I’ll Give You Some Civil Rights

By Jesse Taylor
Tuesday, October 7, 2008 18:28 EDT
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You know, for five and a half years, John McCain had no civil rights.

In the early 1990s, Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., wrote a letter to the State Department regarding James B. Fowler, who was at the time imprisoned in Thailand on narcotics charges.

McCain’s State Department letter was dated Nov. 15, 1991. It briefly explains Fowler’s situation and asks Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Tamposi of the Office of Consular Affairs to look into his case.

In 2005, The Star published an interview with James B. Fowler who admitted publicly for the first time that he shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, during a melee in February 1965 in the west Alabama town of Marion. Fowler insisted it was in self defense.

Jackson’s death a few days after the shooting proved pivotal for organizers of the civil rights movement, leading indirectly to the Selma-to-Montgomery march and, many historians argue, the passage by Congress of the landmark Voting Rights Act in August 1965.

Fowler’s set to go trial for murder in two weeks. So, since John McCain took proactive steps to help a potentially racist alleged murderer beat a heroin trafficking rap (and, er, also voted against MLK day), shouldn’t his disturbing, long-time ties to anti-civil rights flashpoints be a huge mark on his judgment? If he’s a maverick, he’s a maverick against the commonly accepted racial and social progress of the past forty years.

He’s certainly closer to Fowler than Barack Obama is to William Ayers, Bernadette Dohrn, Michael Dorn or every random person in the world who prays to Mecca.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
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