Where was the race bias? Nowhere. The jury has spoken

2013-07-19T00:00:00Z Where was the race bias? Nowhere. The jury has spokenCharles Krauthammer Washington Post Writers Group Arizona Daily Star

"No justice, no peace" chants the telegenic mob. In a civilized society, however, where the mob doesn't rule, justice is defined by the verdict that follows a fair trial. It's the best that humans can do.

And in the case of George Zimmerman, we have a verdict. It followed a trial every minute of which was seen by the world. Nothing secret, nothing hidden. Where was there racial bias? What evidence of the case being tilted toward the defendant because the victim was black? What sign of any racial animus in the jury?

Those undeniable realities have not prevented Benjamin Crump, attorney to the victim's family, from placing Trayvon Martin in the tradition of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers.

This is a disgrace. Those were race crimes of the most savage and undeniable kind. To compare those to a shooting deemed by an impartial jury after a fair and fully open trial as a case of self-defense is to desecrate their memory and to trivialize centuries of real, brutal, bloody race hatred.

The injection of race into the story by the media, by irresponsible politicians and by the usual racial entrepreneurs has been poisonous. President Obama didn't help when his first reaction to the death of Trayvon Martin was, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," immediately making skin color a central issue.

Imprudent as was that remark, it is nonetheless understandable given the history of this country and the initial appearance of the incident. At that point, a racial motive was not an implausible assumption, although certainly an unhelpful one coming from the president of the United States - a president who had consistently reacted to other killings, such as the Fort Hood massacre of 13 soldiers by a Muslim gunman shouting "Allahu Akbar," by immediately urging us not to jump to ethnic/religious conclusions.

But that remark about Martin came before the Zimmerman trial. Afterward, Obama acted responsibly. "A jury has spoken," he said.

In doing so, Obama was following the overwhelming evidence. A concurrent FBI investigation, which involved interviewing more than 30 of Zimmerman's acquaintances, found zero evidence of Zimmerman harboring racial animus. Nor did he even mention race when first describing Martin to the police dispatcher. Race was elicited only by a subsequent direct question from the dispatcher.

But now there is major pressure on the Justice Department to pursue Zimmerman with some kind of federal prosecution. On what possible evidence for what possible crime? A hate crime? Who calls 911 before setting out on a hate crime? "This case has never been about race," said Angela Corey, one of Zimmerman's prosecutors. The jury concurred.

While Attorney General Eric Holder told the NAACP he would continue to investigate a federal role, that could simply be his way of punting the question to a time when temperatures are lower. Moreover, he made a point of turning his address into an attack on Stand Your Ground laws.

Further federal prosecution of Zimmerman would fail, humiliatingly. Assuming Holder knows that, his focusing on Stand Your Ground would be a deft way to finesse the current frenzy and drain the issue of the race element.

If my favorable reading of Holder is correct, then the case will take its historical place as not crime but tragedy. Its unfolding was nearly theatrical: an encounter in the dark of two men, confused and fearful. This should never have happened and surely Zimmerman's misjudgments contributed mightily, most grievously his ignoring the dispatcher's advice not to follow Martin.

Tragedy, but without catharsis. No crime, no punishment. Under law, there's a difference between misjudgment and murder (or manslaughter), which the prosecution never came close to proving. Zimmerman will nonetheless carry the taint of that misjudgment - of reckless zeal that led to the needless death of a young man - for the rest of his life.

Divine punishment? It's not for us to judge. All we have is the human kind whose only standard in a civilized society is this: A jury has spoken.

Email Charles Krauthammer at letters@charleskrauthammer.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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