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The deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, among others not as widely reported, are direct consequences of a political strategy specifically designed to reposition racism and racist attitudes as both normal and accepted within American society. This divide-and-conquer strategy is intended to invoke anger, fear and paranoia, and keep those emotions in play through Election Day. This is a highly effective strategy which does unfathomable harm to American society, but precious few voices are connecting the dots between the resurgent acceptance of intolerant attitudes in America and its obvious source: the Republican party.

White folks are fed up with us.

The major problem, as I see it, is most conservative whites I’ve met have no black friends. I don’t mean that they have few black friends, I mean they have none. Zero. There are several people with whom I am acquainted who have not, to my knowledge, had a black person visit their house in the decade and a half that I’ve known them. I’ve never bumped into these people anywhere and found them in the company of a black person. When I moved into my current neighborhood, rumors spread that I was a gang banger. This was, ostensibly, because I was wearing a durag while dragging my things into the house. I was a 40-year old comic book writer, but these people feared and loathed me as they waited for what I am now certain they believed would be loud gangsta rap to blare from my home amid ganja vapors.

This general cultural disconnect extends itself to LGBT persons. Most anti-gay bigots have no close relationships with any LGBT persons. As with racial discrimination, their irrational hatred is fueled mostly by stereotype and paranoia, conservatives (specifically, because most centrists and liberals are at least willing to try to get to know people) making stuff up in their heads. My neighbors misread me as a violent, angry, malicious threat. But ask most any black person, and—without even knowing me—they would have scoffed at such a ridiculous idea. Most black people can take one look at a group of kids and tell the difference between gang bangers and kids like Trayvon Martin. A hoodie does not equal threat. Additionally, what most whites don’t understand: not all gang bangers are out to harm you. Gangs are largely tribal. The violence emanating from them concerns mostly tribal clashes over territory, honor, or defense against real or perceived threat. The real gangstas I know, while scary, are just like any other kids out there. They won’t harm me if I don’t give them a reason to. Looking scary is how they survive in their environment, a socio-economic mess most conservative whites know and care nothing about.

One look at the SUV Jordan Davis was riding in would tell most any black person or even an experienced law enforcement agent that these kids, while perhaps appearing threatening, were not gang bangers. For one thing, the SUV had stock rims and lacked the really dark window tint urban hunters tend to prefer. There’s your first clue, Sherlock: this may likely have been somebody’s dad’s car. It may have belonged to one of the boys, but the kind of hood likely do someone harm is also more likely to sacrifice rent money for decent rims. Second, a real hood would never—I need you to write this down someplace—never have allowed Michael Dunn to reach into his glove box. Were these actual gang bangers, there’s surely have been more than one gun in the car, and one of the other kids would have taken Dunn clean out. The fact Dunn was able to reach, unlatch his glove box and (presumably) remove his weapon from its holster tells you these kids were not professional gang bangers, because the gangstas I know would have taken Dunn out just for reaching. Ironically, the simple fact Dunn is alive today is proof these kids were, well, just kids. Looking tough, sounding tough, throwing up gang signs—this is all part of the urban custom of boys trying to be men and learning to survive in hostile environments. There were obvious cues that this group, in fact, posed no real threat to anyone.

The first commonality among both the Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis tragedies is both incidents were initiated by men who later claimed to have been the victim. All evidence suggests both of these men initiated these events on the basis of misconception about the children they were about to murder. Both men were responding to anger and loathing of teenage boys they had never met: they just hated these boys on spec. Both incidents would have been avoided had either man simply walked away or stayed in their car. Trayvon Martin was, by his murderer's own testimony, running from George Zimmerman. Jordan Davis, engaged in a heated exchange with Michael Dunn, never got out of his vehicle or threatened Dunn physically in any way noticeable to any witness at the scene. These men just shot them. Not for anything either boy had done but as an irrational response to unreasonable hatred and loathing.

Real Gangstas: Despite his fake braggadocio, Michael Dunn would never have drawn down on Chief Keef (right).

Their guns emboldened these men; made them feel more powerful and, frankly, entitled to stalk a lone teenager walking home or to bark orders at some kids at the 7-Eleven. Both may have felt they had special police powers while failing to obey specific instructions and police guidelines. By his own testimony, Dunn thought nothing of the incident, returning to his motel and ordering a pizza. This is not the behavior of a rational person, yet these are prime examples of the mindset of frightened white folks across the country arming themselves with increasingly more relaxed gun laws. It's open season, most especially on young black males, by angry white men with T.J. Hooker fantasies who cannot tell the difference between Will Smith and Chief Keef. Had Zimmerman or Dunn been engaged in a crossfire with Chief Keef and his entourage, that's a story I might believe. But I also believe neither Zimmerman nor Dunn nor this tough guy with the rebel flag above would have drawn down on actual bona fide gangstas. These men were simply punks, wannabes, bullies who assumed they were in a fight they could win and who knew, instinctively, their victims were of little actual threat to them.

Michael Dunn, whom I suspect was likely inebriated in some way, missed all of these cues because he was on the reservation while not understanding the tribe. These boys may have yelled at him and blared their music. Real gangstas who wanted to hurt him would have left Dunn a skid mark and the news story would have been about yet another unsolved murder in Florida. Instead, this white man, likely stoned on something and angry at blacks for, I guess, being black—as so many conservative whites are these days, vented his anger with violence. It is part of a national pattern. The GOP’s political strategy has painted a bull’s-eye on young black males all over the country. White folks are fed up with us.

On The Reservation Without Understanding The Tribe: Defendant Dunn making his case for how
firing ten shots at four unarmed teens was "standing his ground."

A Winning Strategy

17-year old Jordan Davis' murder was a direct result of a political strategy adopted by the Republican National Party in the wake of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. The death of Trayvon Martin, shot ostensibly for Walking While Black, is a direct consequence of the inestimable damage of a multi-billion-dollar campaign designed to stoke intolerance and race hatred initiated at the national and local levels by the Republican Party and like-minded individuals and groups including the NRA, Koch International, conservative Super Pac Americans Fort Prosperity, Fox News and others. The Tea Party, an AstroTurf (phony grassroots; they’re actually funded by the Koch Brothers) conservative fringe group proudly displayed racist placards while bringing assault weapons to heated political rallies dominated by white faces. Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, both casualties of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law (which I view as a virtual license for whites to shoot blacks at-will), are merely the most recent and highest profile symbols of the harmful consequences of what is, essentially, a political objective. The racist coalescence aimed at the nation’s president radiates throughout society in ways political strategists cannot predict. Using race as a political tool is like setting of a nuke to pull off a mugging: you get the wallet, but the radioactive fallout will kill us all. The GOP’s political strategy has been unthinkably heinous and has done untold damage to the nation.

Which, arguably, is per usual for the modern Republican Party who, as most of their efforts in the past twenty years aptly demonstrate, have invented crisis and created problems where there were none. Any reasonable review of GOP leadership over the past generation confirms the absolute fact that this is what Republicans do: actively make life worse for Americans by aggressively stoking anger, fear and paranoia, shed innocent blood by the hundreds of thousands and run up unconscionable cost. I cannot remember the last time the Republican party did anything positive for or said anything positive about this country. It’s all gloom and doom, death and destruction, and it is always, always, the other guy’s fault.

Click To Read EssayThe GOP message, which I doubt many of their mainstream leaders actually believe, is Blacks are lazy if not evil and Obama is the antichrist. They seem wholly unconcerned with the measurably rising tide of division among the American people or the resurgence of blatantly racist and homophobic violence which is a direct result of their propaganda war against the president. Their strategy has real-world consequences. It should shock and dismay me that so many men and women would put their ideology and political purpose ahead of the public good, yet this has been demonstrably the GOP strategy for more than a generation. This was absolutely not Ronald Reagan’s way of doing business. The modern Republican party should really stop invoking the name of a man they claim to idolize while concurrently spinning him in his grave.

Racism is back. We’d presumed it was gone if not quite dead and gone, but racism is back and back in a big way. It was brought back, on purpose, by the Republican Party as a political tool, but the fallout from this heinous tactic is now beyond anyone’s control. Racism is a rich vein of underground hate in America. Racism had been long out of vogue as Political Correctness became the behavioral norm. Political Correctness speaks to tolerance, not to an actual sea change in society’s view of itself. Racism simply went further underground and. So long as the economic and political power structure of the nation was safely and securely within the hands of White Conservative America, we all—blacks and Latinos inclusive—seemed to buy the notion that the nation was becoming post-racial. It was not. The nation was becoming more polite; we simply were not talking about it. Neighbors exchanged waves and chatted about anything but race, but the old tribal superstitions were still there.

The historic and unprecedented global wave of goodwill turned not only toward Barack Obama but toward *America* in the wake of the 2008 election, a victory that signaled not just a shift in the race question but a definitive and absolute rebuke of the Bush Era globally, forced Republicans to seek a political handhold in order to remain in any way viable. Nearly drowned out by the deafening roar of cheers across the planet, where Barack Obama was already a superstar, and with Europe and Asia and even the Muslim world and Russia literally lining up for photos with this new, young star, Republicans were forced to preach doom in the efface of overwhelming optimism and goodwill. They looked patently ridiculous, blaming a presidency not 100 days old for the nation’s epic economic, social, and military woes, literally all of which were created by the very people trying to blame Obama for the nation’s sorry state. To halt their political freefall, they turned toward the dregs of their own party, a class of cousin-marrying, low-information bigots the mainstream GOP demonstrably doesn’t even like to acknowledge. In the end, their strategy became bottom up as in bottom-feeders. Diversity became the new Communism, and terms like “Dog Whistle,” as in “catchphrases which evoke emotional responses,” became staples of the Sunday talk shows.

Racism was deployed like nerve gas, riling up the lowest of the low-information voters with simply insane things like the Birther nonsense. The Obama Administration’s poorly-chosen tactic of apparently ignoring the wingnuts played directly into GOP strategy, as did Fox News’ greedy and unconscionable indifference to the public interest in becoming a voice for propaganda as opposed to being an actual news organization. Armed with billions from heinous conservative pundits like the Koch brothers and with Fox News as their propaganda delivery system, the GOP stirred the racism pot from the bottom up. The patently silly and ridiculous paranoia theories rose through the ranks and embedded themselves in the mainstream of political thought.

It was an obvious political tactic, perhaps one of very few effective choices the GOP had left to them after they wrecked the economy and embroiled the nation in two wars. However, the damage to the social structure of this country and to the public interest is simply unfathomable, the fullest extent of which is yet to be fully appreciated.