Neo-Nazi, White Supremacists Call for Lynching of Jena 6

Editorial

Before the first anti-racism demonstrator had set foot in Jena, La., this fall, white supremacists already were burning up the Internet with furious denunciations, bloody predictions, promises of apocalyptic violence, and calls for lynching.

"The best crowd control for such a situation would be a squad of men armed with full automatics and preferably a machine gun as well," is how one person put it on the Web forum hosted by the neo-Nazi National Vanguard Network. Added another hopeful VNN poster: "I'm not really angry at the nogs [a recent variation on an old racial slur] --— they are just soldiers in an undeclared race war. But any white that's in that support rally I would like to … have them machine-gunned."

As the Sept. 20 rally began to unfold, it became clear that it was attracting huge numbers of people, perhaps 20,000 or more. They came to protest the case of the "Jena 6," black students who were charged with serious crimes for an attack on a white classmate during a period of racial tension that had been ignited when three white students hung nooses from a schoolyard tree. (White youths involved in criminal conduct during the same period were given a slap on the wrist.) White supremacists around the country reacted with a mix of white-hot racial hatred and grudging admiration for the rally's organizers.

But the dominant response was fury. "I think a group of White men armed with AK rifles loaded with high capacity magazines should close in on the troop of howler monkeys from all sides … and then White men in the buildings on both sides of the shitskinned hominids [should] throw Molotov cocktails from above to cleanse the nigs by fire," another VNN poster wrote. Yet another fantasized about a terrorist attack on the ralliers: "Wouldn't that be sweet? Gosh darn, wouldn't that be sweet? Good LORD wouldn't THAT be SWeeeeT? Boom, Boom, no more Coon!"

Before the day was out, neo-Nazi leader Bill White had posted to his own website one of the most savage remarks of the day. "Lynch the Jena 6!" his headline screamed, followed by the home addresses and phone numbers of five of the six black youths. White, head of the American National Socialist Workers Party, then suggested that his readers "get in touch and let them know justice is coming."

The reaction of the American radical right, sadly, was not unexpected. Far more shocking was how many other white Americans responded to what antiracist activists had hoped was the start of a new civil rights movement.

That evening in Alexandria, La., less than an hour's drive from Jena, police arrested two white youths who drove by a black crowd with a hangman's noose dangling from their truck and charged the driver with inciting to riot. Much to the nation's surprise, that incident was just the first in a series of noose hangings around the country — shameful reminders of the 1,999 lynchings of the 20th century.

In the next weeks, nooses appeared in places as diverse as a Columbia University professor's door, in police stations and high schools, workplaces and any number of other venues. It wasn't long before close to 50 incidents had been logged around the country — a huge number, given that the Southern Poverty Law Center normally hears about fewer than about a dozen such cases every year.

Doubtless, some of these incidents were the work of obnoxious teenagers determined merely to make a big splash in the media. But it seemed indisputable that overall, the noose epidemic reflected a wave of white resentment, a backlash against the way that Jena was portrayed in the national media. The best evidence of this was found in thousands of comments posted on mainstream news media websites.

To many whites, the beating of a white student by six black students in Jena was the whole story. They dismissed the earlier white-on-black incidents in the town as not relevant to that attack and suggested that the "politically correct" media had been snookered as badly as it was in the recent Duke University rape case (in which a black woman falsely accused white lacrosse players of raping her at a party).

Race relations are not doing well in America. Residentially and especially educationally, we are resegregating. Incidents of racial harassment in the workplace have been climbing. The number of hate groups has shot up 40% in six years.

The events in Jena and their aftermath should serve as a reminder that racial demons still haunt us as a nation. As much as we might like to think that the dark days of the past are over, the racial wounds that have long afflicted our country are still open. If we ignore them, they will fester and may even grow worse.