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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The political crimes of George Zimmerman

Sultan Knish has a deeply troubling view of American culture
Zimmerman with his book of quotations from the great thinkers of history, a man who clearly believes in the old fashioned virtues, is particularly ill-equipped to understand what is being done to him and why. The quotation that he plastered on flyers while investigating the beating of a homeless black man and on his own website, is more apt than he realizes.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is indeed that good men do nothing, but as a corollary to it, those are exactly the sort of men that evil will go after. It does no good to read Burke quotations to a Kardashian society which makes its determinations not on truth or justice, but on its omnipresent need for entertainment.

Trying to reason with it only makes it angrier. Talking about virtues and decency to people who have none either confuses them or infuriates those few who understand the concept in some distant way. We aspire to behave the way that George Zimmerman did, to contribute to our communities, to defy the conventional wisdom and speak out when we see wrongdoing. We believe that all that is needed for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. And we are only a misstep away from being George Zimmerman, from doing the wrong thing, from intervening in the wrong fight, drawing the wrong cartoon or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, a heartbeat away from appearing at the bar of the kangaroo court of stage managed public opinion. In our own way we are all George Zimmerman.

We think that society should be moral and rational, and that people should do the right thing. But that's not what it is. It's an insane braying donkey's laugh as the thieves, large and small, rob the people blind and then muscle them into a lynch mob to go after some handy victim. It's George today, it will be someone else tomorrow. Maybe someone who even deserves it. But it won't be the people destroying the country, because they're the ones leading the mob. George Zimmerman has been chosen to serve as a gladiator in the circus that distracts a bankrupt nation from the criminal folly of its leaders, large and small. He has been assigned white team colors, had an NRA badge pinned to his lapel, and is being shoved out into the stadium while the lunatic mob howls for blood.

The Emperor of Hope and Change has already made the thumbs down gesture, the courtiers are rushing out to fix the match. Like Kafka's protagonist, Zimmerman has been protesting all along that this is some sort of mistake. And he's right. It is a mistake. Had the engineers behind the lynch mob gotten a good look at his photo, they might have pulled back and looked for a better victim. Someone who more properly fit their bicoastal idea of a "cracker" to string up on the crooked scales of Lady Justice. But once a mob has gotten started, it's hard to shut it down.

And there's no real need to stop. In the past, a media organ that reported a blatant lie might have at least paused on getting caught, but we live in a post-fact society now. The only thing that happens is that the media shrugs and doubles down on the narrative. George Zimmerman isn't white? Just call him a white-hispanic. Insist that Latinos are really white even though your entire practice has been to loudly scream the opposite. Accuse anyone who points out that Zimmerman doesn't look much like Larry the Cable Guy of being a racist. Problem solved.

Zimmerman thinks it's a mistake because he's not guilty. But as Kafka might have told him, guilt or innocence has little to do with it. Zimmerman wasn't indicted on charges of shooting a man, but of being a racist, of being the living embodiment of American inequality, NRA lawmaking and a dozen other sins. These are not charges that he can ever shake, because they are not legal crimes, they are political crimes. The true charges against Zimmerman are 'class charges', they indict him as the representative of a class, white racists, gun owners and the entire heteronormative patriarchal class of men who quote Edmund Burke, carry guns and feel entitled to trail troubled black teenagers in their community. Lynching Zimmerman is not about putting one man away, it is about putting everyone away. It is about the absolute triumph of the system and its ideology and about putting the individualist in his place, in a small cell and an orange jumpsuit.

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