Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Jena 6: Blame the Tree

The incident in Jena, Louisiana has already resulted in one terrible injustice: capital punishment for the only innocent party in the entire mess--the tree.

What a sad sight! This pathetic victim of the folly and vengefulness of the human species was certainly a good deal older and more venerable than any of those people involved--whether the white high school students who obscenely abused it by hanging the provocative nooses, the black students who responded to provocation with violence, or the shameful adults on both sides who have made a mockery of justice. To deny that racism is at the root of all this seems to me only to compound the tragic absurdity of it all.

So, friends, let's blame it on the tree. Brilliant! Still, I have to say that's it's heartening to see that people can actually be moved to vociferous protest. In the face of Bush endless administration outrages in recent years, the silence has been, as they say, deafening. Back to the barricades, I say!


Mark said...

Two things.

First, I want to thank you for your continuous unrest over the problems that face the globe, be it human rights, imperialism, or Bush doing what Bush does best. It's really inspiring to see people plugged into current events and actually taking a stand on issues, not letting them pass by. I have to admit that I'm not nearly as involved as I'd like to be, so thanks for doing what you do.

Second, I've been wondering lately (and I wonder how much of my generation I speak for) how much outrage over global issues helps. I'm not at all calling for apathy, but merely remarking on the fact that no matter how much we change in this world, there is always something left to be outraged over. There will always be injustice, discrimination, war, starvation, etc. I get upset over it too, but I just wonder silently to myself, "Will it ever end? What is the point of trying if it won't?"

I see the world as continually shifting. The problems that we fix today will give rise to new problems tomorrow. I just don't know how to feel about it all. If take up arms every time an issue happens, when will we ever personally find peace in this world? Should we just be perpetually outraged?

PeterAtLarge said...

These are good and troubling questions, Mark. I guess each of us must decide for ourselves how much we want to get involved. I do hear your despair. But I myself am from a generation that tolerated the decimation of Europe's Jews in the Nazi Holocaust and have seen what the "silence of good people" brings about. When I ask myself the questions that you reasonably raise, I remind myself that silence is tantamount to approval, and there are things of which I simply cannot approve. I'm sure you know that this Saturday is Yom Kippur, the Jewish "Day of Atonement"--and a special day for Holocaust remembrance. I am not myself a Jew--though Ellie is, by birth--but I find it important to observe this day along with her. Tomorrow, Friday, I intend to devote my entry in The Buddha Diaries to the remarkable, newly found photographs of Auschwitz that were the subject of a New York Times article yesterday. And, yes, once more I am outraged! Tune in, if you can bear it... Blessings, PaL

carly said...

The Nazi Drawings

Dignity is not a symbol bestowed on man, nor does the word itself possess force. Man's dignity is a force and the only modus vivendi by which man and his history survive. When mid-twentieth century Germany did not let man live and die with this right, man became an animal. No matter how technologically advanced or sophisticated, when man negates this divine right, he not only becomes self-destructive, but castrates his history and poisons our future. This is what The Nazi Drawings are about.

-Mauricio Lasansky, 1966

robin andrea said...

I think we all go through outrage fatigue. I know that today I feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of bad news. I think we all take our turn at the frontline with the bullhorn. Then, when our throats are hoarse, those behind us come forward and take our place. We relieve each other.

I watched the video the other evening of the student in Florida who was tasered after going on too long at the microphone while trying to question John Kerry. I was absolutely struck by how the students sat passively. Their silence was profoundly upsetting.

I look forward to your post about the Auschwitz photos. I lost family in the Holocaust. My grandmother was from Galicia Poland and my grandfather was from Kiev. They married and lived in Germany until 1920. My grandparents were able to assist many family members get out of europe, but the ones who stayed behind were killed. We did find one cousin alive in Israel in the 80s. It was quite an amazing discovery. I did a post about it a while ago. You might want to take a look.

PeterAtLarge said...

A good and moving tribute, Robin. Thanks for the link. The Hungarian Jews, as I recall, were the last to be grabbed--at a time when all military hope for Hitler and his Nazis was already lost, and in a last, desperate act of monumental, hate-driven spite. Their deaths, then, bore an added irony, an added tragedy... Thanks, too, for the extra piece of wisdom on "outrage fatigue."

thailandchani said...

Very interesting discussion! Your mentioning the tree is significant though when you consider it. It is removing the symbol without addressing the underlying cause. The fact that racism still exists in this culture should be saying something. And it's not. It's considered status quo.. part of the price we must pay so the wealthy can stay wealthy and capitalism can continue to thrive.

These are the real issues. The choices a culture makes about what it values most will end up determining the kind of life many people have.

In a marketcentric culture where everyone and everything is commoditized, it is a natural outgrowth.

That is why I don't get involved. It's not that I don't know.. or don't care. I simply know that unless there is a cultural shift, those who comes 100 years after me will be complaining about the same old things ~ and nothing will change.