Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Digging Up The Past

The FBI is currently investigating over 100 cases involving murders committed during the Civil Rights Era. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez seems committed to prosecuting as many of these cases as possible even though many may be far beyond the boundaries of what the federal government can legally prosecute. He had this to say:
Much time has passed on these crimes. The wounds they left are deep, and still many of them have not healed. But we are committed to re-examining these cases and doing all we can to bring justice to the criminals who may have avoided punishment for so long.
In contrast to Gonzalez's strong tone of reconciliation and belief that justice can still be served Horace Harned, 86, a former Mississippi legislator and member of the segregationist Sovereignty Commission, said: "I think we shouldn't dig up too much of these things."

One of the high-profile cases being investigated involves Maceo Snipes, a black WWII veteran who was shot by four white men after he voted for the first time in 1946. There is no evidence that an investigation was ever opened by the state of Georgia.


Elizabeth said...

poor Maceo Snipes (ha, last name), but on a serious note, was Horace Harned suggesting that we not look at past events because of their wrongs?

Michael said...

While I do think that the wrongdoers should be punished, I see where old Horace is coming from. He might think that punishing people for crimes they committed 40 or 50 years ago might be a little pointless. They're about to die anyway, so why make them spend their last decade in a prison? A wheelchair and a nursing home are punishment enough.

Kevin said...

Elizabeth, -- I failed to make the connection re: the name.

Michael, -- I think the relevant question to ask is pointless to whom? The perpetrator may be irrelevant given their age, but does a nation need a sense of justice if it is to continue to work towards certain ideals? In South Africa the government set up a reconciliation committee which involves both whites and black testifying to some of the more brutal aspects of apartheid. Many of these accounts go back decades. From what I understand these testimonies have helped promote themes of reconciliation in a nation that was defined by a federally imposed racism. This stands in contrast to the United States after the Civil War, which instead of reconciling along these lines chose to ignore certain divisive issues like race and slavery by 1900. Just some thoughts.

Michael said...

There is no doubt in my mind that these people should be punished for their crimes, even though they were committed long ago. I was trying to assert that an old, white, southern man WOULD want to forget re-examining the cases. In a country founded on the principles of equality, it is rather important to have a justice system at least loosely based on justice in order for the citizens in the country to be equal. It seems to me that old southern senators tend to forget that not even rich white men have the privelage of getting away with murder.