No one can deny the legitimacy and urgency of the points raised by [Shelby] Steele, [Bill] O’Reilly and [Juan] Williams. Black-on-black violent crime is a national disgrace — all you have to do is take a look at the numbers.
What lacks legitimacy, however, is the underlying intent of the Steele-O’Reilly-Williams argument, and that is to somehow strip the Martin case of its standing as a national preoccupation — of civil rights leaders and of the media. Those folks, along with the general public, have latched onto Trayvon Martin for a combination of several compelling reasons: How could a 17-year-old kid doing nothing wrong wind up shot to death walking home from the convenience store? How could the authorities bungle the case in so many ways? Do neighborhood watch captains provide protection or menace? What’s the deal with the stand-your-ground law?
Those issues may not have the heft of black-on-black crime. But there’s no law directing the media to obsess only over the country’s most socially pressing problem at any given point in time. The media responds to stories, and the tragic incident that went down on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., qualifies many times over. The more attention to this case, the better.