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031612-national-trayvon-martin

The Trayvon Martin saga is finally at an end. All that remains to do now is discuss the case until the sun explodes.

Despite the epic length of the affair, and the exhaustive details unearthed for its resolution, commentators across the American political spectrum seem unwilling to let the scandal (if it is one) rest for a second. If anything, they imply, the end of the case is just the beginning; the beginning of a new Rodney King-style Black indignation circus, this time bolstered by altered demographics and a sympathetic President. Pinch me when it’s over….

Just in case anyone wants my 5 cents on the matter (and you probably don’t), I seem to be pretty much alone in the foggy coolness of the centre ground. I honestly don’t know whether Mr Zimmerman qualifies as a cold-blooded murderer, or whether the alternative is true, that he is merely a very trigger-happy, quite unmanly paranoiac. I don’t actually know George Zimmerman. Nor do you. Nor does any media personality, priest, or racial demagogue.

Either way, let’s not pretend Zimmerman has gotten off scot free. The humiliating question of his ethical status – monster or paranoiac? – has been internationally broadcast for weeks on end. Neither are pleasant evaluations of a man’s character and neither offer him any kind of moral exoneration. Only one however is punishable by law and on this matter, the court has spoken. The case is closed.

The arguments that will henceforth occur then, must be about something else; something bigger. Most will revive the oldest question in American political sociology: namely, Is America a racist society?

If you’re a black man in Alabama, you might well think this question was a waste of energy, so self-evident is the affirmative answer. If you’re a White Republican condemned to politically correct silence on the outskirts of bankrupt Detroit however, you might possibly have a different response.

Let me tell you what it looks like from over here in England. Although there are undoubtedly racists (of all kinds) in modern America, the United States remains light years ahead of Europe on the matter of ethnic difference and racial coexistence.

To understand why, Compare the reaction to the Trayvon case, to what followed the Mark Duggan affair.

After the Trayvon verdict was nationally known, demonstrations were held by Blacks and Whites alike, almost all in a peaceful and law-abiding manner. The national conversation was just that – a conversation. It may have been angry and often tense, but it was civilized.

This is a stark contrast to modern London.

Years before the Trayvon case, a young black man (consensus now has him as a gang-member) called Mark Duggan was shot dead by police in London. Unlike in the Trayvon affair, this case didn’t even have the chance to reach a courtroom before large parts of London were set on fire.

In case you’ve forgotten about the ‘London riots’ of 2011, they were pretty extraordinary and fearful days. For about a hundred hours, a literal anarchy prevailed in the Black urban districts of North-Central and North-East London and violence later spread as far south as Clapham Junction. Shops were looted. Cars and police were petrol-bombed. Many innocent people died.

So you see America, you might not think that your society has evolved since the dark days of Rodney King, but really, it has.

Let this, and not the stubborn trench-warfare of recent weeks provide the legacy of this case.

D, LDN.

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