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Of Criminals and Crackers: A Personal Essay On the Zimmerman Trial By a Grown-up Florida Boy

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Watching the grief of Trayvon Martin's parents as they listened to Don West aggressively question 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel about Trayvon Martin's cell-phone reference to Zimmerman as a "crazy ass cracker" was the nadir for me. Thanks to Judge Nelson's strictures it bizarrely seemed the only reference to race allowed in the trial. The term cracker, we've learned, comes from the plantation owner's whip "cracking" against a "bad" n-word's back. Sometimes, of course, the one doing the whipping was also black. I've heard Floridians refer, in a friendly cultural reference, to wooden houses of a certain age with porches on all four sides as "cracker houses."

But in the world of Sean Hannity and Don West everything is different. That the Hispanic Zimmerman was glibly labeled "white" in a trial in which the discussion of race was precluded piles further absurdity onto the case. It should be clear the more apt identifying label for Zimmerman would be that he was a not-very-bright, self-appointed lawman acting too aggressively.

Again, one can only speculate how the minds of State Attorney Angela Corey and her prosecution team worked in this case. Maybe they honestly just didn't get it. But one thing is clear about Florida's criminal justice system: that system should have been on trial along with George Zimmerman.

There is, accordingly, one silver lining, here. The historic Zimmerman verdict leaves no restrictions on publicly damning the State of Florida for its part in this travesty.

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I am a 65-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old kid. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and a video (more...)
 
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You said:" there's vast interior stretches of prim... by Bill Johnson on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 12:35:13 PM
Much of what you said I agree with other than smea... by Bill Johnson on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 12:46:09 PM
Something else that was severely lacking in your s... by Bill Johnson on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 1:31:51 PM
Florida is a direct result of the north eastern i... by Bill Johnson on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 1:34:41 PM
The wave of settlers that your family was a part o... by Dave Lindorff on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 2:15:27 PM
A license to describe should not include a license... by Bill Johnson on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 3:13:05 PM
Truth is, this is true of many states. I knew a do... by Dave Lindorff on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 2:06:02 PM
I lived there for 5 years and  I am sure of m... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 3:33:35 PM
Mark, Thanks for this. Florida is actually a prett... by John Grant on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 11:55:11 AM
my new effort to have Florida license plates chang... by Daniel Geery on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 6:30:00 PM
Flori-duh. Sad but really funny!... by John Grant on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 12:32:22 PM
I was not selling myself as anything other than wh... by John Grant on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 11:49:29 AM
I consider this  the only really good piece o... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 2:30:33 PM
Florida. I remember the Florida of Carrie Meeks, J... by E. T. SIMON on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 5:02:40 PM
I agree the state has been sullied by the ill repu... by Bill Johnson on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 8:38:21 PM
Yeh, but it's all those damn many varieties of "ri... by John Grant on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 12:06:49 PM
Dear Ms Simon, I recall the wonderful local coral-... by John Grant on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 12:04:41 PM
Thank you again John Grant for your insight and lo... by E. T. SIMON on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 1:24:31 PM
I was wondering how to treat the race issue in the... by C. S. Herrman on Monday, Jul 15, 2013 at 5:08:44 PM
I responded to your essay with this: Some of the p... by John Grant on Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013 at 12:29:59 PM