Hal Ginsberg: The Case of Steven Salaita
Doc Cleveland: Who Lost Scotland?
Sorry for writing about Trayvon Martin again, but it's a topic I can't let go. Once the President decided to comment on the issue, his political enemies have gathered in a predictable attempt to turn his from the heart honesty into a political liability.
But they can only do that by proving that the President was foolish to comment on the issue and they can only do that by establishing that the President didn't know the facts and that he rushed to take sides based on race. Obama's critics have, of course, found an enthusiastic audience for this argument.
This is depressing, for all sorts of reasons. It is also not surprising. A story like just confirms oh so many deeply held prejudices. But the narrative only works if Obama was wrong. So Trayvon Martin's character must be impugned.
Step one is to claim that the liberal media portrayed Martin as a good kid when he was, in fact, a young criminal. This is not difficult in the internet age. You can find things to take out of context on anyone, especially a teenage boy. Or, you can make stuff up. The big new claim is that Martin beat up a bus driver. This is based on a supposed Tweet that has since been removed from the Internet by Martin's family who are, of course, just trying to cash in.
Now, Martin is a "drug dealer." Because every kid caught with a little weed at school is a drug dealer, right?
Oh, and maybe we was high when Zimmerman confronted him. Let's get that into the story. Because the demon weed makes people uncontrollably violent. We all know that.
This whole bit about Martin talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone and visiting the neighborhood to see family is just too wholesome. Let's make him a thief. Yes, today I am reading on the Internet that Martin had a backpack full of stolen jewelry (14 pieces, said one poster to another Web site) and a screw driver. So now he was on a burglary spree.
Oh, and "multiple witnesses" saw him attack Zimmerman and slam his head into the pavement. The existence of these witnesses is in doubt, but not on the Internet. Funny how the account of the fight seems so perfectly crafted to excuse Zimmerman's use of a pistol at close range. It's too late to go plant a weapon on Martin so let's make the sidewalk into a weapon. You can kill or permanently injure somebody that way, right? Heck, it's an especially scary way to do some one in. We all remember the curb stomp from "American History X," right?
Hopefully the Justice Department investigation will clear up the facts so far as the legal system is concerned, leading to a rational decision about whether or not Zimmerman should be prosecuted.
No matter how the investigation turns out, though, false claims about Martin's personality and life are bound to persist, perhaps for years. All so that some people could try to score some points on Obama.