« IBM Lotus Symphony | HomePage | Good and better ways to secure East Asia »

Friday, September 21, 20071190378100

Struggles, both violent and political

There's something a little ironic about a rally in support of what everyone believes are violent criminals themselves joyously breaking the law:

This:

Wave after wave of marchers walked a long hot mile to Jena High School. There, with only a handful of police to stop them, they swept past the school's chain link fence and on to the school grounds.


and that:

But unlike the protests that became landmarks for civil rights when fire hoses and police dogs greeted demonstrators, the rally to support six black teenagers charged in a school fight had a festive yet laid-back air.

"It was a great day," said Denise Broussard, of Lafayette, La. "I really felt a sense of purpose and commitment, but it was also a lot of fun. I met great people and made some good friends."


The assault itself seems to be a case of honor violence, endemic among ex-confederate populations (both white and black). One wonders how much of the national attention is an attempt by Jessee Jackson's southern clique to sink the candidacy to half-white Barack Obama who, whatever he is, is not Dixie.

Update: Shannon Love ads his thoughts.

Comments

"The assault itself seems to be a case of honor violence..."

Honor violence? I thought the general consensus was that an assault did take place, but the charges were over exaggerated. Correct me if I am wrong, but one of the six were charged with second degree attempted murder with a weapon, the weapon being a shoe, when the case is a clear assault and conspiracy to assault. I heard something about the charges being downgraded a bit, and whether this was one of them I don't know, but the original charges say something about the atmosphere of the town IMO.

Posted by: Jeffrey James | Saturday, September 22, 2007

Though I do agree that the comments by this Denise Broussard characterizing the demonstration as fun seems out of place.

Posted by: Jeffrey James | Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jeffrey,

The south hosts a culture of honor where loss of face is more likely to result in violence than in other parts of America [1]. This may explain much of the high murder rate for the two major ex-confederate populations (southern whites and african-americans).

Thus, while not excusing the violence, the cause is readily comprehensible as it seems to have involved a loss-of-face situation. Likewise, the charges seem understandable, as honor violence escalates quickly. Further, prosecutors routinely charge higher than what the facts merit, because they want a plea to be for the actual crime and not less. (They see no purpose in bargaining against themselves.)

So, from the media reports I've seen, it looks like goons beat up a smart alleck and the prosecutor over-charges the goons. Hardly new or interesting.

What is interesting to me is Jesse Jackson's two moves so close to each other: escalating the Jenna situation and escalation attacks on Barack Obama. I don't think that's a coincidence.

[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/07/05/last-thoughts-on-pinker.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dan,
I think you are way undervaluing the psychological effect of hanging nooses from a tree or for the inherent sense of embattledness among the 'goons.' Prosecutors do often over-charge, but the charges are excessive for what is in essence a school-yard brawl.

Also, while I understand the defensive attitude to outsiders that may arise from outsiders coming in and calling you all kinds of names, the hanging of nooses from the backs of pick-up trucks doesn't lend to the idea that his is some kind of misunderstood school-fight.

As for the continued existence of the Southern Honor system, I completely agree. I wrote a seminar paper on the roots of the system and it's structures in college and I was struck that all of the key components of the belief system could be found in the lyrics and attitudes of gangster rap. When I expressed this to my professor, she offered to extend my deadline for a larger study on the subject (I demured out of a mix of laziness and disinterest).

Some key components of the system were:
1. A required immediate and violent reaction to any affront (real or perceived) (i.e. getting dissed)
2. A stated veneration of white women to be 'protected,' but an otherwise mysoginistic attitude toward women.
3. An absolute hierarchy of position, planters at top, blacks at bottom. (this was the poor white's only concession, they were always assured to be at least one step from the bottom. Educated mixed-race blacks caused riots when they had the temerity to point out their better 'breeding' [due to their familial ties to the planter class])
4. A higher importance upon looking rich than being rich. The planter class in the south constantly suffered from a severe cashflow problem. One reason was the fickleness of the cotton market and growing cotton, the other more important reason is the number of illiquid assets and spending: The big house, the big carriage, the spending on families, the number of slaves owned, the spending on social lives. This same attitude pervades the class of people that were most intimate with the planter class, the African slaves who took this system with them as they left the south.

The last component is something that I see every week as part of my work and what Bill Cosby bemoaned when he pointed that Blacks spend more on Air Jordans than on books.

Posted by: ElamBend | Saturday, September 22, 2007

Upon further investigation, it appears to me that those who did the beating were probably in fact thugs:
http://patterico.com/2007/09/22/reynolds-and-balko-on-the-jena-6/

Posted by: ElamBend | Saturday, September 22, 2007

ElamBend,

"3. An absolute hierarchy of position, planters at top, blacks at bottom. (this was the poor white's only concession, they were always assured to be at least one step from the bottom. Educated mixed-race blacks caused riots when they had the temerity to point out their better 'breeding' [due to their familial ties to the planter class])"

Were blacks lower than white trash / hillpeople?

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, September 22, 2007

Absolutely. It was the only basis of any social position that poor whites and hill people had. This status, what little it was, help them to buy into defending the system despite the disadvantages to them; and it was why the resistance to social equality was so much visceral than the resistance to abolition.

There were some ironies and paradoxes in the system. Blacks were more intimate with the Planter class and more likely to be related to the planter class by blood and perhaps took to the planter class mythos of honor more heartily.

Posted by: ElamBend | Sunday, September 23, 2007

Post a comment