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Undemocratic lessons learned

Melvin B. Miller

Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine should induce every American to appreciate the difference between democracy and totalitarianism. Unfortunately, there is a great tendency for Americans to take democracy for granted.

A basic principle of democracy is that no one is above the law. This requirement was ignored in the past, when those who were guilty of lynching Blacks were able to escape justice because judicial systems in the South would not convict guilty perpetrators. It took more than 100 years to enact a federal anti-lynching law to remove these cases from the jurisdiction of bigoted states.

The failure to prosecute lynching in the South created an injustice in the urban North when juries failed to prosecute the police for wanton shooting of Black citizens. With the recent convictions of police officers involved in the George Floyd killing, wanton police conduct is more likely to be prosecuted.

Now another problem has developed. Jurors who support radical political ideas are unlikely to convict those whose political ideas they share. A group of men in Michigan plotted to kidnap the governor, Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who supported President Biden. Jurors acquitted two of the four defendants and couldn’t reach a verdict on the others.

Democracy cannot survive in a culture where totalitarianism is venerated and protected. 

democracy, editorial, federal anti-lynching law
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