If you’ve followed S&R at all you know that we’re concerned about the Jena case and have been since I began writing about it. The MSM and other bloggers finally caught on, but S&R was railing about the injustice as early as June.
As more and more attention has been cast on the town and its somewhat retro approach to race and justice, we’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. Whether in the form of concerted attacks by people we’re trying hard not to accuse of racism or simply through the innocent failure of the well-intended to grok the real core issues, there has been a cynical and disturbing reframing of the story.
To wit: all too many people are trying to pretend that the case is about – or ought to be exclusively about – whether or not the black defendants are guilty of a particular set of crimes.
This campaign has fostered a good measure of silliness. Are the Jena 6 guilty of breaking the law? Maybe – there appears to be evidence suggesting so. But this is not, and never has been, the question. The real issue, the one that so many people don’t seem to want us to look at or talk about, is the context in which these events took place. It’s not about what the Jena 6 did, it’s about why the local “justice” system seems unconcerned about the actions of certain whites and why in 2007 a town has a legal system that, like water fountains in the 1950s, tolerates separate standards for whites and coloreds.
So, in an attempt to clarify the issue and dismiss all the misconceptions running loose out there, we have pulled together a brief primer that we hope will allow us to all focus on the real issues here.
The Cave Person’s Guide to Jena – brought to you by S&R
In Jena, a beating that leaves the victim bruised is attempted second-degree murder, but assault with a shotgun isn’t a crime at all.
In Jena, an all white jury is considered a “jury of peers” for black defendants. There is no record that all-black juries are seated to hear cases against white defendants.
In Jena, vandalizing a black church’s sign isn’t racist, but demands for equal treatment are.
In Jena, calling for equal treatment of black defendants is “reverse racism” to, but it’s no big deal when a white school board overrules a principal who recommends expulsion for white “pranksters” who hang nooses over a tree to intimidate black students.
In Jena, a sneaker is a deadly weapon but a coke bottle isn’t.
In Jena, you only get a short suspension if you threaten lynching by hanging nooses from a tree, but God help you if you wear a “Free the Jena 6” T-shirt.
In Jena, beating up your fellow blacks gets you into juvenile courts on assault and battery charges, but beating up whites gets you charged with attempted second-degree murder.
In Jena, Jesus supports the DA and his white friends, who have taken over the courtroom for a public prayer rally for the cameras, but he doesn’t support the black Christians outside.
The Empire Strikes Back
And now we get this.
Christian Science Monitor’s attempt to “debunk” the “media myths” about Jena (I’m using lots of quotation marks because I want to draw your attention to CSM – a conservative right wing media outlet – positioning itself as somehow not part of the “media.”) is but the latest attempt to redefine the issues in Jena. The sources of all this “truth” about the events in Jena?
A white journalist for the hometown newspaper whose white wife is a teacher at Jena High School.
Jarred by the use of the word “white”? Think it smacks of racism and bias?
Think about your reaction if the word were “black” and get back to me.
See how simple it really is?