Monday 24 September 2007

Racism in Jena: the Szyslak solution

A guest-post by my good friend Jaggins

I was listening to the midday news the other day, and there was a story about racial unrest in the little town of Jena, deep in the south of the US of A.

Apparently one day in the local high school three nooses were found hanging from a tree in the school grounds following an altercation between black students and whites. Some time later, a group of black students allegedly assaulted a white student and were subsequently arrested and charged. No action had been taken over the noose incident, so demonstrations were being held decrying the double standards in the treatment of blacks and whites. A terrible story and nothing to delight in so far, but the very last line of the report said, “The tree has since been cut down.”

My mind immediately leapt to The Simpsons episode where the giant comet is hurtling towards Springfield, sure to destroy all life. It does, however, burn up in the polluted atmosphere and arrives “no bigger than a chihuahua’s head,” to the great relief and jubilation of the assembled townsfolk. It’s then that Moe cries, “Now let’s burn down the observatory so this never happens again!” – and the mob run off with flaming torches.

Bob Dylan once said, “You can listen to a Woody Guthrie song and learn how to live.” Presumably the good folk of Louisiana have adopted the same philosophy with The Simpsons.


Anonymous said...

Well said, Jaggins - and it's about time the Simpsons made an appearance on this blog!

Anonymous said...

A classic episode, that one.

Another great moment is where Homer says, "It's times like this I wish I were a religious man", and then Reverend Lovejoy runs down the street screaming, "It's all over, people! We don't have a prayer!"

Mark said...

"No action taken" is from my understanding not true. The students who hung the nooses (3 of them) were apparently suspended, and then re-assigned to a probationary school for some time.

The beaten kid was apparently beaten unconscious and kicked after losing consciousness. He was subsequently hospitalized.

Anonymous said...

One of the most amazing things in this story is that the school allowed the students to have a "white tree" in the first place, where no black students were allowed.

If anyone deserves a good lynching in this case, it's the school principal, not the tree.

Fred said...

The fans of Rene Girard would point out the scapegoating of an innocent tree. ~Fred

Anonymous said...

The rumor of the tree being "exclusively white" is, apparantly, a canard. This story has outgrown its own britches. The tree was a coveted place to hang, yo, but was not racially segregated until the nooses appeared--after which, the tree disappeared.

That is not to say that the slanted "justice" in Jena is tolerable. The noose-hanging students should have been expelled, and re-admitted a year later on condition of a forty page research paper on the history of the civil rights movement.

The students who beat another into a pulp, should face their charges--though attempted murder sounds like a stretch to me.

Thought I'd clear things up from this side of the water...

Looney said...

There are many places that deserve some examination here, but Victim Theology (a close cousin to Liberation Theology) is one that deserves special attention. This is the steady diet of you-are-a-victim teaching. Basically, it involves brooding over past wrongs and never forgiving. Remember what the English did to the Scots and Irish? How about what the Monguls did to the Chinese? And don't forget that the Persians abused the Greeks. What should we do to correct the wrongs of the past? The elimination of Victim Theology is one necessary step for healing to come about.

One of Freedom said...

Looney that is an interesting off handed comment about Liberation Theology you made. Do you think that Liberation Theology elevates a persons victimization, real or imagined? Liberation Theology is very close to other political or as we call them over here 'critical' theologies. Sure it starts in a lived situation or oppression and/or marginalization, but it crafts real intelligible hope in those real situations. In fact one of the reasons Rome is so troubled with it is that it bucks notion that poverty and suffering are virtues simply to be accepted and never contested. The alternative to critical theology is continued adherance to the status quo - how can that be good for anyone?

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