“I am a black male who grew up in the inner city of Atlanta and no one ever followed me in a mall. I don’t recall any doors clicking when I crossed the street. And I never had anyone clutching their handbag when I got on an elevator. I guess having two awesome parents who taught me to be a respectful young man paid dividends.”The two possibilities are one, that Allen West is lying. The odds are pretty damn good on that one, because it's Allen West (and because Allen West's situational definition of "respectful" is, let's say, something we, Congress and the military have all had a bit of experience with. But I digress).
Or two, that he's being honest, and has never once in his life experienced racism from random strangers or happened to meet any of America's many, many racists at any point during his entire storybook life. Bully for him, but that would make his statement worse, because West appears to be suggesting that racism doesn't exist for other people because he, Allen West, has never experienced it. Which, in turn, is the same total void of basic empathy or comprehension of the experiences of others that seems to pervade every single other conservative opinion about health, poverty, employment, religion, race and everything else you could name. We may have found out precisely what makes Allen West tick, and it's the same thing that makes every other staunch conservative tick: If they didn't experience a certain hardship themselves, it either never happens or is due to an inherent character flaw in the victim that made that thing happen. If you're poor it's because you're lazy, if you can't pay a half million in medical bills it's because you haven't been holding enough bake sales, and if you're targeted for your skin color it's probably because you were doing something wrong.
The vast majority of anti-Trayvon sentiment (and yes, that is a thing, and probably a sign that America is either going to hell in a handbasket or has been sitting pretty in hell's suburbs for a good long time now) is premised on the nation that Trayvon Martin was a "thug," and so Zimmerman was perfectly right to follow him around and then shoot him. This is considered Serious Opinion-Having; the core problem with it is that it really doesn't matter whether Trayvon Martin was a good person or a thug, since Zimmerman had absolutely no way of knowing that when he made the decision to pursue. Martin was alone; Martin was wearing nothing more threatening than a shirt with a hood on it; Martin was carrying snacks. That's all Zimmerman knew. Painting Martin as a thug-in-hindsight is the necessary mechanism by which a certain set of fetishists justify why it is that these events happened to him and why we can safely ignore the probability that it will continue to happen in the future. Zimmerman only started following Martin, you see, because Martin did something wrong. He wasn't walking home respectfully enough (says Allen West.) He was wearing the wrong thing (says Fox News). And once pursued, he did not immediately submit to the possibly violent stranger following him around the neighborhood, a requirement upon Martin that runs in direct contradiction to the personal self-defense mantras of all involved, many of whom consider it their God-given right to shoot a possibly violent stranger following them because goddamn it, that is what freedom means.
I don't know how you walk home, alone, "respectfully" enough to not arouse the unwarranted suspicion of strangers. I didn't know how to do it as a lily-white honor student, I don't know how Allen West did it in the "inner city of Atlanta." I suspect there's actually no possible way to do it, but if we pretend there is then that means young black men who get stopped by strangers on the sidewalk probably deserve what they get. There is no problem, therefore the problem is solved.