Monday, August 26, 2013

The Dream Still Lives (Despite Recent Nightmares).

Last Saturday, we reflected on the upcoming 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. We remembered how much our nation has grown since then. We also noticed what still needs to be done to achieve Dr. King's dream.

Today, the latter is becoming even more painfully obvious. For one, the usual G-O-TEA suspects continue to race-bait the already tragic shooting death of Chris Lane, the Australian student and baseball player attending a college in Oklahoma. He was allegedly gunned down by "three bored teens". Yet while Australian media have zeroed in on our dangerously violent culture and incredibly lax gun laws, right-wing media here are twisting facts and building up tension in a desperate attempt to prove "Reverse Racism!!! White people under attack!!!"

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And that's not all. Just over a month after his acquittal in the Trayvon Martin murder trial, George Zimmerman took his "victory tour" to the very factory that produced the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin. No, I'm not even kidding.

Part of what made the Zimmerman acquittal hard to take was the shooter’s utter lack of remorse for killing Martin. Even if you believed every word of his self-defense claim, it had to be hard to imagine having no regrets about the death of a teenager. Even Sean Hannity, who normally appears conscience free, asked Zimmerman if he had “regrets” about getting out of his car and following Martin, which led to their confrontation and the boy’s shooting. “It was all God’s plan, and for me to second guess it or judge it,” Zimmerman told Hannity, his voice trailing off.

That’s the kind of cluelessness that would lead a guy to tour the factory that made the gun he used to kill Martin, and to pose grinning with a star-struck factory worker like he’s Frank Sinatra visiting a local trattoria.

It’s particularly sad that Zimmerman’s visit came on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, which was commemorated Saturday by a civil rights convening that included Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s parents. The issues of racial profiling, stop and frisk and stand your ground laws are animating a new movement for racial justice, and Martin has become a symbol of the way young black men are treated at the hands of police as well as vigilantes like Zimmerman. “Trayvon Martin was my son, but he’s not just my son, he’s all of our son, and we have to fight for our children,” said Fulton told the crowd.

Yet even in the wake of this, Sybrina Fulton marched in Washington. And she reminded us of what must still be done. She reminded us of the dream that still lives, even amidst her son's tragic death.

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Despite the compoinding tragedies and the constant setbacks, the dream still lives. The dream is still here. Do we want it?

Sadly, the radical right's celebration of George Zimmerman's slaying of Trayvon Martin and distortion of Chris Lane's untimely death are clear reminders of the recent setbacks. Yet despite all this, the dream still lives. Can we finally make it a reality?

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