You will have heard by now of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man shot dead on a street in Brunswick, Ga., in February. Prosecutors initially declined to press charges in the case, saying that the alleged perpetrators, a white father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael, had used legitimate force. Then video surfaced of the incident in which the unarmed black man is seen running down the street, seems to be confronted by the McMichaels, and is shot at point-blank range by the men, both of whom have now been charged with murder.
You probably haven’t heard of Paul and Lidia Marino. The couple, 86 and 85 years old, were shot dead a week ago while visiting a veterans’ cemetery in Bear, Del., where their son, who died in 2017, is buried. The authorities have so far been unable to establish a motive for the killing, but they identified a suspect, Sheldon Francis, a 29-year-old black man, later found dead after an exchange of fire with the police.
As far as I can tell, from news databases and online searches, other than local newspapers and TV, and a brief story by the New York Post, the death of the Marinos, who were white, has gone as unremarked as their lives. Mr. Arbery’s death, by contrast, has become one of those crimes that some who control our public discourse have decided is a “teachable moment.”
Millions of words have been devoted to exploring and explaining the moral of the killing. It has been widely described as a “lynching.” We have been reminded once again of the prevalence of unequal and violent treatment of minorities. We’ve been told once again that the killing reflects the daily reality of life in America for young blacks. This teaching moment has turned into a continuous, ubiquitous lecture series on the unalterably racist nature of America.
We don’t yet know the full facts behind either of these killings. Mr. Arbery’s certainly looked ugly, and whatever his killers and some neighbors allege he may have been doing on that street on a sunny afternoon, he clearly did not deserve to be gunned down. We will learn no doubt soon whether his killers did indeed have racist motives.
Perhaps, meanwhile, the murder of the Marinos was a random act of violence, a deranged killer, a robbery that savagely escalated. But whatever the motive, I’d be willing to wager a small fortune that we won’t hear much more about it.