Miscarriages of Justice

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  • Don’t you love it when people prove you right?
     
    It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote this about the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case:
     
    “Plenty of people in this country do buy Zimmerman’s self-defense claim, but trust me: many of those folks are the same ones who made Lt. William Calley a hero, and he wasn’t innocent either.”
     
    More on Calley, who he is and what he did later. What proved my analogy dead-on accurate is that Florida “entrepreneur” who thought it would be a brilliant idea to sell a target patterned after Trayvon Martin.
     
    Oh, you should see it: the target is basically a gray hoodie, with a completely black area where Trayvon Martin’s face should be.
     
    In the right pocket of the target is a bag of Skittles; in the target’s right hand is a can of iced tea. In the center of the hoodie is a target, but the unnamed “entrepreneur” might as well have put Trayvon Martin’s name there.
     
    And here’s the kicker: the targets sold out in two days.
     
    Florida’s nut job element must comprise a larger population than I thought. The people who purchased the Trayvon Martin targets no doubt bought the product description the guy who sold them pitched, which reads like this:
     
    “Everyone knows the story of (George) Zimmerman and (Trayvon) Martin. Obviously we support Zimmerman and believe he is innocent and that he shot a thug.”
     
    When people spend too much time in alternate universes of their own creation, tragic things tend to happen.
     
    Zimmerman, operating out of his bizarre universe, took one look at Trayvon Martin the night of Feb. 26 and concluded that he was on drugs, up to no good, a “bleephole” that always got away and either a “bleeping punk” or a “bleeping coon.”
     
    Zimmerman’s conclusion, and the “entrepreneur’s” assessment that Trayvon Martin was a thug, isn’t even supported by a Sanford, Fla. police department report state’s attorney Angela Corey’s office recently released.
     
    The report concluded that Trayvon Martin committed no crimes before his encounter with Zimmerman, and that Trayvon’s death could have been avoided had Zimmerman not gone into his "Dirty Harry" routine.
     
    Nor is Trayvon Martin’s so-called “thuggery” supported by Zimmerman’s recent return to jail, courtesy of a judge’s conclusion that Zimmerman lied about his finances at his bail hearing.
     
    Yes, a judge concluded that, basically, Zimmerman is a lying ass and that his wife is a lying ass. Zimmerman’s father hand delivered a letter to the Orlando Sentinel alleging that his son never followed Trayvon Martin, which was another lie.
     
    Long story short: George Zimmerman is a liar, from a family of liars. He gets his support from the only place he can get it or should expect it: from the same kind of people that made William Calley a hero.
     
    Some BlackAmericaWeb readers might be too young to recall who this piece of work was, so a brief recap is in order. Believe me, chances are younger readers haven’t learned about Calley in their U.S. history classes.
     
    In my years as a writing professor at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, I’ve learned most students have never heard of Calley. They’ve never heard of COINTELPRO either, or that black folks raised all kinds of hell in the streets of major American cities during the 1960s.
     
    That shows how American history of the 1960s and part of the 1970s is – or, more accurately, isn’t – being taught in our schools.
     
    Calley is part of our more shameful history. On March 16, 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War, a group of American soldiers entered a village called My Lai and massacred some 300 to 500 unarmed civilians. Most were elderly men, women and children.

    That brief description doesn’t begin to tell the horror of My Lai. According to a People magazine story from November 1989, American troops raped one young girl with a bayonet. Others ordered villagers into a ditch where they were shot to death. When a 2-year-old baby crawled out of the ditch, the story says, Calley tossed the infant back in and shot it.
     
    To those in the anti-war movement, Calley was a war criminal. He was court-martialed, convicted of killing 22 of the villagers and sentenced to life in prison.
     
    That sentence was commuted to – I hope you’re sitting down for this one – house arrest. For three years.
     
    What led to arguably the most egregious miscarriage of justice in American history was widespread popular support for Calley, whom many Americans regarded as a hero.
     
    Calley doesn’t even believe that nonsense. To his shame, he took 41 years to apologize for what happened at My Lai, but at least he did it in a speech to a Georgia Kiwanis Club three years ago.
     
    That Florida “entrepreneur” who sold those Trayvon Martin targets knows no shame; neither do his customers. If they like George Zimmerman, they’ll probably love William Calley.


     
    Gregory Kane is an award-winning columnist and Pulitzer finalist who writes from Baltimore.
     

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