[Laughable update (8PM): Instapundit links to this post, saying “It was hard to get a clear narrative that made sense of what was going on.” He also cites Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy, who has this excuse for the lack of upper-tier blogging about today’s events:

I’d really like to blog about the case, and I spent about 30 minutes this morning trying to research it, but I couldn’t get a good enough sense of what the facts are or what the precise cause of the protest is to really know what to make of it.

Now that’s unbelievable.  Are we talking about the same bloggers who were able to follow the intricacies of the Plame case? The Abramoff scandal? The whole WMD/yellowcake fracas? Come on, people. Try again.]

[My god. The depth of ignorance and denial over the lack of progressive blogging on this story is displayed in full flower at Chris's diary at DKos, where he cross posted — and some of the excuses are mind-boggling.]

Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies and its blog Facing South, is appalled, rightfully so, at the sparse coverage of the historic march for justice in Jena, Lousiana.

It's not to say that it isn't being covered in the blogosphere at all — black bloggers have largely been responsible for the high profile of this case, picking up the ball where the melanin-challenged blogs of influence have dropped it. You'd think that the events today, which are being covered by the MSM, would mean that the story is now mainstream blogworthy, but you would be wrong. Chris:

* DailyKos features a handful of posts about injustice in Iraq today — but not a single entry on its main page, or even its user-generated “diaries,” about this important case.

* TalkingPointsMemo, a favorite of the DC wonk set, is similarly incensed about foreign policy, but apparently not about racial justice in the South — nothing there either.

* Long-time progressive blogger Atrios doesn't have a lot of posts up,but found time to touch on Paul Krugman, Iraq and the state of the Euro — but not this major issue.

* Surely TalkLeft — which has positioned itself as the leading progressive blog about criminal justice issues — would have something? Think again — not a single mention, not even in the quick news briefs!

* What about another progressive favorite, FireDogLake? A rant about Republicans being “little bitches,” but nothing on the Jena 6.

When the Jena 6 does make an appearance on progressive blogs today, it's little more than a passing nod. Huffington Post has a blog post buried below the fold; ThinkProgress gives it a two-sentence news brief.

However, many of these blogs are eagerly pointing to news stories which suggest the Republican candidates don't care about black issues.

[BTW, nothing’s up at Americablog either, to be fair. My guest blogging stint is by and large up.] What is the explanation? Oh, I could think of several, but overt racism isn't one of them. I have a couple of theories.

* “It's not my area of expertise“. This is an old saw used to avoid  discussing race — it's uncomfortable for white folks and they want to avoid land mines. the easiest way to do that is to say nothing at all, which still speaks volumes. Just about anything can be viewed through the prism of race; in this case it's not solely about race, the story of the Jena 6 is about our system of justice and how it can be affected by color, class, power structure, and the almighty dollar.

* “It's not my issue“: Sorry to say, this gets reinforced by the professional race-bating, blacker-than-thou crowd such as Jesse Jackson, who chastised Barack Obama for “acting white” on the issue. That only makes otherwise supportive whites further paranoid.  The “black enough” nonsense is divisive and so reflective of old-school mentality often seen in the establishment civil rights set still clinging to power. Of course then Jackson and his ilk will then criticize the lack of diversity in the group of marchers. it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That said, it's not just the Jena 6. Sitting in the comfort of their bedrooms/offices/kitches (wherever), progressive bloggers got more riled up about a student at the University of Florida getting tased at a Kerry speech than an equal, no worse case up in NYC — a young black man, the son of a police officer, who was tased four times at a community barbecue and beaten with a nightstick 15 times and choked. He wasn't even charged with a crime, btw.

As Chris also noted in his post, many of the top blogs have eagerly cited a WaPO story that  suggests the GOP doesn't care about black issues as Giuliani, Romney, Fred  Thompson and Sen. John McCain are skipping Tavis Smiley's forum at Morgan State University in Baltimore that's coming up on PBS (9/27).

It's disappointing, but not surprising to see this blindness. As you all know I try mightily to make the Blend a safe space to discuss race, and even then, threads on the topic, save the Imus debacle, garner few comments. The progressive community still has a long way to go on race when it comes to the rubber hitting the road.

[UPDATE: Jane Hamsher of FDL isn’t keen that I blogged about this topic, she emailed me that she feels that she (or any of the A-List) cannot post on the matter are placed in a bad position because of this post now without having and will have to defend challenges of racism. She actually had someone slated to post on Jena 6 who bailed on her. That’s clearly not FDL’s fault, and Chris obviously wasn’t aware of that when he did his cursory surfing of the A-list.

Anyway, I specifically said that I don’t think any of the lack of “big boy” bloggers are racists trying ignoring the issue. That’s too black and white (ironically) a read on the subtleties of this — all of us are products of a racist culture, and the evil of that has made it so hard to overcome barriers even to discuss the topic. That’s what I said above.

This post wasn’t about “making” any of the mainstream A-list progressive bloggers cover this event, it was observing that a major event didn’t receive major blog coverage and musing why that is, given the groupthink on political issues of many stripes covered on large progressive blogs.

People can obviously blog about whatever they wish, but is it not unusual to see A-listers off-step on an issue the MSM is covering so widely? Usually it is the other way around. It’s an interesting and complex issue to discuss, but even on this level it’s obviously a third rail topic.

And no, I didn’t continually blogging about Jena 6 over the last while, it deserved all the attention it could (and it has now thankfully received it, from a core group of committed bloggers and the MSM). That I can add any more eyeballs to it now that haven’t been focused on it is what I’m doing now.]

[UPDATE 2: I’ve amended the above to precisely reflect the issue as Jane sees it, which is only fair. Here I am trying to ameliorate and all I get is grief. Oh well, it’s clear I’ve set some house on fire. For what it’s worth, it appears that the use of the ColorofChange “Free the Jena 6” banner in itself is cause for surprising and enlightening commentary, as if I was endorsing no punishment for the teens.

This whole matter is like a Rorschach test. Everyone sees what they want to see in the post — perhaps it’s because of my poor writing, or maybe it’s because this topic of race is so charged (fear on both sides), that even an earnest observation becomes accusatory from another perspective. I’m flummoxed.]


Joe Solmonese of HRC gave a speech at the DC rally, linking the quest for social justice for all — it should not be deterred by color, sexual orientation or any other attribute. It’s below the fold.

  My name is Joe Solmonese and I represent the largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization in the country.  Am I am here — we are all here from the Human Rights Campaign — because this injustice cannot stand.

  We are here because we know about bigotry. We know about hate. We know the pain in high school of standing apart. Of being taunted. Of standing up, only too often, to be shut down.

  I am here — we are here — because you have stood with us.  Because all of us know that one injustice against any of us is an injustice against all of us.

  And I am here because I remember.  I remember James Byrd.  James was a gentle soul, a special soul.  Someone who struggled his whole life with challenges, but was filled with love and was deeply loved in Jasper, Texas.

  But James Byrd — at 49 — was savagely beaten, then chained to a pickup truck and literally dragged to his death.  He was brutally murdered because he was black.

  And then something really profound happened.  Remember when George Bush was governor of Texas?  Well, Governor Bush had a hate crimes bill on his desk. There was a lot of pressure to sign the bill because of what they did to James Byrd.  So, George Bush said he’d sign that bill, but they had to take the gays out.

  And here’s what happened.  Stella Byrd, who has just buried her beaten, broken, gentle James said, If some of us are left out, then all of us are.  Valuing one life and not valuing another is not right.  And the Byrd family said No. They said No. And they walked away.

  So, I stand here today with solidarity.  I stand here for social justice. I stand here to free those young men. To say this will not stand.  It cannot stand. I stand here for the Jena 6. I stand here today for James Byrd.

  We will not forget. We will never walk away.

  Thank you very much.


[NOTE (9/21, 12PM): Colin Sterling of HuffPost has written in to say that Chris’s characterization of its Jena 6 coverage was inaccurate, given the overall number of posts on the site about the subject. Chris was, in his post, referring to coverage of the march on that morning, as the event was getting under way, so his blog post reflected what he saw at the time, not an indication of any coverage at all — “But on this historic day for the most high-profile civil rights issue of the moment, where is the progressive blogosphere? I did a quick tour of the major “progressive” sites to see how they were covering it.”]

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding