A self-appointed, armed, neighborhood vigilante in an SUV, spots a hooded figure at a distance. Perceiving the figure to be male, and black, he draws instant conclusions, follows, calls police and says, “He’s up to no good or on drugs or something.” Doctors in examining rooms can’t tell at a glance if a patient is on drugs.
The vigilante is instructed not to follow but does anyway, gets out of his SUV, accosts and kills 17-year old, Trayvon Martin, who was carrying a can of iced tea and some snack food. Acting under Florida’s (and 21 other states) depraved “stand your ground” law, local police refused to make an arrest. Now a grand jury is considering. Whatever they do, virulent racism has already shown its gory face, and the evil that once produced lynchings is again flourishing in the rotten body politic of Sanford, Florida.
It comes along with a proliferation of hate crimes all over the world. The Syrian army makes war upon Syrians. In Afghanistan, American soldiers burn holy books, defile dead bodies, and murder civilians, including women and children. In France, a serial murderer on a motor scooter shoots a man and children at a house of worship. In China practitioners of a quasi-religion—Falun Gong—are beaten, tortured, and sent into forced labor. Rwanda, Darfur, Oslo and other place names now evoke hideous crimes, as though a deadly virus of the mind, leaping borders, is causing madness and mayhem. This virus has struck throughout human history; its first symptom is hate speech, then hate laws, then hate acts including murder.
The murder of millions, thousands, even dozens, is virtually incomprehensible, but the murder of one boy, Trayvon Martin, by a hate-driven lunatic permitted to carry a deadly weapon and encouraged to use it by hate-engendered laws enacted by pandering politicians, horrifies millions. It should. One can only hope that mass outrage will make those pandering politicians fear for their reelections, which is about the only thing that motivates them.
Nothing can undo the tragic loss of Trayvon Martin, or ease the agony of his family and friends. But if it justice is done, giving pause to other armed hate-filled lunatics, his death will not be without meaning.