The Zimmerman Trial, Orwell and Race

In George Orwell's 1948-published novel, 1984, all inhabitants of Oceania are always watched by cameras, are served contrived news stories, and are taught to accept as logical truth nonsensical statements that are obviously self-contradictory. The crazier the idea, the more likely and quicker it is accepted as truth by the majority of the citizens.

With the oft-repeated definition of insanity -- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results -- etched on my brain, I tuned in, occasionally, to the trial and news analyses centered round George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin. When the verdict was rendered, I was frustrated and a bit troubled, but I was not in the least bit surprised. I am 66 and I learned ago, from my father, not to let America's lunacy where race is concerned drive me crazy.

Racism -- and its linked effects and results -- saturates the entire American social fabric with the consequence of what author Wendell Berry titled one of his best books -- The Hidden Wound. Our collective neurosis, this invisible injury -- a disorder which many refuse to acknowledge -- has a clear resulting condition that affects all of us. Nowhere recently has the insanity caused by racism been displayed more prominently than in Sanford, Florida.

I knew the Zimmerman trial was headed into the land of the loopy and the loony when the lady judge prohibited the use of racial profiling and Zimmerman's zany attorney, Don West, led off with a tasteless "knock-knock" joke. From the moment the deliberations began with the assertion that "this trial is not about race," I knew straightaway that the side best able to disguise, distort, and reverse the meaning of racially-charged words and images would prevail.

Most of the testimony of Trayvon's star witness, Rachel Jeantel -- of Haitian and Dominican descent -- was described by the cable news commentators as "unintelligible mishmash." Language usage is also the basis of profiling, just as treacherous. I can only imagine how the proper jurors interpreted her meaning when she said to defense attorney West "That's real retarded, sir," when he asked if Martin lied about his whereabouts.

Apparently, the predominantly white female jury could take superior notes when the language was what Orwell called Doublespeak. The jurors were encouraged to jot down the phrase "creepy crazy cracker" as quoted from Trayvon's mouth. The right of Mr. Zimmerman to "stand his ground" when he shot through Trayvon's heart was graphically argued, but the panel of his peers was not allowed to reflect on how racial profiling influenced Zimmerman's decision to follow Trayvon Martin. Race was the least important yet the most significant factor in the courtroom.

"Stand your ground" is an intentionally ambiguous and confusing legal terminology. Now that George Zimmerman has been found not guilty, others of his breed can provoke a fight and if they get bested, they can kill whomever they attack, and walk; providing, of course, that the fatality is a black kid "armed with a sidewalk."

Now that the racially polarizing trial is over, the Tea Party crowd that has stood their ground in support of Zimmerman can go back to pulling the earth from beneath another black person -- President Obama -- although they claim that their dislike for the president has nothing to do with his "race, background, education, and uppity mannerisms."

Many Americans -- lots more whites than blacks, I am sure -- do not believe the verdict in the Zimmerman trial was just the latest example of the biases against young black males of a racist, oppressive criminal justice system that continues to grow.

However, while I still will not let America's lunacy when it comes to race run me crazy, I am still crazy enough to believe that we shall overcome.