Letís take the advice of the attorney general of the United States. Letís have a national conversation about race in the wake of the verdict in the Zimmerman trial. Letís make it a painfully honest conversation ó except about all the things that are painful for us to admit.
Letís take a tragedy and make it a racial crime. Letís not acknowledge the evidence suggesting that Trayvon Martin was beating George Zimmerman. Letís never, ever admit that if Martin hadnít hit Zimmerman, he would almost certainly be alive today.
Letís act as if the main threat to young black men in America is overzealous neighborhood-watch volunteers who erroneously consider them suspicious, call the police and follow them, then shoot them in self-defense after a violent altercation in confusing circumstances that will never be entirely disentangled. Letís pretend that this happens all the time.
Letís send down the memory hole reports of burglaries and attempted break-ins in Zimmermanís community that, according to a Reuters report, ďhad created an atmosphere of growing fear in the neighborhood.Ē
Letís ignore that Zimmerman is from a mixed-race household. Letís forget that he initially didnít mention Martinís race on his 911 call and said he ďlooks blackĒ only when prompted by the operator. Letís disregard testimony about his good character, lest it get in the way of the national dialogue about how heís a racist murderer who got away with it.
Letís say the trial was about race in America or about whether black men can walk home from the store or any other insipid, racially charged nonsense to fill the air or the column inches. The national conversation cannot afford to get mired down in legal niceties like what constitutes lawful self-defense, let alone reasonable doubt.
Letís call people we disagree with racists. We often do that anyway, but during such an open, freewheeling discussion, it is particularly important that dissenting voices be swiftly condemned and, ideally, silenced. People have an obligation to be careful about what they say during a national dialogue.
Letís not talk about the 90 percent of black murder victims killed by other blacks. That is not a fit topic for the nationís wide-ranging national conversation. Why should we get worked up about something that happens on the streets of Chicago literally every night? If you are bothered by routine slaughter, sadly, you just donít get it. For national conversation purposes, not all killings are equal.
Letís blast New York Cityís stop-and-frisk policy as the worst kind of racial inequity. Letís not bother to note that New York City once had 2,200 murders a year and now has 400, nor that many of the thousands of lives saved are those of black men. Letís focus on the important thing ó condemning the policy that contributes to saving those lives as heinously racist.
Letís talk about guns, except the guns that black men use to shoot other black men. No one should worry too much about those guns, or attempt to take them out of the hands of the people carrying them illegally, because thatís racist (please see above and try to follow along ó this essential national dialogue cannot succeed without your careful attention).
Letís listen to the attorney general inveigh against ďstand your groundĒ laws and make-believe that he knows what the hell heís talking about. Letís ignore that the ďstand your groundĒ law wasnít the reason the Sanford, Fla., police initially didnít arrest Zimmerman, and that it really had nothing to do with the trial.
In short, letís take a terrible event and make it a festival for all our ideological and racial ax-grinding and a showcase for our inability or unwillingness to reason clearly. Letís do it in perpetually high dudgeon while simultaneously patting ourselves on the back about our fearlessness and honesty.
Yes, Mr. Attorney General, you are right. This is exactly the conversation that the country needs.
Rich Lowry is a King Features syndicated columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org