Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lynn Westmoreland is even less familiar with God than I thought.

Lynn "Three Commandments" Westmoreland has shamed his district - again.

Westmoreland, who had previously said that the Ten Commandments are important enough to be wallpapered on every government building in America, but not quite important enough to actually know, has now shown that they aren't quite important enough to actually apply, either - at least not the "You Shall Not Kill" one.

Today, all but two House members voted for the "Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act," a bill that would fund efforts to prosecute unsolved crimes of the civil rights era. Westmoreland was among the two who voted against that bill; the other was fellow Republican Ron Paul, who is also a candidate for president.

From Creative Loafing, I'll let John Lewis, the sponsor of the bill, explain why it is so necessary:

Madam Speaker, the time has come. For the sake of history, for the sake of justice, for the sake of closure–the 110th Congress must pass this legislation.

On August 28, 1955, almost 52 years ago, a fourteen year old boy from Chicago was visiting his uncle in Money, Mississippi. He was pulled from his bed in the darkness of night. He was beaten until he could hardly be recognized. He was shot in the head, and his body was dumped in the Tallahatchie River, all because somebody said he had been fresh with a white woman.

Several years later an intelligent and dignified N-A-A-C-P leader, named Medgar Evers, was gunned down in front of his home in Mississippi in 1963. Some historians say it was the injustice of these two unsolved murders that began the mass movement in the American South that we call the modern-day civil rights movement.

Who can forget the NAACP leader and his wife, Harry and Harriette Moore, who were killed by a bomb on Christmas night as they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in 1951?

Who can forget the two black couples lynched about 60 miles east of Atlanta in 1946 or the death of Lemuel Penn, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve? He was a veteran trying to get home from Fort Benning, Georgia for a little rest and relaxation. He was killed in 1964 as members of the KKK drove-by him on the street.

Who can forget Viola Liuzzo, shot down in Alabama in 1965, trying to bring non-violent activists back to their homes after the Selma to Montgomery march?

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of these crimes that were never brought to justice. There are murderers who have walked free for decades while the families of victims cry out for justice. Passing this bill is the least we can do. And we must do something to right these wrongs.

I will never forget three civil rights workers. Three young men that I knew—Andy Goodman, Ben Chaney and Mickey Schwerner. They came to Mississippi with a simple mission: to register as many black voters as possible. They were stopped, arrested, taken to jail.

Later that night they were turned over by the sheriff to the Klan. Then they were beaten, shot, and killed. They didn’t die in Vietnam or Eastern Europe. They died right here in the United States. Viola Liuzzo didn’t die on a road in Baghdad. She died in Alabama on Highway 80. Lemuel Penn, Medgar Evers, Emmett Till and countless others didn’t die in the Middle East. They died right here in this country.

Madam Speaker, we have an obligation, we have a mission, we have a mandate. The blood of hundreds of innocent men and women is calling out to us. Then no one came to their aid. But today we can help make it right. Let us move to close this dark chapter in our history. Let us try to wash away these stains on our democracy. I call on all my colleagues to pass this legislation. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

To vote against this bill, Lynn Westmoreland must be as deaf as Cain.

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After this shame, I wonder how Mike Jacobs feels about caucusing with the Georgia Republican Party. Lynn Westmoreland is no pariah. Before he ran for Congress, he was the House Minority Leader. He's since been mentioned as a candidate for Governor in 2010.

Clearly, Jacobs was willing to share a party with the six Georgia Republicans who voted against reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. That was bad enough. But to follow the lead of a person like Westmoreland? That's unconscionable.