Monday, January 14, 2008

The Truth About Jena & “the 6”

You’ll find it in Charlotte Allen’s "Jena: The case of the amazing disappearing hate crime", published in the Jan. 21 Weekly Standard and available online now.

It’s saying a lot but Allen’s Jena article is every bit as outstanding as her January 2007 article, "Duke's Tenured Vigilantes: The scandalous rush to judgment in the lacrosse 'rape' case", which also appeared in the Weekly Standard.

Here are extreacts from Alen’s Jena article, followed by a few comments.

Allen begins:

In early December the case of the "Jena Six"--the six African-American high school students in Louisiana accused of viciously beating a white classmate in 2006--collapsed dramatically with a felony guilty plea by one of the defendants.

As something that was going to trigger "America's next great civil rights movement" (to quote National Public Radio) and grassroots protests against the "new Jim Crow" and the systematic discrimination against blacks in the criminal justice system, this was quite a letdown.

The Jena Six were supposed to be the new Scottsboro Boys, the nine black youths railroaded to death sentences by all-white juries in 1930s Alabama on charges of raping two white women.

But the best known of the Jena Six, Mychal Bell, appeared with his team of lawyers at the parish courthouse in this tiny Central Louisiana town of 3,000 on December 3 and pled guilty to second-degree battery, to intentionally inflicting serious bodily injury on another person.

In doing so, Bell--who will turn 18 this month and who had repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack--admitted that on December 4, 2006, he hit 17-year-old Justin Barker from behind, slamming Barker's head against a concrete beam outside the gym at Jena High School and knocking him unconscious, and that he then joined a group in stomping and kicking Barker in the head.

Bell agreed to serve 18 months in juvenile custody for the offense and to "testify truthfully" concerning the involvement of the other five members of the Jena Six should their cases come to trial.

Three months before the attack on Barker, on the morning of August 31, teachers and administrators at Jena High School had discovered two crudely constructed hangman's nooses made of nylon rope hanging from an oak tree in the center of the campus.

The nooses were promptly cut down so that few students of any race actually saw them, and the perpetrators, three white male students, were identified and disciplined--fairly severely, school officials later revealed, with nine-day suspensions during which they had to attend classes at an alternative school off-campus and go to extended counseling sessions with their families. […]

No one who subsequently investigated the noose incident--and that included sheriff's deputies for LaSalle Parish and the U.S. attorney for Central Louisiana, -Donald Washington, who is black himself and led a behind-the-scenes FBI probe of the Jena nooses within days of their discovery--found any connection between the nooses and the attack on Barker in December.

Nonetheless, the nooses--and the supposedly unduly lenient punishment meted out to the boys who hung them--became the causal linchpin of the twin demands of the Jena Six cause: that the noose-hangers be criminally prosecuted for hate crimes and that all criminal charges be dismissed against the six defendants in the attack on Barker.

Catrina Wallace, sister of a Jena Six member, summed up the reasoning at a rally in front of the Jena courthouse on July 31: "For them to say it was a prank left those kids to do only one thing: defend themselves." This interpretation gained wide currency among Jena Six sympathizers. […]

So it was that the attack on Barker--which, viewed from any other angle, was simply a brutal and potentially lethal six-against-one pile-on at a high school--became a civil rights cause célèbre.

The Jena Six affair generated more than seven months' worth of national news headlines and scolding op-eds; became a pet cause of the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the rapper Mos Def, the Congressional Black Caucus, and dozens of black bloggers, commentators, and talk-show hosts (one notable exception was the black contrarian sportswriter Jason Whitlock); provoked a September 20 march through Jena by some 20,000 people (setting a record for a post-1960s civil rights demonstration); and inspired a BBC documentary titled Race Hate in Louisiana; and catapulted Jena into the dubious standing of "the most racist town" in America.

Jackson called the charges against the Jena Six a "miscarriage of justice," while Sharpton labeled Bell "a fine young man" and vowed to keep returning to Jena until "the charges are dropped on these young men and until Mychal walks out of that jail."

A strange logical inversion had occurred in which Barker became the aggressor in the December 4 incident and his six alleged assailants the victims. […]

End of Extracts from Allen’s article

There’s a great deal more to Allen’s article including a sensitive assessment of both Jena racial problems and it’s racial progress. She also describes efforts town leaders of both races have made to repair as much as possible the damage done to Jena by race exploiters who once they'd used Jena for their own purposes abandoned it.

Allan’s account is authoritative and balanced. It makes clear the great harm that can be done by race exploiters in the media, while itself being a model of outstanding reporting.

Allen’s article not only informs us about Jena and “the 6,” it reminds us of how necessary fair, informed reporting free of race bias is if progress between the races is to continue in America.

Allen’s entire Jena article is here.

Her Duke’s Tenured Vigilantes article is here.


dsf said...

Jena DA Reed Walters does share one attribute with Nifong: Walters is a Democrat.

Anonymous said...

Another disgusting display of folks all too eager to wallow in victimhood, even if there isn't any to bathe in.

I'm tempted to think there aren't very many examples of real victims, what with all the hoaxes and overblown fantasies.

That couldn't be true, could it? After all, there must be dozens and dozens of real racial victimization around.

How come JJ and AS only seem to promote spurious events?


JWM said...

Dear DSF,

Your comment has a "Mark Steyn" quality to it.

FYI - I have tremendous admiration for him.

Dear TombZ,

Yes, indeed, why do JJ and AS only seem to promote what you kindly call "spurious events," which others might, with less charity than you, call deliberate frauds worthy of Crystal Mangum, Mike Nifong and many of their enablers at the Raleigh N&O, Duke and elsewhere.

Thank you both for commenting.