We the people should learn from the O.J. Simpson murder trial nearly 18 years ago and behave as civil Americans now that George Zimmerman has been set free in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
When Simpson was acquitted on charges of killing Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, many people were outraged with that verdict. I was one of them. Did you see anybody burn down cities? Did you see any riots? Did you see any violence? No.
And the many Americans who now feel outrage over the Zimmerman acquittal should learn from how Americans behaved when Simpson was set free and we accepted the verdict. That’s our jury system. It is the best in the world and it works well for all of us. We must respect verdicts by our jury system and move on, whether we accept them or not.
As the Florida jury deliberated the fate of Zimmerman in the death of the 17-year-old Martin, some Florida communities were already bracing for possible riots if the former neighborhood watch captain was acquitted. However, despite the whisperings of violence and riots, Americans of all stripes again showed that we can be civil and nonviolent in these tense and uncertain moments. And if anybody were to defy our system of justice with rioting, violence and burning, they should be arrested and punished to the full extent of the law—absolutely no exceptions.
The bigger social issue in this case is why 90 percent of young Black men who are killed are the victims of other Black men. This is much more of a social problem in America than whites or Hispanics killing Blacks.
But the Zimmerman case was not about race. Zimmerman is Hispanic—normally one of the protected minorities in America. In order to make the story about racΩe, The New York Times and some other media outlets called him a “white Hispanic” (his father is white, his mother of Peruvian heritage).
When was the last time anybody in America heard a Hispanic called a “white Hispanic”? Calling Zimmerman a “white Hispanic” is like calling Adam Clayton Powell or Barack Obama a “white Black.”
But the media needed to create hysterics and so injected race into the equation to make it more salable to the American people as a political circus. After all, who cares about two white men or two Black men in a fight that results in death?
However, this case was about profiling, in a certain sense. It was about a young man who was in the wrong neighborhood. Zimmerman worked on the neighborhood watch team and saw himself as the police. Zimmerman pursued Martin “in defiance” of authorities, who told him to wait until actual police arrived.
A fight ensued and it clearly appears that Martin was getting the best of him. Zimmerman became frightened, but he had a gun. I own guns. There’s a certain bravado that a gun gives you. There’s a certain security that a gun gives you. There’s a certain confidence that a gun gives you. When you have a gun on you, it changes you whether you realize it or not. If somebody’s holding you and beating you down and you realize you’ve got a weapon on you, and you’re in your neighborhood and he’s not in his, and it’s your job to protect your neighborhood, nine times out of 10 you may think you’re going to use that weapon to scare them—but he used that gun.
Although I strongly believe the prosecution presented its case poorly, under traditional American law, you must prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. In charging Zimmerman with second-degree murder, the prosecution was unable to find convincing facts that would convince the jury of his guilt. However, if Martin had killed Zimmerman, the verdict would have undoubtedly been the same.
The tragedy of this case is that there is no good outcome, no reasonable resolution to the trial that would have satisfied everybody. A young man was killed by another young man under circumstances where there is so much racial static in the background that it’s difficult for many to be remotely objective.
If both Zimmerman and Martin had been of the same race with otherwise identical facts, neither the national media nor the Rev. Al Sharpton would have given a moment’s notice to this story. Unfortunately, the racial aspect of this case unearthed racial resentments and sensitivities that linger in the background of America. But while historically many Blacks were killed in the South, there was no recourse in the judicial system then. Today, there is.
However compare the reaction of the Simpson verdict by many American Blacks to this weekend’s reaction to the Zimmerman acquittal. In both cases the prosecution did not make its case beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the defendant, yet Blacks generally cheered the result in the Simpson case, while viewing the Zimmerman verdict as a travesty of justice. In our court system of jury by trial, you can’t have it both ways. There cannot be a different standard for a white man killing a Black man than a Black man killing a white man and a white woman.
Thankfully, the jury in both cases did its job despite the enormous pressure of the biased media elite and the civil rights establishment. The American system worked, and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Zimmerman, like Simpson, must spend the rest of his life facing the torment of his conscience having taking the life of a young man in such a reckless way. Zimmerman must not only someday face his maker but spend the rest of his life enduring the pain and suffering of robbing someone of their God-given life. The rest of society must put this sad chapter behind us and let heal the wounds against racial harmony each case led to.
But we also must be extremely cautious about trying to enact new laws as a result of the Zimmerman verdict. New laws and regulations enacted in response to bad outcomes in particular cases often in the end have unintended consequences. And continuing to prosecute Zimmerman at the federal level will only intensify racial animosity .
Armstrong Williams is the author of the brand-new book “Reawakening Virtues.” More content can be found on RightSideWire.com. Come join the discussion live 4-5, 6-8 p.m. EST at www.livestream.com/armstrongwilliams or tune in 4-5 p.m. EST on S.C. WGCV, Sirius/XM Power 128, 6-7 p.m. and 4-5 a.m. EST. Become a fan on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.