Friday, September 21, 2007

Jena 6 -- Radley Balko, Glenn Reynolds and Hootsbuddy

This is a messy story that's not getting any better. I am pleased that Glenn Reynolds saw fit to publish Radley Balko's remarks. Unfortunately, the narrative has a lot more turns than news reports have time or space to include. These links will be a good starting point for anyone not familiar with the background.

Yesterday I came across some harsh criticisms taking progressive blogs to the woodshed for their deafening silence on the matter. I understand the criticisms and at some level agree. But after the MoveOn fracas over the Betray-us ad flap I understand how progressives might be gun shy about stepping into another pile of shit. (After all, General Petraeus literally wrote the book on counter-insurgency and has an earned doctorate from Princeton. Anyone who trashes that kind of leader looks worse than the target. Tacky, if you ask me.)

Back to Jena...

The Civil Rights movement is not over and won't be in our lifetime. We didn't get in this mess in one or two generations and we won't put it behind us any faster. We are now in an early phase of the beginning, nowhere close to the end. We can argue all day about what's legal or what's reasonable, but in the end as long as there are arguments about race and discrimination, the conflict has not gone away. The day may come when we read about all this in a dusty history book, but until then we have work to do.

This morning I listened to a flashback to 1957 when President Eisenhower sent federal troops into Arkansas to do for that state what Governor Faubus has refused to do...had in fact used the Arkansas national guard to do exactly the opposite.

The showdown came in the fall of 1957.

Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus vowed "blood will run in the streets" if black students tried to enter Central High.

On the first day of school, Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to turn the students away.

Some two weeks passed and the nation waited to see what President Eisenhower would do.

Eisenhower had acted, sending in the 101st Airborne to escort five boys and four girls to high school.

Contrast that federal initiative with the hands-off, let's-wait-and-see attitude now sitting quietly in Washington. These are times which call for leadership and decisive action, once more, to send a message to ALL Americans that the segregation that Radly Balko described so well in his summary may still be around, but it is not part of what we stand for and those days will eventually come to an end.


Anonymous said...

Excellent Post here:

Anonymous said...

I have read Balko's remarks, as well as others about this case.
First, if the intent of the 6 was to cause death of the victim, then the charges are correct. If there was disregard for the victim's final outcome, then attempted manslaughter might be more appropriate. In any event, 6 persons viciously attacked one of another race and caused that person to be knocked unconscious (hate crime?). Events that happened prior to this should not affect the charges and verdict here. The shotgun incident should have been handled differently. This is where Sharpton and Jackson could have have brought up a relevant and justified point. The perp (shotgun toter) should have been charged appropriately.
The school administrators should have handled this conflict issue long before these types of incidents occurred. Hanging nooses is not nearly equivalent to one-sided viscious beatings but deserved the serious attention of administrators.
The one way attitude re:racism in this country certainly does nothing to advance our society. Race baiters like Sharpton and Jackson, et al., often pick the wrong side and the wrong position on issues that involve race.
Finally, if the situation was reversed, one can only imagine the difference in coverage by the news media. Just look at the Duke lacrosse boys.
Why don't we all have to play by the same rules? I thought that is what we are after as a country.

Hoots said...

Why don't we all have to play by the same rules? I thought that is what we are after as a country.

You have put your question right on the nub of the problem. And your comment is accurate in all respects.

But...(here it comes)...

Reality is this: we do not ALL have or play by the same rules. The rules we call "laws" are muddy and uneven and rules regarding social and private matters are how we get around the other set of rules. That's how private clubs exclude whomever they want, and churches selectively help or refrain from helping any group they choose. When we look closely all rules are very uneven.

Which leads to the second part of your comment regarding us "as a country."

Right again. But that is not who we are collectively as a society. As a country we are a maze of political subsets, some of which reflect social (or ethnic...or economic...or get the idea) groups, but most of which do not. Our identity as a society is something different.

Even without race baiters, the "Jena Six" phenomenon is not about rules. It is about how racism remains part of the fabfic of our society. When thousands of black people converge on a small town in Louisiana for any reason, even the wrong reasons, and a white face peers into a camera and wants to know what the problem is, we still have a looooong way to go.

Same goes, incidentally, for anonymous posts aimed at deflecting attention from the core problem: racism.

My view is shaped by several decades working with the public in a service industry. "Good service" is not about what was intended. It is about perceptions. If the customer thinks the service was poor, then the service was poor. And all discussions to the contrary are moot. As the old saying goes, the way to hell is paved with good intentions.