About the Zimmerman verdict: What are children being told about the killing of Trayvon Martin? About the Zimmerman verdict?
On the morning after the verdict, Benjamin Jealous raised this question. He spoke with Candy Crowley as part of an error-riddled State of the Union program.
All the hacks stated their favorite fake facts. Jealous was deeply concerned:
JEALOUS (7/14/13): We should listen for our young people and search with them when they ask how is it that young Trayvon Martin could be killed by George Zimmerman and George Zimmerman gets no time when Michael Vick got two and a half years for killing dogs? When a domestic violence victim in Northern Florida shot warning shots in the air over the head of her attacker and got 20 years.We’ll be honest. We feel sorry for children who are getting their help from Jealous. We feel sorry for children whose loving parents are getting misled by such folk.
JEALOUS: And it's important that we take the feelings of our young people very seriously, and we help them sort through this.
For an idea of what we mean, consider this heartfelt op-ed column from Sunday’s Baltimore Sun. The piece was written by the frightened, loving parents of a 12-year-old Baltimore boy.
We’re sure these parents are extremely good people. We’re sure they meant every word they wrote. But children are constantly forced to deal with the outlooks, psychodramas and misconceptions of their parents. We’re not sure we don’t feel sorry for kids who are told things like this:
After Trayvon, having 'the talk' with our sonIt’s true, of course, that these parents could be visited by all sorts of tragedies “every day that we leave the house.” That said, isn’t it time that we stop telling children that they are likely to be gunned down, shot through the heart by a vigilante, just for buying some candy?
An open letter to our 12-year-old son:
When you were a little boy, whenever you started crying, we would put you in your car seat and take you for a drive through downtown Baltimore. We would play Sweet Honey in the Rock and sing out loud until you started moving your head, clapping your hands, and singing along. You grew up on folk music and freedom songs, and though you did not understand them, we had always hoped that the meaning of the words would someday make sense. We vowed, as all parents do, to protect you and to do all that we could to make the world a better and safer place, where you could grow up and be free.
We have done all that we can for you and your brother, and yet, in so many of the ways that are important, we have failed you. The world is not a better place. It is not safer, and people are not equal. We are still being judged (and judging others) by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. We have not gotten to the Promised Land and are really starting to question whether that land actually exists.
We are the parents of two African-American boys, and every day that we leave the house, we know that we could become Trayvon Martin's parents.
Children much younger than 12 are being scared shitless as they hear the embellished stories pimped each night by demagogues on TV. (Most of the demagogues are white.) Loving parents hear those stories and they don’t understand how many of the “facts” they’re hearing are untrue, bogus, false—fake.
We hate to provide the buzzkill here, but the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin was an unusual event. In large part, that explains why we’ve spent so much time discussing it.
Vigilantes are not gunning down children every time they go out for Skittles. Are we sure we want to terrify this many good children this way?
In every generation, parents impose their fears and their worldviews on their children. Twelve years later, should these loving parents really feel they have “failed” their son because people “are still not equal?” We’re sorry, but statements like that seem aimed at parents’ emotional needs more than at those of their children.
Inevitably, we end up here. To our ear, this sounds unfortunate:
For 12 years, you have been protected. You have no idea of what it means to struggle. You have never been made to feel invisible and have never felt profiled or threatened. We have protected you when we probably should have prepared you. Now that the jury has spoken and the dust has settled, we will turn our attention to speaking to you and your brother every day about what you need to know and what you need to do to navigate your way through this city and through this country. We still believe that the world will be a better place, but, son, you will have to create it—and where we failed, you will succeed. We look forward to being there on that day and to celebrating with you.Really? Those kids are going to hear “the talk” every day? Because of what the Zimmerman jury said?
These devoted parents make it clear that they know about the full range of dangers confronting kids who live in our cities. “Your mother cried when the George Zimmerman verdict was announced,” they write, “but those tears are nothing compared to the ones that she sheds over the senseless violence that happens every day across this city.”
Good for this mother, who actually cares! One sensational Baltimore teenager lost her life just last week at the hands of another teen who had lost his way.
On balance, this open letter discusses the potential danger from youths who have lost their way more than the danger from vigilantes. Statistically, that is surely the larger danger. So why is this open letter tied to the Zimmerman verdict?
These parents discuss the need for “the talk.” Sadly, that need exists. But at present, are children perhaps being terrified to serve the needs of their parents? More specifically, to serve the needs of the people who are on TV each night, conning and scaring the rest of the nation by endlessly stating their favorite fake facts?
By disappearing large piles of facts which may help explain what happened that night? By creating brain-dead comparisons between Zimmerman and Michael Vick? (For the record, we like Michael Vick.)
Increasingly, those people on TV strike us as very bad people. Because of the various needs of those very bad people, a whole lot of children, from 12 on down, are being aggressively frightened, often by bogus facts.
(A bridge collapsed in Minneapolis a few years back. We didn’t stage a national breakdown in which children were told that they’re doing to drown the next time they drive with their mother.)
We don’t think much of the various Jealous types these days. More than anything else, we are increasingly blown away by how dishonest they are. As tfromse people serve their own needs, the really good people, the really good parents, are getting more and more scared.
Why not tell those parents the truth? What makes these horrible people keep reciting their treasured fake facts? What makes them willing to disappear all the rest of those facts?
Very good people wrote that column. Very bad people have conned us each night on the TV machine.
Tomorrow: Another pile of fake facts on The One True Channel
Postscript: Your lizard brain will tell you that you need to be outraged by what we have said. Why don't you do the right thing just for once? Get a tight hold on your lizard!