Just when I think that black Americans are beginning to stop making excuses for the knuckleheads in our number, the Jena Six controversy sparks an old school protest rally.
Instapunk—who was kind enough to give me a different kind of Instalanche--has an excellent summation of the Jena Six controversy and how it relates to Jesse Jackson’s alleged comment that 2008 presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has reacted to it in a, shall we say, an insufficiently melanin-infused manner.
This is no Rosa Parks moment.No; in spite of the way in which Jackson and that other perennially-outraged media whore, Al Sharpton, have been rather successful at portraying events—with the assistance of Big Media, who correctly dubbed yesterday’s protest in Jena as reminiscent of the 50’s and 60s. Yes, correctly. The protests did indeed recall that time. The comparative moral authority between the cause of 45-50 years ago and that of the Jena Six, however, marks the place where the analogies fall flat.
As Instapunk says, we’re getting at microscopic view into a throwback type of culture that apparently and unfortunately still exists in the town of Jena, LA (pop. 4000); a town that is 85% white. It’s not merely the racial nature of the incidents which conjures the South of a generation and a half ago, but the behavior of the white educational and legal authorities. But, the controversy has a decidedly contemporary flavor to it as well. In this episode of racialist misbehavior, both the black and white students are guilty of stirring up animosities, street-gang style, something which was not a factor in the last days of power for the Old South. And, there are these factors on the black side of the equation. Jason Whitlock:
No one mentions that Mychal Bell's [a juvenile at time of the incident in which six black students beat up a lone white student, he’s the second youngest member of the Jena Six] clueless public defender [who called no witnesses in his defense] was black. No one mentions that there were no black jurors because of the 50 people who responded to the more than 100 summons, none were black. No one mentions that Bell was already on probation for battery relating to a Christmas day incident in 2005. No one mentions that Bell was adjudicated (convicted) of two other violent crimes in 2006 and one charge of criminal damage to property. No one mentions that Bell's father acknowledged he moved back to Louisiana in February (after seven years in Dallas) to supervise his son because of the "Jena Six" mess. No one mentions that Bell starred on the Jena High football team while constantly jeopardizing/violating his seemingly flimsy probation.Bell was tried as an adult and convicted of aggravated
In short, a schoolyard beef with racial overtones spilled over onto the town and, instead of the adults (the white school officials, the white legal authorities, the black could-have-been jurors and the black and white parents) smothering it in its infancy by coming down hard on all of the juveniles, said adults abdicated their duties.
We have all of the emotional responses of children represented here: the school board overruling the expulsion of the white students who drew first blood by displaying nooses to intimidate the black students; Jena's white district attorney threatening to "end lives with a stroke of a pen"; the white parental failure to explain what nooses mean with respect to recent history; the black parents (Bell's) failing to have any input into the lives of their children or to reign in the wayward among them; the black citizens failing to live up to their civic responsibilities, and who, as a result of their own failure, became angry when they had no voice in the fate of the Jena six; and that same DA asserting that a shoe is a deadly weapon in order to (unsuccessfully) push the attempted murder charge.
As yet, no individual/group of individuals from that town has stepped up to be the grown-up in this mess, with the possibly exception of Bell's father, albeit belatedly.
And into this bubbling cauldron of trifling adults step Jackson and Sharpton to stir more feces--inciting others to screech in assent; asserting rights while ignoring responsibilities.
Jackson, never one to bypass an opportunity for demagoguery, uses the flap to take a shot at Barack Obama—who’s real crime in Jackson’s eyes is that he has a more serious chance at becoming POTUS than Jackson ever did in his two runs for the office. (Obama’s other “crime” is that he is half-white.)
Jackson sharply criticized presidential hopeful and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for “acting like he’s white” in what Jackson said has been a tepid response to six black juveniles’ arrest on attempted-murder charges in Jena, La. Jackson, who also lives in Illinois, endorsed Obama in March, according to The Associated Press.(Interestingly enough, Jackson’s son, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. [D-IL]) is Obama’s national campaign chairman who, according to Obama, helped to craft the senator’s response to Jena. Tasty.)
“If I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena,” Jackson said after an hour-long speech at Columbia’s [SC] historically black Benedict College. [SNIP]
Later, Jackson said he did not recall making the “acting like he’s white” comment about Obama, stressing he only wanted to point out the candidates had not seized on an opportunity to highlight the disproportionate criminal punishments black youths too often face.
If Obama takes the bait being dangled before him by Sharpton and Jackson and charges into the fray like an outraged civil rights leader of old, he will cease to be what he has seemed thus far too many middle-of-the-road voters, a presidential candidate who is an American first and a black man second. This would be a fatal shift in perception. It's not that Americans can't understand the rationale for black first, American second. They can and most likely do. It's that they probably won't elect a President of the United States who puts 13 percent of the population above the other 87 percent in his priorities.Though I think that the African/African-American [sic] "controversy" is of the ginned-up variety, my kinsman finds himself between the rock and the hard place, indeed. That’s not my concern, however, since I’ve never intended to vote for him. What is of concern is how the victim culture remains alive and well among too many black Americans, rumors of its death with regard to OJ’s recent self-inflicted tribulations notwithstanding. What is of concern is how the legal system remains weighed against those with less power or money. And what is of concern is how those of lesser power refuse to do the lower-profile, more labor-intensive work of wielding what actual power they do possess—in their own families and in their communities--but when the national media come calling, they’re ready for their close-up. As for Jesse, he's just being himself.
On the other hand, if Obama tries to distance himself from the most extreme rhetoric of the Sharptons et al, he will risk losing the reflexive black vote that constitutes the most monolithically reliable bloc of the Democrat Party. The "not black enough" charge has always been out there waiting, whether or not Jesse Jackson actually voiced it in so many words. What Obama can't overcome without the active support of traditional African-American leadership is that he is not really an African-American. He is, by accident of birth, half-African, and first-generation at that.
There are no Good Guys among Jena's wayward citizens. And neither Obama nor Jesse will make a dent in this state of affairs. They haven't the power.
(Thanks to Hot Air)
UPDATE: Bell, whose conviction was thrown out, has been denied bail because of his prior record.
[Louisiana 28th Judicial District Court Judge J.P.] Mauffray had cited Bell's criminal record, which included juvenile arrests for battery and damage to property, in setting the bail.