Roger Simon: Martin-Zimmerman was all about race
We would wish it otherwise. Race is the most important undiscussed issue in America today.
We talk about race only after a tragedy or crisis or after those rare moments when we pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves we don't need to talk about race because the election of Barack Obama made the United States a "post-racial" society.
Martin, 17, was black and unarmed when he was shot to death on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla., by Zimmerman, 28, whom the news media took to calling a "white Hispanic." (His mother was born in Peru.)
But many, especially in the black community, were outraged. President Obama said a few weeks later in the Rose Garden, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. I think (Trayvon's parents) are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."
They say no. In his opening statement to the jury, prosecutor John Guy said: "We are confident that at the end of this trial you will know in your head, in your heart, in your stomach that George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to. He shot him for the worst of all reasons, because he wanted to."
In the end, the jurors did not find Zimmerman innocent, only that the prosecution had failed to prove Zimmerman guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The jurors also did not find Zimmerman guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter, which they might have done had prosecutors concentrated on that charge in the first place.
But Zimmerman, under Florida's demented gun laws, had a right to be carrying a concealed handgun that was ready to be fired. As his attorney, Mark O'Mara, said on CNN Monday, "If you have a gun and don't have a round in the chamber, it's a paperweight."
And it would be good to be able to talk about race in America without agony. But that day has not yet arrived.
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