September 22, 2007

"Jena 6" update

As I noted in the update on this post, columnist Jason Whitlock has revealed some facts about the "Jena 6" case that have not been reported by the MSM. Now, Noel Sheppard over at Newsbusters has highlighted Whitlock's article.

As I also wrote in my previous post, I agree with Whitlock that this is -- or was -- a legitimate case of "unequal justice": The white students who hung the three nooses were not expelled as their school principal suggested; inexplicably, the school board overruled the principal and gave the students a mere three-day suspension. (And hey -- no hate crimes charges? If they exist on the books at least USE them when a real instance of such rears its ugly head, eh?) On the other hand, the black students who beat up a white student were charged with attempted murder -- charges which could have put them away for most of their lives.

But the importance of Whitlock's column is exemplified by this article in yesterday's Philly Daily News (h/t to Colossus R&D man Gooch!). Columnist Dana DiFilippo writes:

NAKA ALAMO, 14, never thought she'd see nooses hanging from trees anyplace else than in her history books.

But when a December schoolyard fight in Jena, La., exploded into a raging national debate this week about racial injustice, Alamo couldn't stay in her classroom.

So yesterday she joined hundreds of protesters on city streets in a show of support for the Jena 6, six black teens charged with offenses up to attempted murder for brawling with white teens after someone hung nooses from a schoolyard tree some claimed was a "whites-only" area.

My emphasis. Although the word "after" is technically accurate, it leaves the most-clear impression that the "brawl" (more on that misnomer in a second) was a result and reaction to the hanging of the nooses. Not so, Whitlock writes:

A black U.S. attorney, Don Washington, investigated the "Jena Six" case and concluded that the attack on [white student] Barker had absolutely nothing to do with the noose-hanging incident three months before. The nooses and two off-campus incidents were tied to Barker's assault by people wanting to gain sympathy for the "Jena Six" in reaction to [Jena District Attorney Reed] Walters' extreme charges of attempted murder.

Again, my emphasis. As for DiFilippo's usage of the word "brawl," would you call an attack by six people against one victim a "brawl"? Whitlock sure wouldn't -- because that's not what happened:

There was no "schoolyard fight" as a result of nooses being hung on a whites-only tree.

Justin Barker, the white victim, was cold-cocked from behind, knocked unconscious and stomped by six black athletes. Barker, luckily, sustained no life-threatening injuries and was released from the hospital three hours after the attack.

In between describing various activists' invocation of teaching about racism, DiFilippo then quotes a sixth grader who was chanting "It's not right!" "No Justice, No Peace!" and "Free the Jena 6!"

Free the Jena 6? Besides the ugliness of racism, shouldn't students also be taught that there are consequences for one's actions? The charges against the offending black students have already been reduced to what they should've been in the first place. As Whitlock states,

I am in no way excusing the nooses. The responsible kids should've been expelled. A few years after I'd graduated, a similar incident happened at my high school involving our best football player, a future NFL tight end. He was expelled.

The Jena school board foolishly overruled its principal and suspended the kids for three days.

But the kids responsible for Barker's beating deserve to be punished. The prosecutor needed to be challenged on his excessive charges. And we as black folks need to question ourselves about why too many of us can only get energized to help our young people once they're in harm's way.

I've been the spokesman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City for six years. Getting black men to volunteer to mentor for just two hours a week to the more than 100 black boys on a waiting list is a yearly crisis. It's a nationwide crisis for the organization. In Kansas City, we're lucky if we get 20 black Big Brothers a year.

You don't want to see any more "Jena Six" cases? Love Mychal Bell before he violently breaks the law.

This is what's sad about this whole mess. It is a legitimate issue of unequal justice with obvious racist overtones in a part of the country historically known for such. The matter might have been "swept under the carpet" if the media hadn't pointed out the unfairness of the initial disparate charges. But once guys like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton stick their noses in, it's all but guaranteed that the story will get twisted and shredded into something it ain't. Not to mention, these two have made "racial" cases out of virtually anything so often that the 'ol "Boy Who Cried Wolf" scenario makes [almost] anything they say worth only a contemptuous shrug. As Whitlock says, why is it that the Jena case can get thousands from all over the country to show up and protest, but even a big star like Bill Cosby can only muster approximately 300 at a rally against gun violence in Philadelphia?

Posted by Hube at September 22, 2007 12:42 PM | TrackBack

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Great job- I think this may be your best post ever!

Posted by: AJ Lynch at September 22, 2007 06:27 PM