Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Power of Misdirection

Many of us have been amazed by magicians over the years who do things that seemingly defy the laws that govern the universe.  Of course most of us know that the brunt of their talent lies in the art of misdirection, where our attention is focused on one thing in order to distract our attention from another.

Unfortunately, many people are using the sad case of the Trayvon Martin death to perform their own act of misdirection.

A lot of politicians, including the President, have stepped in and made this case one of national importance.  A lot of people are calling for national protests, some even able to describe blow-for-blow what happened on the night in question which is pretty amazing given the lack of witnesses. Due-process in America, which says “innocent until proven guilty” seems to have fallen by the wayside and been replaced by a national “conviction-based-on-emotion” process.

Sadly, people like Reverend Jesse Jackson use this opportunity to pull out the race card, saying things like “Blacks are under attack.  Our disparities are great.  Targeting, arresting, convicting blacks and ultimately killing us is big business."

These are dangerous words that fuel hate. If you want evidence of what type of hate this fuels, note this:

A handful of members from the New Black Panther Party rallied in Sanford on Saturday and offered a $10,000 reward for Zimmerman's "capture."

"It's time for us, as black men, to take justice in our own hands. If you won't give us justice, we will have to take justice," said Florida organizer Mikhail Muhammad. "An eye for an eye. A life for a life."

The President made it the ultimate case of national importance saying that if he had a son, he probably would have been just like Trayvon.

Such words introduce unnecessary complexity into an already tension-filled situation.

There appears to be hundreds of millions of legal experts in America all of a sudden who know how this case should be handled.  I wish I could say I was one of them but I am not.

Did the police handle this event properly?  I don’t know.  As is often the case with the Internet, truth is almost impossible to see in the fog of exaggeration and intentionally-incorrect information.

The person  being considered the “criminal” made a 911 call and allegedly has suffered injuries as well and so without witnesses, it is difficult to say if this was a cold-blooded, racist-driven killing or an act of self defense.

Meanwhile, groups like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence indicate that as many as 100,000 people in the US are shot or killed every year with a million having been killed by guns in the US since the assassination of Martin Luther King.

And yet, and no offense to the memory of the young man who was killed, the nation has become gripped with this case.

Which, for the President, is the perfect situation.

For as long as the nation is distracted by this case, fewer people are looking in his direction and wondering how we will maintain job growth, how we will address the nation’s still-growing national debt, how we will address our energy self-sufficiency needs, how Europe’s still-unsolved debt concerns affect us or what our military role on the global stage should be moving forward.

I’m not suggesting for one minute that the death of this young man is something the President delights in.  I’m sure that the President is as shocked and saddened as any of us when another young person is cut down before having a chance to live their dreams.

However, the hate-laced rhetoric that fills the media “air-waves” is not helping us get to the truth in this case nor is it helping us stay on track when it comes to solving the larger challenges in the land.

Nor do I see the President, as the leader of America, calling for calm so we can get to the answers.  This is where the importance of strong leadership manifests - to keep us on track in times of challenge instead of allowing the flames of hatred or fear to be fanned.

And so if you’re a leader with a mixed record of solving America’s problems, sad stories such as this one are the perfect misdirection - a distraction from what needs to be solved in America.

Unfortunately, as long as people are screaming at each other, threatening each other and not listening to one another, the opportunity to heal the land and make it stronger is lost.

Instead of fanning the flames of hatred and racism, which Reverend Jackson is doing and the President is accidentally (hopefully accidentally) supporting, we need calm dialog, exchange with purpose and collaboration towards a better America

But is America capable of this anymore?

I’m not sure I know the answer.

Do we have the leadership to guide us toward that better America, where deaths like Trayvon Martin’s don’t happen or people don’t get skewered before process is served?

I’m not sure I know the answer to that either. 

But what I see in our leadership today offers little comfort.

In service and servanthood,



Food for thought:

In recent months, the media has been reporting that the President might have difficulty carrying the African American vote as a significant portion of African Americans had become disenchanted with the President’s results-to-date.

Now think of this.

On an earlier blog, I noted a disturbing quote by Hermann Göring that I will quote here:

At the Nuremberg trials, Göring made this observation:

Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

When I think of the African American vote and I think of Reverend Jackson’s comment “Blacks are under attack”, I can’t help but think of Göring’s quote.

Sometimes, the more evil action is not to have committed a crime or even to support / endorse the crime but to take advantage of the crime for one’s own purposes.

It is also the most subtle of evils.

But that is conspiracy talk.

Isn’t it?

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