I'm not much for reblogging, but the mainstream media has done a crap job of putting forth the full facts about the current goings-on in Jena, Louisiana, and this gentlewoman of the left has done a conscientious job of trying to suss it all out for us.
Look, this is the sort of Jim Crow town where the white barbershop discourages black customers because the white regulars don't want their hair cut using the same tools. True story, according to Newsweek.
There are no good guys here: the Jena Six kicked the pus out of some white boy with their Adidas (not jackboots). But they were charged with attempted murder even though said Caucasian attended a school function that very night.
And I'm not an advocate of "hate crimes" legislation, but leading up to this, the new black kid in Jena sat himself one day under the tree where the white kids usually hung out. The next day, three nooses dangled from the tree.
Now, it's largely unknown by American Caucasoids, but as a result of the thousands of lynchings in the Bad Old Days, especially in the bad Old South, the symbolism of the noose drives black folk more nuts than even a burning cross. Let us not forget Clarence Thomas's dissent in the Virginia cross-burning case of Virginia v. Black, where the majority allowed it under "freedom of speech." Thomas saw it differently, that the symbol was “intended to cause fear and terrorize a population.”
The kids who hung the nooses received a slap on the wrist---high spirits, a prank---and it was this that led to the escalation of racial tensions in Jena, Louisiana.
Now maybe some stupid kids somewhere could spraypaint a swastika on a synagogue as a relatively brainless and harmless prank because they don't fully understand what that means, but it defies the imagination that kids in a town where they don't cut black people's hair in a white barbershop are equally ignorant of the meaning of the noose. It just doesn't figure.
Now, the GOP has been MIA on this one, and I think they (we) are missing our own Sister Souljah moment in this. The facts are complicated, but something surely stinks in Jena that cannot just be explained away. The GOP---the Party of Lincoln---is now popularly known, and not unfairly, as the party of racism, because it took the Dixiecrats in, the 1960s Democrats who fought tooth and nail against integration and civil rights.
Now mebbe if the GOP stood up against the stink in Jena, some of its noose-hanging voters might stay home in 2008. Perhaps it might cost the next election. But this is a Wilberforce moment, and a missed opportunity to stand up for the principle of human dignity, from which all the rest of our principles flow.
Editor's Note: TVD will be on leave for the next few weeks, recording the album he's been threatening to inflict on the world for quite some time now. In the meantime, his co-contributors will continue to pick up his considerable slack.