National Commentary

George? They Should’ve Named Him Trayvon

nfbentonpicGeorge? They should have named the new royal baby Trayvon.

The seemingly absurd nature of that suggestion underscores the absurd theater of the outrageously contrasting images that have dominated the major news media in the last two weeks.

It comes after the weeks of non-stop, emotionally wrenching coverage of the trial of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen who was stalked by an armed adult who disobeyed instructions not to do so, then shot dead.

It follows President Obama’s unforgettable, intimate comments about his own experiences of race-based prejudice, his personal confessions and informal memorial to young Trayvon.

After all that, and the continued pain arising from that trial, the world is suddenly riveted on its polar opposite.

From the ravaging consequences of disadvantage, on the one hand, to arguably the planet’s highest expression of advantage, on the other, as media cameras were glued on the entrance to that hospital in London where the next king of England, a very white, male and privileged child was brought into the world.

The unifying theme of the two contrasts is the miracle of life, yet how tragic that in one case it concerns the blessings of a new and certainly glorious life gained in the world’s most privileged family, and in the other it involves the gripping pain of a life pointlessly lost, far too young, to what for the underprivileged is too often the deadly mix of guns and prejudice.

The contrast is torturous, and it was evidence of a profound lack of professional gravitas, generally, to see entire news organizations like CNN giddily obsessed with the royal birth, clucking endlessly in silly conversational loops about such formidable subjects as possible names for the child and intricate details about how he was moved out of the hospital.

It is one thing to acknowledge the entertainment value of such an event for populations with good reasons to dwell on fairy tales, their lives being otherwise anything but. But it’s material for celebrity trivia programming, not the relentless focus of allegedly “hard news” coverage.

The royal child will never know the experiences candidly shared by President Obama in his talk on racial profiling last week. He will not rise from the grip of poverty and disadvantage to achieve, through will and the compassion and opportunities of caring others, great things, emblematic of “the American way.”

For all the different ways in which modern politicians insist that our Founding Fathers reflected their points of view, one indisputable thing they’d all agree on is this: Our Founding Fathers would be shaking their heads in sadness and disbelief over the way American newscasters have been fawning all over the royal family.

The American revolution was made against the very notion of privilege based on biological birth, rather than merit, that was the British royal system. Tom Paine, Ben Franklin and others won patriots to the cause of revolution by describing the insanity of a system where persons are bestowed the power and authority to rule over others simply by being born to the right family.

There was something so profoundly wrong with that, they argued, that they developed the notion of a Constitutional democracy as an alternative 180-degrees the opposite. It was the very notion of royalty, and not just the excesses of King George III, that compelled the American revolution.

The British, after losing to the revolution, did not give up trying to reclaim their North American colonies. They burned the White House when their economic pressures triggered the War of 1812. They continued to pressure the young nation with internal and external “divide and conquer” machinations all the way to sparking a horrible Civil War.

The American revolution was not finally won until the North won the Civil War to preserve the union, and the British had to resort to different means to win over their colonies. Maybe they’ve been successful, after all, seeing how Americans now cheer and dote over the British monarchy.

Anderson Cooper’s impressive CNN Town Hall on Race, notwithstanding, it stings to see public willingness to switch so swiftly from unresolved social justice issues in America to something so unlike all that as a royal baby.