By MARC McDONALD
The Jena case shows how racism is alive and well and on the rise in America. And it's clear that the policies of George W. Bush are to blame.
There have been many troubling signs that racism has been rising in the past few years. It's hard to pinpoint exactly where this latest wave of bigotry emerged from----but I think one ominous sign occurred when Bush was campaigning for president in 2000.
If you recall, during the campaign, Bush made it a point to stop by Bob Jones University, where he praised the officials at that school (which incredibly still had a ban on interracial dating). This, no doubt, played real well to the "I don't want my white daughter dating a Negro" racist crowd---but the rest of us were shocked and appalled.
And although we were dismayed, we really weren't surprised. After all, anyone who has followed Bush's career certainly wasn't surprised by the Bob Jones University episode.
Those of us here in Texas remembered all too well the shocking 1998 lynching of James Byrd, Jr. which occurred when Bush was governor here.
In 1998, Byrd was chained to a pickup by three white supremacists and dragged to his death in the town of Jasper, Texas.
In the aftermath of the Jasper lynching, a grass-roots effort in Texas urged the state to pass a hate crimes act to help prevent future atrocities. However, the bill failed to pass in the Texas Legislature after Bush refused to support the bill.
Since the Supreme Court appointed Bush to the White House in 2000, he has presided over a rising wave of bigotry and racism in America.
Indeed, Bush and the rest of the NeoCons have exploited the issue of racism and turned it into a valuable wedge issue to capture the votes of millions of angry, frustrated white males in our society who feel victimized by affirmative action and "political correctness."
The fact is, bigotry sells in America today. It's the reason talk radio's Neal Boortz can have a lucrative career after saying that Rep. Cynthia McKinney "looks like a ghetto slut." It's the reason that CNN's Glenn Beck can get away with calling the predominately African-American victims of Hurricane Katrina "scumbags."
In Bush's America, African-Americans are incarcerated at vastly higher rates than whites. Studies show that black people get much harsher prison sentences than white people for doing identical crimes. Blatant racism permeates our justice system, our legal system, our schools---in fact, every American institution. And let's not forget the 2000 election, in which hundreds of thousands of black people were denied the vote.
The appalling plight of poor black people in Bush's America was briefly brought to white, middle-class America's attention during the Hurricane Katrina crisis (but I doubt it came as much of a surprise to black people across America). And I doubt
the Jena case comes as much of a surprise to any African-Americans who have lived in Bush's America the past 7 years.