Coming Out Against Lynching Is Third-Rail Of Conservative Politics
Under cover of night Monday and with a "unanimous consent" voice vote – where senators are not put on the spot, and required to vote individually and on the record -- the Senate passed a resolution apologizing for their part of congress's inaction on over a century of lynching.
Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and George Allen (R-VA) proposed Senate Resolution 39, which issues a formal apology to lynching victims and their families for the Senate’s failure to enact federal anti-lynching legislation during the first part of the 20th century.
At least 4,742 Americans -- almost all African-American – were lynched in the United States in the last 125 years and the Senate on multiple occasions during that time failed to pass anti-lynching legislation that had already passed the House of Representatives. This left the federal government powerless to intervene and protect Americans from racist acts of mob violence.
Landrieu and Allen's resolution is here and it's about as straightforward a piece of Senate writing as you'll ever see.
So why on something so fundamental to a lesson one would hope our nation has learned would any senator refuse to cosponsor such a formal acknowledgement? As of 5:00 PM (EDT) on June 15, 16 senators had not cosponsored the bill, which under senate rules can be done retroactively. Here's the proud crew now:
- Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
- Robert Bennett (R-UT)
- Thad Cochran (R-MS)
- John Cornyn (R-TX)
- Michael Crapo (R-ID)
- Michael Enzi (R-WY)
- Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
- Judd Gregg (R-NH)
- Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
- Kay Hutchison (R-TX)
- Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
- Trent Lott (R-MS)
- Richard Shelby (R-AL)
- Gordon Smith (R-OR)
- John Sununu (R-NH)
- Craig Thomas (R-WY)
Senator John Kerry was direct: "It's a statement in itself that there aren't 100 cosponsors," said Kerry. "It's a statement in itself that there's not an up-or-down vote."
But here's one thing you know for sure: If a resolution had been proposed condemning gay marriage, each of these 16 senators would have pulled a groin muscle moving so fast to cosponsor. Take that to the bank.