The Corner

Tom Wolfe, Where Are You?

The Trayvon Martin tragedy keeps becoming more Orwellian and the facts of what actually happened that sad evening even more remote.

In this unhinged culture of instantaneous imagery and obsessions with race, we can distort reality quite easily: In one scenario, a young, almost baby-faced Trayvon Martin’s photo (that so struck President Obama) is juxtaposed with George Zimmerman’s mug shot, where he looks sinister, sullen, and quite white, and in jail orange. Supporters of the idea that Martin was murdered prefer this imagery of Martin as pre-teen and Zimmerman as a jailbird.

#more#Or, alternatively, one can choose to print a different pair of photos: a more recent picture of a mature Trayvon Martin in hoodie paralleled with George Zimmerman, with neatly trimmed beard and mustache, smiling in suit and tie, and appearing in some sense more identifiably Latino. Supporters of the idea that Zimmerman acted in self-defense prefer photos of either a Martin hooded or with gold-plated teeth and tattoos, with Zimmerman appearing as an upbeat businessman of some sort.

After demonizing Zimmerman for a week as an unhinged white racist wannabe vigilante, Sharpton, Jackson, et al. are upset that the tables are turning and Martin is emerging not quite as a model pre-teen, Skittle-eating student with a slight truancy problem, but as a 6 foot 2 inch teen with troubled Twitter allusions to criminal activity, an obscene n-word Twitter ID, and suspensions entailing possible drug use and theft. Either such past information is irrelevant for both parties or it is useful in trying to reconstruct their behaviors on the night of the shooting — but either way it should be equitably applied to both.

Finally how absolutely insane America has become: The mainstream media both wishes to portray Martin as the innocent-looking pre-teen of his old photo even as the rarer appearing, politically-incorrect hoodie picture resonates far more with Martin’s supporters; had Zimmerman just used his mother’s maiden name, much of the current outrage would have dissipated; the country beats itself up over whether Zimmerman may have used a racial epithet — even as Twitter messages are released of Martin self-identifying himself with the n-word; Martin’s mother is worried about publicity warping the name of her deceased son even as she seeks propriety merchandising rights to it; Al Sharpton by day agitates and demagogues and, by evening, reports on Al Sharpton agitating and demagoguing for MSNBC — and on and on and on.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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