Opinion

DC school decides Trayvon Martin case trumps ABCs

The demonization of George Zimmerman and the deification of Trayvon Martin continues.

There is little doubt in the eyes of the media and a certain element in American society that George Zimmerman, the man now formally charged with the murder of Trayvon Martin, is guilty. Much like the Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carroll’s fable, Alice in Wonderland, many would just as soon sentence Zimmerman first and try him later, if at all.

This attitude clearly was on display in the protests that erupted after the shooting made national news several weeks ago. It seemed virtually everyone was determined to rush to judgment, trying Zimmerman in the media long before he could ever have his day in the courtroom. The Florida prosecutor responsible for bringing the murder charge against Zimmerman based her decision on some of the flimsiest evidence and legal analysis I have ever seen. Whether this defendant will be able to receive a fair trial is a very real question at this point.

The latest absurd development involving the case occurred last Friday, when Malcolm X Elementary School in the District of Columbia hosted “Trayvon Martin Day.” According to the local ABC News affiliate in D.C., the school gave Arizona Iced Tea to every parent and Skittles to each child — items that Martin allegedly had purchased just before the incident with Zimmerman that resulted in his death. If the school had more money, it probably would have handed out “hoodies” like the one Martin apparently was wearing the night he was killed.

School administrators and other supporters of Trayvon Martin Day explained that students can learn valuable lessons from the incident that occurred between Zimmerman and Martin on February 26th in Sanford, Florida. Those who came up with this bizarre idea either know exactly what happened during that incident — how else could they know what valuable lessons the incident can impart to their students in the District of Columbia — or are simply using the incident for some other agenda, like so many other observers and organizations are doing. Somehow, I doubt it’s the former.

J. Harrison-Coleman, the school’s principal, issued as silly a defense of the incident as one might expect. She told WJLA TV, “We want to send a message to stop the bullying and bring about a happy spirit.” Perhaps the program honoring Trayvon Martin was accompanied by a chorus of “Kumbaya” to help foster a “happy spirit.” Unsurprisingly, the District of Columbia public school system is backing the decision, because it “recognize[s] the value of getting parents and community members together to discuss problems students may face.”

Of course, “getting parents and community members together to discuss problems students may face” is not necessarily a bad idea. The question is, to discuss what problems? Some manufactured problem about an already highly politicized legal case in Florida? How about getting parents and teachers together to discuss the problems District of Columbia students face in the job market, because of the poor quality of education they receive in the D.C. public school system, which ranks among the worst in the nation by most objective standards?

While the students at Malcolm X surely enjoyed their Skittles, the sweetness they bring will be long outlasted by the bitterness the students will live with later for having been educated in a public school system more concerned with politics and racial division than with educating the young students that it is charged with educating.

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 and was the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee in 2008. He provides regular commentary to Daily Caller readers.