The Corner

The Martin Case and Race

Naturally, a few different angles crop up when a half-white, half-Hispanic man shoots a black teenager. Here’s a quick rundown of the most important details.

First of all, the term “Hispanic” is quite confusing, especially in a situation like this. It refers to an ethnicity, not a race — anyone who traces their roots to Latin America (many definitions include Spain as well) qualifies, be they descended from white Spanish conquerors, black African slaves, natives of the region, or some mix thereof. Further complicating the picture are the facts that Zimmerman is half-white, and that we don’t know the background of his Hispanic mother.

I’m not sure that Zimmerman’s race is all that relevant; it’s entirely possible for a Hispanic man to dislike black people. But it does seem to be throwing a wrench in the media’s preferred narrative. It’s not the typical white-against-black incident that the press longs for, which some outlets have tried to paper over by calling Zimmerman a “white Hispanic.” I’m not sure the term is wrong, necessarily, but I imagine that if a plain-vanilla white guy shot Zimmerman, he’d be considered just “Hispanic.”

Second is the question of whether Martin’s race played a role in the incident — both in attracting Zimmerman’s attention in the first place, and in Zimmerman’s decisions to pursue and ultimately fire on Martin. At the very beginning of the police call, Zimmerman says Martin “looks black,” but doesn’t sound entirely sure; it seems that he called the police before knowing the race of his “suspicious” target.

However, later in the call, lurking in the background is audio of what seems to be Zimmerman muttering something. Specifically, he seems to say “f***ing coons” as he’s running. Some people hear it and some don’t on the unaltered recording, but it sounds fairly clear to me when some audio filters are applied to reduce the extra noise. I wonder if a more sophisticated audio analysis could shed more light on this — it’s not uncommon for bizarre things to be heard in the background of recordings (“I buried Paul,” “Suge shot me,” etc.).

Most Popular

Economy & Business

Who Owns FedEx?

You may have seen (or heard on a podcast) that Fred Smith so vehemently objects to the New York Times report contending that FedEx paid nothing in federal taxes that he's challenged New York Times publisher A. G. Sulzberger to a public debate and pointed out that "the New York Times paid zero federal income tax ... Read More

The Kaepernick Saga Drags On . . . off the Field

Colin Kaepernick’s workout for NFL teams in Atlanta this weekend did not run smoothly. The league announced an invitation to scouts from every team to watch Kaepernick work out and demonstrate that he was still ready to play. (As noted last week, the workout is oddly timed; the NFL season is just a bit past its ... Read More

Israel’s New Way of War

Commuters on Route 4, driving toward the Israeli coastal city of Ashdod on November 12, were shocked by an explosion, a rocket impact next to a major intersection. Had it fallen on a car or one of the many trucks plying the route, there would have been deaths, and the road would have been closed. Instead, police ... Read More