The young men reportedly said they killed the East Central University baseball player because they were “bored.” And right-wing punditry have wasted no time in racially exploiting the shooting, even race-baiting President Obama—who was minding his own business at the time—for political gain. But they got it all wrong.
Failed ex-congressman and black Tea Partier Allen West used the incident to criticize Obama over his response to the Trayvon Martin killing.
“’We were bored & decided to kill somebody.’ 3 black teens shoot white jogger. Who will POTUS identify w/this time?” tweeted the former U.S. Representative, who was defeated by Democrat Patrick Murphy in the last election.
“I believe it comes back to being a respectful young man and maybe that’s something that was missing out of President Obama and Trayvon Martin’s life,” West said in response to Obama’s remarks following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, that Trayvon Martin could have been his son, and could have been him 35 years ago. “But to try to play this and try to make it a personal experience, this was just absolutely horrific,” West added.
And the brain trust at Fox and Friends falsely reported that three black teens were arrested in the deadly shooting. But contrary to what West and Fox and Friends said, not all of the teens who allegedly killed Lane are black. The suspect and alleged driver Michael Jones is white, but The Daily Caller originally displayed the wrong photo for Jones, that of a black teen. However, the reality does not fit into the Tea Party-birther narrative of black criminality against white victims, and by extension, a black president—not to mention a Kenyan citizen— who hates white people and means them harm.
But wait, there’s more. White House correspondent Ed Henry of Fox News pressed Josh Earnest, Obama’s deputy press secretary, about the Lane shooting death.
“Why hasn’t [the president] spoken out about this? In this case, you said there was a judicial proceeding. There was one in the Trayvon Martin case. He spoke out extensively on that one,” Henry said.
Rush Limbaugh said the shooting of Chris Lane is “Trayvon Martin in reverse, but worse.”
Meanwhile, commentators at Breitbart.com have accused African-American “race-baiters,” even Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton—yes, they went there—of staying silent on the Lane case.
“Don’t bother calling on Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Joe Madison, Marc Morial, Ben Jealous, Roslyn Brock, et al., as they can’t raise money or personal profile for power on this tragedy,” wrote one right-wing blogger. “Where is Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mom? Does she not feel for another grieving mother of a son who was hunted down and killed like a dog?”
The right has made the Chris Lane murder their cause célèbre, their meme, their Trayvon Martin, and they believe this is the president’s gotcha moment. And they should be outraged, just as we all should. We all should mourn the loss of Christopher Lane, Trayvon Martin, the children who were killed in Sandy Hook and Columbine, and those who are killed each day in cities like Chicago, Oakland, New Orleans, Philly and Detroit. The president has spoken out against gun violence, but what were his detractors doing, condemning the bloodshed or calling for more guns? And can’t we all claim the victims of gun violence, regardless of race?
Certainly the Aussies are outraged, but for a different reason. They want to boycott this nation for its culture of violence, just as some Americans want to boycott Florida over the George Zimmerman verdict and “stand your ground” laws, or punish North Carolina for its retro Jim Crow-style voter suppression.
“Tourists thinking of going to the USA should think twice,” said former Australian deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer. “I am deeply angry about this because of the callous attitude of the three teenagers [but] it’s a sign of the proliferation of guns on the ground in the USA,” he said of the “murder mayhem on Main Street.”
Fischer told CNN’s Piers Morgan that given you are 15 times more likely to be shot to death in America than in Australia, you’d better give that business or tourist trip to the states some careful thought.
Racial combatants and rhetorical flame-throwers on the right disagree, of course.
“Does President Obama have another imaginary son who maybe would look like Christopher Lane?” asked conservative radio host Dana Loesch in a tweet. “Guns aren’t the problem in #BoredTeens. The problem is parents who utterly failed to teach their children respect for life.”
Fox psychiatrist Keith Ablow blamed it all on late-term abortions and Facebook. And in a piece on Inforwars.com, Anthony Gucciardi wrote that the killing “has nothing to do with gun culture and everything to do with gangster culture and potential racial motivations against a random white kid.”
Until these detractors want to have an honest discussion about the scourge of firearms in America, we cannot take them seriously.
For the moment, perhaps forever, they are clouded by their hatred of black people, their fear of African-American teens like Trayvon Martin—“gangstas” and “thugs”as they call them—and their disrespect for black U.S. presidents, civil rights leaders, murder victims and their families. It is shameful, yet completely predictable.
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