By Richard (RJ) Eskow, OpEdNews.com
The name in the headlines this month is George Zimmerman, shooter of Trayvon Martin. But another Zimmerman named the phenomenon we're witnessing almost fifty years ago, when he described the unnamed gunman who shot civil rights leader Medgar Evers:
"The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man's used in the hands of them all like a tool
He's taught in his school ...
That the laws are with him, to protect his white skin
To keep up his hate, so he never thinks straight
'Bout the shape that he's in, but it ain't him to blame
He's only a pawn in their game."
We can engage in quasi-theological debates about whether the half-Caucasian, half-Hispanic George Zimmerman is "white" -- but he's certainly been taught to fear and hate the Other, the dark-skinned and hooded menace to his well-watched neighborhood. Bob Dylan (original name: Bobby Zimmerman) found the right phrase to describe shooters like George Zimmerman: "only a pawn in their game."
Whose game? As it turns out, the "Stand Your Ground" laws used to protect shooters like Zimmerman were written and promoted by ALEC -- the American Legislative Exchange Council. As the Center for Media and Democracy notes, the corporate-funded right-wing group behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's attack on worker rights is the same group that has promoted "Stand Your Ground" laws all around the country.
You could put a thousand people on Neighborhood Watch and they'd never see the real threats to Zimmerman's community. Those threats can't be seen with the eye. The real threats are things like joblessness, financial insecurity, hunger, lack of medical care. They're threats you can't protect yourself from with a gun.
Shooters like George Zimmerman are the product of an economic system that benefits from misdirected fear and anger - emotions that are too often channeled into violence instead of peaceful change.