliers on the cars of persons parked in the churches of the black community? Do you know who waited for the church‐goers to get out of church so that he could hand them fliers in an attempt to organize the black community against this horrible miscarriage of justice? Do you know who helped organize the City Hall meeting on January 8th, 2011 at Sanford City Hall??”
“That person was GEORGE ZIMMERMAN,” the letter insisted. “Ironic isn’t it?”
Every Sunday, according to his family, Zimmerman would stroll through Sanford’s black neighborhoods handing out the fliers demanding justice for Sherman Ware, and calling for the police to hold their own officials accountable. Zimmerman would also place the fliers on people’s cars outside churches.
Strassmann, Dyson, and Touré are so committed to the idea that racism was the problem in the Trayvon Martin case that they are willing to cast Zimmerman as part of the overall problem–even using a case where, in the absence of other information, they would have seen him as part of the solution.
CBS thus provided a typical example of a pattern noted by Shelby Steele in the exploitation of the Martin case by “the increasingly redundant civil rights establishment” and their mainstream media collaborators–namely, the creation of myths in which “the poetic truth of white racism and black victimization is invoked so that the actual truth becomes dismissible as yet more racism.”
The truth of Zimmerman’s anti-racism must be crushed to prove his racist motivations–the more so as the legal case against him begins to fall apart.