Trayvon Martin has been on my mind this week. The situation is upsetting on many levels, but what’s troubling me at the moment is the hatred prevalent in our society. Admittedly, I have been avoiding much of the news because I can’t stand to hear the 911 calls or the speculation about George Zimmerman. Details like that are important in some circumstances, but only to the Living. I also keep thinking about Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr.
Although there are differences in the details surrounding the killing of all three of those mother’s sons, and James Byrd was a father, too – the similarity is that all three murders were motivated by hatred. Although there was a level of premeditated malevolence in the killings of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, and George Zimmerman seems to have acted on his own ignorant, supremacist impulses – much like Joe Horn of Pasadena, Texas when he leaned out the window of his house to shoot and kill two Afro-Latino men who were on his lawn. Joe Horn went free because anybody in Texas has the right to kill anyone else for walking onto his lawn. We shall see what happens, or doesn’t happen, to George Zimmerman.
Hate is hate, though, whether it’s premeditated or impulsive, perpetrated on a suburban lawn or in a war zone. Who knows what went on in the mind of Robert Bales when he opened fire on the civilians in Afghanistan? Maybe it was a group of drunk soldiers like some sources say – or maybe the shooter was one poor schmuck with multiple tours of duty away from his home and family who simply “snapped.” A lone, crazy gunman like Jared Lee Loughner who shot Gabby Giffords outside a Safeway in Arizona. Either way, 17 people are dead because Robert Bales felt like he had a right to kill them. George Zimmerman felt like he had a right to kill Trayvon too.
And anybody who feels like that is filled with hatred. I don’t think it is a secret that Yellowdog Granny shot and killed the man in her life when he came home under the influence of multiple substances and started fucking with her teenaged daughter. I can see why a person would see nothing but red and shoot a bastard like that graveyard dead for fucking with her kid – and so could the judge who set Yellowdog Granny free.
I can’t see why some idiot neighborhood crime watcher would shoot and kill a boy walking home from a convenience store. Or wrap a man’s ankles in chains and drag him three miles before he finally died, and then another mile to dump his body at an African-American cemetery. Or torture and beat a boy senseless then tie him to a fence and leave him to die in the night.
And I sure can’t see how all these Conservative Christians who support ALEC and the boys at C Street – and Newt, Rush, Frothy and the rest of them – think it’s just fine to kill anybody who isn’t white anytime they get a wild hair up their butts. Read all about it in Exposed: The Corporations Behind the Law that may let Trayvon Martin’s Killer Go Free (Suzanne Merkelson, The Nation, March 23, 2012).
We have institutionalized hatred in this country – and we always have. White Slave Owners would not sign the Constitution in 1787 until they arranged for the 3/5 compromise wherein one slave counted as 3/5 citizen when determining the number of representatives a state should have based on its population. And then there’s the whole issue of institutionalized slavery in the first place, where rich, white guys thought it was a brilliant business idea to cram human beings into the hold of a ship, sail across the ocean and sell them to more rich, white guys.
I wonder what Joseph Conrad would make of the Heart of Darkness we’re seeing today in America. Hate is part of our constitutional DNA, as it were, and last week Trayon’s parents had to petition the government to investigate his murder – since the locals down in Florida, supported by ALECs legislation, didn’t have a problem with overzealous neighborhood watcher killing a kid in a hoodie.
Trayvon’s story was unfolding at about the same time as I was remembering a black man in my own past – and a few readers left comments about their own romances with people of a different race. It seemed clear to me that in the Menopausal Stoners corner of Blogtopia, white people are more inclined to look on brown people as potential sex partners instead of as potential criminals which is another way of saying: Make Love Not War. It’s been decades since that phrase first appeared, but as more people adopt that philosophy, when we look on our neighbors with respect and acceptance, Love will slowly take the place of Fear and Hatred in the hearts of Americans. Hippies hoped to change the world one mind at a time – and maybe we are. That’s how consciousness finally shifts.