President Obama spoke in highly personal terms on Friday about how the shooting in Florida of a 17-year-old black youth named Trayvon Martin had affected him, saying that “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” ...NYT
Mine wouldn't look like Trayvon, but I wish he would. That's something about Trayvon Martin that isn't much discussed: he was a really good-looking -- a really nice-looking -- kid. Probably that's one of the reasons why so many are so disturbed by what happened to him. An ugly, glowering Goth in a middle-class neighborhood rates at least a frown by most of us. A little group of black,white, or brown teens wearing urban sneers don't usually get an out-pouring of sympathy or even just a pass.
Instead of civilization we have people like Neal Boortz.
... This town is starting to look like a garbage heap. And we got too damn many urban thugs, yo, ruining the quality of life for everybody. And I'll tell you what it's gonna take. You people, you are - you need to have a gun. You need to have training. You need to know how to use that gun. You need to get a permit to carry that gun. And you do in fact need to carry that gun and we need to see some dead thugs littering the landscape in Atlanta. We need to see the next guy that tries to carjack you shot dead right where he stands. We need more dead thugs in this city. And let their -- let their mommas -- let their mommas say, "He was a good boy. He just fell in with the good crowd." And then lock her ass up. ...Cox Radio/Media Matters
Amy Davidson quotes from a description of perfectly horrific death inflicted on a black American in 1903, a crime so outrageous President Roosevelt had to respond to t. Took him a month, in those days, for him to make up his mind about what to say.
...His statement came in a letter to Winfield Durbin, the governor of Indiana, which he made public; Roosevelt talked about “lawless” lynchings in which the “mob seems to lay most weight, not on the crime but on the color of the criminal.” He said, too, that “there are certain hideous sights which when once seen can never be wholly erased from the mental retina. The mere fact of having seen them implies a degradation.”
He was widely congratulated by progressives, and then, according to Morris, “Roosevelt concluded that for the time being he had done all he could, rhetorically and practically, to help the American Negro,” and would not further “risk his political future.” ...New Yorker
A month is a long time, but the situation was full of political peril.
President Obama isn't free to say what he'd like to -- mostly because the Department of Justice is now involved. Legal protocol demands that he stay clear of offering an opinion on guilt or innocence or have any kind of opinion at all. His poignant, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," is just about perfect. Here's what he said, taking care, as Davidson notes, to avoid saying anything that would "impair any investigation."
I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together—federal, state and local—to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened….
But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. ...New Yorker
We're left with more than the handsome face of the victim engraved on our retinas. We're left with the obligation to investigate what happened and, as Obama said, get to the bottom of it. Even though, as I suspect, the bottom is way deeper than we anticipate. These killings are frequent, various, and too often ignored or left to cool in a morgue forever.
We can focus on the beautiful sight of a boy’s face as it was when he was still alive, and not only speak, or express regret, but make sure that his death isn’t the end of his story. ...New Yorker