Montgomery, AL police chief apologizes for his department’s appalling civil rights history.
Rep. John Lewis (R-GA) was moved to tears on Saturday by an apology from a police chief in Montgomery, Alabama, who said his department utterly failed to protect civil rights marchers as they disembarked from a Grayhound bus into a segregated terminal in 1961.
Lewis was one of 21 protesters who stepped off that bus and into an angry melee as more than 300 white southerners attacked the group with baseball bats and other blunt objects. Despite an order by U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy to protect these so-called “Freedom Riders,” police backed off in Montgomery and let the mob have its way.
Appearing with Lewis on Saturday after a symbolic march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge near Selma, Alabama — where 600 civil rights marchers were brutally attacked by police in 1965 — Montgomery Chief of Police Kevin Murphy formally apologized for the bus terminal incident and presented Lewis with his badge.
“It means a great deal,” Lewis said, according to MSNBC. “I teared up. I tried to keep from crying.”
it pays to point out that Chief Murphy was in no way responsible for what his predecessors did in ‘65. Yet he apologized anyway. And there’s a lesson here for anyone who’s ever argued “I didn’t do ____, that happened a long time ago. Why should I be held responsible for ____?”
They’re not being held responsible for the act, they’re being held responsible for the consequence. America’s history of slavery, segregation, and racism has left this a profoundly unequal society and that inequality benefits whites. You may not be responsible for the crimes of the past, but you benefit from them — whether those crimes are slavery or Native American genocide or the conquest of Mexican lands or any of a raft of other crimes. No one’s asking anyone to give anything back. No one’s asking anyone to be punished for anything. All that’s being asked is that people acknowledge a simple fact — that they would not be where they are today if it weren’t for the crimes of their forebears and that many of the privileges they take for granted come at the expense others who were less fortunate in the parentage sweepstakes.
It’s about looking at the world with a measure of realism and recognizing that history influences all of our lives, for good or for bad,
Stories to Watch: 2/27/13.
A statue of civil rights hero Rosa Parks is installed in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, the first African-American woman ever to be honored there. “This is kind of a super woman in a way in Clark Kent’s clothing,” said sculptor Eugene Daub. “She’s this courageous warrior for racial injustice and yet she sits quietly in mid-century dress and is looking, for all intents and purposes, as an average American citizen.” That this happened on the very day the Supreme Court considers striking down the Voting Rights Act should be lost on no one. The right may believe the civil rights era is over, but the wiser among us know that the fight for civil rights is never over. There’s still a long way to go and what’s been gained must be defended, because — as the Supreme Court is currently reminding us — what’s been gained can be lost.
In the case involving the aforementioned Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice John Roberts asks the dumbest question ever. Of course, I’m being hyperbolic. It was actually the second-dumbest question ever.
House Republicans quietly cave on renewing and expanding the Violence Against Women Act. This whole War on Women thing is really going very badly for them, as much as they refuse to stop fighting it. Of course, there are still VAWA holdouts. You’ll be shocked to learn they’re all Republican and all men.
A hilarious item from Right Wing Watch: “Sarah Palin writes that ‘the feds are stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest’ after we go into default… and then calls on politicians to ‘stop the hysterics.’” I’m almost going to miss her. Almost.
A last ditch effort from the White House to avoid sequester.
The latest brilliant wingnut idea: force every citizen to join a militia to fight against gun control. Somehow this is about liberty. Can’t really see how, though.
The Milwaukee police chief (not to be confused with the insane Milwaukee County Sheriff) schools Lindsey Graham on background checks and leaves the senator looking like the grandstanding jackass he is.
The AP reports that a Dept. Homeland Security official has resigned in protest over the release of low-priority immigration detainees. This report is wrong. The guy announced his retirement weeks ago and he’s not leaving until the end of April. Still, expect the uncorrected version of the story to run rampant through the rightwing blogosphere.
Did the GOP just lose any hope of wining an Iowa Senate seat currently held by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin? At the very least, their odds just took a hit. From another perspective, the biggest loser here may be Karl Rove.
Gun regulation isn’t about theories or concepts or kneejerk ideological principles, gun regulation is about people — as a poignant moment in a Senate hearing reminds us.
It’s official, Mitch McConnell is completely gutless. Senate GOP leadership are said to be considering a bill that would avert sequester by requiring the White House to list $85 billion in spending cuts of the president’s choosing. In other words, after demanding spending cuts since the day Obama arrived in town, McConnell doesn’t want to take responsibility for those cuts, because he knows they’d be deeply unpopular, no matter what they were. Don’t expect Pres. Obama to fall on his sword for Republicans. If you don’t have the guts to own the cuts you demand, stop demanding them.
It’s been one year since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman.
Finally, Sen. Jeff Sessions goes to ridiculous lengths to cook up an absurd lie about Obamacare. Oddly, the lie is to no one’s advantage. It’s pointless.
[photo via Reuters]
Republican leadership abandons religious right.
House Republican leaders had a uniform response to the Supreme Court’s decision to take up gay marriage: silence.
The high court’s decision last week to hear two cases relating to same-sex marriage puts that issue at the center of the national debate. And it does so at an exceedingly awkward time for Republicans, many of whom are trying to downplay or moderate their party’s views on social issues to chart a path back to electoral success.
The timing is most uncomfortable for House Republicans, who are playing a key role in one of the cases the court agreed to hear.
In June, the House of Representatives told the Supreme Court that the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act “is an issue of great national importance” that urgently requires the justices’ attention. The 1996 law denies federal benefits to same-sex married couples.
But when the court agreed on Friday to hear one of the DOMA cases early next year, the Republican leadership had nothing to say about it.
There was a time — and it wasn’t all that long ago — when the religious right was everything in the Republican Party. You still can’t be pro-choice and Republican. But the GOP has always used these social issues as wedge issues and ways to trick voters into voting against their own best interests economically. And that means they were also using the religious right.
Now that the wedges don’t split off a big enough chunk to win elections, they’re done with them. Religious conservatives who didn’t see this coming were blind to the obvious.
Tonight, Tammy Baldwin, an out gay woman, was elected to the Senate. Gay marriage won. And a President who openly came out in favor of gay marriage (something hard to imagine even a few years ago) was reelected.
For LGBT rights, it’s a game changing election.