A Great Hour for America
The smear campaign against Zimmerman was disgraceful, but the verdict was just.

George Zimmerman hears the not-guilty verdict on July 13.


Conrad Black

Every informed person in the Western world knows that African Americans and other minorities have many grievances, and no reasonable person would make light of them. But acting on them to demand a murder trial of someone against whom there is no evidence, and attempting to compensate for the absence of evidence with a hysterical smear campaign to which most of the traditional media subscribed, and for which the great offices of president and attorney general of the United States were willfully degraded by their occupants is, as defense co-counsel Don West said, “disgraceful.” When pressed, Mr. West expressed the wish to retain his license to practice law, indicating how disrespectful his candid comments on the Florida prosecutorial establishment and the local bench would be. Withal, the deliberate decision of the jury, delivered without elaboration, the unpretentious and very dignified remarks of the defense counsel, and the sober operation of the system of justice as it is supposed to operate, made it a great hour for America. The hour is made more gratifying and majestic, not sullied, by the hyena-calls for a civil-rights prosecution, and the inevitable fatuities and fictions of the humiliated prosecutors that America, despite the verdict, has “the best justice system in the world,” meaning the one that allows them to conduct such a mockery as they did in this case.


President Obama’s concluding comments were unexceptionable: “The jury has spoken . . . ” etc. It has, against him. Apart from the outrage of his intervention in the case, the whole misconceived and over-heated drama highlights the danger of the Obama policy. It need not be so, but there is some truth to the familiar concern that once voters realize that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury, democracy is on the skids. Politicians pander to the redistributive instinct. Franklin D. Roosevelt is unjustly reviled by enemies of the present welfare state, but he opposed the dole and would not pay able-bodied people to be idle. On everything he said that is recorded, he would be appalled at the abuses of the system that now exist in most Western countries for taking money from those who have earned it and giving it out on an unrigorous basis to those who have not, in presumed exchange for the votes of the recipients. The exact figures are disputed, but there is no doubt that the president’s section of the voters in last year’s election has a lower standard of living, higher unemployment, crime, and welfare-dependency rates, and the great majority of public-sector employees. It was a fair election. A candidate has to pitch to his base; Mr. Obama was better organized, and the winning candidate, unless it is a landslide, always to some degree games the system. There is nothing wrong with any of that. But this administration has aggravated the divisions in the country, not only as an electoral tactic; there is plenty of precedent for that, including from some distinguished presidents; but as premeditated policy. This is unnecessary, dangerous, and bad. The optimists will hope that the president has burned his fingers in the Zimmerman case and will try, for the balance of his term, to maintain the dignity of the highest office within the gift of the American people. If it happens, to quote Dr. Johnson, I would not only be surprised, I would be astonished.

— Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom,Richard M. Nixon: A Life in FullA Matter of Principle, and the recently published Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership. He can be reached at [email protected].


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

NRO Polls on LockerDome

Subscribe to National Review