Robert E. LeeThe following letter was sent to the Lee County branch of the NAACP in Ft. Myers, care of President James Muwakkil, on July 16 by Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott.
Dear President Muwakkil,I have been invited to the NAACP Freedom Fund Awards Banquet and have been asked to sponsor the event financially. I will not be doing either, but wanted to explain my concerns and the reasons for my decision.
Frankly, I believe the NAACP locally and nationally loses credibility when it picks and chooses which issues it rallies around and embraces what often appears to be a double standard relative to race and ethnicity. I am citing two local and recent examples of my concern.
Tragically, record numbers of young black males have been gunned down in the streets of Ft. Myers in an epidemic of alarming proportions over the last few years. In virtually every instance, the killer was also black and the majority of those cases remain open. Many more black citizens have been injured and were lucky to survive similar circumstances. To date, I am unaware of any appreciable attention or public outcry the NAACP locally or nationally have afforded these issues in our own proverbial backyard.
Conversely, you immediately inserted yourself and the Lee County branch in the matter of Trayvon Martin’s tragic death in a city hours from ours and publically declared that matter to have been mishandled by the police, while expressing your intention to travel to Sanford sporting a “hoodie.”
I suspect that when you said that, you had not examined any of the evidence or specifics of the incident; and I am certain you would not have reacted that way had George Zimmerman been black or Trayvon Martin white.
The fact is that Zimmerman is half Latino (Peruvian mother) but was portrayed early on by media and others as being “white.” That seemed to fit better for a “white/black” contrast much like the media altering of the 911 recordings helped fan the flames of racism early on. Ironically, President Obama is half white but is generally referred to as being “black” and so there appears to be an inclination among some to insert ethnicity as it fits with their agenda.
Fast foward to the trial and verdict which resulted in Zimmerman’s acquittal ... the same trial, verdict and, in fact, justice system that you would have applauded had it convicted him. A leading cause of death for young black males across our nation is murder, and an astounding percentage is being murdered by young black males. The noticeable lack of involvement and attention given those tragedies by the NAACP begs the question why in my mind.
Black on black and black on white seem to illicit far less emotion than the proportionately occasional white on black examples like Zimmerman – who as noted earlier is actually only as “white” as President Obama.
Finally, I find your resurrected fixation with the portrait of Robert E. Lee and the demand for its removal regrettable. The timing so proximate to the Zimmerman race-baiting is certainly suspect. While I am not black, I continue to be amazed by what is deemed “racially offensive and/or insensitive” and what is not. For example, the rampant use of the word “n****r” in the wildly popular hip-hop culture that floods the ears of youth across this nation and is comprised primarily of black artists apparently stirs little to no emotion among blacks but the portrait of General Lee does?
I am 50 years old and I have heard more black people utter that word in my lifetime than I could have ever fathomed.
I continue to wonder why the NAACP does not publicly decry this trend and advocate its cessation.
It is for those reasons that I feel your focus on the Lee portrait amounts to little more than unrealistic posturing that serves to further divide and promote a double standard.After all, sir, our county is named after General Robert E. Lee and his portrait is far from the only reference to him, so I am left to wonder where this agenda stops.
I consider you a friend and hope my candor does not ruin that; however, I simply find myself unable to support your professional agenda, which I believe contradicts the end goal of eliminating double standards.
Sheriff Mike ScottLee County, Fla.
E-mail (required, but will not display)
Notify me of follow-up comments
Click for a larger view