Because they generally consider it bad manners to draw attention to obvious examples of black racism, the media -- in concert with contemporary America’s self-anointed champions of “civil rights” and “civil liberties” -- have recently put on a spectacular exhibition in the art of depicting black racism not as what it is, but rather as the unfortunate by-product of an allegedly underlying white racism. At issue is the case of the so-called “Jena Six” -- the half-dozen black Louisiana youths who brutally beat an apparently loudmouthed white youth named Justin Barker last December. In the wake of that incident, the American Civil Liberties Union complained -- as did the political Left at large -- that the local district attorney was unjustified in having initially charged the defendants with attempted murder in this case of “questionable circumstances.”
Those circumstances were as follows: Last December 4 at Louisiana’s Jena High School, football player Mychal Bell led a gang of eight to ten fellow black students in pummeling Barker into unconsciousness in what the Jena Times called “one of the most violent attacks in Jena High School’s history.” Witnesses would later report that Barker’s attackers had “stomped him badly,” “stepped on his face” while he was “knocked out cold on the ground,” and “slammed his head on the concrete beam.” The media focused heavily on the notion that three white Jena students had provoked the attack by having hung nooses -- evoking images of lynchings -- from a tree (on campus) in whose vicinity blacks allegedly were unwelcome. Quite apart from the question of whether a dumb (non-violent) prank by a bunch of teenage idiots is grounds for a violent assault, the fact is that Barker was not even involved in the prank.
Though the charges against Barker’s assailants were later reduced, the ACLU has solemnly stated that “the Jena Six case raises serious questions about a possible double standard for whites and blacks in the criminal justice system -- and in our schools.” Dennis Parker, Director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Project, laments: “Possible differences in treatment between students of different races, the apparent overcharging of students by law enforcement and questions about the possibility of discrimination generally in the school are emblematic of the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ cases that we are seeing nationwide.”
Members of the ACLU are schooled enough to know that many studies over the years have examined racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and that in the final analysis, when we compare black and white defendants who are charged with equivalent offenses and who have similar criminal records, we find that they are treated quite similarly by the justice system. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who led a massive protest in defense of the Jena Six a few days ago, might secretly understand this too, as might the NAACP, which expressed its solid “support” for the rally in honor of the black assailants. But unfortunately the hordes of protesters -- tens of thousands were bussed to Jena from all over the United States -- didn’t know any better.
Nor did they seem at all cognizant of the fact that there are mountains of evidence which entirely contradict their contention that black youngsters routinely get a raw deal from the juvenile justice system. To cite just one example: A mere five weeks before the Jena incident, a gang of perhaps 30 black teenagers brutally assaulted three white women -- 21-year-old Laura Schneider, 19-year-old Michelle Smith, and 19-year-old Loren Hyman -- in the Bixby Knolls section of Long Beach, California. Hyman suffered 13 facial fractures that required extensive facial reconstruction surgery. Schneider suffered a concussion after one of the attackers yelled a racial slur at her, smashed a skateboard against her head, and continued beating her after she was already unconscious. In February 2007 the four main perpetrators, all of whom were aged 16 to 17 at the time of the attack, were each sentenced to serve a mere 60 days of house arrest -- which they were permitted to break in order to attend school and church -- and 250 hours of community service. The judge also ordered the lead attacker to attend an eight-week racial tolerance program at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Not much of a penalty for crimes that could easily have resulted in a death or two. And of course the ACLU, NAACP, Sharpton, and Jackson were nowhere to be seen or heard.
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