The reaction to the tragedy was, at first, trans-partisan. Conservatives either said nothing or offered tepid support for a full investigation—and in fact it was the Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, who appointed the special prosecutor who ultimately charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. As civil-rights activists descended on Florida, National Review, a magazine that once opposed integration, ran a column proclaiming “Al Sharpton Is Right.” The belief that a young man should be able to go to the store for Skittles and an iced tea and not be killed by a neighborhood-watch patroller seemed uncontroversial...Of course all the President said at the time was that we could empathize with the pain Trayvon's family was feeling and that if he had a son, he could have been Trayvon. The backlash of racism those simple words set off provide us with some insight into what has happened since the President made more extended remarks last Friday following the verdict in the Zimmerman trial.
The moment Obama spoke, the case of Trayvon Martin passed out of its national-mourning phase and lapsed into something darker and more familiar—racialized political fodder.
Its gotten really ugly. And its not just coming from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Jennifer Rubin used it as a platform to suggest that President Obama is not honest and simply wants to incite people for political ends. The National Review used both the President and AG Holder's remarks as an excuse to fuel the fear of all those dangerous black men/boys. Those are just a couple of examples. The white male patriarchy is doubling down on their racism since the black President spoke. That shouldn't surprise us.
From the perspective of those who are entitled, the problems begin when those they despise do not go along with—and have the power and wherewithal to not go along with—the perceived entitlement...As I said the other day, the mere fact that a black man is president is enough to send them into total obstructionist freak-out mode because the "rhetoric of superiority no longer works to maintain the entitlement." But when he actually makes comments - as innocuous as they were - about the state of racism in American today, the hate really explodes. Its always been there. We all know that. The fire is lit by a simple statement of reality that challenged the masks.
Several times I have commented that hatred felt long and deeply enough no longer feels like hatred, but more like tradition, economics, religion, what have you. It is when those traditions are challenged, when the entitlement is threatened, when the masks of religion, economics, and so on are pulled away that hate transforms from its more seemingly sophisticated, "normal," chronic state—where those exploited are looked down upon, or despised—to a more acute and obvious manifestation. Hate becomes more perceptible when it is no longer normalized.
Another way to say all of this is that if the rhetoric of superiority works to maintain the entitlement, hatred and direct physical force remains underground. But when that rhetoric begins to fail, force and hatred waits in the wings, ready to explode.