Mike Kueber's Blog

July 15, 2013

A cautionary tale – Trayvon and Zimmerman

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 7:02 pm
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For the past couple of days, ever since returning from my apartment pool on Saturday night and learning of the Zimmerman verdict, I have engaged in a lot of Facebook dialogue on the subject.  Mostly, I have reacted to the outrage at a perceived travesty of justice.  Of course, this outrage pre-dated the verdict and has been building ever since the criminal-justice system in Florida declined to prosecute Zimmerman for killing Trayvon.

According to the Trayvon apologists, there are three culprits for freeing Zimmerman:

  1. The racist, bigoted law & order people (police and prosecutors) who, following their investigation, declined to charge or arrest Zimmerman.
  2. The incompetent special prosecutors who, although they felt the political winds and decided to charge and arrest Zimmerman, failed to present a credible case for conviction.
  3. The six racist, bigoted women on the jury who accepted Zimmerman’s argument of self-defense.  These culprits are given the least attention because we know so little about them and it’s hard to claim bigotry solely on the basis that they disagreed with you on self-defense.

As President Obama is wont to say at moments like this, the Zimmerman/Martin matter, like the Gates incident, can be a teaching moment.  The teaching to Trayvon apologists is that the South remains suffused with racist people, an innocent black teenager can’t safely take a walk at night, and a mostly white jury will excuse vigilante conduct against black kids.

I suggest this cautionary tale reminds us of things we already knew:

  • Lots of conservatives in this country believe strongly in defending themselves and their neighborhoods against perceived outsiders instead of relying exclusively on their police departments.
  • Lots of conservative states in this country, like Texas and Florida, have adopted laws that give the benefit of a doubt to those people who are defending themselves and their neighborhoods.
  • When innocent bystanders encounter overzealous, self-proclaimed authority figures, it is not a good idea to confront them and it is a horrible idea to physically challenge them.  Just walk away from the nosy neighbor; don’t assault him.


July 3, 2013

Bill O’Reilly in his ivory tower

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 10:38 pm
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While blogging about Jamie Foxx and Trayvon Martin, I neglected to mention that Bill O’Reilly on his show last night suggested that it was inappropriate and perhaps racist for anyone to take sides in the Zimmerman trial.  According to O’Reilly, we don’t currently have the facts and therefore can’t know what a jury should do.  That is why O’Reilly is not rooting for an acquittal or a conviction.

Although I understand O’Reilly’s point, I disagree.  I usually take sides with incidents involving a home invasion.  Even without knowing all of the facts, I quickly start rooting for the homeowner to be found innocent of excessive force.  Same thing with a small-business owner who shoots a robber or burglar.  And this position doesn’t depend on race.  In fact, I might be even more sympathetic to a minority homeowner or small-business owner who shoots someone while defending his property.  I imagine each one has a Horatio Alger story, and I don’t want to see it end badly.

O’Reilly takes pride in looking out for the little folks.  Let’s hope that his position here, which seems to ignore the sensibilities of little folks, is an anomaly.

Come down from that ivory tower, Bill.

Jamie Foxx supports Trayvon Martin

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 5:50 pm
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This past Sunday, Jamie Foxx attended the BET awards show wearing a white t-shirt with an image of a white Trayvon Martin in a white hoodie.  The LA Times reported that the t-shirt helped Foxx make a powerful, albeit silent, statement.  Unfortunately for Foxx, however, he failed to sit back and watch the media expound on the profundity of the symbolic t-shirt, and instead explained to Yahoo what he was thinking:

  • The reason for the shirt is that I met his mom personally. So my thing is, it’s not political, it’s not left, it’s not right, it’s not black, it’s not white, this is about the kid.  And so, 17 year old kid, I think he should be able to go home to where his father worked, to get into a nice place and that tragic thing happened — for all of us, no matter what color you are. I have kids [one who is] 19. I have a kid who’s 4. You want to protect them.”

How is it not political to wear an image of a black guy who was killed in a life-or-death struggle with an Hispanic guy who has been charged with murder, but claims self-defense?

Last night’s Bill O’Reilly show devoted a segment to Foxx’s fashion statement.   One of O’Reilly’s guests, Monica Crowley, pointed out there is a double standard in America because a white actor would be vilified if he dared to wear a t-shirt in support of George Zimmerman.  (Because Zimmerman is Hispanic, they should have referred to an Hispanic actor.)  O’Reilly’s other guest, liberal stalwart Alan Colmes, conceded there is a double standard, but it is justified because of America’s historical repression of blacks.  .

Trayvon apologists have argued that a young black man should be able to walk through a gated development at night with a dark hoodie and not be treated like a thug.  They assure us that Zimmerman was engaged in racial profiling.  But this thinking is a blatant example of political correctness.  Our DNA causes us to act with concern and caution when exposed to potential danger.  A young man in a hoodie walking at night obviously is going to draw concern from a Neighborhood Watch volunteer.  The fact that Trayvon was black probably heightened Zimmerman’s concern, but to expect otherwise is Pollyannaish.

April 2, 2012

Profiling, Geraldo, Trayvon, and Zimmerman

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 7:11 pm
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Geraldo Rivera caused a liberal/media flap when he suggested that Trayvon Martin’s hoodie had something to do with his getting killed.  The liberals/media ardently attempted to debunk Rivera’s assertion by positing that a hoodie does not justify George Zimmerman to conclude that a teenager is “suspicious” and “up to no good.”   President Obama provided the liberals/media with their strongest argument by claiming that Trayvon looked like an Obama son would look.  All of which caused Geraldo to pseudo-apologize to the Martin family yesterday: 

  • But to be clear, I apologized for insensitivity and for the hubris caused, not for the potentially life-saving advice given to fellow minority parents.  Don’t let your young man go out into the cruel night wearing an outfit that may as well be a sign that says: “Stop and frisk,” or even “Shoot me.”
  • I am not, as one clever critic suggested, asking black or brown young men to dress like “Family Matters” Steve Erkiel.  But if you’re flying Jolly Roger’s skull & crossbones don’t be surprised when some jerkoff with a gun takes you for a pirate.

In hindsight, I wonder if President Obama’s comment about Trayvon looking like an Obama son was based on the widely circulated, outdated photo of short, innocent-looking Trayvon Martin or a current photo of a much more mature, gangly young adult.  Similarly, the media depicted Zimmerman with an outdated photo showing him to be an overweight slob instead of his current respectable appearance with much lost weight.  If we are going to discuss the effect of profiling, you would think the media would at least start with accurate profiling information.

Regarding the merits of profiling, there seems to be an unspoken understanding by the liberals/media that profiling based on race or ethnicity is wrong.  That is why the Arizona immigration law has been castigated – i.e., people were fearful that all Hispanics would be considered as “suspicious.”  Similarly, the concern is that George Zimmerman deemed Trayvon Martin as suspicious, not because of the hoodie, but because he was black.  Of course, that same argument is made in NYC, which compiles voluminous data regarding the race/ethnicity of people subjected to NYPD stop-and-frisk, the vast majority of whom are minorities. 

Conservatives counter that you can’t expect the brain to ignore all sorts of common-sense facts – i.e., Middle-Eastern males commit an inordinate amount of terrorism, Mexicans comprise an inordinate percentage of the illegal immigrants, and young black males in gangster garb commit more than their share of both property and violent crime.  Just because the Miami Heat endorse gangster garb (they already are tattooed from head to toe) doesn’t mean that gangster garb isn’t a reliable indicator.  It may be politically incorrect to know these facts, but our brain is trained to override political correctness.  Or as Geraldo said, “But if you’re flying Jolly Roger’s skull & crossbones don’t be surprised when some jerkoff with a gun takes you for a pirate.”

March 25, 2012

Trayvon Martin, Staying Alive, and some context

Filed under: Culture,Media — Mike Kueber @ 6:46 pm
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In the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing, an op-ed piece by someone called “Toure” in this week’s Time magazine suggested to black Americans “How to Stay Alive While Being Black.”  The piece was subtitled, “Eight talking points about the potentially fatal condition of being black.” 

Most of Toure’s points consisted of practical tips such as avoiding trouble-spots and defusing troublesome situations, but the underlying theme was that America is full of racists who continually profile and stereotype.  These people will perceive a violent thug when in fact all they see is a black male.

As I was reading “Toure’s” column, it occurred to me that I have not seen any context provided regarding the scope of this problem – i.e., vigilante, otherwise law-abiding types who profile an innocent black male and then commit violence.  I remember reading in the past about how relatively uncommon white-on-black violence is compared to black-on-black violence.  I also remember reading about good black kids being indiscriminately murdered by black gang members who resent the Uncle Tom good kids.

Maybe its time for the media to provide some context to the Trayvon Martin case.  I suspect the danger created by gang members is a thousand times greater than the danger from vigilantes.

March 24, 2012

Trayvon Martin

Filed under: Culture,Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 4:04 am
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President Obama today went out of his way to interject himself into the Trayvon Martin affair.  Although I wasn’t familiar with the tragedy, I made the following comment on my Facebook wall:

  • What does President Obama mean when he says his son would look like Trayvon? And what does that have to do with this tragedy?

A USAA friend responded with the following comments:

  • What he meant by saying it is pretty obvious. Unfortunately, race is still a being issue in today’s society. This type of incident certainly wasn’t the first and surely won’t be the last. Parents should never have to bury a child under these circumstances. I of course don’t know the whole story, but I hope the right thing is done.

I responded as follows:

  • No, Steve, I don’t think it is obvious what he meant. I am reminded of his comments about the Harvard professor, when he said it was obvious that the police had overreacted. I think Obama overreacted in the Harvard incident, and I think he is over-reacting in personalizing this matter.

My friend responded, “But Mike, isn’t it almost always an ‘over reaction’ to a black male being accused, harassed, or killed?”  I responded – “Yes, it’s an over-reaction to claim racism every time a black male is accused or killed.”

I continue to believe that President Obama overreacted by interjecting himself into this matter, but the Washington Post disagrees.  In an article in today’s edition, the Post attempted to distinguish between President Obama’s reaction to Harvard-gate and his reaction to the Martin killing:

  • Calling Obama’s response to the Gates arrest “a disaster for the president” because he passed judgment on what had happened, Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary for President George W. Bush, said Obama’s message Friday was a welcome contrast.  “There really is an issue of whether if you are black in America today, if you are dressed the way you are dressed, that that can make you a victim.  These are society’s most delicate issues, and I thought the president handled it delicately.”    

I disagree.  By suggesting that America needs to do some “soul searching” over the Martin incident and that Martin looked like Obama’s son would look, President Obama is prejudging the matter and implying that racism by Zimmerman result in Martin’s death.  Let’s await the local, state, and federal investigations before coming to that judgment.