There’s a good chance you dismissed the ridiculous media reports of July 22 that Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, “emerged from hiding” to save a family from an overturned SUV.
Why waste time on such nonsense? You might be spending your time more productively — supporting the Tallahassee sit-in of the Dream Defenders, for instance, or going to one of the “not-guilty”-verdict inspired demonstrations against racist violence that continue to take place.
It is worth noting, however, why the big business media ran the story at all. It wasn’t just FOX News that covered it: CNN, USA Today, ABC, CBS and the Associated Press carried it, too.
Like other watershed events — like Hurricane Katrina — Zimmerman’s “not-guilty” verdict has exposed the prevalence of societal racism.
The way the trial itself played out was a dramatic display of the racism of the police and the courts. And the response to the verdict has included everything from demonstrations calling for justice in other racist killings, to African-American media commentators reporting how many times they’ve been profiled. This has included President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.
Stark examples of racism have come to the surface, like the case of Marissa Alexander, who, in order to defend herself from a violent ex-spouse, fired off a warning shot into a ceiling. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing nobody. Or African-American transwoman, CeCe McDonald, jailed for standing her ground against a violent, fascistic attack.
These and countless other examples that expose systematic, state-sponsored racism have begun to form the basis for a renewed struggle, potentially on a level matching the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
As always, the rich and their subservient tools in the media have pushed back. To counter the anti-racist momentum, the corporate media — the mouthpiece of the ruling class — have tried to change the focus.
Now the story isn’t profiling, stop-and-frisk or police brutality. Now it’s the vast gulf between African Americans and whites in the response to the Zimmerman verdict.
Polls by the Washington Post-ABC News, the NBC News-Wall Street Journal and the Pew Research Center have all reported stark polarization in the way Blacks and whites view the outcome of the Zimmerman trial.
While the polls do reflect an aspect of reality — many whites don’t get the manner in which the system conspires against people of oppressed nationalities, and many are misled into blaming immigrants and others for their personal hardships — many are also quick to sympathize when the truth is revealed, as it was in the Trayvon Martin case.
It is just this outpouring of sympathy that the bourgeois media are trying to stamp out.
The SUV story, which no one can really take seriously, is still valuable to the billionaires for its divisive potential in the wake of the verdict.
When ABC News reported that George Zimmerman had rescued a family from an SUV, the on-air anchor reported that the news of this story was itself “adding fuel to a fire of racial tensions across the country.”
It’s true there was a firestorm of protests — against racism and police killings. Many whites joined these protests.
The massive Times Square demonstration the day after the verdict jammed the streets, preventing dozens of cars from moving at all — yet the drivers of the jammed cars, which included many whites, honked in support of the protest.
Organized racists will jump on the bogus SUV story in an attempt to sanitize Zimmerman and spread the idea online — which is just what the corporate media hope will happen. But the overriding, objective polarization today is not Black versus white, but the rich — what some call the 1% — versus the rest of us. And be assured, the rich will never stop using divide-and-conquer ideology, especially white supremacy, to try to prevent us from uniting.