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Sunday, July 28, 2013
Americans who wonder how the encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin has become so exaggerated that it dominates national media, stimulates protests and even excuses riots should compare the behavior of prosecutors and the Obama administration with the leaders of Boston during the 1770 event that became known as The Boston Massacre. I recommend the website for the Boston Massacre Historical Society.
An angry crowd of Americans threatened a lone British soldier who received assistance of a captain and seven soldiers. The crowd continued to threaten the soldiers, throwing ice and rocks. There was a lot of noise and confusion, and the soldiers fired into the crowd, killing five and wounding six more. Of course, this attracted an even larger and angrier crowd.
The lieutenant governor, Thomas Hutchinson, had the courage to stand on the balcony and state: “The law shall have its course. I will live and die by the law.”
Compare that with current events: The federal Justice Department may have arranged for demonstrations to protest when Zimmerman had not been arrested by local officials and now threatens to charge him federally because the supporters of the Obama administration don’t like the results of the legal process. The special prosecutor — appointed because the elected official did not find grounds to prosecute — presented an affidavit that failed to include exculpatory evidence and still calls Zimmerman a “murderer” after he was acquitted of all charges.
There was another courageous man in 1770: John Adams accepted the unpopular job of defending the British soldiers. He argued self defense:
. . . (T)here were a dozen of persons with clubs, surrounded the party; twelve sailors with clubs, were by much an overmatch to eight soldiers, chained there by the order and command of their officer, to obey the lawful command of their officer, as much, Gentlemen of the jury, as you are under oath to determine this cause by law and evidence; clubs they had not, and they could not defend themselves with their bayonets against so many people; it was in the power of the sailors to kill one half or the whole of the party, if they had been so disposed; what had the soldiers to expect, when twelve persons armed with clubs, were daring enough, even at the time when they were loading their guns, to come up with their clubs, and smite on their guns; what had eight soldiers to expect from such a set of people? Would it have been a prudent resolution in them, or in any body in their situation, to have stood still, to see if the sailors would knock their brains out, or not?
While MSNBC and CNN are excused by following the example of Paul Revere, who made an engraving depicting the soldiers as performing like a firing squad, elected politicians and appointed prosecutors cannot be excused for inciting riots rather than performing like Thomas Hutchinson and John Adams.
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