March 22, 2008

Obama on the Jena 6

From his speech at Howard U.:
What's truly risky is to let the same injustice remain year after year. What's truly risky is to walk away and pretend it never happened. What's truly risky is to accept things as they are instead of working for what could be.

In a media-driven culture that's more obsessed with who's beating who in Washington and how long Paris Hilton is going to jail, these moments are harder to spot today. But every so often, they do appear. Sometimes it takes a hurricane. And sometimes it takes a travesty of justice like the one we've seen in Jena, Louisiana.

There are some who will make Jena about the fight itself. And it's true that we have to do more as parents to instill in our children that violence is always wrong. It's wrong when it happens on the streets of Chicago and it's wrong when it happens at a schoolyard in Louisiana. Violence is not the answer. Non-violence was the soul of the Civil Rights Movement, and we have to do a better job of teaching our children that virtue.

But we also know that to truly understand Jena, you have to look at what happened both before and after that fight. You have to listen to the hateful slurs that flew through the halls of a school. You have to know the full measure of the damage done by that arson. You have to look at those nooses hanging on that schoolyard tree. And you have to understand how badly our system of justice failed those six boys in the days after that fight - the outrageous charges; the unreasonable and excessive sentences; the public defender who did not call a single witness.

Like Katrina did with poverty, Jena exposed glaring inequities in our justice system that were around long before that schoolyard fight broke out. It reminds us of the fact that we have a system that locks away too many young, first-time, non-violent offenders for the better part of their lives - a decision that's made not by a judge in a courtroom, but by politicians in Washington. It reminds us that we have certain sentences that are based less on the kind of crime you commit than on what you look like and where you come from. It reminds us that we have a Justice Department whose idea of prosecuting civil rights violations is trying to rollback affirmative action programs at our college and universities; a Justice Department whose idea of prosecuting voting rights violations is to look for voting fraud in black and Latino communities where it doesn't exist. ...

I don't want to be standing here and talking about another Jena four years from now because we didn't have the courage to act today. I don't want this to be another issue that ends up being ignored once the cameras are turned off and the headlines disappear. It's time to seek a new dawn of justice in America.

From the day I take office as President, America will have a Justice Department that is truly dedicated to the work it began in the days after Little Rock. I will rid the department of ideologues and political cronies, and for the first time in eight years, the Civil Rights Division will actually be staffed with civil rights lawyers who prosecute civil rights violations, and employment discrimination, and hate crimes. And we'll have a Voting Rights Section that actually defends the right of every American to vote without deception or intimidation. When flyers are placed in our neighborhoods telling people to vote on the wrong day, that won't only be an injustice, it will be a crime.

As President, I will also work every day to ensure that this country has a criminal justice system that inspires trust and confidence in every American, regardless of age, or race, or background. There's no reason that every single person accused of a crime shouldn't have a qualified public attorney to defend them. We'll recruit more public defenders to the profession by forgiving college and law school loans - and I will ask some of the brilliant minds here at Howard to take advantage of that offer. There's also no reason we can't pass a racial profiling law like I did in Illinois, or encourage state to reform the death penalty so that innocent people do not end up on death row.

What really happened:

Similarly, in September, when Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton led thousands of demonstrators in a march on the small town of Jena, Louisiana to protest supposed racism in the treatment of six black high-school students accused of beating unconscious then stomping the body of a white schoolmate, the assembled national media got the story almost 180 degrees backward. We weren’t witnessing a revival of the Emmett Till Era of lynchings, as the pundits insisted, but another example of the O.J. Simpson Age of stars athletes whose off-field misdeeds are excused until they finally go too far.

The Jena Six hadn’t been despised outcasts: they were the best football players in a gridiron-obsessed small town. Mychal Bell, the only one of the Six tried so far, was an All-State junior who scored 18 touchdowns in the 2006 season. A local minister, Eddie Thompson, explained, “For the most part, coaches and other adults have prevented them from being held accountable for the reign of terror they have presided over in Jena.” As Abbey Brown wrote in the Alexandria-Pineville Town Talk: “Bell was adjudicated—the juvenile equivalent to a conviction—of battery Sept. 2 [2006] and criminal damage to property Sept. 3. … A few days later, on Sept. 8, Bell rushed 12 times for 108 yards and scored three touchdowns.”

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Ron Guhname said...

An evil criminal justice system is a most cherished myth of black folks and white liberals. The best criminologists--liberals by the way--have shown that bias plays a minimal role in the criminal justice decision-making. And they didn't demonstrate that only yesterday.

Michael Hindelang, for example, showed in the early 70s the national levels of black arrests matched perfectly the numbers reported by victims.

Those same victim surveys show that in 2005 one-half of rapes are committed by blacks, even though they are only 12-13% of the U.S. population (

Did wicked whites and their evil system somehow force black men to assault so many women? The only valid racial anger here is white folks who are fed up with black barbarism.

Blacks wouldn't know what to do with themselves if they couldn't believe that the system was out to get them.

bob said...

In anticipation that some will ask that you stop this obsession with obama I say, as a contributor to you, that you should keep up the good work until someone in the main stream media can competently take up the cause.

Luke Lea said...

Do you suppose Obama really knew what the facts were in the Jena case?

Anonymous said...

In a sense, he's just feeding off his fellow race-hucksters. But, still, any mind that could take a despicable act of violence--specifically, by black people--and turn it into a *nationwide call for handouts for black people* is a mind too sick for public service.

This pattern is common enough that it is practically a cultural mem of the Western World. How often have you heard,

"1 out of 10 black men will be in prison at one point in their lives"

...used as an attack on *white men*?

Anonymous said...

I am still amazed that people can take Hurricane Katrina as some kind of shameful indictment of a racist America.

Shameful it certainly was, but not for the reasons that blacks and white liberals think.

I think many Americans took away an entirely different lesson from that event.

Incidentally, as the aftermath of Katrina was covered extensively around the world, I wonder how much it did to bring down our image in the world. Perhaps it was one of those singular events which burst the bubble of confidence, and suddenly made other countries realize that we are not the same America they thought we were.

Anonymous said...

Words matter ... "schoolyard fight" or vicious assault ... "first-time, non-violent offenders" or juveniles with long records of multiple violent offences. Start the "conversation".

Anonymous said...

"Violence is not the answer." That he's even saying that implies that somehow a piece of rope tied into a loop demands some kind of "answer" along the lines of more government. It implies that the Jena beatings were somehow provoked by "racism". Racism is a thought. Someone else's thoughts (a) cannot be detected objectively and (b) demand no response whatsoever.

I love the way the socialist scumbag media keep insinuating that they kid that got beaten by the race mob was somehow the same kid that put the stupid ropes in that tree. He wasn't. The attacks were completely unprovoked black-on-white racism. Obama is a lying scumbag.

Call me naive, but this is the first incontrovertible evidence I've seen that Obama actually hates America. Hitherto I've thought of him as more of a Dukakis-Mondale type, who screws everything up despite having a good heart (and arguably, a working brain). He's not. Today's leftist is rotten to the core. Teenagers getting their faces beaten in isn't "the answer" ... but apparently it's not truly tragic either. I'd vote for Clinton over Obama, and McCain over Clinton, and I can't stand McCain.

Anonymous said...

Steve, are you going to dig up every speech that Obama made and examine it with a fine tooth comb? This obsession you have with Obama is out of control.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

Steve, are you going to dig up every speech that Obama made and examine it with a fine tooth comb? This obsession you have with Obama is out of control."

Given that Obama could actually be elected President, someone ought to investigate what he as done, written, and said in his life. It potentially has some bearing on the future of the nation. As the mainstream media have not done so, I'm glad that Steve is.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Steve you must must get this crazy obsession with Obama under control. Even though he might just become the most powerful man in the world, we don't actually want to know anything at all about how he actually thinks.

For your own good, stop it at once! And please erase everything you have written about him. And replace it with something true and powerful -- like what is presented at his website.

And let the rest of them eat eat cake.

Anonymous said...

"This obsession you have with Obama is out of control."

That might be true if Obama were merely another worthless celebrity. Unfortunately he's running for president, & if there's even a remote chance of him being elected, then the very harshest of lights should be put onto everything he's said & done.

Keep it up, Steve.

Thras said...

Too anonymous complaining about Steve's "obsession" with Obama:

Journalists should be obsessed with public figures. They should dig up whatever they can.

Your comment is like complaining that people at the Pentagon are obsessed with war -- well, it's their job.

It's the journalists who aren't obsessed with Obama that are neglecting their duty to the public.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Steve, this obsession you have with defending your countrymen from people who think rope in a tree explains racist violence is all wrong. You should write more about how someone's feelings got hurt once because somebody wasn't PC.

"... how badly our system of justice failed those six boys in the days after that fight...."

Yeah, we should really be letting low-life communists get away with that. Maybe if we show them weakness they'll go easy on us.

Six-on-one racist mob violence is now considered "a fight". BO has come right out and said that the cost of rolling back affirmative action will be violent assault on isolated white. And he has the gall to suggest that the inequities in the system are anti-black! Out of control.

Anonymous said...

Steve ought to examine it. No one has given Obama a vetting. Better to know NOW than later.

Al Gore would likely have been a better choice over GWB. At least Gore isn't as terminally lazy and cowardly as Bush is. At least Gore would fight for his policies instead of just shrugging his shoulders when people contradict policy.

Obama unlike McCain or Clinton has no long record in the public eye and a thorough investigation into what he's done, what he's said, and what he really believes in.

Anonymous said...

The chilling part of this speech is not just the bit about the Jena 6. In just a few paragraphs Obama calls for:

1) More employment discrimination lawsuits
2) More hate crime prosecutions
3) An end to checking ids of illegal aliens
4) Passing a "racial profiling law" which penalizes departments that don't make arrest quotas

These policies are *guaranteed* to
increase crime and reduce economic output.

Anonymous said...

Obama's talk about the Justice Department is troubling. The only way he will get my vote is if he also is very clear that his Justice Department will pursue white-on-black hate crimes.

Someone really needs to ask Obama about this issue in a public forum.

Anonymous said...

I do wonder why he hates Obama more than Hillary. Is he really that much more of a lefty? Don't we have pages and pages of embarassing feminist stuff on her? Myself I'm more afraid of Hillary being feminist than Obama being racist, which is why I wonder what Steve's problem is.

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose Obama really knew what the facts were in the Jena case?

Believe it or not, that's more or less the same question I had. That Obama swallowed the same line 90% of America swallowed isn't exactly news. But I'm fine with a bit of record keeping on Obama, since as has been stated here over and over, no one else seems willing to do the job.

Anonymous said...

reverse racism

Good post, but please consider the Orwellian nature of that term, which is anti-white on multiple levels. It belongs in scare-quotes, at the least.

Anonymous said...

ron says:

An evil criminal justice system is a most cherished myth of black folks and white liberals.

Sigh. Lower class whites believe that too, along with myths about evil, murderous CEOs and companies that are trying to destroy their customers.

Anonymous said...

For Obama everything is context. And the context is always the "legacy of racism." This is not the right approach.

The racial problem in this country is a black behavior problem. There’s lots of earnest discussions about it, and liberals mostly blame “hidden racism,” but this is the essential reality. No liberal will admit this, and that’s why it’s an intellectually bankrupt philosophy. This behavior problem is the reason whites move to suburbs. It’s the reason blacks die so frequently in shootouts. It’s the reason blacks do worse in school, save less, have worse credit, and make neighborhoods less pleasant places to be. Some of this might be endemic, but black America, working with the same raw material, was not always this screwed up.

Yes, of course, there are many exceptions to this rule. There are decent, humane, polite, Christian, and civilized black people. But they are not so numerous as they should be (or once were) and, most important, they tend to make excuses for their less well behaved brothers and sisters. In positions of leadership, their pandering is immense.

Notice Obama asks much of white America–support for affirmative action, understanding of Wright and his raucous church–but only asks blacks to believe that this terrible weight of oppression can be lifted by supporting him and his run-of-the-mill liberal program, uniting with whites to go after evil corporations.

Jeremiah Wright denies this black behavior problem exists and projects the various deficiencies, disorders, and hatreds of the black community on whites. Obama said this directly in his discussion of Jena Six. Obama has to justify this rampant all-consuming hatred–hatred Wright foments every Sunday–with something, so he creates and recreates a bogeyman: the legions of white racists who continue to hold down black people. There is much smoke here, but almost no fire.

Barack says, in effect, Wright’s is a correct analysis of the problem. Blacks at worst exacerbate or contribute to their own racism-caused problems. But he also says there’s hope for change through something he wants us to forget we’ve been trying for thirty years: liberal government programs and white acknowledgment of their current and past racist actions, including such egregious sins as his grandmother being scared of thuggish young black men.

This is not a patriotic, humane, or sensible approach to the issue. It is, at best, the simulation of a courageous address about race. Obama falls back on the stale diagnosis and stale solutions of LBJ and the Great Society.

Anonymous said...

"What's truly risky is to let the same injustice remain year after year.

What's truly risky is to walk away and pretend it never happened.

What's truly risky is to accept things as they are instead of working"

So, to put it in familiar language, Obama is telling us the Jena Six gang beating was just a matter of "the chickens coming home to roost." To temper this statement he assures the audience we must do a better job of instilling the principles of non-violence. But Jena thuggery was, alas, just a matter of the chickens coming home to roost. Unless we elect Obama president, we can expect more of the same.

This guy is really beginning to disgust me.

Anonymous said...

"In a media-driven culture that's more obsessed with who's beating who in Washington and how long Paris Hilton is going to jail,"

That's a bit rich coming from Obama, who probably benfited more from the media-driven society than any person alive today.

Anonymous said...

He's kind of like the Anti-Sally Field: he hates us,he really hates us! His comments were truly despicable and cowardly. I had thought that his low profile attitude suggested that maybe he saw the absurdity of the Jena 6 "movement". No such luck! Add this to the granny bashing,his lies about being in church when the Rev was speaking,and you get a pretty damning picture of Barry. His fathers son!! -Josh?

Ron Guhname said...

"Why do well off, well mannered blacks apologize for black criminals?"

They don't.

"Maybe because they are constantly compared to them..."

No, they're not.

"...and asked to answer for them."

They are not.

Truth said...

""Why do well off, well mannered blacks apologize for black criminals?"

If I only had a dollar for every time I've been expected to apologize for OJ Simpson.