I wonder how an extraterrestrial visitor to the United States, equipped with a functional history and adeptness at communicating its intricacies, would interpret the Trayvon Martin incident.
Would this visitor be appalled at the overwhelming possibility that this innocent young man was murdered? Would this visitor be surprised that it happened, or more surprised that it hadn't happened earlier as a result of her understanding of exactly how immature even our leaders can be in terms of basic things like respect for others, respect for their constituencies as their elected leaders, their country and their own self respect if they are living a lie?
Would this visitor be dismayed that many people don't see that Trayvon represents their sons and daughters, in terms of our children's vulnerability at any given moment in a society that has inadequately addressed diversity and social justice?
Would this alien visitor's sensibilities be dismantled by how poorly educated the American populace is to what should be very simple fixes to what seems like never-ending occurrences of bullying, sexism, homophobia and nonsensical political posturing that ironically leaves the politicians' constituents de-centered?
Would this non-indoctrinated, un-socialized alien possibly see a relationship between some of the dysfunctional happenings in U.S. society? As a result, would she have already forecast — in reporting back to her non-earthly confidants — some of the events that have already come to pass, like an ongoing questioning of the first bi-racial president's birth certificate or grand pronouncement that the primary goal of the rival political party is to ensure that same president serves only one term, before he has barely even started his presidency?
Would the visitor surmise a relationship between the Senate's minority leader, Mitch McConnell, and his possible take on so-called minorities, as suggested by his inexplicable call to arms of what now has many pundits calling the president's rival party not just a competitive faction that enables democracy to adequately function but instead "The Party of No," which also suggests no interest in being party to any semblance of democracy under a certain type of leader/leadership?
Would the visitor see the way some may be trying to avoid seeing this not-fully-white president as an arbiter of things to come, an inkling that underrepresented people (women, non-whites, gays/lesbians, members of the 99 percent) will soon possibly be consistently vying for the White House, somehow making it appear less white?
Would the visitor wonder if politicians' paranoia about representation of a new type of leadership emerging was an antecedent to the way Zimmerman may have processed homeward-bound Trayvon as a precursor to a day when five innocent young black boys may all be walking home together down those same streets as Trayvon, laughing, joking and eating Skittles?
A comparison might reveal that no matter what Trayvon said to Zimmerman, he probably would be considered a liar, not dissimilar from Congressman Joe Wilson's assertion of Obama.
No matter how he might have tried to prove he had no criminal intent, no identification (like a birth certificate) would have probably swayed Zimmerman's way of seeing him as The Other.
Like McConnell and Wilson, Zimmerman had no compunction in taking the action he took because he was somehow convinced, in the grand scheme of things, that he could or would not suffer consequences, in other words, that he could or would get away with it.
If you are positive that these types of actions don't inspire other types of dysfunctional behavior, it might be because you don't want to see it.
If you can believe that Jackie Robinson, Mia Hamm and Jeremy Lin influenced little black boys gripping tighter their baseball bats, little girls putting down dolls and picking up soccer balls and little Asian boys working on their crossover dribble, how can you think influence only works with positive things? Where do you think our kids learn bullying? They don't exit the womb with those skills. But if you don't believe there could be a relationship between some of the societal dysfunction amongst our leaders and what happens in our streets, then you must not believe in the Butterfly Effect.
More importantly, though, how does our visitor, who represents an outsider's perspective of us, see us?
— Dr. J.W. Wiley is director of Plattsburgh State's Center for Diversity, Pluralism and Inclusion.