Shawn Maxam on how we can use George Zimmerman’s Hannity interview to become a better society.
You don’t have to teach people how to be human. You have to teach them how to stop being inhuman.
Last night like a lot of America I watched Sean Hannity’s interview of George Zimmerman on Fox News. I came away with a few thoughts I would like to share.
We still have young Black males being unjustifiably killed in 2012 yet we as a country are still debating who is actually the victim in this case. I think the story of Trayvon Martin illustrates how prominent “victim blaming” still is in our culture. Time and time again we see people attacked, harassed, killed etc but we still have to discuss whether the victim had it coming.
You can see examples of this from the Chris Brown and Rihanna situation, the Daniel Tosh rape-joke controversy and the death of Trayvon Martin. Usually the “victim blaming” falls into an oppressor/oppressed dichotomy. The dialogue is actually far more nuanced than that but the binary is yet a familiar pattern when we have these discussions.
Another thing I learned from the interview is our inability as Americans to admit any wrongdoing or mistakes. Nearly four years later former president George W. Bush still can’t admit that there were mistakes made during his administration. Last night you could see Zimmerman attempting to apologize without admitting he did anything wrong. You can’t be contrite if you don’t believe you made a mistake.
Zimmerman also attempted to use God as a crux. This is typical of our country. We use ideological short-cuts to explain things. It is far easier to do that than to engage in the deep and often painful self-analysis of why inequality and injustice exist in our society. So George Zimmerman can say it was “God’s plan” for Trayvon Martin to be murdered instead of looking at his own prejudices and fears of Black men as the reason why he followed and shot a teenage boy. We can never know what “God’s plan” is but we can know where, how and why we criminalize a whole group of boys and men.
The Zimmerman interview is a microcosm of America. An example of our misconceptions about race, class and ourselves. We will never be able to address the problems in our country if we aren’t willing to use tragic situations as a catalyst to look at how we as a country and individuals contribute to and perpetuate all of the inequality in our country. Rather than looking at the television screen and asking what’s wrong with George Zimmerman we should instead look at each other and ask what’s wrong with you and me.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
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