Right-Wing Media Are the Ones Playing the "Race Card" Over Trayvon Martin's Death
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As questions remain as to the role race played in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and the decision-making by local authorities in the aftermath, the right is using race-baiting tactics to silence any broader conversation about racism and stereotyping.
More than a month after the shooting, the facts about the shooting remain unclear. What is clear, however, is that the right-wing media's modus operandi when it comes to racial issues hasn't changed. Now that prominent black Americans are singling out race as a reason the 17-year-old is dead, conservative media figures are out in full force with what can only be described as ferocious backlash against those they deride as "professional race baiters."
Here is a recent cover of Rupert Murdoch's conservative New York Post, bearing the headline, "Trayvon Hoodwink: Tragedy hijacked by 'race hustlers' ":
New York state Sens. Kevin Parker, Bill Perkins, and Eric Adams are shown in the photo above wearing "hoodies in solidarity" in Albany, while protesting the "demonization of minorities by police." The website url for the accompanying NY Post article read in part "race_buzzards_circle_trayvon."
This is the way the right-wing media are treating those who have dared raise the possibility that race might have played a role in Martin's death. They have been smeared as "race baiters" and "race hustlers," and are identified as "racially divisive." In other words, they are "playing the race card."
On Fox News, conservative activist Alveda King blasted Sharpton and Jackson for fomenting "anger and fear," adding that "we must answer this nonviolently, not with rage and not with anger -- not by playing the race card."
Conservative columnist Thomas Sowell wrote of Sharpton and others: "Playing with racial polarization is playing with fire." He added:
Race hustlers who hype paranoia and belligerence are doing no favor to minority youngsters. There is no way to know how many of these youngsters' confrontations with the police or others in authority have been needlessly aggravated by the steady drumbeat of racial hype they have been bombarded with by race hustlers.
When President Obama responded to the tragedy by saying, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," he was accused of "using racial code." Conservative pundit and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin wrote that Obama was "all too willing to pour gas on the fire" of the story.
The Daily Caller's Tucker Carlson, also a Fox News contributor, claimed Obama made the incident "a simple parable about white racism." He added: "This is not a conversation that we ought to be hav-- that political figures ought to be weighing in on right now at all."
Fox News contributor Tamara Holder concluded: "I think the blacks are making this more of a racial issue than it should be."
All of this then gives rise to a question: When is a good time to weigh in on race relations?
It is a debate worth having, especially in light of the right-wing media's response to Trayvon Martin. In their attempt to prove that Martin wasn't innocent -- that he was in fact the "aggressor" -- they have played every racially insensitive card in their arsenal, including trolling white supremacist websites for material. They have elevated a fringe, black separatist hate group and made its members a central part of the story, and in so doing have deceived the public into thinking the group is a) relevant, and b) part of the progressive mainstream.
When media figures engage in racially charged speech and invoke demeaning and harmful racial stereotypes, shouldn't that prompt a discussion on what animates such vitriol?