An Open Letter to America: Ignore George Zimmerman

Right after you read this story.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
See more stories about...
Lucia Graves
Feb. 5, 2014, 9:54 a.m.

Today the guy best known for shoot­ing and killing an un­armed 17-year-old had his un­deserved celebrity val­id­ated. George Zi­m­mer­man was chal­lenged to a so-called Celebrity Box­ing match by an ac­tu­al celebrity, rap­per DMX.

Now it’s true that the “celebrity” in Celebrity Box­ing is sin­gu­lar, so we can pre­tend the des­ig­na­tion only ap­plies to DMX. A more ac­cur­ate name for the match would be “Celebrity-and-Guy-Known-for-Killing-an-Un­armed-Teen­ager Box­ing Match.”

Zi­m­mer­man is by no means the first guy with du­bi­ous celebrity cre­den­tials to get in­volved in these ex­hib­i­tion­ist box­ing fetes. Tonya Hard­ing, for in­stance, founght in a sim­il­ar match back in 2002. But Hard­ing was known for something oth­er than her in­volve­ment in the as­sault on Nancy Ker­rigan in 1994: She star­ted out as a world-renowned fig­ure skater.

Be­fore he killed Trayvon Mar­tin, Zi­m­mer­man was a neigh­bor­hood-watch co­ordin­at­or. Now he’s selling his lackluster paint­ings, or, more likely, stenciled-over pho­tos from Getty Im­ages, for $100,000 on Ebay and he’s get­ting to per­form in the same space as people like Dustin Neil Dia­mond, who played Screech in Saved by the Bell.

Of course there’s a long tra­di­tion of people us­ing their in­famy as a way to make money or con­vert­ing that in­famy in­to an­oth­er mo­ment in the lime­light. Take An­thony Wein­er’s 23-year-old sex­ting part­ner, Sydney Leath­ers, who cap­it­al­ized on her no­tori­ety by mod­el­ing for a leath­er ap­par­el com­pany and do­ing some film­ing for porn com­pany Vivid.

But what Leath­ers did was at worst, dis­taste­ful. It’s cer­tainly a far cry from killing a black kid in a hood­ie and then go­ing on to reap celebrity status for it. That has got to be a “celebrity cul­ture” nadir of sorts.

Or maybe the nadir was that time O.J. Simpson tried to sell the knife he al­legedly used to kill his wife for $5 mil­lion? At least he knew it was sick enough to keep it a secret.

What We're Following See More »
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
21 hours ago

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Maher Weighs in on Bernie, Trump and Palin
22 hours ago

“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.