Once a vigilante, always a vigilante.
One would think that after enduring a nationally–televised trial and being the subject of a current Department of Justice witch hunt, George Zimmerman would finally mind his own business. But no, Zimmerman continues to poke his nose into situations better handled by public safety professionals. (As I’ve previously written about in ‘The only thing George Zimmerman didn’t do is play lacrosse’ and ‘Nine out of ten journalists say, “Guilty!”’)
Last Wednesday, Zimmerman came across a Ford Explorer that had just been involved in a car crash. The SUV had turned over and a family of four was trapped inside as the damaged car began smoking.
If Zimmerman would simply take the advice of experts like Russell Moore, the recently appointed head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, he would have either stayed in his car and dialed 9–1–1 or simply driven down the road; content in the knowledge that expert medical specialists were on the way and would no doubt be on scene before the car exploded.
But no, this EMT wannabe had to jump out of his car and rush over to the wreck where he helped the family escape. The only thing Zimmerman didn’t do was arrange a news conference to announce his deed. The media learned of his unauthorized rescue activities when the Seminole County Sheriff’s office announced it on Monday. So at least Zimmerman is not guilty of practicing PR without a license.
Moore thinks Zimmerman is a buttinski who is causing white America to forget it should be feeling guilty. In an interview with the Washington Post Moore explains, “Most white evangelicals, white Americans, are seeing this microscopically in terms of this verdict, and most African Americans are seeing it macroscopically. It’s Trayvon Martin, it’s Emmitt Till, it’s Medgar Evers, it’s my son, it’s my neighbor’s son, it’s my situation that I had. . . . Most white Americans say, “We don’t know what happened that night,” and [whites] are missing the point.”
Moore doesn’t explain why white Americans are taking their lead on racial solidarity from a Hispanic like Zimmerman. But as a Southern Baptist, I can assure you I’ll think twice before I take my theology lead from Dr. Moore.
Lining up with the “Rev.” Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson (who has been known to feel a bit uneasy in the past when approached by black youth wearing gang attire), Moore goes on to say, “Regardless of what Trayvon Martin was doing or not doing that night, you have someone who was taking upon himself some sort of vigilante justice, even by getting out of the car. Regardless of what the legal verdict was, this was wrong.”
Based on that statement, I’m going to assume Moore also gave the movie Machine Gun Preacher two thumbs down. Regardless of the good doctor’s movie preferences, the ignorance and arrogance in that statement are breathtaking.
George Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch captain and he was on patrol that night. He was watching, which is what the neighborhood watch does. Zimmerman lived in the neighborhood, Martin did not. The angelic and childlike Martin was staying with his father’s girlfriend because he was serving his third suspension from school and mom was tired of being disobeyed.
Zimmerman was already outside his car looking for Martin when the 9–1–1 dispatcher said, “Okay, we don’t need you to do that.” The dispatcher is not a sworn law enforcement officer and the statement does not have the force of law. Different dispatchers will tell you different things. When Moore has guests over for dinner and they show up with food or a bottle of vintage Welch’s (he is a Baptist, after all) and the wife says, “Oh, you didn’t have to do that,” does Moore force them to return the item to their car?
Besides, there actually was crime in the area Zimmerman volunteered to patrol. Police records show eight burglaries, nine thefts and one shooting in the prior year. Cynthia Wibker, secretary of the homeowner’s association, observed, “He once caught a thief and an arrest was made. (Zimmerman) helped solve a lot of crimes.”
The behavior that Moore advocates closely resembles what witnesses to the fatal confrontation actually did. One man heard the commotion, looked out the window and called 9–1–1. Since he wasn’t a “vigilante” or “wannabe” that was the sum total of his civic duty for the evening.
Yet if he had walked outside and yelled at Martin to stop pounding Zimmerman because he was calling the police, there’s a chance Martin would have stopped and thereby survived the encounter.
Instead, by being the Passive Samaritans, witnesses did nothing to protect anyone’s life. Even the police will tell you when seconds count — they are minutes away.
Moore finishes destroying his credibility by observing, “And when you add this to the larger context of racial profiling and a legal system that does seem to have systemic injustices as it relates to African Americans with arrests and sentencing, I think that makes for a huge crisis. . . ”
This inaccurate cant is something you expect from a Berkeley sociology professor. It’s always a bit daunting to cast Bible verses at a theologian, but does the phrase “for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” ring a bell for Dr. Moore?
Most of us won’t ever be involved in a fight for our lives, but the following could well happen. Let’s say you find yourself alone and in trouble on a dark, cold and rainy night. Who would you rather have chance by and observe your predicament: Russell Moore or George Zimmerman?