The Trayvon Martin case has brought racist backlash to a new low. Apparently, my Trayvon Martin post on CNN enraged those who insist that a teen walking home from 7-11 with a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona Iced Tea was a hardened thug who deserved to be shot, even if he wasn’t doing anything wrong at the time. I wound up spending my day exchanging ideas with a couple of them, who emailed me through my blog’s contact form.
We commonly call them “comment trolls.” The term “comment troll” makes me think of the troll from the Three Billy Goats Gruff. It’s hard to take a guy seriously who gets outsmarted by billy goats.
But the people we dismiss as “comment trolls” are not fighting with billy goats. They are real people who listen to Rush Limbaugh, watch Fox News, and read the New York Post. They create “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012” bumper stickers and shout out “Pretend it’s Obama!” to Rick Santorum at a campaign event at a firing range. They are the base of the Republican Party, and their views influence the Republican Party platform. It’s important for all voters, regardless of party affiliation, to know who they are.
I’m reposting part of my exchanges with these two gentlemen below.
Subject: If I had a son…
…would he look like a “P***y A** Cracker” (see attached photo)? Do these come with a hoodie? I will treat you with the respect a woman deserves – why does this misfit not offer the same respect to those women who pass him on the streets? Perhaps he doesn’t believe in decency, manners and civil discourse. I will let you come up with some lame excuse for this disgusting loser.
By the way, I am sure you are going to dismiss me as a bigot. But keep in mind, thinking people know that playing the race card is cowardly.
Your favorite “white caucasian” person.
[City Redacted, but you can figure it out from what follows], Birthplace of Hope and Change.
Here is the photo that offended our friend Dave so much. The t-shirt is pretty stupid:
My response, in part:
“You are so misguided it’s sad, really. There is no “race card” at play. The Trayvon Martin case is about race. Talking about race is not racist. One need not call Zimmerman a racist to recognize that when an entire group of people is constantly characterized as “criminal,” bad things can happen to the innocent. This Esquire piece says it much better than I can.
“As for that picture: sorry, I don’t answer for all black people and I don’t speak for bigots. If you are a bigot, then you understand that guy in the picture much better than I do.”
“I feel empathy for this young man – it is a sad tragedy. There was probably a crime committed by Zimmerman, but can we let the legal system take its course rather than have bounties and 21st century lynch mobs? Where is the racism you guys are so desperately seeking? Do you have the bona fides on Zimmerman’s time in the Klan? His time as a nazi skinhead? Or horror of horror’s – that he is a Republican? The fact is the only thing we know about him is that people of different races that know him are saying that he is not a racist. And we know that he is a registered Democrat!!
“We also know that Trayvon’s mom is no less exploitive than the Jackson and Sharpton hucksters. Seeking patents before her son is even buried? [Martin was buried on March 3.] Shame on her.”
My final response to Dave:
“Go back and read my prior emails and blog posts. I haven’t called Zimmerman a racist, ever. I care not one whit about his political affiliation. Zimmerman need not personally be a racist for race to be a factor here. Let the legal process play out. That’s all I’ve asked.
“And clearly you don’t know much about trademark law. People are already trying to exploit Martin’s name for profit. Filing for trademark protection allows the family to stop others from profiteering off their dead son. Please don’t slander a grieving mother. Don’t email me again.”
Talking to Dave from the Birthplace of Hope and Change was a lot of fun, but then there was Nick.
Nick emailed me the following:
“Martin tweeted under the handle “NO_LIMIT_N****,” an account that was closed shortly after his death.
“***** my edit.
“What does “NO_LIMIT” imply?”
“Nothing at all. Good day sir.”
Nick didn’t like that, and wrote back with what I’m sure he considered a scathing put-down:
“You are so frightened of opposing views I am startled that you even step into the fray. Of course CNN and MSNBC are not exactly hostile ground. Get out of the echo chamber. Have some independent thoughts. Step out on your own. Don’t be a mime.”
Of course, I haven’t been on MSNBC (yet). I wonder if Nick was confusing me with Goldie Taylor, or Melissa Harris-Perry. Or perhaps he’s projecting into my future reality. In any case, I decided Nick’s question about “No Limit” deserved a more fulsome response, even as I wondered – why didn’t he ask me about the “N****” part of Martin’s Twitter handle?
“You didn’t express an opposing view. You are attempting to slander a 17-year-old kid. What does his Twitter handle have to do with the fact that he was walking home, that he had a legal right to be on the property and never should have been bothered in the first place?
As for your question, “No Limit” is the name of a hip hop label founded by Percy “Master P” Miller, a man so threatening that both he and his son Romeo appeared on “Dancing With the Stars.” It is also the name of an engineering school, a lacrosse camp, a media consultancy, a publishing group, and a song by a Belgian-Dutch music group, 2 Unlimited.”
“So when I said the Twitter handle signifies nothing, I meant it. There are many other No Limits out there. Your Google works as well as mine. Zimmerman wasn’t tweeting Trayvon, he was following him. His Twitter handle is irrelevant. What you’re doing is shameful and despicable. Good day.”
Nick apparently wasn’t done. He sent this one final response. I did not respond and do not intend to. My experiment in trying to reason with bigots is over.
“Everything you say below is correct. The problem? You and Spike Lee and others are part of a lynch mob. I simply want the truth to be revealed and the appropriate actions taken. You want a human sacrifice.”
So telling that this man used the words “lynch mob” and “human sacrifice” to describe black people calling for justice. SO revealing that “justice” is equated with “lynching” and “sacrifice” in the mind of a bigot. As @Only4RM said on Twitter, “It would be funny if not so sad when folks put their bigotry on full display WHILE arguing others are playing a ‘race card.’”