Sunday, August 25, 2013

There's No Double Standard: Why the Killings of Trayvon Martin and Chris Lane Are Not the Same

Over the last few days there has been a rumbling of sorts throughout white America - or at least a certain segment of it - that the recent shooting of Chris Lane is on a par with the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Why isn't the main-stream media talking about this obvious and blatant example of reverse racism? Where is President Obama's outrage over this heinous act? And why couldn't Chris Lane just as easily have been his son? After all, he is half white, isn't he? Why no mourning for the death of a white man at the hands of black thugs who, from the evidence, had a predisposed hatred of white people?

This is the sort of false equivalence argument that makes my blood boil. It is not based on empirical evidence; rather it is based on a flawed theory that says all violence is ostensibly equal and that therefore there is a quid pro quo at work.

To be clear, the mopes who committed this ghastly crime should rot in prison for the rest of their natural lives, as should anyone who kills another human being. That, by the way, would apply equally to one George Zimmerman who, last I checked, is walking the streets a free man while his victim is lying in a grave. If you're going to engage in nonsensical equivalency arguments you should at least have the decency to admit your guy got away with murder, literally.

But that will never happen and for a very good reason. The proponents of this drivel know full well they are full of shit. It was never about the killing of innocent people; if it were, the parasites on the Right would've been up in arms when the Zimmerman verdict came in. If you at all followed the trial you kinda knew deep down the Martin family was screwed from the get go. There was never going to be any justice in that courtroom. Indeed, if you are black and Hispanic and you happen to live in a state that has a "Stand Your Ground" law, you already know that you have two strikes against you anytime you go toe to toe with a white man. The law is basically a license to shoot anyone perceived as a threat to you.

And that's why it is imbecilic to even remotely equate the killing of Chris Lane with Trayvon Martin. Yes, both men were shot by someone of the opposite race and neither had done anything to warrant death. But that is where the similarity ends. The former was the product of a thrill kill and a purely random act; the latter was a classic case of racial profiling. Lost in the fake rage of the ill-informed is the fact that had George Zimmerman listened to the 911 dispatcher and stayed in his vehicle, Trayvon Martin would still be alive today. Without the byproduct of 400 years of systemic racism to fuel his resentment there was never any reason for Zimmerman to confront Martin in the first place. All James Edwards needed was a target. Anyone would've sufficed. Sadly Chris Lane just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When Barack Obama said Trayvon Martin could've been his son, or even him when he was young, he was not playing favorites or playing the race card. He was speaking as an African American who knows full well what it is like to be black in a country that still sees color as a litmus test for acceptability. Even today, blacks need to walk a fine line. They aren't allowed to be angry or engage in outward displays of emotion that can be misinterpreted by some white people as threats to them. It is a cross no white person has ever had to bear, but one which every African American and many Hispanics carry with them on a daily basis.

Show me the instance where whites are perceived as a threat or are asked to leave a restaurant as a group of African Americans recently had happen to them in South Carolina. In my 52 years on this planet, I have never heard of such an instance. The simple and undeniable truth is that it happens all too frequently to people of color.

If there is a double standard at all, it is that African Americans, 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, are still waiting to cash that promissory note he spoke of. Whether it be the plethora of voter suppression laws springing up all over the South, the continued suspicious looks that many blacks continue to get in public, the unwarranted traffic stops by many cops who are clearly guilty of racial profiling or the blatant disregard for the law by self-appointed executioners who fancy themselves modern-day Matt Dillons, one thing is clear: the only thing white America has in common with black America is the country both live in. Aside from that, the two might as well exist in alternate universes.

Most white people comprehend this or at least get it on a gut level. They understand, as do I, that our collective experience is vastly different than that of our African American bothers and sisters. We are not foolish enough to equate two admittedly senseless murders simply because it placates a warped and historically inaccurate paradigm.

I say this as a white man who lives in a society which has showered him with every advantage imaginable: I have never had it so good. My worst day in this country is still a hundred times better than some people's best. I hope I never forget how lucky I am.

And I say this in all sincerity to any and all of my fellow white men and women who foolishly cling to the notion that just because every once in a while they don't get the promotion they thought they deserved or one of their kids doesn't get into the college of their choice or that one of them is the victim of a senseless hate crime, that that somehow entitles them to scream reverse discrimination, as though 400 years of oppression could be compressed into the thimble of a couple of decades:

GET A LIFE!

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