Monday, September 24, 2007

Some Thoughts About the Jena 6

I realize that I might be stepping into a landmine here, but I have a question about the Jena 6 situation and protests that happened last week. First, let me state that I think that the hanging of the nooses over the "white tree" was reprehensible and it deeply saddens me that these attitudes still exist. I'm not naive enough to believe that racism and prejudice will ever disappear.

I also understand that there seems to be a serious miscarriage of justice in terms of how the African-Americans were treated by the justice system in this case. And that is something that I think deserves protestation.

Here's my question: Where are the statements from the African-American community that what the six young men did in beating up the Caucasian was wrong? It seems to me that the whole situation goes directly against the kind of mindset that Dr. King spoke about throughout his life. That by retaliating, the African-Americans stooped to the level of violence that had been intimidated to them and visited on them in at least one case. But in going six on one seems just as wrong.

Maybe I'm overromanticizing the Civil Rights era, because I'm white and I didn't live through it, but I get the sense that while Dr. King would have spoken and marched for equal justice for the Jena 6 that he would have been chastising as well about the use of violence by them. I could be wrong, and perhaps as a white man, I don't have a real context for thinking about racism, but I think there is fault on many sides of this one. I'll be interested to hear other thoughts

4 comments:

Tony Arnold said...

When you repay wrong with a wrong, you obscure truth. In order to defend your actions you inherently lend credibility to the actions of the other party that you are saying was wrong first.

However, by repaying violence with peace, hate with love, you cast harsh illumination on that violence and that hate for all to clearly see. No covering it up, no rationalizing it. Everyone can see it for what it truly is.

If the Jena 6 had opted not to respond with violence themselves, the nation and the media would be scrutinizing the racial bigotry demonstrated by those who hung the nooses. Further,the six young men would not have opened themselves up to even more injustice.

I personally am annoyed with the six young men's actions because they let the original hate-mongers off the hook. I was absolutely disgusted with the actions of those that hung the nooses, and now few are paying attention to them.

I also have a problem with saying the noose act was a prank. That is not a valid excuse for lax punishment or accountability. Throwing a large rock off an overpass has been done as a prank, but people died or were seriously hurt. Just because it is called a prank doesn't mean that it was harmless.

In this case, it was decidely harmful.

Jennifer Thompson said...

Tony, I mostly agree with you, except for...

"If the Jena 6 had opted not to respond with violence themselves, the nation and the media would be scrutinizing the racial bigotry demonstrated by those who hung the nooses."

I don't think we necessarily would have heard about it at all. At least not on a national scale. The point at which I heard about it, at least, was not until the six were charged. Which was way after the nooses were hung.

Tony Arnold said...

Jennifer,

You are liekly stating a very sad fact.

I should have written, "if the Jena 6 had opted not to respond with violence themselves, the African-American community could be protesting the fact that little was done about the hanging of the nooses, rather than having to protest the disparity of the sentencing."

Justin said...

Tony,

I first want to say that I think its in terrible taste to hang nooses from a tree but...

what law exactly was broken there?

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