Saturday, September 22, 2007

Birmingham and Selma, this ain't

I have shied away from the whole racial conflict story out of Jena, Louisiana for the simple fact that every story I read on the subject left me with the feeling that I wasn't getting the whole story from either side. I would finish reading a newspaper article about the events in Jena, and I would be left with more questions than I started with.

Here is a brief synopsis of the brouhaha as I understand it. Correct me if any of it is wrong. Last year, some black students at the local high school checked with the school principal to make sure that it was OK for them to sit under a tree the campus. There apparently was an commonly understood but unwritten rule that only white students could sit under this tree. Soon after the black students used the tree, they came back to find some small nooses hanging from it.

The white students who hung the nooses were quickly identified and slated for expulsion by the principal. Instead the superintendent and the school board reversed the principal and suspended the boys for three days instead.

This light punishment did not go over well with the black community in Jena, and a series of racial incidents - some violent, some not - took place over the ensuing months, with black students and white students fighting and bickering back and forth. Things came to a head in December, 2006 when six black athletes from Jena's high school football team assaulted a white student, knocking him unconscious, then kicking his unconscious body as he lay on the ground.

The biggest point of contention that has brought hundreds of black protesters to Jena, along with those race pimp charlatans Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, is that the local DA charged the six black students with attempted murder for their beating of the white student.

There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides in this case. First to the white students: In 21st Century America, how in God's name can there be a "whites only" tree? That is just reprehensible. Speaking of reprehensible, hanging nooses from the tree? The three boys should have been expelled, not suspended. The sup and the board were wrong to overrule the principal. The DA was most likely wrong to charge these six students with attempted murder. They used no weapons, the student was treated and released from the hospital, and he was later seen at a social function that night. On the other hand, there were six assailants kicking an unconscious victim. If they weren't trying to kill him, what was their intent. This is why I qualified my opinion about the DA as being "most likely" wrong.

As for the black students, they tended to meet words and nooses with fists and feet rather than words of their own, thus escalating the situation even further.

To fill in the rest of the holes on this case, I direct you to a piece written by columnist Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star. He often writes on racial relations, and especially how they relate to the sports world. I have found Mr. Whitlock to be a sane and thoughtful voice on matters of race in this country. Much of what you may have heard about the case in Jena tends to be full of half-truths and misrepresentations. Mr. Whitlock does a great job of clearing away much of the fog. This excerpt from the column gives you a little idea of what I mean:
Much has been written about Bell’s (the main assailant's) trial, the six-person all-white jury that convicted him of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery and the clueless public defender who called no witnesses and offered no defense. It is rarely mentioned that no black people responded to the jury summonses and that Bell’s public defender was black.
Good Day to You, Sir


Darren said...

Your first sentence explains why I'm not touching that story.

And yes, Whitlock is often a voice of sanity and reason when it comes to racial issues.

Anonymous said...

"It is rarely mentioned that no black people responded to the jury summonses and that Bell’s public defender was black . . ." And most journalists say they don't have an agenda -this is first time I've heard this.

What I find frightening - that racial tensions can so quickly escalate. The basic story is still intact: blacks are victims of whites and must physically fight to protect themselves, isolate themselves from the mainstream, and operate outside the law.

Let's be fair - Probably missing from most news as well - a statement from the race-hustlas about how they condemn the violence of the six.

Anonymous said...

Link to the U.S. attorney's bio:

The Vegas Art Guy said...

I also stayed away from that story and I too hold Mr. Whitlock in high esteem for good reason.