So now we have word that the Smithsonian is “eyeing” Trayvon Martin’s hoodie for its new branch, the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

According to the branch’s director Lonnie Bunch:

It became the symbolic way to talk about the Trayvon Martin case…It’s rare that you get one artifact that really becomes the symbol.

Because it’s such a symbol, it would allow you to talk about race in the age of Obama.

What a novel idea! Now, that’s something we haven’t been allowed to do—talk about race in the age of Obama.

It seems to me we’ve been doing a great deal of talk, talk, talking about race “in the time of Obama.”

—The left would like to define that “talk” as their pointing out how racist Republicans and conservatives are, and having all white people respond by apologizing for being white like Chris Matthews has.

—Obama would like to define that “talk” as our listening to him give interminable, cliche-ridden speeches about the experience of black people and especially of himself, including topics such as his grandmother, the typical white person, and her fears.

—Eric Holder would like that “talk” to be about how cowardly we have been not to talk, or something like that.

I wonder if we’re not pretty much talked out at the moment. Despite that, I have a bit to add to the talk, and that’s this: it would be deeply deceptive and one-sided propaganda for the Smithsonian to display Trayvon Martin’s hoodie as a symbol of this case, because of what the hoodie has erroneously come to mean and the way it was used (via ABC News):

Zimmerman described Martin as wearing a “hoodie” the night he killed the teen, claiming self-defense. Protestors across the country wore hoodies in support of Martin as they called for Zimmerman’s arrest, prosecution and conviction.

Zimmerman’s words—like so much else about that night—have been repeatedly twisted to imply that he phoned in a call about Martin as a suspicious person in part because he was wearing a hoodie. But the evidence says otherwise.

Not that the left, Obama, Holder, or Lonnie Bunch (or the Smithsonian, unfortunately) care, but this is what actually happened, according to the transcript of Zimmerman’s call to the police that night:

Dispatcher: Sanford Police Department.

Zimmerman: Hey we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy, uh, [near] Retreat View Circle, um, the best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy is he white, black, or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?

Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He’s [unintelligible], he was just staring…

Dispatcher: OK, he’s just walking around the area…

Zimmerman: …looking at all the houses…

Anyone who knows anything about how the police work knows that they ask for a description of the subject. That description includes race (as here, in direct response to the dispatcher’s question) and clothing (as here, in direct response to the dispatcher’s question). What else could Zimmerman have said, if in fact Martin was wearing a hoodie, which he in fact was? No one’s paid a particle of attention to the other portion of Zimmermans’ careful description—jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes—because they can’t be used for propaganda purposes like the sweatshirt.

Thus are myths born. This one is a particularly pernicious one, fanned by the flames of racial demagoguery. And now, the Smithsonian wants to get into the act?

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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