Most Americans don’t believe George Zimmerman was motivated by racism and do not believe he should be charged with a hate crime for shooting black teenager Trayvon Martin. But as with nearly every question regarding this case, there is wide racial disagreement.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 24% of all American Adults believe Zimmerman’s actions that led to Martin’s death were motivated primarily by racism. Fifty-four percent (54%) think the Hispanic Neighborhood Watch volunteer was chiefly motivated instead by a concern about burglaries in the neighborhood. Twenty-two percent (22%) are not sure.
Hard to believe support is this thin if there’s “wide racial disagreement.” Presumably a large majority of blacks are in favor of the hate-crimes charge; I’d bet there’s at least a sizable minority of self-identified liberals of all races in favor too. That’s not an insignificant number of voters. If support for federal prosecution tops out at 21 percent, opposition among moderates and conservatives across the demographic spectrum must be enormous. The political argument for charging Zimmerman even in the teeth of that kind of resistance is that Democrats need to mobilize their base for the midterms, but you don’t actually have to charge him to do that. Note that Holder’s focus in his remarks to the NAACP on Tuesday was more about rolling back “stand your ground” laws than prosecuting hate crimes. Al Sharpton also mentioned “stand your ground” in his presser yesterday notwithstanding its exceedingly minor role in the case. That’s the political spark here for the lefty base — go to the polls, elect Democrats, and undo the statutes that (supposedly, but not really) guaranteed Zimmerman’s acquittal. If anything, the fact that the DOJ’s hands are tied in prosecuting him is all the more reason for liberals to take back Congress and start writing new laws. Obama can have his cake here by goosing turnout and can eat it too by skipping a broadly unpopular, doomed-to-fail prosecution of Zimmerman.
But maybe they’ll do it anyway, just to exact a little “social justice.”
Apropos of nothing, via Mediaite, here’s Charles Barkley making the case on CNBC that yes, of course the verdict was correct, and no, the media doesn’t have clean hands in all this. The two big takeaways for people who watched the trial, I suspect, are that there was zero hard evidence produced that Zimmerman targeted Martin because of his race (Barkley assumes an element of racial profiling but there’s nothing to prove it) and that Zimmerman got the worst of the fight before he shot Martin, which speaks directly to self-defense. Both of those elements, combined with Zimmerman’s personal history, make the hate-crime charge essentially impossible to prove. That’s why we’re at 21 percent.