Sanford, Florida

22 Jul

Tempers and prejudices can stir up murky waters.

Way back in the “Searin’ Sixties,” when the Civil Rights fight was boiling over, I ended up in court, subpoenaed by ACLU, to testify for the plaintiffs.

 The case involved leaders and members of the Southern Consumers Cooperative, a coop of black farmers who were trying to get a fair price for their crops, and the District Attorney in Lafayette, La.

I can’t recall the exact wording of the charges, but the fundamental driving force behind the case was racial discrimination.

The ACLU subpoenaed me as an “expert witness” in the role the secular press had in forming public opinion against the coop.

At that time, I was managing editor of the Southwest Louisiana Register, Catholic weekly for the Diocese of Lafayette.

 Under the leadership of two courageous priests, Fathers Alexander O. Sigur and Charles B. Fortier, the Register was the only public media promoting desegregation and racial justice. We were so deeply involved in this social issue that segregationists dubbed us The Congo Chronicle.

 I’ve never regretted my part in that battle. I’d do it again in a minute if it were necessary.

With this information as background, I hope that what I am about to say will be received with some objectivity – but I doubt that some people can be objective at all because of their racial bias and political loyalties.

 The reaction of certain African-Americans to the death of Travon Martin in the encounter with George Zimmerman was and is less than helpful. People from out-of-state came to Sanford, Fla. by the busloads to protest perceived discrimination.

 The “racial prejudice gauntlet” was immediately thrown down because in its initial findings, law enforcement thought the death was a result of self-defense. But investigations were still underway.

I hasten to add that the hateful reaction among certain white Americans to this social mess was equally contemptible. Anger and apparent hatred sizzled in some e-mails and conversations, fueling the charges of discrimination.

 Recently, certain African-Americans again took the public stump to tie in voter discrimination with perceived racial prejudice in the murder case. It’s racial discrimination, according to these people, to purge the rolls of illegal aliens – because those illegal aliens are black or Hispanic.

 Racism is far from dead – and it exists in the black community as well as among whites and Hispanics.

 If Zimmerman is found guilty, he must suffer the consequences. But all that brouhaha in the streets and public media does little to support justice and public peace.

 We might all benefit from a bit of advice from St. Paul:

 Let your love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. …

 Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandments there may be, are summed up in this saying, [namely] “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 12:9-10; 13:8-10).


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