Were you outraged over the senseless shooting of Chris Lane? If you were, what you were really experiencing was vengeance toward blacks for their daring to react to the death of Trayvon Martin. In fact, unless you are a conservative, you probably didn’t feel outrage over the death of Chris Lane at all.
This bit of psychologizing comes to you courtesy of Grio columnist Joy Reid, who sat in as guest host on MSNBC’s Martin Bashir’s show Friday night. The discussion had turned to the use of race as a “political football,” when Reid interrupted with this insight (video below, begins at around 3:52):
Chris Lane is absolutely getting lost in it, as is the issue of guns. I want to go back just for a second to the Trayvon Martin case, because, I think, that is what spawned the desire for revenge almost for people on the right… Just for the fact that African-Americans dared to be outraged about the case, about George Zimmerman not being arrested.
There is a sense of vengeance on the other side. And one of the things you did see, Heather [McGhee], was Trayvon Martin portrayed as a thug and a criminal. There was one person who said he was a rabid dog that needed to be put down. So, you now have in the wake of that, because for whatever reason — angry that people were upset — this need to portray almost all black men as criminal, almost inherently. And now one of the things that’s fueling that in the Chris Lane case, is you had this tweet by one of the alleged killers in which he said ’90% of white people are nasty #hatethem.’ So now we’re off to the races.
It is worth noting that the ellipsis in the first paragraph of the transcript indicates an aside by panelist James Braxton Peterson, Director of Africana Studies at Lehigh University, who said:
He got off scot-free. What do they need revenge for?
That comment is sufficiently dunderheaded to merit its own critique before turning to Reid’s comments. “He,” meaning George Zimmerman, was acquitted because a jury of his peers evaluated the evidence and testimony in the trial and found insufficient grounds for a guilty verdict. As to Zimmerman’s getting off “scot-free,” Peterson seems unaware that following the verdict, Zimmerman and his parents were forced to go into hiding because of the numerous death threats they were receiving. (The same was true of a Florida woman who had the misfortunate of having a phone number similar to Zimmerman’s!) One could mention the dozen or so savage “justice for Travon” beatings of white men by black teens, before, during, and after the trial, but I think I’ve made my point.
As for Reid and the notion of revenge, I believe she comes close to making a valid point. I think there is a nugget of truth in the view that some whites probably found the reaction in the black community to the killing of Trayvon was so over-the-top that they feel more justified in sounding off than they otherwise might.
As to her claim that “Trayvon Martin [was] portrayed as a thug and a criminal,” I will not dance on a young man’s grave by dragging his memory through the mud, but Reid should proceed with caution. Evidence that was ruled inadmissible at Zimmerman’s trial — and correctly so — painted a fairly unflattering picture of a teen headed down the wrong path.