Northrop column was insensitive

July 23, 2013

How sad when a seemingly educated, God-fearing man like Bill Northrop can write such a completely insensitive, blind-to-reality column as appeared in the Sunday Observer-Reporter regarding the acquittal of George Zimmerman.

Northrop’s premise is that the case had absolutely nothing to do with race. Yet his column is filled with statements and inferences that clearly show that the opposite is true. He begins by dismissing the opinions of a host of black spokespersons as political opportunism. While the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the others cited may be opportunists and have been buffoons in the past, surely they have some expertise at recognizing racial injustice when they see it. Or, are they not entitled to express opinions by virtue of the fact that they are black leaders and, therefore, incapable of anything but race baiting every time an issue comes to the forefront?

I am curious about Northrop’s choice of referring to the decision to try Zimmerman as an attempt at political “lynching.” Was that an innocent choice or a racially calculated one?

Northrop then goes on to delineate points which he feels show that race was not a factor in the case. Let’s list a few: Zimmerman was not white, he is brown, so it was not a racially motivated incident; the neighborhood had a history of “black” crime, so the rash of burglaries were committed by black teenagers (how is that known?), yet George Zimmerman, in his immense open-mindedness, was not influenced at all by the fact that Trayvon Martin was black.

Finally, Northrop points out that the horrific slaughter in large urban centers in this country is not “black on black” crime, but “human on human” and therefore absent any consideration of race. I wonder if the deaths of several thousand white young people in North Redington Beach, Fla., every year would be dismissed so cavalierly. This tragedy continues largely unnoticed precisely because it involves, primarily, young black men.

I will agree that, given the facts presented in the trial, there was enough reasonable doubt to acquit Zimmerman of the charges. In a world, though, where a threatening utterance or an obscene gesture can result in charges, a trial investigating the death of an unarmed kid was certainly warranted.

What I do know is Trayvon Martin could have been my nephew who was killed. Had Trayvon Martin been the one with the gun, and Zimmerman had been killed, the outcome of the trial would likely have been very different. And race had everything to do with this case.

I think an investigation by the Department of Justice into this case and into the existence of “stand your ground” laws is both necessary and welcome.

Robert Thornton



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