Zimmerman had decorated his flyers and website with the famous quotation attributed to Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing." His activities reveal a man who took those words to heart, who put his time, money and safety on the line to become one of those good men who do something. But the problem was that Zimmerman had been reading Burke, when he should have been reading Kafka.
"Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested." That is the famous opening sentence to Kafka's novel, "The Trial", words that have far more to do with the way we live now.
George Zimmerman is not on trial because he shot a black teenager during a scuffle. It's not the facts of the case that brought him here. It's his name. Had his last name been Pereira, none of this would have gone anywhere. And it's not the name alone, it's that in this time and place lynching him will help make the political fortunes of everyone from the man in the White House to his cheerful smiling prosecutor who is already counting her campaign cash and book deals.
Zimmerman with his book of quotations from the great thinkers of history, a man who clearly believes in the old fashioned virtues, is particularly ill-equipped to understand what is being done to him and why. The quotation that he plastered on flyers while investigating the beating of a homeless black man and on his own website, is more apt than he realizes.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is indeed that good men do nothing, but as a corollary to it, those are exactly the sort of men that evil will go after. It does no good to read Burke quotations to a Kardashian society which makes its determinations not on truth or justice, but on its omnipresent need for entertainment. Trying to reason with it only makes it angrier. Talking about virtues and decency to people who have none either confuses them or infuriates those few who understand the concept in some distant way.
We aspire to behave the way that George Zimmerman did, to contribute to our communities, to defy the conventional wisdom and speak out when we see wrongdoing. We believe that all that is needed for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. And we are only a misstep away from being George Zimmerman, from doing the wrong thing, from intervening in the wrong fight, drawing the wrong cartoon or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, a heartbeat away from appearing at the bar of the kangaroo court of stage managed public opinion.
In our own way we are all George Zimmerman. We think that society should be moral and rational, and that people should do the right thing. But that's not what it is. It's an insane braying donkey's laugh as the thieves, large and small, rob the people blind and then muscle them into a lynch mob to go after some handy victim. It's George today, it will be someone else tomorrow. Maybe someone who even deserves it. But it won't be the people destroying the country, because they're the ones leading the mob.
George Zimmerman has been chosen to serve as a gladiator in the circus that distracts a bankrupt nation from the criminal folly of its leaders, large and small. He has been assigned white team colors, had an NRA badge pinned to his lapel, and is being shoved out into the stadium while the lunatic mob howls for blood. The Emperor of Hope and Change has already made the thumbs down gesture, the courtiers are rushing out to fix the match.
Like Kafka's protagonist, Zimmerman has been protesting all along that this is some sort of mistake. And he's right. It is a mistake. Had the engineers behind the lynch mob gotten a good look at his photo, they might have pulled back and looked for a better victim. Someone who more properly fit their bicoastal idea of a "cracker" to string up on the crooked scales of Lady Justice. But once a mob has gotten started, it's hard to shut it down. And there's no real need to stop.