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In a convoluted sense, I truly understand the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida. Poor Trayvon Martin’s fiancé will just have to find another American dream—of love, family, and her pursuit of happiness. For the rest of us, we will go on until the next atrocity, the next isolated event. But for her, and Trayvon’s family, trust me, this is a "shattered glass," a holocaust. I don’t want to self-aggrandize here, but I have been studying history keenly lately. Just last night I taught my Advanced Topics class: The Psychology of Racism about how the poison of race hatred is hidden nowadays. Aversive racism is the inner biases that hide behind the outer shell of right political thinking.
It is ironic that I teach this course, and I have a confession: “As a result of mental disturbance from my experiences during the atomic wars... I was a willing subject of Goldstein's influence. I was stubborn and egocentric. I went into the proletarian zones... I had sex with prostitutes. I deliberately contracted syphilis.” The Orwellian quote here I offer to the defense of Mr. Zimmerman, in the present, as yet, non-case, in Florida if ever he would face prosecution. If ever he were forced to stand down.
Forgive my transgressions, but as a Jew, perhaps, I see more Nazis than I should at this stage of my life. When I was five years old, I had to see films of the death camps. We, our generation, following the Holocaust, were taught young never to forget. And as a writer of two novels that deal with that era, I seem to be stuck in that part of a gory history. So it is not unusual for me to see some similarities with The White Bridge, my latest novel, about the connective bridge between American racism and Nazi eugenicide, and that alleged, aversive discrimination in the tragedy in Florida. It is the kind I teach; it is in the poisoned air we breathe, given us by our patriarchs and the selective documents of freedom and liberty the great slave-owners created for only a segment of our republic.
A key tenet of racial psychology is the ever-present defense mechanism called projection. Hitler and the anti-Semitic Germans hated the Jews because they perceived a great threat from a powerful force hell-bent on destroying them and their values. An old, bent Jew on the street caused Hitler to stand his ground. And German law, like Florida’s, would prevail. German tanks were needed to crush the weak. They really were. The Christians, Jews, Gypsy's and the feeble-minded were hugely powerful. If ever they said, "boo," the Nazis would cower in fear. What is a greater defense of the true paranoid? He had to kill because he was threatened.
Now Mr. Zimmerman was really, really threatened. Of course he was. No doubt about it. His skin crawled with the threat of Trayvon’s powerful Black presence. Returning Black soldiers from World War 1 were murdered for that very reason. One veteran of that war, a Black soldier, walked around a southern town in the only clothes he owned:an army uniform resplendent with medals earned in combat for the American cause. He was executed by a white mob, so severely threatened by a Black man in uniform it did not know what else to do with him.
The lynching laws were protected by the big boys at the top. Yet we still honor racists like Woodrow Wilson, in perpetuity. Economic competition for jobs, even more-so than color, always seem to threaten the dominant cultures. Reason enough, I suppose to kill every man, woman and child around us without having to stand down.
Well, I am also threatened.“Women out there, I won’t stand down if you don’t like me. Disabled people, I feel threatened by your diseases. Intellectually challenged? I won't stand down. Blacks, Jews, Irish, Indian, Native Americans, thalidomide babies ... get away from me, you threaten me; I won't stand down.”
I feel really threatened, though, by the racism we still do not see, and the lack of solutions out there. But I suspect to rid a country of racist intent, in our confounded republic that has shed so much blood, we must now embrace 1984. Racism must be uprooted all the way to our soul. It should be considered, not only against the law to act against another human being, but even to think one is 'holier than thou.' Make racism a thought-crime, one that must be eradicated fully because, beyond any recurring physical disease, racism is the one that lingers—the cancer of the soul that never dies. “Heil Hitler,” yes, he is still alive and living near Disneyland.