I can’t believe how much time I’ve spent parsing this “On the issue of racism I’m more or less a centrist” editorial of Richard Cohen’s currently dropping jaws across the internet. I’m not about to indulge him, or his dimwitted attempt to shake up what he believes is America’s too-polite racial politics [Mr. Cohen? Can I get you a seat near the window?], but I really do want to understand what he’s trying to get at. So here goes:
I don’t like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead. But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize.
If it’s something ‘we all recognize’, it must be true. So is Cohen saying we can tell a criminal by his clothes?
But I’m tired of politicians and others who have donned hoodies in solidarity with Martin and who essentially suggest that, for recognizing the reality of urban crime in the United States, I am a racist. The hoodie blinds them as much as it did Zimmerman.
Yes, he is. Criminals do like to wear hoodies. That’s how poor George Zimmerman recognized the ‘uniform’ yet knew nothing of Martin’s literal underlying innocence. On the other hand, it was politicians who remained willfully ‘blind’ to this:
. . the public knows young black males commit a disproportionate amount of crime. In New York City, blacks make up a quarter of the population, yet they represent 78 percent of all shooting suspects — almost all of them young men.
Black kids do like to commit crimes. So, to sum up:
The result was a quintessentially American tragedy — the death of a young man understandably suspected because he was black and tragically dead for the same reason.
. . that’s just how the dominoes fell. <
For many Americans, the tragedy came about because George Zimmerman made dangerous assumptions based on someone's appearance. For Richard, it happened once Zimmerman made realistic assumptions for the same reasons. Or, in shorter fashion, it was Trayvon's fault.