Ghosts of Mississippi
There's an old saying that justice delayed in justice denied. Well, we're about to find out in Mississippi.
Finally, 41 years after the fact, reputed Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen will be tried for the infamous killings in Philadelphia, Mississippi of three Chicago civil rights workers. The three, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were murdered while in Mississippi to register black voters as part of "Freedom Summer." With the complicity of the segregationist Neshoba County populace, no charges were ever brought - until now.
Regardless of Killen's fate, his trial comes at a time when some American politicians are trying to whitewash the history of the South. In Missouri, Governor Matt Blunt ordered the Confederate flag flown 10 days ago during a memorial service for CSA troops. And in Washington DC, Virginia Senator and GOP presidential hopeful George Allen, the same man who displayed a noose and CSA flag at home while governor, is now cynically pushing a resolution apologizing for past filibustering by southern conservatives of anti-lynching legislation.
Now would also be a good time to remember that the late Ronald Reagan, patron saint of the modern conservative movement, used the very setting of Philadelphia, Mississippi as the backdrop for his speech announcing his 1980 presidential bid. But Reagan was just one of many states' rights Republican icons with Confederates in his attic, as Trent Lott, John Ashcroft, Jim Demint, Haley Barbour and a host of others demonstrate.
Hopefully, the families of Cheney, Goodman and Schwerner will finally be able to experience some sense of justice and closure. For the rest, the least we can do is to remember the ideas they fought for and be ever vigilant against the abominable ideology of the people who killed them.