It’s mourning in America.
Two men in suits are fighting for their reputations, presenting themselves as innocent parties.
Here we have the elegant George Zimmer, who received such a dressing down from board members of the company he founded, Men’s Wearhouse, that he was fired.
And there we have George Zimmerman, who has already received such a dressing down from some sections of the media that he’s put on enormous amounts of weight and an ill-fitting suit in order to seem more likable.
I’m guessing that at least his lawyer likes the way he looks.
George Zimmer was convinced that everyone would like the way he made them look. He believed that he represented everything that was right about the brand.
But when confronted by people who thought differently and acted differently, he didn’t see what was coming.
They thought they could do without him.
George Zimmerman was convinced he was on the right side, too.
He was patrolling the neighborhood for the good of the gated community. He was protecting their interests. All of their interests.
Gated communities have a common interest — to keep out all those who don’t deserve to live behind gates.
In supposedly defending that principle, Zimmerman currently spends his days behind bars.
George Zimmer believed he represented the common interest too.
He didn’t just believe that he was the face of a famous brand on television. He believed that he was that brand, because his face (and very distinctive voice) was the personification of its being.
You might imagine, then, that Zimmer believed he’d never be fired.
It’s as if McDonald’s would contemplate firing Ronald.
It’s as if Kellogg’s Frosties stared Tony the Tiger in the eyes and said: “We’re called Frosties. So we’ve decided to go with an Eskimo as our new spokesman.”
George Zimmerman, too, felt he represented a brand.
This brand was all about safety and security that is preserved, when needed, with the help of a gun.
This brand was one where — according to prosecutors — everyone whom he deemed suspicious happened to be a black male.
This brand was one where right and wrong were clearly delineated, always understood and rarely questioned.
For both George Zimmermen, life took an unexpected turn.
Did each assert his sense of right too much? Or was each defending what will ultimately be seen to be the correct course of action?
Is either Zimmer-man hiding something? Or will they both be able to return to the life they once knew?
For both, did times change when they didn’t notice? Or do they stand for something whose values and symbols will endure long after their adversaries have been forgotten?
Being right is one of the hardest — and sometimes most thankless — pursuits.
Some things are, we believe, obviously right and wrong.
But the more we have complicated our own lives with technology, mobility, choices and so many other things associated with alleged progress, the more difficult we have found it to know what is right.
The things that used to seem certain are now very hard to grasp and trust.
Psychologists make a fortune these days, mostly from our indecision about what’s right and what isn’t.
We will all gravitate to a feeling of what each Zimmer-man represents.
We will frame each Zimmer-man in the way that feels right to us.
In one case, Nancy Grace will help illuminate our way. In the other, graceful PR people will, like illegitimate Illuminati, offer smears and innuendos to create crescendos.
But will we end up knowing who’s right? We think we will.
These days, that’s going to have to be good enough. We have other things to think about.
Like the next heroes and villains we’ll anoint — and then forget.
Image ABC News/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk