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Chris Lane – Murder, Race and Reality [OPINION]

FILE: Chris LanePeople who want to believe that they themselves are not racist, but that black civil rights leaders are, have been trying to compare the senseless murder of Australian exchange student Chris Lane to the Trayvon Martin killing.

“Where is Jesse Jackson, huh?” I overheard yesterday. “Why doesn’t he have anything to say when the killers are black?”

You can’t really expect that your everyday racist is hanging on Jesse Jackson’s every word enough to follow him on twitter, but the Reverend did recently tweet his thoughts on the killing. What you can expect is that people, even racists and radio hosts, should try to get some basic facts about the case before they go shooting off their big mouths.

This whole affair is a tragedy and it is ridiculous that we should have to keep a racial scorecard, but educating people who can only think in terms of black and white requires talking to them at a level they can understand. Of the three teens being charged in the murder, only one was “black”, one came from a mixed family, and the third was white.

Surely there will be more information to come from this story, but it seems pretty unlikely that the motivation for the killing will turn out to be racially motivated, given that the “wannabe gang” is literally half white, and that one of them has already confessed that they wanted to kill someone because they were bored.

Contrast that to the facts of the Trayvon Martin case. George Zimmerman was on tape using racial slurs. George wrongly suspected that Trayvon was a burglar, based on nothing more than Martin being black and walking through Zimmerman’s neighborhood.

(No, it does not matter that previous break-ins had been committed by African-Americans; assuming someone is a criminal simply because he too is black is a textbook definition of racial profiling.)

The Sanford police department did a toxicology screen on the unarmed victim, and not the shooter, and showed no signs of pursuing a case against Zimmerman until outside pressure forced them to do so.

So why are civil rights leaders, the media, and level-headed thinkers everywhere not treating the Chris Lane murder as a racial issue, the way they did with the Trayvon Martin killing?

Because the scenario that resulted in Trayvon Martin’s death and the initial lack of criminal charges against his killer were racially charged from the start. Chris Lane’s alleged killers were immediately put behind bars, and there is simply no evidence that Lane’s race played any part in him being chosen as a target.

The reality is that most of the murders in this country are committed by someone who is the same race as the victim. When that is not the case, it does not automatically mean that the killing was racially motivated, even if that is what the “us vs. them” racists would have us believe.

Previous: Ring the Bell: The Politics of Education Deserve a Failing Grade

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gossom and do not reflect Results Radio, Townsquare Media, its sponsors or subsidiaries.

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