Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Sen. Mary Landrieu Does It Again

Kudos to Senator Mary Landrieu.

Once again she has proved herself to be a Senator dedicated to integrity, moral purpose and the highest American values.

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has sponsored a Senate resolution - S.RES.39 - that is long overdue. Assuming it passes - and so far the resolution has 60 co-sponsors [6/20/05 - the final number was 86]- the Senate will finally - officially - express its remorse over its failure to outlaw lynching in the United States.

Over 4700 people were lynched in this country between 1882 and 1968. Yet, believe it or not, despite 200 anti-lynching bills that were introduced between 1890 and 1952, none were passed by Senate vote. This despite the fact that 7 Presidents asked the Senate to approve an anti-lynching bill.

The reason the bills weren't passed?

Filibusters by right-wing Senators.

Now Senator Landrieu has taken advantage of the current anti-filibuster sentiment of the Republican majority to finally get this legislation passed, once and for all.

This is an inspired way to make lemonade out of lemons because given all the threats against Democrats using the filibuster, anyone who might otherwise filibuster against the Landrieu's resolution is going to have to bite his tongue or become a moral - and political - pariah.

What I love about this resolution - and admire about Senator Landrieu and the mix of 60 Republican and Democratic Senators who are co-sponsoring it - is that this group is not merely passing a law that should have been passed over one hundred years ago if we, as a nation, had been walking the talk of our Christian heritage.

Through their resolution the Senate - an incredibly powerful body of government - will humble itself, admit it can make a mistake, admit its failure and apologize to those who remain haunted and continue to feel wronged by what was government sanctioned domestic terrorism.

Not making lynching a crime was an incredible moral failure on the part of our government.

Yet, there are people who say "What's the big deal?" and that black people should "get over" slavery, get over the lynchings, get over the past.

How do you get over an unthinkable wrong if there is never an apology?

How do you heal from such wounds in your family history if you think no one is really sorry for what happened?

I've seen newspaper accounts of grieving families who have lost loved ones to killers. Some hope - sometimes until the last minute before an execution - that they will hear a sincere apology from that person who took their loved one away from them.

When we have done wrong - whether as an individual, a governing body or even as a country - we owe apologies to those we have injured. We owe it to them to admit our wrong doing, apologize and make whatever amends are possible.

And in this case we - and the Senate - owe an apology to people like Doria Dee Johnson, the great-great granddaughter of a black farmer who was killed by a mob of individuals who knew there would be no repercussions.

To withhold that apology is to heap cruelty upon cruelty.

We were not created to be cruel, but to be merciful.

Germany finally issued an apology to all Holocaust survivors for the terror inflicted upon them and their families.

Do we wish to withhold ours from those whom we have wronged?

I pray not.

So I hope you are very pleased with this gesture by Senator Mary Landrieu and her 60 co-sponsors.

I know God is.


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