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Comments

Kelly Bundy

I always know when someone's ideas are contradictory when I have a difficult time responding to them, because the writer has already argued against his own statements.

1) I don't get the logic of his title. If the issue is too easy, then why does he go to great lengths to make the point that there are moral ambiguities in the story. I personally don't think it's an easy story at all. I agree with the commentators on Talk of the Nation yesterday who believe that one of the major reasons this story was not picked up by the mainstream press was because of the fact that it isn't a simple good vs evil story, because of the fact that both sides have dirt on their hands. And both sides do. But the reason the situation was protested is because both sides were not treated equally. Which leads me to

2) The author seems confused about his message, as am I. He says that people are aiming low, saying that hate speech justifies physical assault, but then states that "there is a perception" that the legal system is unjust here. Well, yes. Bingo. That is the perception. The only way these competing thoughts can be justified would be to say that, because these young men made a bad choice, in response to derogatory discrimination, concerned citizens should not step in and advocate for them when they face charges that are obviously biased based on their skin color. This can only imply that young people who become involved in violent altercations deserve racist justice.

3) This article also emits important events, such as the attack by three young white men of one of the Jena 6 at a party with a beer bottle. Only one of these men was arrested for this. I forget what he was charged with, but the disparity between his charge and the attempted murder charges was gross. He also does not bother to mention the incident in which some young black men had to wrestle a shotgun out of the hands of a white student who pulled it on them. The black students were then arrested for stealing the gun. To say that these incidents, or even the noose-hanging incident alone, had nothing to do with the Barker incident, shows a lack of thoughtfulness and disputes his own statement that people's despair can be amplified by the pettiest acts of discrimination.

Most importantly, even if his argument did line up, this guy's comments bely his ignorance of the sentiment of the grassroots organizers and participants in this event. He obviously has not listened to the Baisden or Harvey show, or read very many black blogs about this issue. Hell, even Al and Jesse made the point during the rally and to the press that the march was representative of racial injustice across the country. They were mentioning, and blogs were blogging, and show hosts were pontificating on the exact type of injustice that this writer apparently believes is news to the supporters of the Jena 6. By trying to argue against the people behind this protest, most of whom were black and understand the inequities of the criminal justice system already (and had already cited them as being an over-arching reason to organize the event), he discloses that his ignorance of the group of people he is critiquing. It also bothers me that his intended audience seems to be people on conscience not already behind this issue. Because this issue has received strong and far-reaching support in the African American community, a reader is left to imagine that this article, probably being read by a predominantly white audience, has the tone of "we know better." I find that disturbing.

Wigger Lover The Blog

For years Rall has rallied against "school bullies." He's taken up for the kids at Columbine, San Diego, and elsewhere in posts, while examining "jockocracy" and other ideas. In his work he is very much anti-white racism, anti-racist, and examines knee jerk liberal reactions for their intent and action.

Some of his themes are evident here. He sees the incident not as a school fight, but as bullies. But as someone woh believes that schools should protect students from harmful things (junk food, bullies, army recruiters) he should have encouraged the expulsion of the original noose students for their protection and the protection of the other student body.

You can't make the assumption he has a predominantly white audience. And the theme of "we know better" and elitism is inherently found in an issue where white (and Black) Northerners come to the South to tell redneck folks how racist there are. Stories like this happen in Chicago, New York, and other parts in the States. That tone is everywhere in this debate because everyone sees this story as something that could be avoidable, but few are working on removing the structural things that allowed it to happen. (Heightened segregation, myopic school structure, corporate/communal influences taking their toll on school administration, etc.)

One point that can't be ignored in this piece is the following quote: "What white apologists call the legacy of racism--does a continuing phenomenon leave a legacy?--wrecks the lives of millions of Americans"

A few quick point, by point responses.

1. "I don't get the logic of his title. If the issue is too easy, then why does he go to great lengths to make the point that there are moral ambiguities in the story." It does have difficult moral ambiguities, but it is also EXTREMELY easy to make this a "white/black" issue where you can run this story on a dozen legal, moral, and ethical points without ever once mentioning race.

2. "there's a perception" could be in response to the activist concern and opinions, and not the confirmed legal accuracies. You can say, or believe that the events that happened are racist (as we here at the blog do), but there is no factual basis to that.

3. "This article also emits important events" the event has been around long enough that enough of America with a political slant similar to Rall's would have heard of it. His job, in punditry, is to allow his spin on it. As a writer he surely has a word/space limit and as an event that has spread out over 14 months, no one has enough time to include all angles of the story.

Kelly Bundy

I think it is a pretty educated guess to *at least* make the assumption that his audience looks very different than the predominantly-black advocates of the Jena 6 event (and by this I mean the people that were at the protest, as well as the people who wore black and held rallies across the country). No offense intended, but Rall isn't exactly Micheal Baisden. Maybe his audience isn't predominantly white, but it's likely that it is. I am ignorant of his history, but what I am assuming is that his audience is similar to other white, anti-racist activists, who have a predominantly white following. I'm not sure how to verify this assumption, other than just using my own white, anti-racist activist experiential rolodex.

And again, I have to repeat what (I thought) was the salient point of my original reply, and the major point of disagreement between us here: most of the people involved in this protest were (and are) not blaming Southern rednecks. If he had been in tune to the movement, he would understand this. This is very important: On Steve Harvey, on Micheal Baisden, in the black blogoshpere, they were talking about this as a systemic problem. I cannot recall one comment from any of these that said that racist justice is a Southern thing. The media may have played it this way, BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT THE ACTUAL PEOPLE INVOLVED WERE SAYING. Again, this belies his ignorance of the people he's critiquing. If this is his critique, he should critique the media, not the people standing up for Mychal Bells the idividual, and all of the many thousands of Mychal Bells across the country. The mainstream media might have, but not the people behind these protests. They were talking about EXACTLY the things that he felt he was broaching to them here. No, "everyone" does not see it the way that you and he have described that they do. I beg of you: listen to these radio broadcasts. Visit these blogs. They are very informed. How is that not condescending to them to assume otherwise, without even checking up on this movement before he printed his article?

And I also feel like I need to respond to the idea that he doesn't have the space to "include all the angles." These are not angles. They are a clear illustration of the disparities between the treatment of the 6 and other white students. They are a defining parallelism. Without these details, proof of inequity has been edited out, and the Jena 6 *are* just high school bullies. Convenient for his rhetorical purposes, but not for them.

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