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A kid is dead because of the Cowboy Attitude
July 17, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
I have, in my head and my heart, a simple question, bred after a year of watching and listening and not saying a word about this case: What the hell was George Zimmerman doing confronting young Mr. Martin?
Yes, I know there had been break-ins in the neighborhood. I know he was the neighborhood watch guy.
If a suspicious person is lurking about in my neighborhood, we call the cops. Zimmerman did that and didn’t want to wait.
I wouldn’t follow anybody, because nowadays I am a bit concerned about everyone I don’t know, white, black, hoodied or in a business suit. The likelihood is that in today’s America, the other person is armed, has a chip on his shoulder and wants to be sure nobody ever gets in his way. It’s the new American way, the Cowboy Attitude.
In the 1960s, a black kid turns up dead in a shooting, it might have been termed a lynching. Of course, the lynchmen usually remained anonymous and tried to hide what they did. George Zimmerman admitted he shot Trayvon Martin, so lynching seems the wrong word. And yet.
Yet, there is a kid dead and the only evidence I’ve heard is he was armed with Skittles and a bottle of iced tea and he might have had an attitude and he apparently knew how to fight and George Zimmerman’s nose was punched, and he had some marks on the back of his head. And the gunshot evidence seemed to show he shot from the bottom.
Why did he follow Trayvon closely enough to get into a confrontation? What was the attitude at work here? And if I walked up to a kid, any kid, at night and started making accusations, or just lurked about and followed the kid, white, black, hoodied or bare-headed, would I be a suspicious character to the kid?
Is it a racial case? Surely it is. Blacks and whites view the world from different perspectives. Does not matter what the arguments are about whether race was a specter in the case. Race is the issue in the reactions and must be dealt with. We cannot look out of each other's eyes, but, we can empathize. We have to try to see the world from each other's perspective and find a way. If people in other generations before this one hadn't, I shudder to think about where race relations would be.
It is attitude, in the end, that governs where we are. And it’s what I call the Cowboy Attitude that sends us down these paths. All I truly know about this case is two guys, one older, one younger, one black, one white, had enough of something and tried to prove how tough he was, one to the other. They got in each other’s face.
And Trayvon Martin ended up dead.
In Cowboy America, people are more likely to shoot than to ask, or to offer or to aid. In Cowboy America, people are full suspicion of all sorts of things. Cowboys are always feeling the need to prove how they're tougher than the other guy. Old people fear young. Young fear old. Blacks and whites have a distrust factor. Nobody believes the government anymore.
I don’t need statistics. I just listen to people talking everywhere, man, woman, old, young, talk about their concealed carry and their armament. But I also look at the number of thugs and drug dealers and meth manufacturers who haven’t bothered with a concealed carry and who shoot one another on the streets, occasionally taking down innocents. It’s the Wild West with better guns and cars, or pick 'em up trucks, instead of horses.
Guns actually don’t kill people. The Cowboy Attitude does.
Factor in race. Factor in all those laws. Factor in all those guns on either side of the fence, legal or illegal. Mix in the bad attitudes of Americans of any color.
And Trayvon Martin ends up dead.
The answers, as with so many things, begin with a long, hard look in the mirror – in this case, a nation looking at itself.
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