Last week, I wrote about the case of the Loud Music Murder. Over the weekend, a jury convicted Michael Dunn on four of the five counts, with which he was charged. The convictions covered three counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of hurling a lethal object into a vehicle (translation: he shot into a car, including while the driver was trying to flee a barrage of bullets).
During this week’s news coverage, Mr. Dunn, and George Zimmerman (Trayvon Martin’s murderer) professed themselves to have been victims. Dunn, in his specific case, describes himself as both victim and victor. In both instances, the perpetrators indicated that they feared for their own lives. That assertion was critical in validating the efficacy of their Stand Your Ground claims. In his version of the story, Dunn told jurors that he saw a gun. He had initially told officers he saw what he thought was the barrel of a gun, but also stated the object may have been a stick or some other object. In the “lawyered-up,” recalibrated for the jury story, Mr. Dunn expressed full confidence that what he saw was a gun.
Despite the fact that police never found a weapon of any kind, defense attorneys were apparently more persuasive in convincing jurors that Dunn saw the alleged ghost gun, than prosecutors were in arguing that there was no such weapon. The irony of this is, even though the defense could not produce a weapon, and the young men fired no shots, the jury found itself unable to find the defendant guilty of the only charge that resulted in a young man’s death. The one count that resulted in a hung jury was the first-degree murder of Jordan Davis.
The three counts of attempted second-degree murder each carry a 20-year sentence. The lethal object count carries a 15-year sentence. Together, the four charges for which the jury convicted Mr. Dunn indicate the 47-year old will spend up to 75 years behind bars.
That is certainly a substantial consequence for his actions. Still, what concerns many observers is the fact that such an outcome may be interpreted as Dunn having been convicted for being a poor shot. That is to say, the jury convicted him for the three instances in which he failed to kill.
In last week’s post, I shared several of Dunn’s controversial letters, which includes these:
Mr. Dunn wrote a number of letters that contain controversial, if not combustible statements. In one letter to his daughter, he is alleged to have written, “This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these **** idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.” (As reported by WNET News)
He also wrote, “As you can imagine, I’m not getting much sympathy from the press. The’re (sic) a bunch of liberal b…..s. North Florida is more like the Deep South. They seem to have a lot of racial guilt, or at least the prosecutor’s office does.”
In another letter, he wrote, “It’s spooky how racist everyone is up here and how biased toward blacks the courts are. This jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs.”
In a letter to his girlfriend, he wrote, “My fear is that if I get a black on my jury it will be a mistrial, as I am convinced they will be racially biased.”
Since the trial ended, authorities released several phone transcripts, including one in which Dunn not only claims victim status, but also suggests he is akin to a rape victim. When taken in whole cloth, he may have claimed he was scared (feared for his life), but I submit it is difficult to argue in good conscience that Dunn is not an angry dude. He maintains a heaping helping of vitriol for young black men.
Despite the fact that I believe Dunn’s case has race bias all over it, and through-and-through, the one thing that I believe attaches itself to most of the violent gun deaths we have been seeing over the past several years is anger. Moreover, in most of the cases, whether Stand Your Ground, or mass murders, that anger has made itself evident in white men.
So why are white men so angry? There are many popular theories that observers posit to explain this phenomenon. Most of them revolve, in one way or another, around concerns about the Incredible Shrinking White Majority. There are several components to this argument. Most accounts include:
• The historical dominance of white males in American society
• Low birth rates among white Americans
• Relatively higher birth rates among African Americans and non-white Latinos
• Non-white immigration
• Emergence of Latinos as the country’s largest minority
• Census reports that project a majority-minority nation by 2043
• President Barack Hussein Obama
Undoubtedly, there are other arguments and concerns out there in the universe. However, one can trace many if not most of them, back to one or more of the items above. While, none of these issues fundamentally alters the composition of Fortune 500 corporate boardrooms, or the net worth of America’s wealthiest Barons of business and tech, it is in many ways all about optics.
This country is a special place. In some quarters, there is a long-standing, persistent, and salient argument that holds we are an exceptional nation. Regardless of your position on that question, there is no denying that America was the dominant national presence of the 20th Century, and by many measures, continues to call the top of the heap, home.
For many, this lofty perch, and the accomplishments that undergird it, symbolizes the accomplishments of white men and the privilege that accompanies them. Not surprising, any pending change to that comfortably familiar narrative it apt to produce some angst; and so it has. That palpable anxiety, not surprisingly, appears more frequently, and more explosively, not in those who sit atop chambers of wealth and success, but among those who are still climbing the ladders to success, and who feel they have the most to lose.
These men too often believe that “the others” are taking that which by virtue of erstwhile white privilege, belongs to them. In other words, I am positing that it is not about loud music, popcorn, or cell phones. No, it is about the baseless assertion that blacks and Latinos are taking white folks stuff, most notably, the Presidency. “So Many Angry White Men: Why Is That?” That, in a nutshell, is why!
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