I've been out of the US for a month and a half now, in another land of racial harmony. I read the news this morning without surprise. Sadness and rage but not surprise. Zimmerman. Not guilty. And how could he be? When was it ever a crime in the US to kill a young, black man? Last week, feeling homesick, I went to a screening of Fruitvale Station in Jerusalem. But despite those wide Oakland streetscapes, I didn't feel like I had traveled far. The world on lockdown, from pole to pole. And yet people see the strangest things. Or fail to see. Kudos to the old man of little wisdom and great blindness who, sitting in the row in front of me, at the moment when Oscar Grant lay dying in the hospital and his mother and his friends and the mother of his child sat praying in the waiting room, observed (complained) loudly, "Everyone is black in this film. Even the doctor." In perfect American English. A formidable accomplishment, such non-seeing! If we all could fail to see so skillfully, what a wonderful world this might be. And Zimmerman not-guilty. How could he be? It was dark out, and Trayvon Martin also was dark. What would guilt mean if white fear did not justify every imaginable outrage? An entire system of moral equivalencies would have to crumble. A legal system too. A nation perhaps.
“What a strange world, I thought: or rather strange worlds—plural. They do not come together.”
—Philip K. Dick, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer