Tuesday, October 02, 2007
I have been scratching my head over how utterly different are the viewpoints coming out of the Jena Six trial, depending on the skin-color leading the discussion. The majority of blacks, but not all, believe that the defendants should go free, while the majority of whites, again, not all, believe the defendants should be tried at least as juveniles, and potentially as adults. Like the prosecutor in the case, whites also discount the seriousness of the three nooses as the accelerant to the events.
In stepping back from the emotion of the situation, I believe we are in a modern-day confrontation, in part, from the social remains of a disparity in the development and assimilation of the rule of law, as practiced by black and white, dating back thousands of years to both Africa and Europe.
The rule of law can be simply described as the evolving set of rules, or laws, that a society utilizes to govern its citizens with the goal of enhancing social trust, a key ingredient in advancement and competitiveness. The current World Bank index for the rule-of-law closely correlates to a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), level of technology development, and overall industrial ranking and economic strength.
African-American attitudes predictably reflect the influence of evolutionary rule-of-law progress of their locations of ethnic origin (LEO), that being the region of West Africa. By the measurements of the World Bank, West African countries rank, with exception, at the trailing edge of countries advancing via the rule of law. So even as we include for racism as a factor, it still turns out that the greater influence for black progress is a propensity to simply view laws and their benefit differently, with greater influence from historical Africa.
By example, just days ago I was admonished by Eddie Griffin, a black blogger of note, as acting white, because I disagreed, pertaining to Jena, with Mychal Bell’s alleged use of lethal force as a reasonable response to the indignity of a noose hanging over a tree. I suggest that it is our different notions of the rule of law that give encouragement to Mr. Griffin and others to believe it is reasonable to knock someone unconscious over an indignity, and especially one of this magnitude. My assimilation of a majority-influenced implementation of the rule of law, in his mind, makes me more white than black, and a form of enemy. I now understand his perspective.
Griffin’s accusation, similar to Reverend Jackson's accusation to Senator Obama, makes my point most clearly. I am a minority in a country governed by a constitution largely of European ancestry. The standard of behavior, regardless of my preference, is influenced, but not set by me or my history, and any insistence over the democratic majority and their influence will reasonably meet resistance. On average, I believe the rule-of-law works to the benefit of black progress, as does first amendment protection of free speech, and we cannot carve out behavior as outside its jurisdiction when it suits us, even as we rightly press for its impartial application in cases such as Jena.
This is some part of what is going on here.
James C. Collier
Addendum: The Trouble with Jena’s Six
READ MORE ACTING WHITE...
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