Right now, America needs heroes. And we have one for the ages in John Lewis.

His life of sacrifice in the name of the larger principles of freedom and equality and his career of service to his country are emblems of the better America we hope to be and the better America we can become.

In remembering him, we should remember that the struggle for equality is an enduring human struggle, that it will not come cheaply nor easily, that the path can be dangerous and the pain very real, and that it will almost certainly never be over.

We can remember too, though, that it can be rewarded — that things can get better — and that Lewis’ sacrifice, along with those of the Freedom Riders and so many advocates for reform, bequeathed to us a better nation, where we more fully, if still imperfectly, embrace the individual dignity of each American and extend in law the protection of their basic human rights.

Lewis, who died at 80 Friday, had his skull cracked with a billy club as a young man to help bring us to this place where we are. And even as violence was done upon him, he rejected violence in return. The undeniable moral authority that he carried on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965 was the authority that finally mattered.

In considering his legacy, we must also consider the work that remains. Poverty, imprisonment and other legacies of slavery and codified racism still track our country. Lewis supported the marches in opposition of police violence against Black Americans and considered them an extension of his work as a young man.

We also hope, as we memorialize his life and all he did as a protester, organizer and congressman, that we don’t fail to recognize the truth that his work mattered because it made a real difference in our country and in improving the lives of Black Americans. The America that John Lewis died in is not the same America he was born into as the child of sharecroppers. It is not the same America that disenfranchised Black Americans as a matter of law denied them basic human rights.

It is an America that took his search for justice and equality seriously, that cared his body was beaten and his skull fractured, that rejected the forces of inequality, segregation and racism.

That better America is an America we must work toward every day. The struggle is renewed over and over in each of us as individuals and in all of us as a society.

John Lewis has died. But in a good and ever better America, John Lewis will live forever.

— Dallas Morning-News

———

By now all America knows Mark and Patricia McCloskey from the video showing the St. Louis couple holding legal firearms as they defended themselves and their home from a crowd of protesters trespassing on their property. A politically motivated prosecutorcharged the couple with unlawful use of a weapon.

The felony count is because they pointed their weapons at protesters. Mr. McCloskey said he did so because he was “scared for my life,” and that of his wife. No shots were fired. Yet now prosecutor Kim Gardner is charging them on grounds they made the trespassers fear for their safety.

The good news is that there’s been plenty of official blowback. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tweeted that “We will not allow law-abiding citizens to be targeted for exercising their constitutional rights.” He has promised a pardon if they’re convicted.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt is working to get the case dismissed, noting that, in addition to the U.S. and Missouri constitutions, Missouri law recognizes the “castle doctrine.” This allows residents to use force against intruders, including deadly force, based on self-defense and the notion that your home is your castle.

Ms. Gardner contends that those who surrounded the McCloskeys were “peaceful, unarmed protesters,” and the couple were therefore interfering in the crowd’s First Amendment rights. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Ms. Gardner that the guns they carried may be a reason events didn’t turn violent. “I really thought it was Storming the Bastille, that we would be dead and the house would be burned and there was nothing we could do about it,” Mr. McCloskey told KSDK in an interview.

Even if the charges are dismissed, or the McCloskeys are pardoned after being convicted, again we have a public official responsible for upholding law and order wink at a mob while treating law-abiding citizens as criminals. If police cannot be counted on to deal with mobs, it’s even more vital that law-abiding Americans are free to exercise their Second Amendment right to protect themselves.

— The Wall Street Journal

———

The deployment of federal agents in Portland, Ore., over the objection of state and local officials, to shoot and gas protesters and to snatch people from the street to stuff them into unmarked vans is an unconscionable assault on democracy and a dangerous and needless ratcheting up of tension.

President Trump’s action in defiance of Oregon’s governor and Portland’s mayor has predictably given new life to nonstop protests that began after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody but at last had begun to peter out. The president has thus employed his wretched talent for exacerbating division and inflaming discord at precisely the time the nation needs a leader to calm overheated passions and fears.

Presidents have broad power to deploy troops to quell lawlessness, but they generally exercise that power only when governors request assistance, or when the commander-in-chief himself determines that state authorities are failing to deal with the problem.

They send in federal forces to protect people or to enforce the Constitution, as when President Eisenhower sent troops to Little Rock, Ark., in 1957 to enforce the right of Black students to enroll in a previously all-white high school and to make clear that the famous Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education would be enforced, that the doctrine of “separate but equal” had been overturned, and that state segregationists could not defy the basic American principle that all people are equal under law.

Trump, by contrast, directed federal agencies to use their muscle to protect statues, monuments and other federal properties, not people or the Constitution. And he said Monday that he plans to do this in more cities — evidently, because he thinks displaying force against the citizenry is going to help him in November.

This has become part of his pattern. In the weeks before overreacting to the Portland protests, Trump used troops to clear his path for a photo op near the White House. He set forth his doctrine that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” He articulated his principle that states should “dominate the streets,” and if they didn’t, that he would override their authority.

It is a fact that some individuals have used the protests in Portland as an opportunity to destroy property and inject chaos into the demonstrations. It fell to Portland leaders to strike the proper balance. They could respond with force, and thus play into protesters’ hands by presenting police engaged in precisely the kind of actions that were being protested; or they could monitor the situation, give protesters the room to make their case, tolerate some property losses and allow the demonstrations to die down on their own.

They made their choices, and they may well have made some bad ones. Portland has been on edge for weeks. But Mayor Ted Wheeler is the person answerable to the city’s people. He did not need, and did not seek, federal backup.

Trump’s insistence on federalizing the situation on his own undermines Portlanders’ control of their own city, and exacerbates the violence far more than the protesters’ actions did.

The president has in effect equated people protesting police brutality with terrorists, and is treating them as such.

In October, before Trump’s impeachment, before the COVID-19 pandemic, before the death of Floyd and before the nationwide protests, the president signed an order creating a Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. As with so many steps Trump takes, this one appeared to be geared directly toward undoing an action of the Obama administration, in this case the creation of the 2015 President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The Obama task force delved into police brutality, racial disparities in arrests and prosecutions, and other challenges facing modern-day policing in the U.S. Its recommendations included enhancing civilian oversight, improving training and building trust and legitimacy. Many of its efforts were rolled back by the Trump administration.

In launching Trump’s commission, Atty. Gen. William Barr included as a central question something that apparently baffles him as well as the president: Why is there a “continued lack of trust and respect for law enforcement” in many communities?

The answer is right under their noses. It is spread out on the street with George Floyd, it is shoved alongside protesters into unmarked federal police vans, it stands agog, with many of us, at actions to protect statues but shoot projectiles at people. The president won’t look. He sees what he sees, with eyes that won’t open.

— The Los Angeles Times

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.