Why the Dream Defenders Didn't Click
Around the State
Ask me who the greatest man alive during my lifetime was. Go ahead. Ask me. I'll tell you without hesitation, it was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The civil rights leader and his positive impact on this nation and on me personally has no equal.
I kept looking for a reason why the Defenders were happening.
Yes, these young people demonstrated peacefully. Yes, they were spirited, buoyed by camaraderie and a healthy sense of righteousness. All good things, I think. But there was something wrong.
It was motive.
The Dream Defenders were protesting against a law they didn't like. But mainly, they said, they were motivated by racial injustice following the death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, shot by an Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman. I guess that's where they lost credibility with me. Had they protested simply against plain-brown-wrapper injustice, it might have settled better in my stomach. But racial injustice?
Trayvon Martin was barely 17 years old. He was angry at being followed and turned on his stalker. Bottom line, Trayvon wasn't carrying a gun, Zimmerman was. Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon. Did it matter who was black and who was Hispanic? Bad decisions by the prosecution led to an overcharge attorneys couldn't sell to the jury. While Trayvon's family sat stunned, Zimmerman was set free.
I can see where the sense of injustice comes from. I just can't see the race card in it.
Martin Luther King Jr. never allowed himself to be pulled along by politics. The wind beneath his wings came from something higher up, something more spiritual than organizers in a political party or entertainers looking for cheap publicity or a man consumed with ambition and press-at-any-price like Jesse Jackson.
The Dream Defenders, on the other hand -- from the moment their leader, Phillip Agnew, tweeted to the world that Florida was trying to starve them out of the Capitol, to the release of the racist-language-filled Trayvon Martin Toolkit that would have MLK Jr. turning in his grave -- were little more than victims of manipulation.
Dr. King spoke the truth, called for justice, rose above most of humanity with his life of inspiration and paid the ultimate price for it -- the marks of extraordinary greatness.
Certainly, I'm not saying racism is nonexistent in Florida. I think it exists everywhere -- mostly in people who don't count, I like to think. But the Trayvon Martin tragedy was no example of racial injustice.
If the Dream Defenders didn't click with a lot of Floridians -- and, be honest, they didn't -- it could be because these Floridians are like me, of an age, and once upon a time lived in a vastly different, segregated, uglier American society, where it took one very large man to change the world as we knew it.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423.