This town is getting the same notoriety that its' neighbor over in Jasper, Texas, got seven years ago (James Byrd being dragged down the road behind a pickup truck for sport until he was decaptitated). And if it serves to embarass people into the 21st Century on issues of racism, I'm all for something good coming out of this mess.
The town's residents don't want to be known as a town full of bigots. Thanks to some high school students who were taught that bigotry, by residents of that town, well, Jena, you got the scarlett letter on your back now. 25, 000 African-Americans crowding your town to demand justice for six young African-Americans who are facing prison sentences meant for hard-core crimes (you know, like rape, murder, industrial-strength drug dealing, lying this country into a war) for getting into a school fight, earned you that Scarlett Letter of Bigoty.
Why don't bigots want to be publicly known as bigots? Saves people like me a lot of trouble and time trying to ID your behinds. Why do you need to hide behind a hood, robe and burning cross? Could it be, that maybe, just maybe, you know deep down in your hearts that you're supporting something morally wrong (like hating people because they don't look like YOU, perhaps?)
My father used to always say if he was given the chance of fighting a water mocassin and a rattlesnake, he'd take on the rattler every time, because the rattler lets you know he's going to fight back by rattling his tail. He used this analogy when talking about bigots, people.
Chopping down the tree where this fight got started doesn't eliminate that the local D.A., Reed Walters, went after those kids, now known as the Jena 6, for the wrong reasons, and that reason was race.
Some might compare this incident to the rape allegations against the Duke LaCrosse team made by an African-American stripper. I didn't think race should have played a role then - to me, it was a matter of a woman alleging she'd been gang raped by a bunch of athletes. Now, when you got the story, that racial epithets were hurled at the woman, that fact turned the incident racial, and rather than D.A. Mike Nifong looking for factual evidence he could take to build up an actual case against the Duke players, he used the racial aspect to ensure African-Americans re-elected him in droves, with the promise of continuing to vigorously prosecute this case.
Well, it worked. For a hot minute anyway. Wasn't long before his antics caught up with him, plus the fact that the Duke boys' parents had fat bank accounts to hire them serious legal representation. But, anyway...
Funny, how he (Nifong) used race to get re-elected, but the facts got him kicked out of office, out of a job, and out of his license to practice law elsewhere. But, the Jena 6 is different because race has been a direct factor from the outset. And while Reed Walters denies that fact, what's more important to note is that he's not doing anything to quiet down speculation about it being about nothing else than RACE.
Jena, Louisiana highlights, as did Jasper, Texas, that there are Americans who advanced to the 1960s and are still stuck there. It highlights that racism and bigotry is a taught science, and is passed down from generation to generation. Those of us born during the turbulent 60s are the generation who should have learned from mistakes made before we were born, and our parents taught us the determination not to repeat them. However, some were perfectly okay with training their children to be the next generation of Klansmen (ever see those film clips with babies in KKK hoods and robes? That should have been enough to scare you; those kids are in their late 30s and early 40s now, with spawn of their own)
Somewhere along the way, those lessons didn't get taught to a few white kids in Jena. But the lessons of bigotry did stick with them. That was where they got their motivation to hang a noose on that tree, after African-American kids decided to peacefull protest by sitting under that tree. Kinda like the kids did back in the 1960s at those lunch room counters at Woolworth's. And the Black kids got a noose to greet them for their trouble to protest bigotry.
The white kids thought hanging a damned noose is nothing more than a prank. Their parents probablly told them that. Tell that shyt to African-Americans who lived with those threats every damned day of their lives; despite laws being passed to outlaw such terrorism.
But you know what's worse than what's going on in Jena? The refusal of the so-called, "progressive" bloggers to give any time and space on their blogs to such a salient issue for African-Americans, for Latino Americans, for Asian Americans, for women, for the LGBT community, because just substitute "African-American" for any of the groups I've named here, and you have the same problem, if not worse. You have bigotry on a massive scale.
Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend called out her fellow progressive bloggers on their dereliction of duty in being the aspects of journalists we have been longing for, for the last 10 years. At best, DailyKos' MissLaura did a full post on Jena, today, but FireDogLake is mailing in the "Dog Ate My Homework" on their dereliction. HuffPo has been eerily silent as well.
My take on this - until "progressives" get their collective heads out of their asses on this one, you need to stop calling on us African-American bloggers to carry your water when it suits you to include us at the table. Until our issues are synonymous with your issues, (which means you don't get to pooh-pooh issues like the Jena 6, but we're expected to demonstrate outrage when Bill O'Reilly attacks you) you need to get that beam out of your eye before you tell me I have one in mine. Your silence tells me that my issues don't matter to you, so don't get upset if you come knocking on the door of Black Bloggers and we're not home.