Sunday, July 14, 2013

American Verdict

The irony of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin is that, for the first time, he may sense how his victim must have felt that night.

While the jury deliberated, Zimmerman’s lawyer was telling an interviewer that, even if his client were to be freed, his life would change forever.

"I believe his life is at risk, and I don't say that for dramatic effect," Mark O'Mara said before the jury freed his client. "There are a lot of people who think George killed Trayvon Martin for racial reasons, even though nothing supports that. And if they feel that anger enough, they could react violently."

Rightly or wrongly Zimmerman will know how it feels to be hated for who you are and to have unknown people disposed to harm you, not for how you interact with them but based on prejudice, a literal pre-judgment that can lead to dramatically distorted encounters such as the one on the night Trayvon Martin died.

The end of the media circus about all this can leave no one elated. The verdict will be grist for days more of deep-think about American justice and race, little of it edifying or helpful with the pain left behind, and then public attention will shift back to dysfunction in Washington.

Hopefully, no one will try to harm George Zimmerman, but he will have to be even more wary of those who try to shower him with money and praise for what he did on the worst night of his life.

If he resists it might help him to see Trayvon Martin as a fellow human being.

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