A Tragedy In Spokane . . . That Has Nothing To Do With Trayvon Martin, Barack Obama, Or Race In America

Two African-American teenagers have been arrested for beating to death a white World War II veteran outside an Eagles Lodge in Spokane this week. It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of such depravity; I can’t imagine what else anyone needs to have it understood that this is a horror. 
But already the online comparisons to Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman are bubbling up — with a consistent subtext of, “Oh, yeah — Obama freaked when a white guy shot and killed a Black teenager, but watch him chicken out now that two Black kids beat and kill an 88-year-old white guy!” The two are entirely different tragedies, though. First, there are no possible extenuating circumstances in the Spokane case. It is as horrific and inexcusable as it is isolated and singular. More important, this country is not full of similar examples; we have not seen, over our history, repeated instances of young Black men beating elderly white people to death, and when Blacks do kill whites, they are sentenced to far greater punishment, if they survive their charges, than whites who kill other whites. 
We have an ugly and documented history, however, of white victimization of Black males, which is what the Martin case represented to many of us. It’s despicable of aggrieved white America to pounce on this sickening tragedy to get back at those who’ve rightly pointed out that Black men are a vulnerable group in American society. Let’s focus on what happened in Spokane, punish the murderers harshly, and then ask ourselves why we seem to need a “gotcha” moment to assuage our prejudices and suspicions regarding race, violence, and justice in our country.

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