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Justice, Vengeance and the Legal System

A Jury of Trayvon Martin’s Peers

by NOEL IGNATIEV

I will not address the trial or its outcome. People will think what they please. I do have several things to say about the responses.

Many are organizing protest marches. What are they are protesting? The verdict? Had the verdict been otherwise, would they have organized support marches? Although they may differ in their demands, both protest and support marches reinforce the authority of the legal system. (I note in passing that many of those protesting defend the legal system when it works to their advantage, for example in the acquittal of Angela Davis or Huey Newton. Would they really want to do away with the stipulation that to be convicted a person must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?)

The most meaningful challenge to the authority of the legal system would be to hand Zimmerman over to a jury of Trayvon Martin’s peers. That is the way, I think, a communist society would deal with a case like this (if we could even imagine a case like this happening in a communist society).

I note that in one city (Boston) some lefties, mainly white, are planning to leaflet subway and bus terminals in Dudley and Roxbury, in the black district (where they do not live), informing the residents there of a planned march. This is wrong on two counts: first, the problem is not centered in the black district; if these lefties want to bring about a change in the conditions that led to the killing of Trayvon Martin, let them address the people in the white gated communities (real or metaphorical) where they grew up, which resemble Sanford, Florida more than they do the black district of Boston. Moreover, the black folk of Boston, like every place else, have shown on any number of occasions that if they wish to express their outrage at the verdict, they have ways of getting the word around, through the churches, the black radio stations and the barber shops and beauty shops, and do not need white lefties to help them.

Lastly, many of the protestors are demanding justice for Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin is beyond the reach of justice. What they really mean is revenge. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. I am opposed to revenge, in principle, because it degrades the human spirit (although I am not opposed to exterminating rats, cockroaches and other vermin who threaten human health).

Noel Ignatiev is the author of How the Irish Became White (Routledge, 1995), and co-editor, with John Garvey, of the anthology Race Traitor (Routledge, 1996). He can be reached at noelignatiev@gmail.com

This article appeared on his blog.