Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guest Post By Jay Stamper, Who's Running For The Senate Seat Lindsey Graham Is Occupying

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Profiles in Courage and Cowardice
-by Jay Stamper


I’ve given a lot of thought to the courage of the Marathon runners who ran toward the blasts and then kept on running to donate blood to the injured.

I've also thought about less courageous moments.

In the days following the bombings, Lindsey Graham suggested that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a U.S. citizen, should be denied Miranda rights and tried as an enemy combatant in a military court. Graham must have been thinking that our anger and disgust at a horrific crime would make us forget about the Bill of Rights. Thank God he was wrong.

This isn’t the first time that Senator Graham has demonstrated a contempt or disregard for our constitutionally guaranteed civil rights. But his latest comments attracted unprecedented attention because they came the same week he opposed the Manchin-Toomey Amendment, a common-sense measure to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill on constitutional grounds. The Amendment didn’t propose to ban a single weapon or piece of ammunition. It would simply have required background checks for private sales at gun shows and on the Internet, two areas currently exempt from federal law. This was a bi-partisan compromise that went so far as to specifically exclude transactions between family members from the background check requirement. But it wasn’t enough for Lindsey Graham. He joined a minority of other Senators to defeat the Amendment, defying overwhelming public opinion.

When Lindsey Graham disregards the Constitution, I wonder if he reflects on how many sacrifices have been made by so many to protect the civil rights that form the core of our exceptionalism as a country. Does he think about all of the people who swore an oath to defend the Constitution and then went to war in order to do just that? I wonder if he realizes how easy it is for a zealot with a bomb or a bullet to erode our civil rights when our politicians lack courage in the face of a crisis. I wonder if he wonders what our country’s founders would think, having themselves risked so much.

In the case of at least one Founder, John Adams, we don’t have to wonder. 244 years ago, in 1770, there was another Boston massacre that tested our commitment to civil rights before there even was a Constitution. British soldiers killed five American civilians and were arrested on criminal charges. They were vilified and vengeance was demanded. Angry mobs didn’t want a military trial-- or a trial at all. They wanted a tree and some rope. The defendants couldn’t find a single lawyer to represent them. No respectable lawyer wanted to risk the damage to their reputation, or endure the scorn and ostracism from friends and family or harassment by the general public. There was no money in it and the men were clearly guilty anyways.

John Adams shared their fears. He had a lot to lose. He took the case anyway. He did it because he believed that everyone deserves a defense, that everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. In the end, five of the defendants were acquitted.

After each of his last two elections, Lindsey Graham took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Whether he’s given a third opportunity is up to us.

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3 Comments:

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good picture of Graham!

Have you seen this?

See Something! Say Something! - Full Pop Goes The Weasel's

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Has this been repealed?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

 
At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Syrbal/Labrys said...

Thank you for reminding readers what moral courage actually is!

 
At 4:55 PM, Blogger Bob Struble said...

Good point, Jay, on the Constitution. I would add something about the trampling of the 4th Amendment, via the virtual lockdown of Boston, and the storming of people's houses without search warrants.

 

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