The talking point, agenda driven mindlessness of daytime talk radio (i.e. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck) is not appealing to me. Their predictability, and lack of use of known facts is not something I find to be informative or entertaining. I rarely listen in, and even when I do, I have my finger on the dial to switch it quickly. Likewise, I find cable news commentators like Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity equally lacking in credibility and believability, and even more boring because you can see their facial expressions on the screen. Give me a morning commute with our local KDKA news team, or a segment of Mike and Mike on ESPN any day.
So I only caught a brief clip of O’Reilly’s remarks today regarding the Zimmerman trial. It wasn’t what he said about the trial itself, though his sympathies about how he wants that to turn out are pretty clear. It was what he said, that has been echoed by others of his ilk in the fear mongering media, about what would happen if the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty by reason of self defense.” He warned his listeners that there would be rioting on the part of African Americans in response to the verdict, because, he claimed, there is some kind of statistic which shows that African Americans are more violent.
For some reason, this trial, with a Latino defendant and an African American victim, fascinates these right wing media extremists. They have relished, celebrated, and pushed the racial divide, placing far more emphasis on Zimmerman’s Latino heritage, and the fact that Trayvon Martin was an African American teenager, and the assumed problems that stem from both of those backgrounds, than the issue warrants. The details of the trial itself, or the facts of the case, are rarely part of any discussion of this subject. Rather, they pushing their racist views by nipping around the edges of this conflict, fanning emotional flames and pandering to the fears and superstition of their listening audience, as they do on virtually every other issue. And aside from the fact that none of them, not a single one, is qualified to address this subject from an informed, educated perspective, all four of them happen to be old, Caucasian men. They are radio and television personalities, not trained professionals.
You can call it what you want to, I see this as playing the race card in reverse. O’Reilly’s back door accusation, reporting that local law enforcement have a plan in place to deal with the expected rioting after the verdict is announced, slapped both the Latino community and the African American community in broadly hinting that if either ethnic community doesn’t get their way, there will be trouble. How insulting and racist is that? There have been hundreds of trials, and verdicts, that have affected members of the Latino and African American community adversely, and I don’t think our history in this regard is one of consistent fairness or equality when it comes to the accused of either race. Sometimes, things do reach the boiling point, but under the circumstances, the lack of violent reactions is remarkable. I don’t think the Caucasian community can lay claim to that kind of patience.
I would hope that most Americans are not pulling for Zimmerman or Martin because of their racial background, but out of a sense of fairness and justice. I would hope that they are pulling for the outcome that strengthens the system of a fair trial by a jury of peers, and I would hope that, regardless of the outcome, it is accepted for what it is. It is a perverse and crude exploitation of justice, and of the death of Trayvon Martin, for these alleged news commentators to use this as a platform to spew their own prejudices. If integrity, rather than making money, was the guiding principle behind a certain cable news network, O’Reilly would be looking for a job today.