A recent Op-Ed by a Jena reporter that may have first appeared in the Christian Science Monitor is making the rounds on the Right wing blogs, supposedly “debunking” the Jena controversy, and has now even made it to ABC News’ website. The will to believe that the entire incident in Jena was a Sharpton/Jackson concocted conspiracy is so strong that Jimmie at Sundries Shack even described the fact-challenged opinon piece as an “article”:

Apparently, though, much of what’s being reported about Jena and the Jena 6, as the 6 students have come to be called, doesn’t appear to be completely true. Michelle Malkin has reprinted an article from the Christian Science Monitor written by a reporter lives and works in Jena. It’s worth a read, if for no other reason than to give you a side of the story that’s not likely to enrich Jesse Jackson and the rest of the professional race-baiters.

Well the “article” being referred to is almost identical to a piece in the Jena local newspaper that I made fun of months ago, and contains all the same amusing errors and what appear to be willful fabrications.

Myth 1: The Whites-Only Tree. There has never been a “whites-only” tree at Jena High School. Students of all races sat underneath this tree. When a student asked during an assembly at the start of school last year if anyone could sit under the tree, it evoked laughter from everyone present – blacks and whites. As reported by students in the assembly, the question was asked to make a joke and to drag out the assembly and avoid class.

Myth 2: Nooses a Signal to Black Students. An investigation by school officials, police, and an FBI agent revealed the true motivation behind the placing of two nooses in the tree the day after the assembly. According to the expulsion committee, the crudely constructed nooses were not aimed at black students. Instead, they were understood to be a prank by three white students aimed at their fellow white friends, members of the school rodeo team. (The students apparently got the idea from watching episodes of “Lonesome Dove.”) The committee further concluded that the three young teens had no knowledge that nooses symbolize the terrible legacy of the lynchings of countless blacks in American history. When informed of this history by school officials, they became visibly remorseful because they had many black friends. Another myth concerns their punishment, which was not a three-day suspension, but rather nine days at an alternative facility followed by two weeks of in-school suspension, Saturday detentions, attendance at Discipline Court, and evaluation by licensed mental-health professionals. The students who hung the nooses have not publicly come forward to give their version of events.

Myth 3: Nooses Were a Hate Crime. Although many believe the three white students should have been prosecuted for a hate crime for hanging the nooses, the incident did not meet the legal criteria for a federal hate crime. It also did not meet the standard for Louisiana’s hate-crime statute, and though widely condemned by all officials, there was no crime to charge the youths with.

Myth 4: DA’s Threat to Black Students. When District Attorney Reed Walters spoke to Jena High students at an assembly in September, he did not tell black students that he could make their life miserable with “the stroke of a pen.” Instead, according to Walters, “two or three girls, white girls, were chit-chatting on their cellphones or playing with their cellphones right in the middle of my dissertation. I got a little irritated at them and said, ‘Pay attention to me. I am right now having to deal with an aggravated rape case where I’ve got to decide whether the death penalty applies or not.’ I said, ‘Look, I can be your best friend or your worst enemy. With the stroke of a pen I can make your life miserable so I want you to call me before you do something stupid.’”

Set aside your disbelief at the fascinating series of coincidences required for this rendition of events for a moment. The most glaring omission connected to myths 1, 2, and 4 is the reaction of Jena
high’s black students to the nooses, which was to protest. The protest was why Reed Walters was called to the school in the first place.

JACQUIE SOOHEN: A few days after the nooses were hung, the entire black student body staged an impromptu demonstration, crowding underneath the tree during lunch hour. Justin Purvis, the student who first asked to sit underneath the tree, described how the protest came about.

JUSTIN PURVIS: It was like, the first beginning, in the courtyard, they said, “Y’all want to go stand under the tree?” We said, “Yeah.” They said, “If you go, I’ll go. If you go, I’ll go.” One person went, the next person went, everybody else just went.

JACQUIE SOOHEN: The school responded to the protest by calling police and the district attorney. At an assembly the same day, the District Attorney Reed Walters, accompanied by armed policeman, addressed the students.

Why leave that out? Because it changes the meaning of both the supposed “joke” at the assembly, Reed Walters later comments and calls into question the supposedly intimate relationship the noose hangers had with all their black friends. If everyone was so close at Jena, why did black students feel like they had to protest in the first place, thus “necessitating” Reed Walters visit, accompanied by police no less?

Yet, Crawford says:

Mr. Walters had been called to the assembly by police, who had been at the school earlier that day dealing with some students who were causing disturbances. Teachers and students have confirmed Walters’s version of events.

“Disturbances”. No mention or description of the nature of those disturbances, because the protest itself calls into question the idea that the white tree thing was a “known joke”. As for teachers and students “confirming Walters’ version of events,” “students an teachers” told Democracy Now something entirely different.

As for “myth” number 3, “local journalist” Craig Crawford might want to read the newspaper. Because the U.S. Attorney for Louisiana put the lie that “there was not hate crime” to rest a few weeks ago, while testifying to Congress.

U.S. Atty. Donald Washington also said for the first time that the hanging of nooses from a shade tree in the Jena High School courtyard in September, 2006, by three white students–a warning to stay away from the tree directed at black students that triggered months of interracial fights in the town–constituted a federal hate crime, but that federal authorities opted not to prosecute the case because of the ages of the white youths involved.

That particular “fact” would have been obviously false to anyone paying attention to the Jena Six case for even the last two weeks. Which is why Malkin and her followers had no idea.

Moving on:

Myth 5: The Fair Barn Party Incident. On Dec. 1, 2006, a private party – not an all-white party as reported – was held at the local community center called the Fair Barn. Robert Bailey Jr., soon to be one of the Jena 6, came to the party with others seeking admittance.

When they were denied entrance by the renter of the facility, a white male named Justin Sloan (not a Jena High student) at the party attacked Bailey and hit him in the face with his fist. This is reported in witness statements to police, including the victim, Robert Bailey, Jr.

Months later, Bailey contended he was hit in the head with a beer bottle and required stitches. No medical records show this ever occurred. Mr. Sloan was prosecuted for simple battery, which according to Louisiana law, is the proper charge for hitting someone with a fist.

Except if you’re black. In which case, the charge is Murder Two. As for Robert Bailey’s injuries, given the omissions and distortions already present in this man’s “reporting,” I’m going to trust the established version of events until someone reputable says otherwise. As for the “it’s not an all white party, it’s a private party” statement, well, how is either quality exclusive to the other?

Myth 6: The “Gotta-Go” Grocery Incident. On Dec. 2, 2006, Bailey and two other black Jena High students were involved in an altercation at this local convenience store, stemming from the incident that occurred the night before. The three were accused by police of jumping a white man as he entered the store and stealing a shotgun from him. The two parties gave conflicting statements to police. However, two unrelated eye witnesses of the event gave statements that corresponded with that of the white male.

This is my favorite. “This nice white man was walking and these niggers came and stole his shotgun which he just happened to be carrying for no reason!”

Moving on:

Myth 7: The Schoolyard Fight. The event on Dec. 4, 2006 was consistently labeled a “schoolyard fight.” But witnesses described something much more horrific. Several black students, including those now known as the Jena 6, barricaded an exit to the school’s gym as they lay in wait for Justin Barker to exit. (It remains unclear why Mr. Barker was specifically targeted.)

When Barker tried to leave through another exit, court testimony indicates, he was hit from behind by Mychal Bell. Multiple witnesses confirmed that Barker was immediately knocked unconscious and lay on the floor defenseless as several other black students joined together to kick and stomp him, with most of the blows striking his head. Police speculate that the motivation for the attack was related to the racially charged fights that had occurred during the previous weekend.

I’m not going to justify the attack on Justin Barker, but the kid walked away from the hospital and attended a school function later that day. Getting beat up sucks, but it’s not attempted murder, or conspiracy, or worthy of 15 years in jail.

Myth number 8:

Myth 8: The Attack Is Linked to the Nooses. Nowhere in any of the evidence, including statements by witnesses and defendants, is there any reference to the noose incident that occurred three months prior. This was confirmed by the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, Donald Washington, on numerous occasions.

The only one that appears to be “true”. It is of course, a non-sequitur. What does whether or not the nooses were motivation for the attack have to do with the fact that the charges were excessive? It doesn’t.

“Myth” number 9, another “see no evil” approach:

Myth 9: Mychal Bell’s All-White Jury. While it is true that Mychal Bell was convicted as an adult by an all-white jury in June (a conviction that was later overturned with his case sent to juvenile court), the jury selection process was completely legal and withstood an investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Court officials insist that several black residents were summoned for jury duty, but did not appear.

Oh right, this is the same Civil Rights Division that tried to keep black people from voting right? The one that couldn’t even retain it’s black employees because the atmosphere of racism was so thick they referred to it as a plantation? I’m sure they were very thorough. I wonder why no black jurors showed up? (Except I don’t, because my family is from Georgia.)

Myth 10: Jena 6 as Model Youth. While some members were simply caught up in the moment, others had criminal records. Bell had at least four prior violent-crime arrests before the December attack, and was on probation during most of this year.

Yeah, well in this country, even if you’re not a model youth, you have rights. I know that’s hard for some people to understand.

Myth 11: Jena Is One of the Most Racist Towns in America. Actually, Jena is a wonderful place to live for both whites and blacks. The media’s distortion and outright lies concerning the case have given this rural Louisiana town a label it doesn’t deserve.

Fantastic objective reporting there, Craig.

Myth 12: Two Levels of Justice. Outside protesters were convinced that the prosecution of the Jena 6 was proof of a racially biased system of justice. But the US Justice Department’s investigation found no evidence to support such a claim. In fact, the percentage of blacks and whites prosecuted matches the parish’s population statistics.

Yeah there’s no bias. None at all. That’s why the case against Mychal Bell was thrown out by a judge after Walters tried to prosecute him as an adult.

The most telling circumstance here is not the Jena reporter defending his town, but the Right Wing blogs who ignored the Jena Six controversy and the ensuing racist backlash almost entirely until someone told them there was no racism. Then, only then, did the issue become a priority. That’s because the Right isn’t interested in fighting anti-black racism as much as it is in justifying it. Unless there’s some way to cast black people as oppressing themselves, the Right will ignore it.

Malkin’s conclusion:

As with the Duke Lacrosse case, the truth about Jena will eventually be known. But the town of Jena isn’t expecting any apologies from the media. They will probably never admit their error and have already moved on to the next “big” story. Meanwhile in Jena, residents are getting back to their regular routines, where friends are friends regardless of race. Just as it has been all along.

Well, not exactly:

JENA, la. (AP) — The Nationalist Movement, which describes itself as “pro-majority,” will hold a rally in Jena, La., on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the group announced.

The organization issued a statement this week saying “Jena Justice Day to Empower the Majority” would be held on Jan. 21, 2008, the day set aside to celebrate the birthday of the slain American civil rights leader.

The statement said the Nationalist were “bringing their tools for empowerment to Louisiana to defeat the demands of Al Sharpton.” The events planned include a two-mile parade, speeches, ceremonies and petitions “as a centerpiece to abolish King Day.”

Huh. Imagine that. Oh wait, the Mayor of Jena already did, when he told white supremacists he appreciated what they were trying to do” by rallying.

But you know, there’s no racism in Jena.

I wonder if we’ll see Malkin there? I’m sure many of the protesters have read her writings at the white supremacist website VDARE.

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