Opinion: Columnists

Why Carol Swain demands honesty about Trayvon Martin

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Education,Gregory Kane,Columnists,Analysis,Trayvon Martin

"It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives."

--John Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1756

In my last column, I wrote about Dave Miceli, a Baltimore public school teacher that had the courage to tell it like it is about public education in Baltimore.

Miceli was miffed - and rightly so - at an editorial in The Baltimore Sun that addressed the recent spate of killings in the city. Editors implied that "better schools" would help stem the tide of violence.

Miceli pointed out - again, rightly so - that the schools weren't the problem; students, some of them anyway, are.

You won't expect the liberals that make up the editorial board of The Baltimore Sun to admit that. Instead they, like liberals across the land, will whine about ending what they claim is the "school-to-prison pipeline."

Allow me to lance this boil before it gets any uglier: There is no "school-to-prison pipeline." But there sure as hell is a home-to-prison pipeline.

Miceli, with his comments, moved to the top of my list of heroes. Tied with him for first place is a woman who's been my hero for over 10 years.

Like Miceli, you've probably never heard of Carol Swain, a law professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

Swain, a black woman, became my hero way back in 2002, when she stood her ground before an overwhelmingly black crowd at Delaware State University - a Historically Black College or University - in opposing reparations for slavery.

More recently, Swain posted a comment on Facebook in which she took Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, to task for what she said was Fulton blowing an opportunity to lead a genuinely meaningful movement for change in America.

As I did with Miceli, I'll post her comments in their entirety:

"Trayvon Martin's mother is missing an opportunity to lead a social movement. America needs a conversation about the unfortunate plight of thousands of young black men who have adopted unhealthy lifestyles.

"High unemployment, black-on-black crime, and hopelessness are factors that must be addressed. Individual choices and wrong internalized messages have led to the devaluation of human life in the black community at every stage of development.

"The devaluation in human life is reflected in our abortion rates and the willingness to accept high black-on-black murder rates. We can do better!"

Fulton, and Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin's father, seem more interested in becoming bona fide left-wingers - under the misguidance of the Revvum Al Sharpton - than in steering young black men away from "unhealthy lifestyles."

That's why, in all their recent public appearances, both have bemoaned the plight of "black and brown boys." You know you're listening to a bona fide black leftist when that person starts talking about "black and brown" this, that or the other, as if blacks and Latinos are now the same racial group.

I could write a good five columns, at least, on how misguided that notion is. But I'm struck by the way Swain and Miceli - whom I assume don't know each other and live hundreds of miles apart - hit on the same theme in their comments.

Miceli summed up the recent killings in Baltimore this way: "The problem seems to be a total disregard for life that exists not only in our crime-ridden city, but also in all the major cities throughout the United States."

Now recall how Swain put it:

"Individual choices and wrong internalized messages have led to the devaluation of human life in the black community at every stage of development.

"The devaluation in human life is reflected in our abortion rates and the willingness to accept high black-on-black murder rates."

Swain is one black American who's faced the nasty truth that the average black homicide victim didn't die like Trayvon Martin, at the hands of a half-white and half- Latino volunteer neighborhood watch captain.

The average black homicide victim met his fate at the hands of another black man. But don't expect Sybrina Fulton to ever admit that.

GREGORY KANE, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

Watch Obama Gives Highly Personal Take on Trayvon Martin Death on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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