As a witness to two of the worst Genocides of the later half of the 20th Century I have learned a thing or two about the mechanics of destroying a minority population. Fundamentally, genocide is not specifically an overt and conscious attack upon that minority. It can be, but it can also be unconscious, in that the laws and culture of a majority overwhelms and eradicates the oppressed minority.
That can be relatively short-termed, as in the case of policies and laws enacted against European Jews in the 1930s and 40s, or it can be a long slow process, spread across generations through a mixture of intolerance and ignorance supported by lawyerism, legislature and bureaucracy, as the Romans attempted with tribes and nations at the periphery of their empire.
The effect is the same, the tactics so culturally ingrained and incremental that it becomes far easier for the abuser to play victim, as when white people become terrified and fortified by the specter of violence from minority populations-despite that such occurences are relatively rare. At the root are paradigms, and the perspective, or lack of perspective of those within cultural paradigms.
Human paradigms are a complex weave of the patterns of our daily lives, language, culture, religion, ignorances and biases alike. Within that paradigm it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine a different paradigm. Like Germans who tacitly or passively supported the Holocaust, or Serbs who justified the Bosnian War, or Iraqi Muslims rationalizing attacks on Christians or Israeli Jews defending West bank settlements, paradigms become culture, and cultures hold a penchant for devouring weaker cultures.
The death in Florida, in that light, becomes less about the miniscule merits of this case, and more about two tragic individuals, one of who making a deadly decision based upon an environment and culture that has neglected, devalued and overwhelmed an entire group of citizens. It treats the symptoms of every culture’s penchant for genocide as the sickness, nurturing an environment that creates men like George Zimmerman, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and others who would perpetrate, equivocate or obfuscate the real root of the problem.
It becomes easier within that paradigm to view any dysfunction within the oppressed group as a law enforcement issue in which reactionary and heavy-handed law enforcement tactics become justifiable and even common sense. With Florida’s so-called Stand Your Ground Law, that reactionary culture is extended and secured outside law enforcement into the hands of the untrained and unaccountable populace.
The primary issue there is, in no way is this meant to benefit minorities, but is instead-although not explicitly stated- for the dominant group in this paradigm. The test is hether if the roles were reversed whether media coverage, Right-wing pundits or law enforcement would have treated this story the same. The answer is all too obvious, and all too tragic, and in this case all too deadly.