Published March 23, 2012
There is something different about this one...
The killing of Trayvon Martin is a hideous travesty which represents an opportunity for our country to make a huge stride towards being a post-racial society.
While it's the terribly familiar scenario of a young black man dying a horrific violent death for doing nothing wrong, there really is something different about this one, and for many of us it may be the most innocuous detail of the story.
Maybe in this case it's what Trayvon didn't do, and what he was carrying which sets this one apart.. He wasn't running, he wasn't menacing, he wasn't disobeying law enforcement, he wasn't reaching for anything. Trayvon was in fact carrying only Skittles and an iced tea for him and his brother.
That seems to be resonating with the country, it is with me. Trayvon was carrying snacks and trying to catch the second half of the All Star game. Skittles and iced tea. Basketball game. He had a brother. A Sunday afternoon. So, so wrong.
It wasn't mistaken identity, it wasn't gang turf-related, he wasn't holding a toy gun or anything that looked like a gun.
Additionally, there's not the usual gray area that comes with police involvement: No stressful overtime, no suspect refusing to comply, no itchy trigger-fingered rookies. This was a vigilante police wannabe who wouldn't qualify to be a mall cop playing Wyatt Earp.
What makes this different is that it is nearly impossible for anyone to come to any other conclusion than Trayvon Martin was killed because he was black. By the grace of God, this will be the critical mass turning point we need to finally cross over to a post racial America. That can only happen if the left and right in America resist their pretensions, fears and knee jerk reflexes, and do what is right and just.
There can be no passivity or gentle words.
Republican leadership must drop their faces and show the heart and compassion which thrives within most conservative Americans. From Speaker Boehner down to local Sanford and Florida officials, Republicans need to proactively offer the Department of Justice and the Obama administration their support and resources.
Zimmerman must be arrested and the police and city council held accountable.
It is incumbent upon the left and black leaders to use this moment to actually move forward, and not as an opportunity to line their social justice organizations' coffers or get face time on TV.
This tragedy must not be used for posturing which only serves to hold America back and perpetuate the anger already there. This is not about voting blocks and entitlements. This is about realizing Dr. King's dream and not obstructing it for the sake of political power.
This should be the touchstone moment for race in America.
So far, with little exception, the right in America has been disappointing, remaining largely silent or displaying awful timing, like John Thune (R-S.D.), introducing concealed weapon legislation this week in the Senate.
Boehner has been silent, as has Senate GOP leadership.
Florida Republican Allen West has officially endorsed the DOJ investigation.
The right gets a D grade on this.
Sadly the left has thus far been par for the course: Democrat strategist Karen Finney has blamed Rush Limbaugh, Santorum and Newt for creating the environment which led to the killing.
Louis Farrakhan has predicted retaliation soon.
Al Sharpton is at his sabre-rattling bull-horned best.
For these knee-jerk reactions, the left gets a D-.
But there is still time to get this right. The right can get tough and get behind Eric Holder. The left can dial it down and remove the angry political and violent rhetoric, and make their message about the victim.
Trayvon Martin might not have died in vain. He could be a martyr for a better America. Let's see if the left and right are capable of meeting in the middle...That would make this one very different.
T.J. McCormack is host and producer, "Sunday Night with T.J. McCormack."