“…And now remains
That we find the cause of this effect,
Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause:
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus”
Hamlet, act 2, sc. 2
Comment. There is a curious connection or analogy between the election of Obama as President and the outcome of the Zimmerman-Trayvon trial. The establishment has used both to change the subject. The ‘establishment’ means, of course, the corporate media, the Washington political machinery, the academic sycophants and the usual pundits. And regrettably, in the Zimmerman case, also the NAACP (for our international visitors the National Association for the Advancement of People of Color).
Obama was (is) a brand like the Vuitton’s one thousand dollar plastic bags or the “United Colors of Benetton”. The latter being a more-than casual analogy. The color of the skin of the president is (was) intended as living proof to the world that American racism was over and slavery forgotten.
Now, the belief that the election of the president represents the will of the voters (or of the “American people” in the Orwellian semantic embellishment) equates to believing that God made the earth on 4004 BC, followed by Adam out of clay and Eve out of a rib. A notion held historically by most, and by many even today. Just last week on a TV program here in Portland, a debating Evangelical pastor upheld the theory. And while stopping short of calling Darwin an ass he said that Darwin was misled and that, in any event, evolution and creationism are not incompatible. How he did not explain, but I digress.
The Zimmerman case is well known but here is a telegraphic summary for our many international visitors. Zimmerman is a white-Hispanic, official vigilante character on night patrol in a Florida neighborhood. He spots 17-year old Trayvon Martin in a “hoodie”. Martin, according to Zimmerman, acted suspiciously. After approaching him a confrontation ensues. Allegedly fearing for his own life, Zimmerman fires a shot with his gun and Martin dies.
There were no witnesses, therefore one side cannot tell his story and the other claims self-defense. Consequently, the evidence the prosecutor brought forth in the trial was (I believe the term to be) circumstantial. Hence the verdict of not-guilty for Zimmerman and the uproar across the nation.
As an aside and in no way an excuse for Zimmerman, the “hoodie” happens to be the garment of choice for 7/11 and gas station night-robbers at gun-point. For the obvious reason that it hides the face from the surveillance cameras. Who invented that fashion should be whipped.
Until recently some youngsters proclaimed their identity by wearing trousers low enough to show part of the buttocks. Ridiculous and unsightly but at least harmless. Enough said, but the sight at night of people in hoodies cannot but trigger the unpleasant associations well exposed by the media-reported robberies – however unfounded the association may be.
Back to the Zimmerman-Trayvon case. To use it to bring forth the race issue is a not-even-too-subtle way to change the subject. Or rather, it helps to hide the momentous, unspoken and unsolved problem of the US of A. Namely the immense and growing chasm between classes and the unwillingness to admit it, let alone a willingness to confront it.
2.7 million people are in jail, entire city neighborhoods are empty of jobs, empty of hope and empty of dignity. Out went the factories, in came the drugs as the business and medicine of choice. And with the drugs the crime.
A recent documentary (broadcast once late at night on PBS) showed the degradation in the city of Detroit – but it is not much different in some large areas of Chicago. (200 plus murders so far this year). There are similar problems in other cities too, but we usually learn about them on the occasion of natural calamities (as with hurricane Katrina for New Orleans) or of riots.
Poverty is politically incorrect, race isn’t. Besides, race has the great advantage of rousing indignation leading to nowhere. Because, finding Zimmerman guilty would have the same effect on the issue as electing Obama as President. That is, nothing.
On the other hand, race enables the imperial court to proceed along the course of the so-called “free” market, well expressed by the formula “socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor”.
Let’s be objective. As soon as he grasps the essence of his condition, the young poor, urban or otherwise finds himself plunged into a world full of injustice, of cruelty and of misery.
Such injustice, cruelty and misery are an inheritance of the past willfully extended to the present. Their ultimate source is economic, since life-and-death competition for the means of subsistence was, in past times, inevitable.
Today it is not, if the willingness to provide a tolerable existence for everyone were accompanied by other equally and costless beneficial measures. For example, we could secure that the world’s population should be stationary (including the US) if we were not prevented by the political influence of churches which prefer war, pestilence, and famine to contraception. Witness the fostered virulence and actual murders by the crusaders against Family Planning.
For the imperial court it is better to spend trillions on umpteen wars (and concentrate the profits into the pockets of a few) than to wage war against the abysmal poverty of mind and matter suffered by the poor, urban or otherwise.
For injustice, cruelty and misery go hand in hand with the other untouchable dogma of “free” market ideology, the dogma of competition. It does not take a profound mind to see that competition, especially as embodied in the current extreme monopolies, engenders diffuse poverty and permanent conflict (i.e. wars).
Changing the subject from poverty to race suits everybody, including some of the African American pundits who, in a way or another, have become part of the elite establishment.
After all, you can bamboozle three hundred million people by shouting the completely meaningless slogan “yes we can”. In comparison, turning the Zimmerman-Martin case into an irrelevant race issue is a piece of cake.
All in all Marie Antoinette was more practical. “The people do not have bread? – she said – Give then a (French) donut”. In an up-to-date version she may say, “The people do not have justice? – Let them have righteousness.”
In the play. Polonius gives a rhetorical rendering of Hamlet’s state of mind, which he attributes to Hamlet’s passion for Ophelia.