Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trayvon Martin and the Legalization of Murder

By this point it is quite clear that Trayvon Martin was murdered.

Mother Jones magazine has provided enough material, along with what has come out from other sources over the last few days, to show that George Zimmerman acted not merely as a racist psychopath, but even against the requests of the authorities.

This is not new for America.  I love all the people who are out there right now, demanding justice, or what can be scraped together or it, for Trayvon Martin's family, but this speaks to a deeper issue that has a long history.

The milieu that constitutes today's Tea Party, the Christian Right, etc. are the same milieu socially that spewed filth at Black children in Little Rock, Arkansas, that burned buses and assaulted Freedom Riders, that constituted the John Birch Society, that supported Barry Goldwater.  We recognize this milieu as that which showed up in thousands to watch Black men be lynched, which burned their bodies, and cut them up and sold them in formaldehyde-filed jars at local general stores.

This milieu has gotten stronger and more vitriolic, more brazen, more vile in the face of their systematic loss of power after 1964.  This milieu is as much an expression of the development of global post-fascism as Jorg Haider, the Jobbik Party, the French National Front, and all the rest who would take parts of society and put them outside the law, subject to the arbitrary power of a power beyond the law.  It is not incidental that it is this milieu which has produced the Oklahoma bomber, the man who flew his plane into the IRS building in Texas, the man who attempted to assassinate Senator Gabby Giffords, and the people who show up to President Obama's events with guns on their hips.

What is most distressing in Florida is the refuge that this racist (in the 911 calls, one can hear him refer to  Trayvon as a "coon") finds in the so-called self-defense law.  Hopefully it is no surprise that I doubt that had Trayvon killed George Zimmerman he would have been allowed to invoke this defense and law on his behalf.  We face today something not unlike what Germany faced in the 1930's with the re-inscription in law of a pejorative state which exists alongside of the normative state, that is, one rule of law for those accepted as "citizens" and an arbitrary rule for those who are rejected, or only tenuously accepted, as citizens.

We cannot depend on the state to uphold the law.  To do so would be to make the mistake the German Social Democratic Party made in 1929-33 in the face of fascism, or the United States in all manner of periods.  Only the activity of millions of people can enforce our right.  I cannot but salute the people in Florida, New York, and all the other places who have courageously stepped forward.


  1. I just listened to it and to me it sounds very clear to me that he says "fucking punks," not "coons."

  2. Interesting. Maybe I misheard it. My partner and I both discussed it. We will re-listen. If it seems reasonable that we were wrong, I will certainly correct my post.


    It seems to me that it is not clear, however.

    This is arguably the best overview: