Politics & Policy

A Just Verdict

The George Zimmerman case was a wretched spectacle from the beginning, but for this we are glad: People in America are still tried in the courts rather than by left-wing protesters or by the media. To their credit, the jurors appear to have decided the case strictly on the facts, which gave them no choice other than to acquit Zimmerman, despite the long campaign of defamation against him outside the courtroom.

The most compelling moment in the post-verdict press conference by Zimmerman’s legal team came when Mark O’Mara slapped the media for making a monster out of his client. You don’t have to endorse Zimmerman’s poor judgment that night to realize that he didn’t commit a crime and isn’t a bullying white racist circa 1955. He isn’t even white, so the media had to resort to the “white-Hispanic” label to save their racial storyline. If Zimmerman had set out to assassinate Trayvon Martin, he never would have called the police to alert them to Martin’s whereabouts. 

#ad#This is the act of so-called profiling that is supposed to prove Zimmerman’s dark, racist motivation. But he may have singled out Martin for his youth, his dress, or his behavior; he might have been just as suspicious of a white teenager dressed and acting the same way. (Zimmerman told the police on the call that Martin seemed like he was “up to no good.”) He didn’t volunteer Martin’s race on his 911 call, but in response to the operator’s question said that he “looks black.”

What ensued was a tragedy that is a terrible loss to Martin’s family. That tragedy would have been avoided had Zimmerman never fastened on Martin and if he had never gotten out of his car to trail him. What Zimmerman’s haters never acknowledge is that it also would have been avoided had Martin never, as the evidence indicates, hit Zimmerman. It was a prosecution eyewitness who said that he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman beating him “ground-and-pound” style. Logic suggests that it was Zimmerman, who had the injuries consistent with getting beaten, who was yelling out for help that night.

This made the case a simple matter of self-defense, which is what police initially concluded when they declined to arrest Zimmerman. After an enormous firestorm and campaign of race-hustling political intimidation — loosely joined by President Obama when he said that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon — authorities charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. With this, they lashed themselves to the most malign interpretation of Zimmerman’s intent from MSNBC and the left-wing blogs. They never came close to proving their case and, in desperation at the end of the trail, tried to get the judge to allow the jury to consider a child-abuse charge (the jury was allowed to consider manslaughter).

Now that the jury has rendered the only verdict it reasonably could, the same characters who have spent more than a year smearing Zimmerman are indicting the American justice system. Al Sharpton wants the feds to pursue Zimmerman on civil-rights charges. Tavis Smiley says that “color gets you killed” in America, and “somebody can always explain away why this person got off, why this person was not found guilty, and what we have is a bunch of dead black men.” A focus of ire is the “stand your ground” law, even though the Zimmerman case had nothing to do with Florida’s version of that law — his lawyers made a strict self-defense argument, and a compelling one.

We wish the purveyors of perpetual outrage would pause from saying stupid and inflammatory things about the Zimmerman case long enough to consider how wrong they were about it all along. But we are realists.


The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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