Monday, September 24, 2007

Stoking the fires of hate

-- by Dave

It's probably not a surprise that white supremacists -- who see an opening for recruitment in every effort to advance civil rights -- are looking to exploit the Jena 6 controversy in their own inimitable fashion.

First came the word that a neo-Nazi Web site was under investigation by the FBI for purportedly publishing the home addresses of the six young black men involved in the case.

Now there's this report from Abbey Brown at the Clarion-Ledger about how they're exploiting the whites involved with the case too:
The beating victim in the “Jena Six” case has given an interview to a group that has been labeled as white supremacist, but his parents now say they feel duped.

Richard Barrett, who described himself to a reporter as “pro-majority,” said he spent Wednesday evening with Justin Barker and his family. Barrett said his goal was to publicize Barker’s side of the story.

Barker, who is white, was beaten last December at Jena High School, allegedly by six black teens. The charges filed in the case, including attempted murder and conspiracy, drew international attention and sparked a protest Thursday in Louisiana by tens of thousands of people from across the country who said the six teens were being persecuted because of their race.

“People need to realize what is going on, speak up and speak their mind,” Barker told Barrett, editor of a publication called Nationalist.

“I’ve got to work every day,” Barker said, “while the attackers sit there on a couch, or sit on some bench with sleeping-pants on. Something needs to be done.

And who was he giving this interview to?
The Nationalist is a publication of the Nationalist Movement based in Learned, Miss. The organization, Barrett said, was started 20 years ago after a group formed to oppose people marching into all-white Forsythe County, Ga.

That would have been 1987, when a "brotherhood march" intended to encourage racial reconciliation in the county attracted a large crowd of overt racists to threaten and bully a group of about 100 people, mostly blacks from Atlanta. Eliot Jaspin, in his book Buried in the Bitter Waters, describes their behavior [p. 140]:
"Go home, nigger! Go home nigger!"

It began as a few impromptu shouts from the crowd.

"Go home, Nigger ... Go home Nigger ... Go home, Nigger!"

As more joined in and their voices fell into lockstep, a ragged chant was born.



Skinny, bearded men wearing baseball caps, men waving Confederate battle flags, thirty-something women in sweathshirts and jeans, and, here and there, a few children tossed the chant back and forth. They had been waiting for this moment for the better part of the morning, their enthusiasm buoyed by stirring speeches.

"Rug-headed, fat-lipped, kinky-looking, gorilla-smelling niggers," was how one of their leaders described them. "Let 'em know we don't want 'em up here. You can't have law and order and niggers too. I say one's gotta go. Let it be the niggers. I say we give 'em a good, Forsyth County welcome."

Claiming to be descended from these good folks gives you a pretty clear idea what the worldview of the Nationalist is. And of course, the interview largely reflected that -- and their eagerness to exploit the Jena conflict. As Brown's report notes:
Barrett said that Barker and his family are in no way affiliated with his organization and that he is not representing the Barkers in any way.

But the Barkers said they feel a little betrayed.

”He led us to believe he was just down here to find out Justin’s part of the story,“ David Barker said of Barrett. ”He said he was going to the rally just to see what was going on.“

David Barker said Barrett never gave them the impression that he was involved in a white-supremacist organization. Barker said he specifically asked about affiliations with organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan.

”He said, ’No, I’m a lawyer that goes around trying to help families that can’t help themselves,’“ Kelli Barker said.

White supremacists understand that when nonwhites aggressively assert their rights, there's a substantial segment of the white population that find this frightening -- recall, if you will, the scared response of many whites to last year's immigration-reform marches -- so much so that many then ran out and joined the Minutemen, the vigilante response to such fears.

Haters thrive in an environment ruled by the fear they stoke. That's why they are circling over Jena now.

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