The Washington Post

In Trayvon Martin rant, Pat Buchanan misses the truth

The recently fired MSNBC commentator weighed in with his thoughts in a recent blog post, entitled “It’s All About Race Now”. Though Buchanan’s riffs on race seldom break new ground, he never disappoints with his ability to spectacularly miss the point. 

In this case, Buchanan takes aim, and shoots wide of the mark, at what the hysteria over Martin’s death is all about. 

For Buchanan, it’s all about the exacerbation of the exploitation of racial conflict by the likes of Rep. Bobby Rush wearing a hoodie on the House floor and Rep. Maxine Waters calling Martin’s shooting a “hate crime.” 

In Buchanan’s eyes, Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in a Florida gated community, had good cause to be suspicious of a “6 feet tall … black man or youth with a hood over his head.” 

With that, Buchanan launched into his rant: “black males between 16 and 36, though only 2 or 3 percent of the population, are responsible for a third of all our crimes;” and this: “whenever cable TV runs hidden-camera footage of a liquor or convenience store being held up and someone behind the counter being shot, the perp often is a black male wearing a hoodie.” 

And so it follows, as Buchanan tells it, that Zimmerman’s antennae should have been raised at the sight of that black stranger shielded by a hoodie walking in his community. 

If that’s racial profiling, so be it, I suppose is the answer. 

Wrote Buchanan: “The real America is a country where the black crime rate is seven times as high as the white rate ... where white criminals choose black victims in 3 percent of their crimes, but black criminals choose white victims in 45 percent of their crimes.” And he goes on like this, citing statistics that point to disproportionately larger numbers of blacks and Hispanics tied to gun assaults. 

All of which is absolutely irrelevant to the eruption of nationwide protests in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death. 

It is the absence of justice in this case that strikes the nerve of so many Americans. Yes, there is black-on-black crime. More blacks fall victim to black criminals than whites. But, what sets those black perps apart from the man who shot Trayvon Martin is that those offenders are pursued by the criminal justice system. Most of them end up in jail or on probation and with criminal records. 

Left to their own devices, officials in Sanford, Fla., were going to let George Zimmerman merrily get on with his life as if he had never pulled a trigger and shot and unarmed teenager dead. 

That’s why the nation has taken to its feet. 

Were it not for a coast-to-coast outcry, Trayvon Martin’s shooting death would not now be under investigation by a special prosecutor appointed by Florida’s governor, the FBI, the Justice Department and a grand jury. 

Buchanan, as usual, missed the truth of the matter by a mile. 

Colbert I. “Colby” King writes a column -- sometimes about D.C., sometimes about politics -- on that runs on Saturdays. In 2003, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. King joined the Post’s editorial board in 1990 and served as deputy editorial page editor from 2000 to 2007.


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