Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Justice Delayed May Be Justice Restored

Occasionally, I like to point out when an elected official actually does their job well and acts in the best interests of the folks that elected them. Sadly, this is all too rare, especially on the Republican side of the aisle. But not today...

The atrocities committed by Americans upon their fellow Americans prior to and during the Civil Rights era remain a black eye on the history of our country. Fortunately, some of our elected officials have noticed and taken steps that may begin to bring some justice to those who fell victim to the hatred and prejudice permeating the country in those days.

From The Boston Globe:

A new Justice Department office would investigate and prosecute ''cold case" murders from the civil rights era, under a measure approved by the Senate yesterday. The Unsolved Crimes Section would target pre-1970 homicides motivated by racial hatred that remain unsolved, often because of lax state and federal prosecution at the time they occurred.
The bill was inspired by efforts to reopen the case of Emmett Till, a 14-year old black youth who was murdered in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman in Mississippi[.]


"We want the murderers and their accomplices who are still living to know there's an entire section of the Department of Justice that is going after them," [Republican Senator and sponsor Jim] Talent said in a statement. "We need to unearth the truth and do justice, because there cannot be healing without the truth."

With an air of bi-partisanship, I say "bravo" to Missouri Senator Talent and his co-sponsor, Connecticut Democrat Christopher Dodd. Talent has the right of it, I believe. There can be no healing, no complete bridging of the racial divide until we loudly and unequivocally proclaim, as a nation, our condemnation for these heinous acts.

This is the sort of thing that government should be doing; something that improves our society as a whole. Those who were guilty of perpetrating racially-motivated crimes deserve to live the rest of their lives hounded by the law. And those whose lives and families were torn apart by the ugliness of segregation deserve to have their grievances heard.

Now, I realize that there is a political motivation behind this bill. Certainly Talent realizes that, after the Katrina aftermath and in light of Bush's 2% approval rating among African-Americans, the Republican Party needs some political initiatives to woo black voters. However, this bill is still a winner, assuming it is signed into law by George "[W.]hat's A Veto?" Bush and assuming it gets proper funding from Congress.

Justice has been denied for too long in cases like that of Emmitt Till. But every time I see Edgar Ray Killen in an orange jumpsuit, I know that justice can be restored.

Thank you, Senator Talent and Senator Dodd.

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