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Race Baiting and Lies in America

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21 July 2013

George Bush Senior — Naval Aviator at 18, then off to war.

(Many Americans will be familiar with much of what is in this dispatch, yet many international readers never stepped foot inside the United States.  This case is getting international ink, and so here we go.)

Trayvon Martin was 17 when he was shot.  Many people say he was just a “child.”

Let’s look at the evidence.  17 year-olds can, and do, join the US military.

At 17, I joined the military and reported for duty when 18.  Before graduating from high school, I could bench press 300 pounds and hoist 225 pounds from the floor to over my head with arms locked, weighing less than 148 pounds.

At 17, my high school friend Scott Helvenston became a Navy SEAL.  The youngest ever.  Some people say this is not possible.  To save embarrassment, naysayers might take a minute to Google “Youngest Navy SEAL.”

At 17, Wilfred Benitez was the world champion boxer.

Retired 4-star General Barry McCaffrey mentioned to me the other day that he joined the Army at 17.

At 18, George Bush senior became a Naval aviator and headed off to war.  There were many others.

image003-1000Milton Olive III, 18 years-old. Medal of Honor recipient. Died while saving his buddies by smothering a grenade with his body.

At 19, I was a “Green Beret” and went to jail after accidentally killing someone in what amounted to hand to hand combat.

Hands are lethal weapons.  That someone is unarmed when he attacks means nothing.  We could fill the north seas with the bones of women who have died at the bare hands of men and the adults who have died at the hands of teenaged “children.”

Importantly, unless the attacker is naked, the victim will not know the attacker is unarmed until A) it is too late, B) police search his body and find nothing and now people can say that someone shot or killed an unarmed man.

Take a moment to look around you.  How many objects are within two steps that could be used as lethal weapons?  There was a case where a mugger ripped an antenna off a car and stabbed someone to death with it.  If you are on a hard floor, that hard floor can be a lethal weapon.

Fistfights can result in sudden death.  After my attacker began his punch to me, which could have killed me, I finished my counter attack in about two seconds.  A witness said four seconds.

Though we were surrounded by dozens of people, practically nobody saw it because it happened so fast and quietly.  Many people saw his earlier harassment but the fight was nearly instantaneous and they missed it.

After a flurry of punches, his body fell to the ground.  Few people realized he was down though we were in a crowded establishment. I did not hit or kick him after he hit the ground.  If I were a real attacker I would have jumped on him and pounded away.  Bare knuckle punches can be damaging to the hands.  I would have preserved my hands by smashing his head into the floor.  I got the heck out of there.

By contrast, it has been established that Trayvon Martin closed with and ambushed George Zimmerman, punching him in the face and jumping on him, pounding his head on a sidewalk, which sidewalk Mr. Martin used as a deadly weapon.

That Martin weighed 158 pounds and that Zimmerman weighed 185 was proffered as exculpatory for Martin, though Martin clearly was the attacker.  I weighed about 145 and my attacker was substantially larger.  Martin was plenty big enough to deal lethal blows and he practiced martial arts.

I escaped, and later turned myself in, yet the police at first did not believe it was me.  I looked about 14.

The attacker was unarmed but I did not know that at the time and in any case it did not matter.  He attacked with a deadly weapon: his body.  Potential weapons were all around us, including the floor.

Martin attacked Zimmerman on a rainy night with lethal fists and mounted Zimmerman and smashed his head into a sidewalk.  There was no way for Zimmerman to know Martin was unarmed or that his powerful attacker was 17 and old enough to join the Marines.

So in 2 to 4 seconds my attacker went from healthy yet angry to unconscious and dying and I soon was in jail charged with murder.  He was 23.

The assailed often becomes the defendant.  The dead assailant is propped up as an angel.  The family whips out the baby pictures and interviews with grieving parents begin.

Part of this is cultural.  I, too, was raised in a culture where it is taboo to speak a foul word about a dead person.  I have overcome this cultural imprint.  Reticence to speak the truth about the dead, or the idea that he should be “allowed to rest in peace” creates a dangerous dynamic for the victim who is on trial.

Later I was cleared of all charges but the yellow journalism at the time was damaging my life and imperiling the very freedom I was willing to fight for.  A writer was conceived.

image005-1000Audey Murphy received the Medal of Honor for actions when he was 19.

Martin is still being called a “child” by race baiting politicians.  We have 17 year-old paratroopers.  In Iraq, Afghanistan, and most other wars, many of the fighters are closer to 14, often younger.  In wars past, countless US military people joined at 14.

Willie Johnson got the Medal of Honor at 13.

David Hackworth was 15 and already deployed overseas.

As a writer, I have been with plenty of 18 year-old Soldiers in combat and they were not boys or “teenagers.”  They were men and expected to act like men.  They were expected to be courageous, shoot straight and hit their targets.

Mr. Martin was 17, and while he may have been a child to the angel-makers, 17 year-old men in uniform would never accept that Mr. Martin was a child.

Rest assured that 17 year-old troops are not treated like children or minors because they are not.  If a 17 year-old Marine accidently shoots his buddy with an “unloaded” rifle, he will be charged with homicide.  If he dies rescuing his buddies from hell, he might receive the Medal of Honor.  (Currently we do not send 17 year-olds to combat due to politics.  That will be waived instantly in a big war.)

If they break any military regulation they will be treated as adults.  Granted, many times I have seen commanders go easier on younger troopers who otherwise are excellent men, but they still pay to play.

Yet the 17 year-old Trayvon Martin is made out to be a “child” deserving sympathy as if he is crawling around in diapers with a pacifier in his mouth, while other men his age are Marines and paratroopers and Scott was a SEAL.

There was and continues to be so much prattle journalism in the Zimmerman-Martin case that writers must be getting their ink from the Yellow River.

Major outlets are guilty of both creating and caving to popular, false narratives, which today are leading to perpetuated violence.  Words and images kill people and emotional rhetoric is dividing the United States.

Mr. Martin was a known drug user yet to say this invites scorn because it counters the narrative that he was an angel wearing poopy diapers.  I cannot imagine a 17 year-old Marine in poopy diapers.  I cannot imagine Scott Helvenston, the 17 year-old Navy SEAL, with a pacifier in his mouth.  Such men do not make excuses.  They make way.

Another counter, “So you think Martin should be shot for smoking weed and doing drugs?”  I am unaware of anyone who has said that Mr. Martin should be shot for his drug use and idiotic behavior.  In an ideal world, Trayvon would still be with us and going to school, from which he was thrice suspended for idiotic behavior.  When a 17 year-old paratrooper does something idiotic, which they invariably do, his sergeant will say stop acting like an idiot.  You are a paratrooper.  I expect better from you.  Call it what it is.

When looking for the truth is considered to be a witch hunt, we have a problem.  When searching for the truth gets someone labeled a racist, that is a problem.

Mr. Zimmerman might actually be a wannabe cop, and it is established that Mr. Martin either was a wannabe “gangsta,” or already was one.  His aspiration was to be a gangsta, not a Marine or doctor or businessman.  This is the truth that we all can see.

Information is neutral and should not be suppressed.

In 2006, when I wrote twelve major dispatches that we were losing the war in Afghanistan, it was flagrantly obvious that the war was being lost, yet this was counter to narratives from both major sides.  Even those who hated George Bush and seemed to pray for his every failure could not stomach the thought that we were losing “the good war.”  The war now is lost.

It was lost in part because information was suppressed and we delved into delusions and false narratives from the Bush and Obama administrations, and the military.  The Taliban has not beaten us the way the Soviets were hammered but we failed at winning the war.

Please let that sink in.

We just lost a war in large part due to false narratives and delusional thinking from two Presidents.

The Afghanistan war is lost.

Many people had strong opinions about Afghanistan.  When I asked what language Afghans speak, the typical answer was “Arabic,” or “I don’t know.”  Afghans do not speak Arabic or I don’t know.

With the Zimmerman-Martin case, a litmus question is, “What city did this happen in?”  None of the strongly opinionated people I asked knew the answer, yet they “knew” everything else.

Our society is like a mountain riverbed with a rocky bottom.  While the water (money) is flowing, boaters can skim along the surface without hitting many rocks.  As the water dries up, the rocks become more apparent until the boat can no longer float, or the bottom is bashed out.

If our economy totally crashes, the United States could literally face a second civil war.  Everyone will suffer.  Nobody does civil war like Americans.

It behooves the media and the government to stop enflaming racial passions and to be a medicine of truth and not a poison of lies.  At this rate, Mexico and Canada will eventually have to put up walls to keep us out.


Who was Trayvon?  We saw this image repeatedly in the news.  Here he looks like an angel and must have been one.


In this image, Trayvon looks like some of my dear friends, whom I played football and lifted weights with.  We had mostly good race relations between the kids in my hometown because we grew up as pups together.  The adults on both sides often were more racist but they grew up more separate whereas we were integrated.

Trayvon was living in Sanford, about 60 miles away from my Winter Haven.  This is my backyard.  The white and black cultures in this area and the mixture they create, are my base cultures.


Here Trayvon looks like friends I would go fishing with, making me wonder what kind of animal would shoot him.  When I left Florida, I would hear blacks say that whites disgusted them when they said, “I have a black friend.”  Those are pretentious statements, though granted I have seen whites take a token black friend.  There is some basis though in Winter Haven we grew up together in the same litter.

In combat there is only one color.  When I was in the Army, it was common to see blacks all sitting at the same table in the chow hall – many blacks self-segregated, though they did not do this in Special Forces.  Teams sat with teams.   In the Iraq and Afghan wars, combat units did not seem to notice race.  They noticed loyalty, courage, and combat effectiveness.  Squads sat with squads.  In non-combat units, racism often was obvious and disgusting.

image013-1000My brother and I loved to fish in Florida.

I am a Florida native. This is my base culture, the culture I know the best.

Florida natives are often called crackers. The term stems from the Florida cow hunters who cracked their whips while rounding up cattle, though according to blacks it stems from slave owners cracking whips on their backs.

To be sure, there were horrible lynchings in Florida.  I have spent many hours reading about them and looking at the terrible photographs.  It was like something from the Dark Ages.  Blacks were treated worse than animals.  They were burned, beaten and tortured to death, often hanged from trees.  We can never know all the horrors suffered.

As we saw with the Zimmerman prosecution, lynchings still happen, only today the lynch mob leader is President Obama.  For foreign readers who have not noticed, many Americans sense that President Obama is severely racist and divisive, uninterested in justice but revenge for injustices he never suffered.

As for the term cracker, depending on how the term is used, and who is using it in regard to whom and in what context, it can be like saying “Georgia Peach,” or a racial slur.

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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