Equal Justice? Not Yet!

UVA Student, Martese Johnson, beaten

UVA Student, Martese Johnson, beaten

We beat up a black student in Virginia – an honor student.

We hung a black man in Mississippi – his feet floating 2-3 feet off the ground.

And we’ve got a local Leesburg councilman from Loudoun County who doesn’t see the point of a diversity commission because Jesus freed the slaves and Jesus would have told us to create such a diversity commission if we really needed one.  (Listen to what he said – https://youtu.be/Texh0_bjvLk )

Well we need more than a commission in America – and a lot smarter thinking public officials than our local councilman.

Sure, it rubs some people wrong to say “we” – you and I – beat up or hung someone.  But our society’s sins of omission make us all responsible for these vile acts in Virginia and Mississippi and in Staten Island in New York and elsewhere, symptomatic of this nation’s historically “uneasy” association with slavery and discrimination, re-emerging more visibly and offensively in recent days.

The failure to act makes us all accomplices after the fact.  John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself” because we are “involved in mankind.”  Another way to put it is – a bad man is a good man’s problem – and we have our work cut out for us these days.

Some say, “wait,” until we get more facts about the student.  The facts are that Martese Johnson offered a valid Illinois State ID to enter a pub on St. Patrick’s Day, and the zip code for where his Mom lived four years ago when his ID issued.  Even if he lacked valid ID, you don’t throw the student to the ground, have three ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) officers pile on top of him, bloodying the young man, tearing his skin, requiring an ER visit and stitches.

Isn’t it possible that Otis Byrd hung himself?  Not bloody likely!  Consider the facts. Otis was found hanging off a tree limb 15 feet above the ground, his lifeless feet dangling 2 to 3 feet off the ground, without a chair or ladder in sight.

Sure, some will be saying, “You’re playing “the race card.”  Really?  Tell that to the honor student who had three officers pile on top of him in Virginia or the family and friends of the man who was lynched in Mississippi.

The problem with our “law” is that it is elastically and selectively enforced and enforced more harshly against certain “groups.”

What we have here is a plain and simple violation of “equal protection” under the law.

We need a public dialogue like Starbuck’s proposed on race that has promoted jeers from some instead of a step toward comity and tolerance.

We need diversity commissions, plural, and not just in Leesburg, Virginia..

We need to punish those who violate the basic constitutional principles of “equal justice” and “due process,” that is, fundamental fairness.

These incidents beg the question: Is racism and intolerance in our nation’s DNA?  I’d like to think it’s a disease that has coursed through our political body since long before we were a nation and that our higher collective self is struggling to eradicate this toxin.

If Jesus truly had anything to say on the subject, it’s to consign to the fires of hell those who discriminate and abuse a person because of his color.  Jesus said as much in the Sermon on the Mount.  You have to ask yourself, if Jesus is your inspiration – Is this why Jesus was crucified – so we could abuse others the way he was abused?