When a False Narrative Runs into Reality
It has been said many times by many different writers and commentators, including me, that if Trayvon Martin had been White, or Zimmerman Black, there would never have been a trial over the tragic shooting in February last year. The reasons for the trial were purely political and racial, but even now, in the aftermath of the verdict, you can hear people continue to parrot remarks about Trayvon being “profiled” by Zimmerman, or that Zimmerman “disobeyed” police instructions by continuing to “pursue” Martin, and was therefore at fault. The trouble with these two assertions is that the first lacks any objective, factual evidence, and the second is completely false. In fact, most of what I would call the “cultural knowledge” of the Trayvon Martin case constitutes a false narrative, or a set of underlying “facts” that are simply not true at all, but which many people either don’t bother to question, or continue to repeat even after they have been disproved.
One of the problems with a false narrative like the commonly accepted Trayvon Martin story is that when it is honestly and objectively assessed, it falls apart completely, and that is exactly what happened with the Trayvon narrative during the trial. In a criminal court, logic and evidence reign supreme. Jurors are literally instructed against allowing their feelings and sympathies to influence their verdict, and allegations like “profiling” a victim must be proved if they are to carry any weight. In the criminal court, the false Trayvon narrative ran into the buzz saw of objectivity, and was revealed, at least within that venue, to have no substance. There was no evidence supporting Trayvon’s supposed profiling; in fact it may have been Trayvon who racially profiled Zimmerman. Trayvon wasn’t being pursued, but he may in fact have been “stalking” Zimmerman; how else do you plausibly explain that four minutes in which Martin easily could have returned home unmolested if he had wished to? All the commonly “known” facts exchanged and traded within the popular culture were stripped-away one by one and revealed to be false or mistaken. The only reason anyone was surprised at the verdict was because they had bought into that false narrative. In fact, the only reason there was a trial at all was due to various public officials who were influenced by that false narrative in one way or another.
Among the things I find somewhat amazing is the number of people I still hear claiming that Trayvon was “profiled,” that Zimmerman is a “wanna-be cop,” that Zimmerman “disobeyed police instructions,” or Trayvon was “murdered,” even after all these “facts” have been conclusively disproved during the trial. People hear others repeat assertions or details that are untrue, don’t bother checking the facts for themselves, and the false narrative lives on, despite having run up against the real world of a trial and fallen apart.
The Zimmerman trial is far from a unique example of a false narrative creating public opinion. The political left quite literally trades in false narratives in order to drive their policy goals. How often have you heard same sex marriage framed exclusively as an issue of discrimination and homophobia, when in truth it is an effort by a minority to force a change in the legal definition of the very word marriage. Global Warming is claimed to be “settled science,” supported by an overwhelming consensus of scientists, and only opposed by “deniers.” The reality is, there is not actual scientific evidence in support of the theory that CO2 is a major cause of warming, and according to their own measurements, there has been no warming at all for about 20 years. The whole Trayvon/Zimmerman story grew out of the left’s obsession with race, and the relentless agenda of the left-wing media to try to find and play-up the racial angle in every story, at least when the victim is Black and the perpetrator White (or even a “White Hispanic). They don’t seem to care about any other racial stories.
This all makes one wonder—what if every false narrative was forced to survive on its objective merits, as happened with the Trayvon story? There still is significant resistance to the truth behind the Trayvon/Zimmerman story, still a cohort pushing the Profiling/Murder narrative, but the false narrative has taken a hit, and I sense a growing resistance coming from people who now are better acquainted with the actual facts and evidence. At the end of it all, the question is, do we want to abandon the rule of law, and start willingly sacrificing the innocent to a social agenda driven by a false narrative? As inured as many may be with a particular social agenda, even a racial one, most are not willing to take that extra step. Among many false narratives relentlessly trolling the public consciousness, the Trayvon/Zimmerman story is a rare exception. The trial was a highly publicized, widely viewed spectacle, during which the underlying “facts” everyone thought they knew were put to the test, and failed to hold up. This rarely happens to a false narrative. We should all wish it happened more often.