Last year I wrote that I just wanted George Zimmerman to face trial for shooting Trayvon Martin. This was when a trial seemed doubtful because no one seemed willing to file charges against him. Mr. Zimmerman was allowed to remain free and unencumbered from February 26, 2012, the date of the shooting, to April 11, 2012, when charges were finally brought against him. Enabling him were Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law and the largely uncontested assumption that Trayvon, though unarmed, was a Big Scary Black Man who got what was coming to him.
But now I’m growing increasingly of the opinion that George Zimmerman should drop all pretenses of a defense and just confess. A confession that he acted out of wanton bigotry, and not self-defense, would not only save time but may also help heal the societal wounds he inflicted when he killed Trayvon Martin in cold blood.
I have a hunch that Mr. Zimmerman knows he has no defense, that his life was not in danger, and that he shot an unarmed teen out of panic based on prejudice. His defense team was recently banned by the judge from bringing up Trayvon’s past — the clothes he wore, the pot he smoked, the middle finger photos he took. Of course the judge banned this stuff. None of it has anything to do with anything, except to further paint Trayvon as a Big Scary Black Man who needed to be killed. That’s their sole defense. But that’s no defense. That’s blatant bigotry.
Blatant bigotry has been the rotted core of this whole tragedy from the start. And I think Mr. Zimmerman knows it. So the best thing he could do is to simply cop to it, admit that he panicked, admit that he used the Big Scary Black Man excuse for his actions, admit that he precipitated the whole affair by defying police orders not to pursue Trayvon in the first place, admit that he behaved badly, plead guilty, and apologize.
None of this will bring back Trayvon Martin from the dead. But it may help put a much needed spot light on the whole phenomenon of the Big Scary Black Man Syndrome. I and others can scream about this prejudice until doomsday, but it would be much more powerful for someone who lived by this creed to suddenly come out and denounce it. If Mr. Zimmerman did that, then some like-minded folks might begin questioning their own assumptions and prejudices. Many won’t, but some might. That would be a start. Confessing his bigotry, and the bigotry of his supporters, is about the only useful thing left that George Zimmerman can do.
I can’t imagine that he would do such a thing. And I completely recognize that it is his right to mount a defense against the charges before him. But a confession to bigotry would be the most helpful thing he could do. Exposing the ugliness behind Big Scary Black Man bigotry is one of George Zimmerman’s few roads to redemption.
© 2013, gar. All rights reserved.