Jena 2007

Mike Gallagher
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Posted: Sep 20, 2007 10:00 PM
Jena 2007

Why do so many people seem reluctant to condemn the act of hanging nooses from a so-called “white tree” in Jena, Louisiana? Is it because a race-baiter like Al Sharpton has joined with the thousands of protesters who have descended upon the tiny town?

If so, they’re allowing the well-deserved tarnished reputation of “Reverend Al” to cloud their judgment.

Good and decent people shouldn’t stand for white teenagers hanging nooses or burning crosses in order to intimidate and terrorize black people.

The story of the “Jena Six” isn’t nearly as complicated as some would have us believe. Amazingly in today’s America, there existed a “white tree” in Jena where white teenagers gathered under the shade of the central Louisiana sun. One day, a black teen had the temerity to ask a school official at the local high school if he would be allowed to sit under “the white tree.” Of course you can, said the administrator. You should be able to sit wherever you want to.

Not everyone agreed. The following day, three hanging nooses were tied to the tree, a chilling message reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan rallies and lynch mobs.

It didn’t take long to discover the culprits, three white kids who attended the high school. They were given three day suspensions for their hideous act.

And then all hell broke loose.

For nearly a year, fighting and brawling and name-calling erupted between the white kids and the black kids. The tension, say many in the town, was almost suffocating. One of the acts of violence involved six black teenagers beating up a white student. Thankfully, that act of cowardice didn’t result in serious injury to the victim. He was treated and released at a local hospital and even attended a school function that same day.

But that didn’t stop the local prosecutor from going bonkers over the beating. Instead of charging the black kids with assault, or a variation of assault, he decided this was a crime that should result in these kids going to jail for many, many years. Inexplicably, this district attorney decided that the sneakers these punks used as part of the beating should be considered deadly weapons and that the charge should be nothing less than attempted murder.

Attempted murder for a brawl so minor that the victim wasn’t even admitted to the hospital.

Listen, there is no doubt that the black teens who ganged up on the white boy needed to be punished. And they likely are nothing close to being angelic members of the church choir. It’s been pointed out with some enthusiasm that some other acts of criminality have preceded this incident.

But to put all of this mess in context, it would be impossible to ignore or forget what started everything: a black teen, a little more than a child, wondering why he can’t sit under a tree to cool off like the white kids do.

I don’t like Al Sharpton. And I don’t pretend that black racism directed towards whites doesn’t exist. I’m as ashamed of “Miss Black America” or Black Entertainment Television as I am anything a white racist can do.

But none of that changes what has happened in Jena, Louisiana. Two wrongs never make a right. All of us, white, black, Hispanic, whatever, should be mortified that a “white tree” ever existed in 2007 America (thankfully, the tree has since been cut down). And any white kid who thinks that hanging a noose from a tree in order to send a signal to black kids needs some serious enlightenment.

May everyone learn a valuable lesson from “The Jena Six” affair.