Is this still America?
There are no winners in the trial of George Zimmerman. The only question is whether the damage that has been done has been transient or irreparable.
Legally speaking, Zimmerman has won his freedom. But he can still be sued in a civil case, and he will probably never be safe to live his life in peace, as he could have before this case made him the focus of national attention and orchestrated hate.
More important than the fate of George Zimmerman, however, is the fate of the American justice system and of the public's faith in that system and in their country. People who have increasingly asked, during the lawlessness of the Obama administration, “Is this still America?” may feel some measure of relief.
But the very fact that this case was brought in the first place, in an absence of serious evidence, will be of limited encouragement as to how long this will remain America.
The political perversion of the criminal justice system began early and at the top, with the president of the United States. Unlike other public officials who decline to comment on criminal cases that have not yet been tried in court, Barack Obama chose to say, “If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.” It was a clever way to play the race card.
But it did not stop there. After the local police in Florida found insufficient evidence to ask for Zimmerman to be prosecuted, the Obama administration sent Justice Department investigators to Sanford, Fla., and used taxpayers' money to finance local activists who agitated for Zimmerman to be arrested.
Political intervention did not end with the federal government. The city manager in Sanford intervened to prevent the usual police procedures from being followed.
When the question arose of identifying the voice calling for help during the confrontation between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, the normal police procedure would have been to let individuals hear the recording separately, rather than have a whole family hear it together. When the city manager took this out of the hands of the police, and had Trayvon Martin's family, plus Rachel Jeantel, all hear the recording together, that's politics, not law.
This was just one way that this case looked like something out of “Alice in Wonderland.” Both in the courtroom and in the media, educated and apparently intelligent people said things that they seemed sincerely to believe, but which were unprovable and often even unknowable.
The jury indicated, as their deliberations began, that they wanted to compare hard evidence, when they asked for a complete list of the testimony on both sides. Once the issue boiled down to hard, provable facts, the prosecutors' loud histrionic assertions and sweeping innuendoes were just not going to cut it.
Nor was repeatedly calling Zimmerman a liar effective, especially when the prosecution misquoted what Zimmerman said, as an examination of the record would show.
The only real heroes in this trial were the jurors. They showed that this is still America — at least for now — despite politicians who try to cheapen or corrupt the law, as if this were some banana republic.
Some are already calling for a federal indictment of George Zimmerman, after he has been acquitted. Will this still be America then?
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McCullers’, McLendon’s prowess in clogging trenches crucial to Steelers defense
- Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
- Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
- After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
- Reds solve Cole, stave off Pirates’ 9th-inning rally
- Former South Park coach Loughran optimistic about Fox Chapel’s prospects
- Rainy summer delays paving projects in New Kensington
- Pirates notebook: New acquisition Happ more than happy to fill spot in rotation
- O’Neil jumps right in to AD duties at Kiski Area
- Roman Catholic Church in midst of culture clash over gays
- Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap