GERALDO, YOU LOST ME AT "RESPONSIBLE"
(bumped because the Peggy Noonan post seems kind of trivial now)
There's a kernel of truth in what Geraldo Rivera said this morning on Fox News about the Trayvon Martin case -- no, really, there is. But what he said is still outrageous:
I believe that George Zimmerman, the overzealous neighborhood watch captain should be investigated to the fullest extent of the law and if he is criminally liable, he should be prosecuted. But I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman was.
It's the word "responsible" that makes this outrageous. It actually is true that young non-white males endanger themselves when they wear certain clothes that I, as a white male, can wear without a second thought (and could wear without a second thought even if I were 17) -- but that's not right. If Geraldo had put this reality in those terms, he could have made this point. He might have sounded like the black parents in this NBC report, who talk about impressing upon their sons the need never to question cops or make sudden movements, issues young non-white males have to deal with in addition to clothing choices if they want to stay safe. But again, this is not right:
The hoodie was not "responsible." What was "responsible" was George Zimmerman's stereotyped reaction to a young African-American male's hoodie, combined with his rage. The stereotype is at fault. Zimmerman is at fault. Not the hoodie.
Incidentally, Fox is still walking on eggshells with regard to this case -- Ailes trotted out the channel's token non-white star, and token non-wingnut, to address this issue, thus giving the Foxsters deniability if this blows up (as it has). You know, Roger and Rupert, if your ideology actually were defensible, you could just openly address this. But you can't, can you? You can't admit that the young black male was innocent because you've worked your audience up for years to believe that all blacks (apart from blacks who are right-wing ideologues) are evil or criminal or rendered incapable of responsible citizenship after years of dwelling on the "liberal plantation." But you're afraid to attack him directly because you've got nothing to attack him for and you know you'll be called on it. You're stuck. So you let the Latino guy take the hit.