Described as "the kind of nice old man who'd become your friend in minutes," World War II veteran Delbert "Shorty" Belton was assaulted by two teens in the parking lot of the Eagles Lodge in Spokane, Washington, at around 8 p.m. on Wednesday. He died in the hospital Thursday morning.
Belton's death has already gone viral, and is uncovering deep racial divides, simmering anger and disgust with the media. Most pointedly, many are asking: Why has the death of Belton — and similarly the death of Australian college student Christopher Lane in Oklahoma — largely been ignored by a media which was, only a couple of weeks ago, absolutely obsessed with the Trayvon Martin/ George Zimmerman case. Both the Belton and Lane case feature victims who died in race-related attacks. The only difference between the Belton and Lane cases compared to the Martin case is that they feature white victims and black assaulters.
Much of the current outrage in the Belton case is clear a reaction to the non-stop media coverage of the Martin shooting, which accelerated to 24-7 during the lengthy trial of George Zimmerman. People are rightfully asking why the Zimmerman trial was more important than many world news events, and questioning the assertion by many that Martin's shooting death was a premeditated hate crime.
But after the Belton and Lane crimes, the media has been more restrained. Even President Obama, who commented on the George Zimmerman trial, has remained silent about race, bringing into question why he chose to speak out for Trayvon Martin, but not for an elderly veteran or foreign student.
Trayvon Martin's death was relentlessly exploited by media to incite and outrage racial division. Even I was angered by the unwarranted comment of Rep. Frederica Wilson that "Trayvon was hunted down like a dog, shot down in the street."
I recognized the very real trend of racial bias in law enforcement in the initial reports regarding the case. I was outraged on behalf of Trayvon's parents and friends, learning that it took 24 hours before the young "John Doe" in the morgue in Sanford, Fla., was identified as the missing child reported by his parents, and equally outraged at the length of time it took to pursue the case when authorities knew the basic facts of the incident. Wilson's comment put me over the edge not only because she screamed it a month after the crime for publicity's sake, but because her statement was just plain false and misleading.
Crimes uninvestigated and unprosecuted, and thugs of any/all races beating up the elderly and disabled, the homeless, unaccompanied gay and transgendered people, and sexual predators preying upon young children and women of all colors — these tragedies unfortunately occur every day.
The problem with Trayvon's case is the same problem as with Delbert Belton's and Christopher Lane's case: An outrageous wrong has occurred and many are devastated. Justice may not be served.
I wonder if Rep. Frederica Wilson will take time out of her busy day to contact Lane's family in Australia, or his fellow athletes at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, and let them know how outraged she is that "Christopher was hunted down like a dog, shot in the street."
That's exactly what happened.
Delbert Belton was beaten down like a dog in a parking lot.
That's exactly what happened.
By failing to provide the same coverage to the Belton and Lane cases as they did to the Trayvon Martin case, the media is sending the message that they don't care about the elderly or veterans, and they do not care about student-athletes from other countries. It's hard to say what they do care about. If it's just ratings, they have a funny way of showing it, as ratings for traditional media continue to decline. A lot of it has to do with relentless and false publicity for loud-mouthed politicians, and yet more to do with repetitive and false coverage that suits individual political or social agendas. It's a shame they keep leaving common decency on the cutting room floor.