Monday, April 9, 2012

EASTER PRAYER FOR AMERICA

Last Saturday night, carrying small candles, we followed the monks of Saint Leo Abbey into the darkened church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Surrounded by new cut flowers, we heard the Abbot’s message of hope and renewal.

Easter in America. Springtime. A new day dawning.

We rise from a tomb full of death, of fear, of hate. Full of questions, and assumptions and misunderstandings.

The story of Trayvon Martin continues to unfold. I pour over Google looking for answers. Surely there will be a grand jury. Surely someone, somehow, sometime will find out what really happened.

So far, the case has been tried in the newspapers and on the Internet. There is no swearing of witness. There are no rules of evidence. Hearsay, rumor, assumptions, bias one way or the other.

Choose the narrative you want to believe.

Black victim. White shooter.

Outsiders with agendas. New Black Panthers offering a reward for vigilante action. Jeff Schoep and his Hitler-esque National Socialist Movement butting in to exacerbate the racial tension.

In Chicago, 22 year old Rekia Boyd is killed, on March 21, 2012, by a bullet to the back of her head. Dante Servin, an off duty police detective insists that he was shooting at a man he believed to have a gun.

Black victim. White shooter.

Kendrec McDade. Unarmed. Shot fleeing police, on March 24, 2012, after a reported larceny from an automobile in Pasadena, California.

Black victim. White shooter.

Then a few days ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a white man in a white pick up truck shoots five black men, killing three. Two men have been arrested. Nobody knows what, if any, motive they may have had.

Fifty-five years ago, I was the Republican candidate against John Dingell, who was running to succeed his father in the United States Congress.

The hot button issue of that day was the murder of a 14 year old Chicago boy named Emmett Till. It was claimed that Till, who was black, had flirted with a 22 year old white store clerk. Her husband and another man went to the Mississippi residence of Till’s uncle, seized the boy and took him to a barn where he was brutally tortured and murdered.

A white Mississippi jury acquitted both men.

It was a miscarriage of justice, plain and simple. I said so, and promised, if elected, to do what I could to right the wrong.

Some of the silk stocking, country club Republicans from Grosse Pointe refused to help me in that special election. Calling for justice for Emmett Till made me a communist in their eyes.

That’s the way it was in the days of Joe McCarthy.

The wheels of justice grind slowly, but exceedingly fine. The Emmett Till case ignited a wildfire of reform. History will record that his martyrdom sparked the civil rights revolution of the 1960’s.

Like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the murder of Emmett Till posed myriad unanswered questions. Books and films sprouted up advancing all kinds of conspiracy theories. In 2005, Till’s body was exhumed, and an autopsy conducted.

Finally, in 2007, a black prosecutor and an all black grand jury determined that there was no credible evidence to indict anyone other than the two men originally charged and acquitted of Emmett Till’s murder.

And both of them were dead.

The American system of criminal justice may be too slow and ponderous for some people. But it works.

On this Easter Sunday, I pray that all Americans of good will and common purpose will find their faith in the rule of law resurrected and renewed.

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