Blaming the victim is nothing new in Republican circles. Fox News is no exception, unless, of course, the victim is Sarah Palin. The propaganda channel has been suspiciously silent in the case of the Trayvon Martin shooting, until, that is, Geraldo Rivera spoke up. In Rivera’s opinion, the hoodie is to blame.
From Media Matters (emphasis added):
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Let’s talk about the Trayvon Martin case and what’s going on in Florida right now.
GERALDO RIVERA: Well, I have a different take, Brian, on that. I believe that George Zimmerman, the overzealous neighborhood watch captain should be investigated to the fullest extent of the law and if he is criminally liable, he should be prosecuted. But I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.
JULIET HUDDY (guest-host): What do you mean?
RIVERA: When you, when you see a kid walking — Juliet — when you see a kid walking down the street, particularly a dark skinned kid like my son Cruz, who I constantly yelled at when he was going out wearing a damn hoodie or those pants around his ankles. Take that hood off, people look at you and they — what do they think? What’s the instant identification, what’s the instant association?
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Uh-oh.
RIVERA: It’s those crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-11, the kid is wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera or they get the old lady in the alcove, it’s a kid wearing a hoodie. You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta, you’re gonna be a gangsta wannabe? Well, people are going to perceive you as a menace. That’s what happens. It is an instant reflexive action. Remember Juan Williams, our colleague? Our brilliant colleague? He got in trouble with NPR because he said Muslims in formal garb at the airport conjure a certain reaction in him or response in him? That’s an automatic reflex. Juan wasn’t defending it. He was explaining that that’s what happens when he sees these particular people in that particular place.
When you see a black or Latino youngster, particularly on the street, you walk to the other side of the street. You try to avoid that confrontation. Trayvon Martin’s you know, god bless him, he’s an innocent kid, a wonderful kid, a box of Skittles in his hand. He didn’t deserve to die. But I’ll bet you money, if he didn’t have that hoodie on, that — that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn’t have responded in that violent and aggressive way.
Of course, it was raining on the evening Trayvon Martin was killed. There was a good reason for him to have his hood up. But for a moment let’s forget that fact. Rivera is rationalizing the irrational. As he pointed out, we excuse our fear of traditional Muslim garb. We blame women for wearing seductive clothing.
Personally, I fear men with t-shirts that say, “Gun control means using both hands.” Should I be allowed to shoot them when they enter my neighborhood? The biggest crimes have been perpetrated largely by men in suits. Maybe we should be able to shoot banksters, Republican politicians or people who simply dress like them.
Fashion changes. What is one day the look of “bad kids” is the next day mainstream. In other words, Geraldo, get over it. Your fear is the problem. George Zimmerman’s fears are the problem. People who think that they are the arbiter of what looks “right” and what looks “wrong” are the problem. People who think they can settle wardrobe disputes at the barrel of a gun are the problem. Irrational fear is far more dangerous than any $40 piece of clothing.
Trayvon Martin didn’t die because he wore a hoodie. Trayvon Martin died because his skin was a little too dark. Trayvon Martin died because the state of Florida thinks it’s okay to kill someone because of fear, rational or not. Trayvon Martin died because he was unlucky enough to walk by the house of a racist vigilante with a violent record.
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