The Zimmerman case has me in a funk, and not for the reasons you might expect.
Outside of elections, current events usually don’t have much of a bearing on my day-to-day life. I’m happy to argue for or against, but in practical terms, I still have to take out the garbage and do the dishes and put the kids to bed, and, say, the latest provocation out of North Korea doesn’t really have any bearing on what I do in the real world.
This case, however, has officially gotten to me. And I’m finding it hard to define the reasons why.
It has little to do with the actual events. It’s a tragedy, surely, but there isn’t a day that goes by where you can’t find a slew of news stories about murders of one kind or another. Were I to take up a constant vigil for every person who loses their life as the result of human cruelty, stupidity, or some other preventable and unnatural cause, I’d do little else but mourn. This was not an event that you or I are in any position to fully understand or retroactively prevent. Rehashing the evidence just exhausts me.
No, the national tragedy, in how it impacts me, is that this case, more than even the election, starkly illustrates how thoroughly we, as citizens of this nation, hate each other.
Hate. Strong word? Yes. Accurate? Yes again.
Those outraged by this verdict have decided that all of us who are not are racists. Period. We hate black people. We would shoot them if we could. We are all George Zimmerman now, and they don’t mean that in a justifiable-self-defensey kind of way.
At the same time, I’m pretty uncomfortable with anyone celebrating this verdict. I don’t think Zimmerman is a hero. A young man is dead who wouldn’t be dead if Zimmerman had stayed in his car. How is that a triumph of good over evil? There is no joy to be had here.
Yes, I do think that, legally, rationally, and dispassionately speaking, this was the right verdict on its own merits. That doesn’t make this case any less of a tragedy or George Zimmerman someone worthy of emulation. It does, however, make me a de facto racist.
I’m not cool with that.
But it doesn’t matter if I’m cool with that. We’ve reached a point in America where we can’t disagree without presuming that the disagreements are rooted in malice. It’s not enough that I be proven wrong; I have to be evil besides.
And, lest you think I’m claiming moral superiority and an above-it-all-ness, I concede I’m as guilty as anyone else. See? I can hate, too. My ire is aimed at a media that chose this one case out of thousands to put in the spotlight because they hoped it would deepen the hate. I see nothing but bad faith in how this case was covered, and it sometimes makes me so angry that I feel physically ill. I can’t spend more than five seconds on MSNBC while flipping channels without shouting at my television using my army vocabulary.
Maybe it was always this way, and I just didn’t bother to notice. Or maybe I hoped it wasn’t as bad as all that. But it is. And it’s depressing as all snot.
Have a nice day.