Commentary: Robert Zimmerman's Misguided Comments

George Zimmerman's brother is not being helpful in his comments on Twitter and on television news programs.

Posted: 03/28/2013 01:03 PM EDT

If Robert Zimmerman believes he is doing his brother any favors by offering his views on Twitter and by appearing on television news programs, he is severely mistaken.

He is, of course, the brother of George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed an unarmed Black teenager named Trayvon Martin a little more than a year ago in a dark, gated community in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman has maintained that he shot the youth in self-defense and that he is not guilty of the second-degree murder charges that he faces.

Robert Zimmerman recently appeared on the CNN program Piers Morgan Live in an ill-fated attempt to justify his comparison of the teenage Martin with another young Black student, who was accused of shooting a baby in the face.

His tweet said: “Lib media shld ask if what these2 black teens did 2 a woman&baby is the reson ppl think blacks mightB risky”.

It was an astonishing and irrational position to take. And it is a view that not only smacks of undeniable racism but also lends credence to the position that Trayvon Martin was the victim of racial profiling at its worst. In his tweets, Robert Zimmerman implies that his brother was wholly justified in taking the life of Martin since Black teenagers are, after all, “risky.”

After a fully reasonable barrage of justifiable criticism, Robert Zimmerman took to CNN in an attempt to backtrack and apologize for his Twitter comments. But his apology was a hollow one that seemed utterly lacking in sincerity.

When Morgan took Robert Zimmerman to task, saying that his posts were “bordering on outright racism,” the brother of the shooter did not deny the validity of that characterization.

“That’s one way to read it,” he said. “And that seems to be the way a lot of people have interpreted it.” Hardly an impassioned apology.

What Robert Zimmerman has effectively done is to give validity to the view that Trayvon Martin was the victim of racial profiling taken to extreme horror. The young Black teenager might have been a scholar, a dedicated churchgoer or a volunteer in community programs. All of that was irrelevant, Robert Zimmerman implies. The thing that trumps everything is race. After all, he argues, “Blacks might be risky.”

Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Trayvon’s parents, said: ”This potentially could be a compelling issue that comes before the jury on as to why George Zimmerman profiled and pursued Trayvon Martin if Zimmerman attempts to attack his brother’s credibility.”

Robert Zimmerman’s position is so troubling and presumably offering no help to the defense that George Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, felt compelled to comment on the matter.

 “I don’t know what was in his heart, but his words and his tweets tend to just rip people apart,” O’Mara said. “To tie someone like Trayvon Martin to a person who seems to have committed a heinous murder, just because they share a common trait of being Back…is wholly inappropriate.”

Indeed.

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(Photo: Courtesy Piers Morgan Live via CNN)

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