Mona Charen
Just as Rahm Emmanuel didn't want to let a good crisis go to waste, the national press doesn't want to let a good victim go to waste.

The death of Trayvon Martin is a terrible thing, but the usual suspects are hijacking his death to create a morality play. Whenever this happens, and it happens with some frequency in American life, truth is corrupted.

About 153 young black men are killed every week in America -- 94 percent of them at the hands of other young black males. Only one of those who were murdered on Feb. 26 has dominated national news coverage -- because his killer was not black.

There is an etiquette to discussing ethnicity that goes straight out the window if the press decides to create a racial villain. Normally, if a person is of mixed ancestry, as George Zimmerman is, he gets the benefit of the doubt on being a minority. A person with mixed ancestry, such as Cameron Diaz or Bill Richardson, would never be called "half white." But Zimmerman became, in the phrase adopted by The New York Times, a "white Hispanic."

Among the disgusting features of this national drama is the furious search for Zimmerman's exact racial/ethnic pedigree. He's a full Hispanic, claims one website. He's half white but considers himself a Hispanic, says his father. Do they hear themselves? Could apartheid South Africa have been more exacting in searching for the drops of racial blood?

The left has ginned up the outrage machine, as if America were experiencing an epidemic of white on black killings and this was the last straw. This is fiction. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 3.2 percent of black victims were murdered by whites in 2005, the last year for which data are available. The black on white rate was higher -- 8.8 percent -- but still, the data show that murder remains very much an intraracial phenomenon.

It isn't at all clear what happened on Feb. 26. It certainly appears that Zimmerman used excessive violence. Zimmerman's story of being in a fight (apparently corroborated by an eyewitness) is not supported by the videotape that shows him unharmed at the police station.

The facts remain far from clear.

The dead youth, who is now universally imagined as his 13- or 14-year-old self because of the old picture that has circulated, may or may not have been up to something more than buying Skittles that night (not that that would justify the shooting). We don't know.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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