The good folks in Jena who see using nooses to intimidate blacks as “harmless pranks” must be pleased – and perhaps a little relieved. The bozo rednecks who chose to hang nooses from a pickup truck to intimidate people returning home from the Jena protest (the pickup truck is the vehicle of choice for racist acts, it seems) chose to do so in Alexandria, LA – a good 40 miles from Jena. That gives the good citizens of Jena an out – one which they will readily take, as history has demonstrated.
Now they have an incident much further away – way up there in “Yankee Land” – to crow self-satisfiedly to themselves about.
A black Coast Guard Academy cadet had a noose left in his bag last summer. This prompted the Academy to conduct race relations training for cadets. The training was led by a white Coast Guard officer. Subsequently, in what we can only assume is proof that at least a few Coast Guard cadets are ineducable bigots, the officer found a noose in his office the day after the training. While the Academy superintendent and the Coast Guard have conducted investigations, and members of Congress have called for the Coast Guard commandant to probe further, as yet no one has been charged with the acts.
Are these two incidents related? We have no way of knowing. What we do know is that in all these instances (the original Jena noose hanging from the “whites only” tree, the Alexandria – you know, the “them people over there” incident described above, and the incident at the Coast Guard Academy) young people are involved. And what that says is that some of our kids have gotten the wrong training.
One wonders that if a noose is such a big threat (and it clearly IS) why it could not have been made into a “terroristic threats” charge. Does LA not have a law prohibiting the making of terroristic threats? I mean a noose indicates one thing: stop or we are going to lynch you.
And let’s not forget — this is NO symbolic threat.
It is a direct one.
Unfortunately, I remember this case well. They were later found guilty, for using a pickup to drag a black man to death (on his way back from his neice’s wedding). His body parts, head, and organs were stretched over a two mile distance.
Should anyone tolerate such threats in their community, black or white?
The South won the civil war. There is no political will to prosecute.
The use of the noose as an instrument of terror never stopped, so there is no quesiton of a copycat crime, or of someone somehow being ignorant of its meaning.
If you are white, look into your own mind and heart. That image is there. I’ve been doing anti-racist work off and on for 40 years and it’s in me, as are countless other racist images and visions.
Our experience is that we live in the Land of No Memory, under the bright flickering lights of the media machine, where everything is always new. The real deal is that we live in history, and history’s burdens and gifts do not vanish every half hour or every 24 hours to be replaced by a new set. OUr great grandparents are very much with us, and the greatgrandparents of most white folks, if they were here in this country, were at least passive witnesses to a lynching, race riot, or other violent act of racial subjugation. Not a guilt trip, just something that is as real as the Model T and Liberty Bonds.