- By Joseph J. Honick
As a very young person, I was privileged to march in that million person demonstration that culminated in the unforgettable “Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial. Before then and since, I have worked not just for civil rights for some but for all people, only to find that too many have made a good living acting as if they believed in the universality of human rights.
If you only paid attention to the 24-hour circus of non-stop lawyers retained by CNN before, during and since the trial in Sanford, Florida, you could easily believe that the entire nation was on trial for the action of one person…one person clearly directed by law enforcement NOT to engage the young man . Neither society at large or the nation caused that terrible event. But you would not believe that if you simply listened to the resurgence of the old-time voices who once tagged along on the shirttails of Dr. King.
For the record no one wants to read or discuss, it was a jury of six carefully selected jurors who rendered the verdict after sitting for days and days in the courtroom. There is no recorded evidence that either the prosecution or the defense teams saw this folks as racists who would acquit Mr. Zimmerman regardless of the evidence.
But while both sides worked hard to present their points, CNN helped to encourage media competitors to jump in with all cameras and recorders blazing, with lawyers from all over the place making sure they did a great job promoting themselves and probably future business.
Back up a bit now almost exactly 19 years ago as wealthy former football idol, O.J. Simpson, is charged with two counts of first degree murder of is ex-wife (white )Nicole Simpson and her male friend Ronald Goldman. Not only was Simpson the prime police suspect for the crimes, he also, for reasons of his own, led the cops on a high speed chase in a car driven by his friend A.C. Cowlings. Finally caught, he was then taken into custody.
Unlike Zimmerman, Simpson has plenty of money to hire expensive counsel like Robert Shapiro and Johnnie Cochran. Zimmerman’s defense team was paid by the public as the kind of promise given when the arrested are “Mirandized” Also unlike the Zimmerman jury, the O.J. jury panel approved by both sides was composed of eight blacks, one white, one Hispanic and two of mixed race….eight women and four men.
There were no demonstrations following the verdict except that the NAACP claimed at the time the media paid too much attention to black defendants. Beyond that, the claims of many were that media(white media)were biased against Simpson.
In less than four hours after the case went to the jury, it returned a verdict of not guilty.
What followed, however, might be a clue to the future in the Martin-Zimmerman case. The family of Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman took the case to Civil Court in October 1996 where it heard testimony of Simpson’s abuse of his late wife and other commentary. The jury in this instance, composed of nine whites, one black, one Hispanic and one person of mixed Asian/African ancestry.
On February 4, 1997, the jury finds Simpson liable and awards the plaintiffs $8.5 million in compensatory damages. The court required the defendant to turn over all his assets, including his Heisman trophy, some expensive art. His Brentwood estate and everything in it were auctioned off.
And now, with demonstration a daily reality around the country as if the American people had murdered the young Sanford, Florida, man, consider a key point of Dr. King’s instructions to his fellow black citizens to avoid actions against those who might have oppressed them.
Yet the President of the United States a day or two ago suggested Trayvon Martin could have been himself 35 years ago. What Mr Obama failed to add was the massive progress since those days that included his own election to the presidency of the United States. More than that, he, like so many others, failed to take note that the greatest increase of multi-millionaires in one race in those years have been outstanding black athletes in sports where whites are almost as hard to find as blacks were a few decades ago. He could have noted the many men and women of color who have earned prominence industry, the military, diplomacy, education and elsewhere. Instead, Mr. Obama suggested young blacks needed more encouragement and direction, avoiding the realities of black progress .
In the end, the circus created by a court that allowed mass media into this trial, CNN’s gaudy use of lawyers who must have had too much time on their hands to use the trial as great business promotion and the corresponding and excessive use of demonstrations that included some violence all contributed to the award of recognition for Hypocrisy.
If these are the lessons of those of any color who exploit race for whatever reasons, the entire path of progress has been set back half a century.
By the way, the night of Dr. King’s assassination by one person, my father’s business was assaulted and destroyed several nights in a row in the name of retaliation despite his long history of fighting for good, having seen anti-Semitism in his native Russia and right here in America.
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Joseph J. Honick, Bainbridge Island, WA, is an international consultant to business and government and writes for many publications, including huntingtonnews.net. Honick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.