Commenting favorably on the protests and NAACP push to draw the Justice Department into the fracas over the Zimmerman verdict, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus remarked:
Through collective action, where we all stand our ground together, we can ensure Trayvon Martin’s death will never be in vain. The fight for equality and equal protection under the law in this country is far from over.¹
Us vs. them rhetoric that invokes racism without using the word is inflammatory politics as usual. Equality and equal protection cut both ways, a simple truism easily lost when tragedy is used to satisfy an agenda and keep members of Congress in the spotlight. Calls from politicians for justice too often condemn the same system they look to for redress when it fails to deliver the results they demand.
Chicago shootings are just more shootings.
What does it reveal about our government that members promote a single incident to monopolize the nation’s attention while scores of killings involving members of the same race are too commonplace to make the headlines? While Illinois politicians battled over a concealed carry law, the president’s hometown continued its tradition of tallying the shootings at the end of each weekend, an irony lost on those focused on a politically correct verdict in Jacksonville.
We don’t hear much about equal protection for Americans who live alongside war zones or the violation of rights as basic as not being shot for leaving your house or for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the other hand, if an incident can be cast as motivated by racism or hate the opportunities for members of Congress to run their mouths for the media are practically endless.
Washington thrives on racism.
It began with the president weighing in with his “he’d look like Trayvon” remark. Politicians and activists made their expectations for judgment clear long before the Zimmerman case went to trial. After meeting with Trayvon Martin’s family, a congresswoman made this statement about criminal charges being filed:
When I met with them, I assured them I would do everything I could to make sure justice was served for their son. There can be no happy ending in this story, but people need to believe that the system works fairly for everyone and this development is a good sign.²
Political agenda doesn’t determine what is fair and equal any more than it should sway the decision of a court case. After our legal system failed to live up to politicians’ needs to showcase a victory over racism and intolerance, another member of Congress lamented:
The family and friends of Trayvon Martin are in my heart today, and I am disappointed in this miscarriage of justice allowing an undisputed killer to walk free.³
The only thing undisputed is the expectation of politicians to deliver a victory over an incident they are using to ingratiate themselves with activist groups and voters. Perhaps lawmakers should spend more time trying to make this country a better place instead of working to widen the racial divide by engaging in the same kind of profiling they accuse other Americans of.