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Tommy Carcetti

Tommy Carcetti's Journal
Tommy Carcetti's Journal
April 16, 2012

Regarding Bill Cosby's take on the Trayvon Martin case and soft bigotry.

(My response to this story in LBN:


I thought I would cross post this here as well.)

I don't see Zimmerman as the Grand Dragon of the KKK. He may very well indeed have been the person to have a "safe" black friend or acquanitance or two at some point in his life. Having listened to the 911 tapes, I'm not 100% convinced he said "coons" as opposed to "punks", but it is quite possible he used "punks." I haven't heard anything yet that supports the proposition that he was an open and unabashed hater of blacks to the point he freely expressed his unbridled vitriol towards them.

That all said, there is still most definitely a racial component in all this. Because while I haven't yet seen anything to support the notion that Zimmerman was an out and out racist, I have seen plenty to support the idea that Zimmerman had a twisted vigalante and trigger happy persona about him with a self-imposed sense of legal duty to him: he was going to be the law, regardless of the fact that he lacked a badge and any reasonable sense of self-restraint. And in that twisted mind of his, he probably thought that because--quite sadly--a large percentage of the prison populations are young African American males, that in his mind meant that any young African American male was a potentially a threat and up to no good (regardless of any actual evidence to suggest such an assessment). And in his deficient personality, his desire to be Charles Bronson combined with a CCW card that he thought gave him unlimited power culminated in a deadly result of an innocent kid being killed (and arguably murdered.)

So in other words, it was the classic profiling situation, which is soft-bigotry at its finest. And while I try to avoid hard bigots like the plague and thankfully find them far and few between, I've found that I've come across plenty of people who have fallen into the trap of soft bigotry. They don't necessarily hate blacks or Muslims or (name whatever group), but for whatever reason they don't want to trust the true fact that most people regardless of race are genuinely good people, and they don't fully trust members of that race. It's sad, but it's all too common place.

Take New York City and the proposed Islamic Center in lower Manhattan. You had a few people--like that whackjob Pam Geller--who weren't afraid to show us their ugly side and expose themselves as hard bigots who clearly hate all Muslims. But you had a lot more people who didn't necessarily express that hatred, but thought that the mere fact that building an mosque or Islamic Center close to the Ground Zero cite would somehow be "insensitive" or "inappropriate" to the victims of September 11th. Nevermind that a) there were many victims in the September 11th attacks who were Muslim, b) there was no evidence whatsoever that the Muslims seeking to build this Islamic Center had even the slightest ties to September 11th or Al Queada or to organized terrorism, or c) in the United States of America, you have the freedom to worship whatever you want, wherever you want, period.

But that is soft bigotry at play for you, and that is perhaps a greater threat to this country than hard bigotry. Because not only does it infect more people, but it is harder for people to reject and condemn because it is more subtle and commonplace. And its a trap that we see our neighbors or even members of our own family fall into, despite them being otherwise decent people.

I think one of the mistakes regarding the Trayvon Martin case was to immediately to compare it to the murder of Emmitt Till. Yes, there were some glaring factual simularities between the two cases. But the Till murder was a true lynching of the first magnitude, hard bigotry on display at its worst. It was a much more horribly simple case of hatred. The Trayvon Martin case is a much more complicated case indicative of 21st Century complexities. It was the nexis of the soft bigotry of racial profiling and a trigger happy, gun loving society.

So Bill Cosby was definitely on the ball by identifying a major issue of this case as being a matter of a gun-worshipping, trigger happy society. And he was also right that simply labling this case as a mere matter of hard bigotry doesn't necessarily do us any favors in contemplating it. But there is also most definitely a racial component to this case that cannot be ignored, that being the matter of soft bigotry. And while soft bigotry alone might not be a major danger to society, when you combine it with said trigger-happy, gun worshiping vigalante attitude expressed by many, the results can be--as Trayvon Martin tragically learned--very deadly.

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