Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Somebody got in trouble!

WASHINGTON October 16, 2007, 3:06 p.m. ET · Democratic lawmakers denounced federal authorities Tuesday for not intervening in the Jena Six case, citing racist noose-hanging incidents far beyond the small Louisiana town where a school attack garnered national attention.

. . . Democratic lawmakers, many of them black, blasted federal authorities for staying out of the local prosecutor's case against the six, particularly that of Mychal Bell, who is currently in jail after a judge decided he violated the terms of his probation for a previous conviction.

"Shame on you," Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, said to Justice Department officials, directing most of her fury at Donald Washington, the U.S. attorney for Louisiana's western district — and the first black person to hold that position.

"As a parent, I'm on the verge of tears," Jackson Lee said.

"Why didn't you intervene?" she asked repeatedly, raising her voice and jabbing her finger in the air as some in the audience began to applaud.

Committee chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., called for quiet before Washington spoke.

"I was also offended, I too am an African-American," Washington told the panel. "I did intervene, I did engage the district attorney. At the end of the day, there are only certain things that the United States attorney can do."

Following that exchange, Conyers pointed out he had invited the local district attorney, Reed Walters, to testify, but he declined. At that, some in the audience yelled out, "subpoena him!"

Better late than never. I'm looking forward to what happens next. Will Reed Walters be subpoenaed?

And you know there is always one:
The senior Republican on the panel, Lamar Smith of Texas, said, "more than anything what we need is an effort to reduce racial tension... What we do not need is stoking racial resentment."
There's no context here, so it's possible Lamar Smith's remark was not so awful as it appears at first listen. It does sound as if he is making an accusation, and as if he is trying to shame people into backing down, and even minimizing the seriousness of what is happening. "What we do not need is stoking racial resentment." This implies that the racial resentment ("Those angry Black people!") is an everboiling pot just looking for an excuse to blow.

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