Hatred– alive and flourishing, alas

I recently wrote an opinion piece that examined the Trayvon Martin shooting (Let justice rule the day for Trayvon: April 4, 2012). To date, it has garnered more reader response than any other opinion piece or news article that I’ve prepared.

In some ways, this isn’t surprising. This case has captivated people at a level rarely seen, so a big response was to be expected. What I did not expect, however, was the level of hatred and outright racism that spewed forth from some of the readers who wrote in (the most hateful of whom refused to sign their names – no surprise there).

While leafing through their sickening rants (one actually referred to African-Americans as “animals”) I honestly thought that it was 1963, not 2012, and that Birmingham, Ala., Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor and his goons would soon deliver fire hose justice to those who dared to march for equality. That’s how bad these bile-inducing racist-rants were.

Like Martin’s parents, I believed then as now that the known facts of the case were compelling enough to arrest Zimmerman. I wasn’t alone in such thinking. Just last Wednesday, Special Prosecutor Angela Corey charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. He was arrested and taken into custody.

So, what do these bigoted letters of hatred mean in the grand scheme of things? They show us that we still have a long way to go in the tolerance and understanding department – particularly where racial differences are concerned.

In my opinion political correctness is at least partially responsible for spurring such anonymous hatred.. This mindset has driven them underground where they seethe and become frustrated by their inability to voice their hatred. Every so often their abhorrence bubbles to the surface and they dash off ignorant letters like the ones that I received. As crazy as their logic is, it’s obvious that they do feel shame, at least on some level. Not signing their letters and emails is proof positive of that.

Zimmerman will now have his day in court. Facts will be presented by both sides, as is our American way. If the system isn’t hijacked on a technicality of some sort – always a possibility – a jury of Zimmerman’s peers will act as final arbiter in his culpability in Trayvon Martin’s death. It’s all that the dead boy’s parents ever asked for and it has now come to pass. For that shining moment of justice, may God truly bless America.

-Jeff Bahr