Questioning Bush's record on race
While Michael Derocher in his Jan. 15 letter made some valid arguments about racism being a part of the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party, he was obviously just trying to turn the issue against the Democrats. I would like to point out that Senators Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond are not the only members of the Republican Party that can be called into question.
Recently President George Bush made his latest round of judicial appointments, including Judge Charles Pickering. Pickering is not only a personal friend of Lott, his past seems to reveal many of the same sentiments to which Lott's comments alluded. When he was a law student, he wrote an article describing ways that states could modify their laws banning interracial marriages so that they would remain constitutional.
Perhaps the most disturbing of his actions concerns Daniel Swan, a man convicted of burning a cross on the lawn of an interracial couple in Mississippi. The case went to Pickering for sentencing. According to federal law, Swan's minimum sentence was to be seven years. But Pickering attempted to convince the prosecutors to agree on a shorter sentence. When this failed, he made a call to a Justice Department official to further his case. Finally, he told the prosecutors that he would reverse the judgement in the case and grant Swan a new trial if they did not make an agreement. The prosecutors gave in, and Swan was sentenced to a mere 27 months.
Understandably, any president will appoint judges who share values similar to his own. But there had to be other potential appointees who shared similar conservative views but who were not blatant racists. I find it absolutely outrageous that Bush would support Pickering by appointing him to such an important judiciary position — he is essentially condoning the actions of Pickering and others like him. As the President of the United States and the main representative of the Republican Party, Bush has a responsibility to uphold the values of our constitution. By appointing Pickering he has failed in that responsibility. Maybe we are just seeing the real Bush now.
All Viewpoint Stories for Friday, January 17, 2003