Wednesday, March 12, 2014



Can you imagine someone who wants the autograph of George Zimmerman?   Well, you may have heard that over the weekend Zimmerman appeared at a scaled-down version of the New Orlando Gun Show where he signed autographs.  A guy who guns down a black kid signing autographs.  “Zimmerman greeted people and autographed photos of him posing with his dog,” reported Orlando television station WESH.  Zimmerman said he decided to appear at the event to show his gratitude to everyone who stuck by him during the lengthy trial and meet his supporters in person. “The concept of being able to pay them back for what they did for me and seeing my supporters face to face was something I just couldn’t pass up,” he said, adding that he has no plans to keep a low profile in the aftermath of the immense media coverage the trial received.

A blogger at the Washington post asked the obvious:

Who are these people glorifying the killer of an unarmed teenager in one of the most racially polarized incidents in recent history? Why are these autograph hounds going out of their way to shake Zimmerman’s hand? What they could possibly say to him in those few moments is enough to make me fear for humanity’s soul. For if they say to Zimmerman what his most ardent supporters have said to me over the last two years it will offend your sense of decency. At least it should.

We have a serious problem when celebrity comes from the act of killing a teenage African American.  As Veronica S. writes at all Voice:

This is a killer whose only claim to fame is shooting a child dead after he provoked an altercation. Zimmerman shot him almost execution style—with a single bullet fired through Martin’s heart.

There is something depraved about Zimmerman smiling and shaking hands with his fans as he gave them a little piece of himself for posterity. There is something ghoulish about the people who wanted that little piece of posterity.

The sad things is we have seen all this before.  People who couldn't (or maybe even wouldn't) make it to a lynching, bought, collected and traded postcards with photos, comments, or depictions of such.  These postcards were made from photographs taken by those who attended lynchings.  The Chicago Tribune reports,

Most of these pictures are preserved on postcards, which often were sold door-to-door and sent to friends and relatives. "This is the barbecue we had last night," reads one message on the back of a photo of a burned body.

Think the trade in these postcards ended long ago, think again?  From the Star Tribune up in Minnesota:

 Tucked into a collection of Duluth memorabilia for sale at a Canal Park antique store is a souvenir of one of the most shameful incidents in the city's history: a postcard featuring images of the 1920 lynching of black circus workers Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie.

The "lynching postcard" was part of a private collection of postcards, glass negatives and other Duluth memorabilia entrusted to local dealer Craig Lipinski for sale after the owner died, Lipinski said. He said he sold most of the other postcards on eBay, but that the lynching postcard ran afoul of the online auction site's "offensive material" policy that forbids listings that "graphically portray, glorify, or attempt to profit from human tragedy or suffering," including Nazi memorabilia and crime-scene photographs.

The Duluth postcard was listed for about a day before eBay suspended the sale, Lipinski said. In that time the card was bid up to almost $240, the price Lipinski decided to offer it for. It's been for sale at Father Time Antiques since late July, he said.

Father Time co-owner Penny Seehus agreed to display it in the store.

That is horrible enough.  Harvey Young writes of something that takes this crap even a step past the sick.  He points out that people at lynchings actually collected flesh and body parts.  I simply will not quote what he wrote about this, or duplicate the actual reports from the time.  They are simply too grotesque.

So should we really be surprised that there are actually human beings of some sort who want an autograph from George Zimmerman?

The following is from We Are Responsible Negroes.

George Zimmerman Autographs are the New Lynching


George Zimmerman signed autographs at the New Orlando Gun Show last weekend.

His claim to fame? Killing Trayvon Martin.

A question. What type of person would want George Zimmerman memorabilia? What type of person would want to endorse his stalking and murdering of an unarmed teenager whose "crime" was walking home and not being sufficiently submissive to a racist, gun toting, street vigilante?

Autographs are sought from celebrities. The man or woman on the corner; the local drunk; the town loser; or the anonymous median percentile average person is not a real "star". Nor does their signature or photo have any cache or quasi magical power as a type of totem or fetish which can be channeled by its owner.

Zimmerman's autograph is a way for his fans and public to idolize him.

Zimmerman's signed photo is also a way for his supporters to be closer to him, and to "own" part of his "success" and "power".

The autograph of George Zimmerman, a man who is "famous" only because he stalked, hunted, and killed an unarmed black teenager, is for those who seek it, a validation of their right to kill and murder at will those people that they deem to be the Other and somehow "less than". The South's hyper-masculine and racialized norms of honor both legitimate and sustain such logic.  

If one cannot be the hero who slays the dragon, at least he or she can touch the blood soaked sword or keep company with their idealized selves.

Consequently, for a particularly racist and pitiable part of the (white) American public, George Zimmerman is their knight and role-model because he sanitized, cleansed, and protected his community (read: castle) from an outside (black) invader.

Trayvon Martin's literal body--black and male--was deemed suspect and a threat by virtue of its existence in the white space policed by George Zimmerman, what was a racist police action legitimated by infamous "Stand Your Ground" laws.

The black body under Jim and Jane Crow was judged a threat in the same way. Sundown Towns and other types of de facto and de jure laws and customs served White Supremacy by controlling the movement, labor, and bodies of African-Americans across the United States. When African-Americans violated those norms of White authority and power they were subjected to lynchings and other types of extra-judicial punishment.

The spectacular lynching was a ritual that was designed to purge the white body politic of what it saw as the toxic, invasive, citizenship and presence of African-Americans. 

It is important to note how black Americans during Jim and Jane Crow were not killed in an efficient way such as by a bullet to the head or a knife to the throat: instead, they were tortured, dismembered, burned alive, and reduced to trinkets and prizes for the white crowds in attendance.

The recent TV show True Detective featured the satanic and ritualistic murders of girls and women. True Detective's violence was not new; it is a pale echo of the spectacular violence which was visited upon African-Americans for almost 100 years.

Lynching was a ceremony that reinforced the group position of whites over people of color. Because they were acts of group terrorism, lynchings also helped to create a cohesive and intact white community across widely divergent lines of class and property. 

Ultimately, lynching was a type of magic that used racial violence to give power to white people by ceremonially taking it away from African-Americans.

The lynching of thousands of African-Americans spawned a type of national popular culture. During the 19th to 20th centuries, lynching photographs and postcards were a way for white people across the United States to enjoy the power thatcame with their supposed total control over and intimidation of the African-American community.

In many ways, lynching photography was one of the country's first types of mass popular culture.

The vast majority of white Americans would never attend or participate in a spectacular lynching. But, they could buy a postcard or photo of such barbaric events as a way to reinforce their full allegiance to Whiteness, and membership in what was then a still expanding and evolving notion of the "white race".

The people who buy George Zimmerman's autographs and photos are contemporary heirs to a long tradition of White Supremacist violence against people of color in the United States. It is true that Trayvon Martin was not hung from a tree, forced to eat his own genitals in order to stop the torture, or burned alive before being physically dissected for souvenirs.

However, the idea of Trayvon Martin's murder, and the symbolic power of the black male body being vanquished and killed by someone such as George Zimmerman, holds a special place in the political imagination of the American Right-wing with its gun obsessions, neo Confederate politics, "black crime" fantasies of the "knockout game", Birtherism, and twin myths of "reverse racism" and "white oppression".

The defenders of George Zimmerman--and especially those who buy Zimmerman's "art" or autographs--are worshiping their hero and his "great" feat of vanquishing a "threatening" and "uppity" black person.

In the 19th and 20th centuries such racially resentful and bigoted white people would trade and traffic in lynching photography and postcards. In the age of social and digital media this same type of person, and those who identify with them, use the Internet and cable news to circulate their idealization and hero worship of men like George Zimmerman.

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