« »

Thursday, August 08, 2013

If it’s not about race, why are Zimmerman supporters in agreement with racists?

Frank Taaffe
Mother Jones: In April 2012, two days before George Zimmerman was arrested for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, he huddled with a fellow neighborhood watch volunteer, Frank Taaffe. According to Taaffe, who disclosed the meeting on Fox News, Zimmerman asked him to share “several talking points” with the media. Taaffe obliged. Indeed, as Zimmerman’s legal drama unfolded over the next year and a half, Taaffe emerged as his most visible and outspoken defender. He gave hundreds of interviews to media outlets, ranging from the New York Times to Fox News to CNN, and made near-daily appearances on cable news shows during Zimmerman’s trial.

Taaffe used this platform to cast Martin as a drug-addled hoodlum and Zimmerman as a community-minded do-gooder (“the best neighbor you would want to have”) who had every reason to suspect the black teen was up to mischief. He also railed against Zimmerman’s critics, whom he accused of staging a witch hunt. “It’s really sad that he has already been convicted in the public media and has already been sentenced to the gas chamber,” he lamented in an interview with NBC’s Miami affiliate last year.

Taaffe was hardly the ideal person to be weighing in on a case suffused with racial angst—or commenting on criminal-justice matters, period. A Mother Jones investigation has found that the 56-year-old New York native has a lengthy criminal record that includes charges of domestic violence and burglary, and a history of airing virulently racist views. Just last Sunday, he appeared on The White Voice, a weekly podcast hosted by a man named Joe Adams, who has deep, long-standing ties to white-power groups and has authored a manual called Save The White People Handbook. (Sample quote: “A mutt makes a great pet and a mulatto makes a great slave.”)
With my headline here, it’d be easy to accuse me of applying guilt by association. Except for one thing: Zimmerman supporters aren’t in agreement with Taaffe on just one or two points, they’re in agreement with him about everything. When you’re in complete agreement with a racist, that makes you a racist — just as someone in complete agreement with Marx is a Marxist.

From the “drug-addled street thug” smear to the “let’s all start racially profiling” argument currently so popular on the right, at no point do conservative Zimmerman supporters and this avowed white supremacist part company. It’s only in how openly racist they are that they start to part ways; Taaffe is proudly racist, where the right is ashamed of it — or, at least, aware enough that it’s a bad thing to go to great lengths to distance themselves from it.

And it’s not just here, the only difference between a rightwing blog post about Trayvon Martin and one at Stormfront is word choice. The fundamental argument is the same: African-Americans are a naturally criminal population who can’t — and shouldn’t — be trusted.

So it should come as no surprise that a bona fide white supremacist could pass as an average Zimmerman supporter for so long and so successfully. There really is no difference between the two.

Search Archive:

Custom Search