Mohler: The Central Tragedy of this Case Remains—Trayvon Martin Belongs to Us All

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dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I can't think of too many of Mohler's articles I would agree with less than this one (though his words justifying the signing of the Manhattan Declaration would be high on that list).  Even the parroting of the media's distortion of the words from the dispatcher "we don't need you to do that" into an "order" not to follow that was disregarded shows a pretty tenuous grip of the facts.

There are indeed big divides in this country that need answers that can't be found in a criminal verdict.  However, playing fast and loose with the truth will not lead us anywhere near those solutions.

Dave Barnhart

Darrell Post's picture

Speaking of the media, this from the article describing the lawsuit Zimmerman has opened against NBC News:

 

Here’s how NBC News, in a March 27, 2012, broadcast of the “Today” show, abridged the tape of Zimmerman’s comments to a police dispatcher on the evening of Feb. 26, 2012:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

The full tape went like this:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about. Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.

 

 

Jim's picture

  • Zimmerman should not have gotten out of his car (but he did)
  • Martin struck Zimmerman 
  • Cry out was Zimmerman not Martin (Martin's Father when questioned by the police indicated the cry out was NOT his son. Later on the stand he said it was his son)
  • Zimmerman defended himself

Back to Mohler. In what way does "Trayvon Martin Belongs to Us All"? 

In my local paper (The Minneapolis Star Tribune), we have murders every week: black on black frequently, husbands kill wives, cops (Cold Spring MN recently), workplace violence, etc.

How is Trayvon's murder worse? 

Darrell Post's picture

The jury decided he was killed, not murdered. I know that's what you meant. But your question is a good one. There are tragic losses of life in America every day. Circumstances equally as gut-wrenching. Entire families murdered. Children. Elderly. Innocents. Helpless. The selective national interest in specific cases and disinterest in others illustrates the power the media has over the country. Power to foment incredibly strong emotional reactions to circumstances in which most people have no direct connection.  

Mike Harding's picture

I grew up in one of the roughest neighborhoods--the south side of Chicago (24th and California).  My Mom had to work all day in a factory and my Dad was a truck driver who went to the bar every night after work.  There was plenty of crime and violence in our part of town and it was racially diverse.  My brother, Jim, and I had to learn to be street smart very quickly.  Don't ever start a fight, but you best be prepared to finish one that you did not choose to begin.  Though Zimmerman showed extremely poor judgment in the way he followed Martin and by not immediately identifying himself as the neighborhood watchman, even the defenders of Martin admit that the evidence points to Martin throwing the first punch (perhaps breaking the nose), and the preponderance of the physical evidence points to Martin on top of Zimmerman during the fight.  Zimmerman may be guilty of using excessive force, but it certainly was not premeditated murder based on his hatred of blacks.  Zimmerman has mentored young black men, took a black girl to the prom, and he himself is a minority--Latino.  He understands first hand what discrimination is like.  If Zimmerman is a "white Hispanic" (NY Times), then Obama is a white black-man.  Martin's parents have shown incredible strength and reserve during this episode, unlike the race baiting hucksters such as Al Sharpton and MSNBC.  The cold hard truth is that 93% of all blacks murdered in this country are murdered by members of their own race.  The scenario painted by MSNBC et. al. that whites are out there hunting young black men down is simply not true.  At best it is the exception, not the rule.  Murder is murder regardless of the victim or the assailant. Two weeks ago 11 black men were murdered in the city of Chicago in one weekend.  You hardly heard about it, because it didn't fit the race-baiting agenda of the left.  I live near Detroit.  My daughter works in Detroit.  We hear of the carnage almost on a daily basis.  There is a breakdown in the home, the church, and government.  Common grace is being depleted and we are left without a civil society in which one can live with reasonable safety within a sin-cursed world.  Mohler's article has some merit, but it didn't tell the whole story.  His personal experience, however, was very much unlike mine.  I was warned regularly by my parents to stay out of trouble while living in a dangerous place and to show respect for my neighbor and particularly for law-officers, most of whom are honorable people simply trying to do their job. 

Pastor Mike Harding

Greg Linscott's picture

I understand Mohler to be saying that this is not the time to point fingers, analyze issues, or quote statistics. Though we may not agree as a nation as to the underlying root issues, we all know there is a problem. Mohler is trying to model an attitude of sympathy and how to avoid de-personalizing the matter- he wants us, as Christians, to see the people themselves- and provide an unspoken reminder that our opportunities to serve will be with those who see this issue differently than we do. We need to be careful not to let our opinions distract from ministry.

I think he's on to something.

This paragraph I read from Rod Dreher sums up the situation well:

The whole thing is a tragedy. If Zimmerman, whose neighborhood had been plagued by criminals who looked and dressed like Martin, hadn’t confronted Martin, none of this would have happened. If Martin hadn’t overreacted and beaten Zimmerman, none of this would have happened. Now, one man’s life is gone, and another man’s life is ruined. No good can come from this.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jim's picture

Robert Ethan Saylor "belongs to us all"

Down Syndrome Man Died at Hands of Off-Duty Cops Working Mall Security; No Charges Filed

Point of the above

Who will stand up for the Down's Syndrome boy who died for sneaking into the movie theater?

* Just like he overplayed the Newton school shooting but managed to overlook the Kermit Gosnell case

 

Greg Linscott's picture

This isn't about charging the media, the President, or _______________. I understand Mohler to be modeling a willingness to minister to those whose perspective, concerns, and conclusions on this and related issues might radically differ from our own. There may be a time for politics and analysis, but at this point, I see Mohler modeling a solution to minister across the more general division highlighted by this story more that reasoning through the specifics of the immediate problem. That solution is rooted in compassion, a willingness to serve, and humility. Love seeks not her own. A conclusion you reach on this issue may be the right one, but in the end, parroting it loudly closes the door (or solidifies your own tendency to look at "those people" with contempt and scorn), what really has been gained or accomplished?

 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jay's picture

A smiling 17-year-old boy who had gone to a convenience store to buy a soft drink and a snack was shot to death, and we will never know exactly how or why.

This was a convenient representation of the case for the media, but is not the entire truth.  Martin had marijuana in his system at the time he died, had a lot of personal problems and who had apparently missed criminal charges earlier in the year, and may have been getting iced tea to make another illegal intoxicant, called purple drank.  Not to mention that he referred to Zimmerman as a 'cracker' before anything started.

Al Mohler might be wise to get more information on this case before he starts talking about the smiling, "innocent" victim.  The involvement of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton at a minimum necessitates a harder look.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

handerson's picture

I'm curious about the way conservative evangelicals have almost uniformly spoken about this from a race angle. I can't help but think that this is collective "white guilt" talking. We do have problems with racism in our country; we have a horrible past and the church has been a big part of it. But to read this story through racial eyes says a lot more about the people reading it and less about the actual events.

I'm more concerned about a culture of violence that teaches young men to solve conflict through physical force. 

 

DavidO's picture

dcbii wrote:
. . . parroting of the media's distortion of the words from the dispatcher "we don't need you to do that" into an "order" not to follow that was disregarded shows [Mohler has] a pretty tenuous grip of the facts.

 

Trayvon Martin was killed, however, not by another African-American young male, but by a man who in a 911 call declared Trayvon was suspicious and out of place and then rejected the police dispatcher’s [request] to stop following him. ~ Dr. Mohler

 

Does that change it all that much?  I use request because the implication of "we don't need you to do that" is more likely "we'd rather you not" than "go ahead if you have nothing better to do..."

Jim's picture

We eschew the freeway and drive through this neighborhood twice a day.

It's been a problem neighborhood (high crime) for decades going back to the riots in 1967 on Plymouth Avenue. There are still empty lots along this route more than 40 years later!

At the very site of the above map link, we stopped to help a young man who had been beaten and stripped of his overcoat and left in 13 degree weather. At that corner is a funeral home and I believe it is the most prosperous business in that area.

This little boy was murdered close to that site several years ago. It is still unsolved.

When I see these little black kids, I pray for their safety. 

Virtually all of the murder and mayhem in this neighborhood is black on black. 

 

 

Greg Linscott's picture

All of those things may be true, Jay. I doubt very much that Mohler is unaware of them.

Still, marijuana, personal problems, etc. don't definitively answer all the uncertainties. They certainly don't decisively justify everything that took place. However, Mohler nowhere that I can see argues that TM is a completely innocent victim.

The story has highlighted (properly or not) race issues in this country. So, that being the case, an article from a leader like this is not taking the opportunity to explain why this case isn't really about race. He's trying to address the problem that this story as brought into prominence- to take ownership of it and be part of the solution.

 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Mike Harding's picture

Last night, "Rachel", the chief prosecution witness and personal friend of Martin, testified on CNN that after Martin had called Zimmerman a "creepy blank crackar" (spelled with an "a" not an "e") that Rachel in turn warned Martin to "run, run, run" on account of the fact that Zimmerman may want to "rape" Martin (Rachel's words).  This is stunning news and the first that we have heard of it.  We have first hand testimony by a pro-Martin witness that Martin was warned by his friend Rachel about the realistic possibility of Zimmerman being a homosexual and potential rapist of a teenage boy.  This could explain why Martin initially threw the first punch and subsequently pinned Zimmerman to the ground and banged Zimmerman's head on the concrete.  Let's see what the left does with this recent testimony by their star witness.  Rachel also testified in the same interview that "Crackar" (Martin's description of Zimerman) refers to a guy who thinks he is some kind of "police".  At the very least, Martin had an idea that this man was on some kind of patrol.

Pastor Mike Harding

christian cerna's picture

handerson wrote:

I'm curious about the way conservative evangelicals have almost uniformly spoken about this from a race angle. I can't help but think that this is collective "white guilt" talking. We do have problems with racism in our country; we have a horrible past and the church has been a big part of it. But to read this story through racial eyes says a lot more about the people reading it and less about the actual events.

I'm more concerned about a culture of violence that teaches young men to solve conflict through physical force. 

 

 

It's the main stream media, President Obama, and blacks who have made this all about race. Had it not been for the news media pushing this story continually for the past few months, few people would even know who Trevyon Martin was, or what had happened that night.

 

I don't understand how you can say that the Church has been a big part of racism in this country. Where do you get this idea? 

Mike Harding's picture

By Todd Starnes

A man who says he was jogging alongside of a road when three black men abducted and beat him claims the alleged attack was in retaliation for George Zimmerman’s acquittal, police in Senatobia, Miss. told Fox News.

Police Chief Steve Holts told Fox News the alleged victim, who is white, was jogging Sunday night along Highway 51 when, he said, the suspects pulled over and ordered him to get inside their car.

“One of them asked, ‘Do you know who Trayvon Martin was?’” Holts quoted the man as saying.  At that point, the men in the vehicle allegedly attacked him.

The man, who the chief described as a young resident of  the area, was treated  at a local hospital.

Memphis television station WREG reported the assailants allegedly told the victim, “This is for Trayvon.” The television station and The Democrat newspaper reported the jogger was badly beaten and later dropped off on a road between Senatobia and Coldwater, Miss.

Holts declined to release any other information but said officers are searching for three black males in a white, four-door vehicle.

“We want to find out why this happened,” the chief said, while also cautioning local residents to “be safe.”

The police department is urging local residents who might have information to contact Crimestoppers at 662-301-1111.

Pastor Mike Harding

Greg Long's picture

Count me on those who were less than impressed by this post from Mohler. He parrots the media portrayal of Martin as a "smiling kid." Yes, I'm sure he smiled just plenty, but there are lots of other pictures where he was doing anything but smiling. And the word "kid" to me brings to mind a small youngster who would have been crushed by someone the likes of George Zimmerman. However, the convenience store video shows that the 17-year-old was relatively tall.

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/video?id=8666911

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Jay's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:
All of those things may be true, Jay. I doubt very much that Mohler is unaware of them.

Still, marijuana, personal problems, etc. don't definitively answer all the uncertainties. They certainly don't decisively justify everything that took place. However, Mohler nowhere that I can see argues that TM is a completely innocent victim.

The story has highlighted (properly or not) race issues in this country. So, that being the case, an article from a leader like this is not taking the opportunity to explain why this case isn't really about race. He's trying to address the problem that this story as brought into prominence- to take ownership of it and be part of the solution.

I see your point, Greg.  I'm not as optimistic that Mohler will be able to achieve being a part of the solution - I feel as though he may have made it worse by wading into the morass - but I hope I'm wrong.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

christian cerna's picture

I just lost all respect for Albert Mohler. Sounds to me like he is just another mouthpiece of the Liberal media. 

He should have just remained silent on this issue. Instead, he writes something that not only distorts the truth of the case, but makes him sound like someone who is trying to be politically correct, in order to appease some of the blacks that might be in his congregation. 

He writes, "But there is one talk I never had to have with my son, and my father never had to have with me. That is the talk about what to do when the police pull you over and you are a young black man. The talk about what to do when you are eyed suspiciously by people just because you are a young black male. The talk about how to act and how to respond when people watch just to see if you are trouble."

With those sentences, he is pretty much expressing what he really thinks about this case. That Zimmerman targeted Martin because of the color of his skin. 

This piece of writing is irresponsible at best, and is something that I would expect to read in some liberal owned newspaper. It is shameful that someone who is supposed to be a teacher/theologian, and known for precision in his writing, would publish this article.

 

GregH's picture

christian cerna wrote:

I don't understand how you can say that the Church has been a big part of racism in this country. Where do you get this idea? 

Because historically, the church in the US has not led the fight against racism. In fact, they have resisted it. More sadly, the more conservative elements of Christianity resisted the most. Consider Bob Jones University which refused to admit African Americans until many years after state schools did. Ironically, for all the talking on our side about how evil the world is, the world was more right than conservative Christians on this issue during that time.

One of the reasons Billy Graham was so controversial was because he refused to allow racial barriers at his events. That was during the 1950's I think. You don't hear much about that fight today, but Billy Graham was certainly more right on that issue than the more conservative elements of the church.

 

Greg Linscott's picture

The direction of the comments in this thread is a case in point for why Mohler needed to write the article he did. At this stage, the verdict is in. Nothing more will be accomplished (if indeed it would have otherwise) by debating the finer points of character of the parties involved. There is going to be, however, resentment, finger pointing, and yes, violence that ensues. Do we meet that with scorn, contempt, and retreat? How does "weep with those who weep" look in this situation?

To be blunt, do Christian white people really need more reinforcement from someone like Mohler that "all those" black people are violent, lazy, drug-addicted thugs who are more responsible for their own destruction than not, or do they need reminders that this is, regardless of skin color or character flaws, a tragedy that took out one of our own, and that this is a problem we need to take responsibility for instead of blaming others for not taking theirs like we think they should?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Todd Bowditch's picture

christian cerna wrote:

I just lost all respect for Albert Mohler. Sounds to me like he is just another mouthpiece of the Liberal media. 

 

Such a travesty...50 years of Gospel ministry erased because Al Mohler has been revealed to be a closet Liberal media fanboy!

<please read the intended sarcasm>

May Christ Be Magnified - Philippians 1:20 Todd Bowditch

DavidO's picture

I utterly fail to see what Pastor Harding's and Jay's last posts have to do with Mohler's point.  

Greg Linscott's picture

DavidO wrote:

I utterly fail to see what Pastor Harding's and Jay's last posts have to do with Mohler's point.  

...they illustrate why it needed to be made.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

GregH's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

The direction of the comments in this thread is a case in point for why Mohler needed to write the article he did. At this stage, the verdict is in. Nothing more will be accomplished (if indeed it would have otherwise) by debating the finer points of character of the parties involved. There is going to be, however, resentment, finger pointing, and yes, violence that ensues. Do we meet that with scorn, contempt, and retreat? How does "weep with those who weep" look in this situation?

To be blunt, do Christian white people really need more reinforcement from someone like Mohler that "all those" black people are violent, lazy, drug-addicted thugs who are more responsible for their own destruction than not, or do they need reminders that this is, regardless of skin color or character flaws, a tragedy that took out one of our own, and that this is a problem we need to take responsibility for instead of blaming others for not taking theirs like we think they should?

That is absolutely right. If white Christians got off of their current talking points of trying to prove Zimmerman innocent and blaming the media and spent a bit more time trying to understand why black people are upset with the verdict, it would be a very different world.

I know very dedicated (and conservative) black Christians who are devastated by the verdict. Rather than just calling them mistaken, maybe a bit of trying to understand their perspective makes sense. By the way, I am not black and I am not saying Zimmerman is guilty. But regardless, there is more to this than meets the eye. It goes way deeper than this case.

Jim's picture

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142412788732339450457860818255024703...

 

George Zimmerman's acquittal of murder charges in a Florida court has been followed by predictable calls for America to have a "national conversation" about this or that aspect of the case. President Obama wants to talk about gun control. Civil-rights leaders want to talk about racial profiling. Others want to discuss how the American criminal justice system supposedly targets black men.

All of which is fine. Just don't expect these conversations to be especially illuminating or honest. Liberals in general, and the black left in particular, like the idea of talking about racial problems, but in practice they typically ignore the most relevant aspects of any such discussion.

Any candid debate on race and criminality in this country would have to start with the fact that blacks commit an astoundingly disproportionate number of crimes. African-Americans constitute about 13% of the population, yet between 1976 and 2005 blacks committed more than half of all murders in the U.S. The black arrest rate for most offenses—including robbery, aggravated assault and property crimes—is typically two to three times their representation in the population. The U.S. criminal-justice system, which currently is headed by one black man (Attorney General Eric Holder) who reports to another (President Obama), is a reflection of this reality, not its cause.

"High rates of black violence in the late twentieth century are a matter of historical fact, not bigoted imagination," wrote the late Harvard Law professor William Stuntz in "The Collapse of American Criminal Justice." "The trends reached their peak not in the land of Jim Crow but in the more civilized North, and not in the age of segregation but in the decades that saw the rise of civil rights for African Americans—and of African American control of city governments."

The left wants to blame these outcomes on racial animus and "the system," but blacks have long been part of running that system. Black crime and incarceration rates spiked in the 1970s and '80s in cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia, under black mayors and black police chiefs. Some of the most violent cities in the U.S. today are run by blacks.

 

...

The homicide rate claiming black victims today is seven times that of whites, and the George Zimmermans of the world are not the reason. Some 90% of black murder victims are killed by other blacks.

So let's have our discussions, even if the only one that really needs to occur is within the black community. Civil-rights leaders today choose to keep the focus on white racism instead of personal responsibility, but their predecessors knew better.

"Do you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58% of its crimes? We've got to face that. And we've got to do something about our moral standards," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told a congregation in 1961. "We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too. We can't keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves."

handerson's picture

I know very dedicated (and conservative) black Christians who are devastated by the verdict. Rather than just calling them mistaken, maybe a bit of trying to understand their perspective makes sense. 

I completely respect that racial inequity  exists in our society. I completely respect that I will never feel it the way a black person will.  But I cannot respect those--black or white--who want Zimmerman to pay for generations of racial inequity.  The core problem of racism is failing to treat people as individuals and judging them on their personal merits. Zimmerman was put on trial for 2nd degree murder. He was judged as an individual and deemed not guilty.

So this devastation mystifies me. It's almost like saying: "The system is unjust to black youth, therefore it must be equally unjust to Zimmerman." We do not solve problems of injustice by perpetuating more injustice.

Did Zimmerman act impetuously? Probably.

Did he lack wisdom? Yes.

Should he be held responsible in some way? My gut instinct is yes.

Did he murder Trayvon Martin because of  wide-spread racial inequity in the US? No.

And he should not be put on trial for society's sins any more than a black youth should be presumed to be a troublemaker by merit of being black.

 

Greg Linscott's picture

So, have things improved since the quote from MLKJr? Is it helping for us to keep pointing out statistics that the people with the problem (obviously not usneed to get it in gear?

The observation Mohler makes is a simple one- the central tragedy is a national one, not the problem of one demographic or another to solve. Christians in the nation with the problem- you and me- need to see how they can be part of the solution.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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