The Nation

"A Tragedy... of Monumental Proportions."

There will be plenty of "rapid responses" to the gun rampage on the Virginia Tech campus, which has claimed the lives of as many as 31 students -- making it the deadliest school shotting incident in the history of the United States.

Do not doubt that the National Rifle Association is preparing its "this-had-nothing-to-do-with-guns" press release. The group has no compunctions about living up to its reputation for being beyond shame -- or education -- when it comes to peddling its spin on days when it would be better to simply remain silent. But the NRA will not be alone in responding in a self-serving manner. Many groups on all sides of issues related to guns and violence in America will be busy making their points, just as many in the media will look for one dimensional "explanations" for what the university's president, Charles Steger, has correctly described as "a tragedy... of monumental proportions."

"The university is shocked and indeed horrified," explained Steger, after it became clear that what had happened on his campus Monday was worse than the carnage at Columbine High School in 1999 or at the University of Texas in 1966.

The trouble with shock and horror is that it does not often translate into contemplation, let alone serious reflection on the state of a nation in which such an incident can occur -- and, more troublingly, in which no one can suggest that the killings were unimaginable.

The first question, appropriately, is: Why did this happen?

The second question, equally appropriately, is: What should we do about it?

There is is a simple answer to Question No. 1: America is a violent country.

Unfortunately, simple answers lead to simplistic responses. If America can do nothing about its violent streak, the NRA will argue, it is silly to place limits on gun ownership. Better to arm everyone, the argument goes. Or better to allow the "concealed carry" of weapons. Or, well, you get the point -- anything to avoid taking a piece out of the profits of the corporations that manufacture and sell deadly weapons.

By the same token, the notion that banning those weapons will end the violence has become a a tougher sell. Shocking and horrible rampages occur in countries with stricter gun laws than the U.S. No, they do not happen as frequently. But they do happen.

Conversely, in some countries where gun ownership is relatively high, incidents like at Virginia Tech are far less common.

We ought to wrestle with these contradictions and complexities.

But where to begin?

Here is a modest proposal: Instead of adopting a particular line, rent Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine."

Of course, there are those who will not be able to see beyond their rage at Moore to recognize the value of this particular film.

Moore's 2002 film remains the best popular exploration of violence and the gun culture in America. And, despite what the film maker's critics would have you believe, it is a remarkably nuanced assessment of the zeitgeist.

Moore's purpose was to offer an explanation for why the Columbine massacre occurred and to examine the broader question of why the U.S. has higher rates of violent crimes than other developed nations.

Moore certainly does not let apologists for the gun industry off the hook. But he does not stop there. "Bowling for Columbine" explores the role that America's mad foreign policies and obscene expenditures on weapons of mass destruction might play in fostering a culture of violence. Most significantly, Moore takes a serious look at the way in which American media, with its obsessive crime coverage, creates a climate of fear in this country -- a climate that actually ends up encouraging violence.

After the movie came out, Mary Corliss wrote in Film Comment: "Moore makes the mind swim with the atrocities and poignancies on display. 'Bowling for Columbine' should be mandatory viewing."

That was true in 2002. It is ever more true today.


John Nichols' new book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure forRoyalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use ofthe 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democraticleaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by thefounders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"

Hold Gonzales Accountable, Then Bush

As Attorney General Alberto Gonzales prepares to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, the official question is: Will the former White House counsel be able to talk himself out of a scandal involving the firing of US Attorneys, the politicization of federal prosecutions, Karl Rove's "lost" e-mails and the little matter of lying to Congress?

But that's not the question that matters.

Gonzales is finished. The best he can accomplish is a stay of execution that would allow him to remain at the Department of Justice until the controversy dies down enough for him to quietly slip out the back door late on one of those Friday afternoons when the Bush administration gets rid of its embarrassments. Were Gonzales to be allowed to remain in his position through the remainder of Bush's term, it would make America over as a land without laws or even the barest sense of propriety.

That might have been a viable prospect when the US was passing through the dark interregnum of one-party rule that defined the first years of the 21st century. But it is unlikely with a Congress now controlled by the opposition Democrats, and with Senate and House judiciary committees composed of Democrats and even a few Republicans who have displayed the backbones that were in such short supply prior of November 7 of last year. Just consider Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy's response to the White House's "lost" e-mails lie -- "Those e-mails are there, they just don't want to produce them. We'll subpoena them if necessary…" – and it becomes clear that the system of checks and balances is being renewed.

The question that remains, however – and this is the question that matters – has to do with whether the renewal will be as complete as the founders would have wanted.

To answer that question, members of Congress, as well as the media and the American people, need to recognize that what is at stake now is not Alberto Gonzales' career. It is George Bush's presidency.

The great lost admission of the whole US Attorneys scandal came at a press briefing on March 13, when White House counselor Dan Bartlett acknowledged that the President was aware of complaints from Republicans around the country that US Attorneys were not using their positions to pursue the so-called "voter fraud" cases that the party had made a central focus of its efforts to erect barriers to voter participation--by eliminating same-day registration in the states where it is allowed, requiring Voter IDs and otherwise making it harder for Americans to participate in the political process.

"That information, it's incumbent upon us to share with the relevant Cabinet officers, incumbent upon the President to do that, as well," said Bartlett. "The President did that briefly, in a conversation he had with the Attorney General in October of 2006, in which, in a wide-ranging conversation on a lot of different issues, this briefly came up and the President said, I've been hearing about this election fraud matters from members of Congress, want to make sure you're on top of that, as well. There was no directive given, as far as telling him to fire anybody or anything like that. That would be under the prerogative of the Justice Department to take a look at those issues, as they obviously were doing."

Bartlett was trying to cover the president's backside by claiming Bush did not order the firing of the eight US Attorneys who were removed. But the firings of the eight are a secondary issue when compared to the question of what the 85 US Attorneys who were not fired did to keep their jobs--and to thwart the rule of law.

Bartlett inadvertently acknowledged Bush involvement in the most serious aspect of the scandal: the politicization of prosecutions. Of course, Bush will claim ignorance of specific firings. So be it.

What Bartlett gave us in March was confirmation that the president was aware of, indeed supportive of, efforts by key players in his own party to prod U.S. Attorneys to do their bidding. That bidding was never ill-defined; Republicans at the state level and in Washington wanted federal prosecutors to launch conveniently-timed investigations and prosecutions that might harm Democrats, and to back off inconvenient inquiries into the actions of Republicans.

That Bush was deep into the politics of this scandal should come as no surprise. Anyone who has followed this president closely knows that he becomes most engaged when the discussion turns to electoral politics – the one subject, aside from baseball, about which he is genuinely well-versed. Keen observers of this administration's inner workings know, as well, that it would be comic to think that this most political of presidents was not conscious of the ramifications of what was being discussed at the meeting Bartlett described. Indeed, the only thing more comic would be a suggestion that Gonzales, who is about nothing so much as doing Bush's bidding, would miss the cue from the president.

Will the truth come out?

Those e-mails from Rove--currently "lost" but soon to be found--will help the process along, as will all of the other documents that Congressional investigators have requested. And testimony from the White House political czar, and from other political players who were in communication with Rove and the president – testimony that will have to be compelled by Congress--could well begin to close the circle.

Ultimately, even in this administration, someone might start telling the truth. And the truth is that Gonzales has never been anything but a bit player. The controversy that matters is not about the Attorney General's hiring practices. It is about a lawless administration, and the president who has led this country further and further from its Constitutional moorings.

Let the hearings begin. And let them proceed until there is a restoration of the rule of law, and the republic it sustains.


John Nichols' new book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure forRoyalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use ofthe 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democraticleaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by thefounders for the defense of our most basic liberties."

Supreme Court Considers Rights of Home Health Aides

Today the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in a case which could decide whether home health aides are entitled to federal minimum wage, and the protection of federal overtime laws. The lead plaintiff, Evelyn Coke, a Jamaican immigrant who raised five children as a single mother, and is now 73 years old and reportedly quite infirm herself (with diabetes and kidney problems), is represented by lawyers working with Service Employees International Union(SEIU). She's challenging a 1975 Labor Department rule which exempts the home health aide industry from the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Evelyn Coke's case is significant because it could profoundly affect the lives of workers in this industry, a fast-growing one as our population ages. Most home health care workers are women. They toil for sub-Wal-Mart hourly wages (the average is $8.05 per hour), in addition to being deprived of the rights most other workers enjoy.

But Long Island Care at Home vs. Coke is also important because improved rights and wages can lead to better-quality care, and could help address a critical shortage of such workers (there's already a a shortage, and it is projected to get much worse in the coming years).

That's why the American Association of Retired Persons filed a brief supporting Coke. This case -- as well as, just as importantly, SEIU's organizing in this industry -- should matter to all of us.

Why? Because we're all going to be old some day.

Wal-Mart's Conduct in Phillipines Gets Worse

Some people are outraged that Wal-Mart spied on a New York Times reporter. But the company's behavior to workers overseas is much worse.

Wal-Mart is pulling out of the Chong Won factory, the plant in the Phillipines I wrote about last month. "Cutting and running" may be an easy way for a company to look as if it's taking a stand against supplier misconduct, but it doesn't help the workers.

Chong Won workers don't want to lose their jobs; they are fighting to be able to organize a union, without fear of violence and intimidation. Wal-Mart is doing the wrong thing, and shouldn't get away with it.

Tell Rajan Kamalanathan(rkamala@wal-mart.com) Wal-Mart's director of compliance, that the company needs to keep doing business with Chong Won, and use its muscle to force the factory to respect workers' rights.

DC Voting Rights (continued)

Monday is Emancipation Day in the District – commemorating April 16, 1862 – when 3,100 people were freed in the city, nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation.

This Emancipation Day, thousands of DC residents and pro-democracy activists will participate in a Voting Rights March along with Mayor Adrian Fenty, (non-voting) Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rep. John Lewis, Republican Reps. Tom Davis and Christopher Shays, Republican Secretary Jack Kemp, and others. The march is organized by DC Vote.

"On Monday we will march for the most basic civil right," DC Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka said. "When we demand the vote for DC, I believe we will make a difference. Congress knows we are coming, and the President knows it's time to bring democracy to our nation's capital."

"This is the first march in 10 years for DC voting rights," Mayor Fenty told the Washington Post. "I think residents have a sense of urgency, and their patience has worn thin."

Worn thin, indeed. Just when it looked like the House would pass an historic bill granting DC a full vote in Congress (along with an additional seat for Utah – scheduled to receive one according to Census figures), the Republicans tied up the bill by attempting to use it to gut the city's gun control laws.

According to the Post, House Democrats will take up the bill once again when they return from a recess next week. In an email, Voting Rights Institute Chair Donna Brazile said that the rally and march will "send Congress and the President the message that we cannot advocate for rights abroad that we deny at home."

In addition to commemorating Emancipation Day, it is also no coincidence that the event will take place as the Tax Man Cometh. (DC residents pay the second highest per capita federal income taxes in the nation.) "Taxation without representation is a rather significant part of our political heritage," FairVote Executive Director Rob Richie said. "When we deny the franchise to groupings of our people, we are undercutting the consent of the governed and one of our nation's founding principles."

This is a bipartisan effort to do the right thing. Be there.

How Bush Destabilized the Arc of Instability

[This is part 3 of "Six Crises in Search of an Author: How the Bush Administration Destabilized the Arc of Instability": part 1 was "Bush's Absurdist Imperialism"; part 2, "Chaos in the Greater Middle East."]

At any moment, somewhere in the now-Bush-administration destabilized "arc of instability," with its six crisis areas, a seventh crisis could indeed rise, demand attention, and refuse to be ejected from the premises. There are many possible candidates. Here are just a few:

Al-Qaeda, an organization dispersed but never fully dismantled by the Bush administration, has now, according to Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times, rebuilt itself in the Pakistani borderlands with new training camps, new base areas, and a new generation of leaders in their thirties, all still evidently serving under Osama bin Laden. (In the future, Mazzetti suggests even younger leaders are likely to come from the hardened veterans of campaigns in Bush's Iraq). Al-Qaeda is a wild card throughout the region.

Iraqi Kurdistan is now a relatively peaceful area, but from the disputed, oil-rich city of Kirkuk to its Turkish and Iranian borders it is also a potential future powder keg and the focus for interventions of all sorts.

Oil pipelines, which, from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf, crisscross the region, are almost impossible to defend effectively. At any moment, some group or groups, copying the tactics of the Sunni insurgents in Iraq, could decide to begin a sabotage campaign against them (or the other oil facilities in the region).

Saudi Arabia, an increasingly ossified religious autocracy, faces opponents ready to practice terrorism against its oil infrastructure and rising unrest in its oil-rich Shiite areas as well as an ascendant Iran.

Syria, a rickety minority regime, under internal pressure, now faces the launching of a renewed Bush administration campaign to further undermine its power. Though we have no way of knowing the scope of this campaign, it seems the President and his top officials have learned absolutely nothing about what their meddling is likely to accomplish.

Outside the "arc of instability," but deeply affected by what goes on there, let's not forget:

The U.S. Army: 13,000 National Guardsmen have just been notified of a coming call-up, long before they were due for another tour of duty in Iraq. The Army, like the Marine Corps, finds itself under near-unbearable pressure from the Iraq and Afghan Wars and, as a result, is sending less than fully trained troops, recruited under ever lower standards, with worn equipment, into battle. The Army, for instance, is having trouble holding on to its best soldiers. Beyond their minimum five years of service, to take an example, "just 62% of West Pointers re-upped, about 25 percentage points lower than at the other service academies." And the public grumbling of the top brass is on the increase. Who knows what this means for the future?

The American People -- Oh yes, them. They haven't really hit the streets yet, but they've hit the opinion polls hard and last November some of them hit the polling booths -- decisively. Who knows when they will "stand up" and insist on being counted. Perhaps in 2008.

In other words, in addition to the normal cast of characters dreamt up by the Bush administration in its fantasy production in the global round, a whole set of unexpected characters are already moving up and down the aisles, demanding attention, and at any moment, that seventh character -- whether state, ethnic group, terrorist cadre, or some unknown crew in search of an author is likely to make its presence felt.

And let's not forget that there is one more obvious "character" out there in search of an author; that there is one more Bush-destabilized place on the planet not yet mentioned, even though it may be the most important of all. I'm talking, of course, about Washington D.C.; I'm talking about the Bush administration itself.

Consider the process by which it turned Washington into a mini-arc of instability: First, it fantasized about the "arc of instability," then stitched it together into a genuine Rube Goldberg instability machine, one where any group, across thousands of miles, might pull some switch that would set chaos rolling, the flames licking across the oil heartlands of the planet. Then, remarkably enough, the administration itself and all its dreams--both of a Pax Americana globe and a Pax Republicana United States--began to disintegrate. The whole edifice, from Rumsfeld's high-tech military to Karl Rove's political machine, became destabilized under its own tin touch. The putative playwright became just another desperate character.

It's no longer far-fetched to say that, with the President's polling figures in the low 30s, resistance to his war still growing, a Democratic Congress beginning to feel its strength, the Republican Party shaking and its presidential candidates preparing to head for the hills, corruption and political scandals popping up everywhere, and high military figures implicitly reading the riot act to their political leaders, the already listing Bush imperial ship of state seems to be making directly for the next floating iceberg.

Imagine then, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney still clinging tenaciously to what's left of their dreams and delusions amid the ruins of their plans--as the USS Nimitz sails toward the Persian Gulf; as American agents of various sorts "advise" and, however indirectly, shuffle aid to extremist groups eager to fell the Iranian regime; as a new campaign against the Syrian regime is launched; as stolen Iraqi oil money is shuttled to the Siniora government in Lebanon (and then, according to Seymour Hersh, to Sunni jihadi groups in Lebanon and the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria); and as American agents continue to "interrogate" suspected jihadis in their latest borrowed secret prisons in Ethiopia, while American-backed Ethiopian troops only find themselves more embroiled in Somalia. Imagine all that, and then ask yourself, what levers on that Rube Goldberg machine they've done so much to create are they still capable of pulling?

The Deficit Divide

A divide is re-emerging within the Democratic Party between those who want to invest in long-neglected priorities, such as healthcare, poverty and education, and those that believe America's first fiscal goal must be balancing the budget. John Edwards falls in the former camp and Hillary Clinton and her advisors in the latter. [See Jamie Galbraith's Nation article "What Kind of Economy" for more.]

At a speech yesterday to the Economic Policy Institute, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, chairman of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors, broke ranks with his former colleagues. The Clinton economic boom, Stiglitz said, was a "peculiar situation" resulting from a number of factors, not the direct effect of closing the deficit. Moreover, after six years of Republican rule, Stiglitz agrees with Edwards that the country has urgent needs (making globalization work, providing universal healthcare, curbing global warming) and "meeting these will require spending money...If spent well, it's worth doing, even if it increases the deficit."

Stiglitz recognizes that this is not an either/or game. A future president can reduce the deficit and promote ambitious spending policies, if done wisely. But it will require making some tough (and potentially risky political choices), he says, such as ending the war in Iraq and cutting defense expenditures for "weapons that don't work against enemies that no longer exist," and restoring a progressive tax code that increase taxes on the rich and provides relief for middle and lower-income Americans.

Of the major presidential candidates, Edwards is closest to Stiglitz's views. "Those are higher priorities to me than the elimination of the deficit," he told voters in Des Moines in December. Yet even Edwards won't go as far as Stiglitz in calling for a smarter and less bloated defense budget or a fairer, simpler tax code. I suppose there's a reason Stiglitz is in academia and not politics.

Conyers, Sanchez Seek Rove's RNC Emails

The burgeoning congressional focus on the supposedly "missing" emails of White House political czar Karl Rove and almost two dozen other presidential aides who were doing political work on the taxpayers' dime is not limited to questions about the eight U.S. Attorneys who were fired after at least some of them reportedly failed to politicize their prosecutions.

A new letter issued by key members of the House Judiciary Committee specifically expresses concerns that push the inquiry beyond the eight to look at the potential that some of the 85 U.S. Attorneys who were not fired may have been kept on because they used their powers in a manner that pleased Rove and his minions.

While working in the White House, Rove and at least 21 other aides used computer accounts set up by the Republican National Committee to allow them to do political work from their federal offices.

House Judiciary Committee chair Chairman Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan, and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, D-California, who chairs the Judiciary subcommittee that is leading the investigation into wrongdoing by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others linked to the U.S. Attorneys scandal, have asked Republican National Committee Chairman Robert Duncan for e-mails and other documents. Of course, following what has become standard operating procedure for the White House and its allies at the U.S. Attorneys scandal has developed, the RNC claims that key emails have gone missing.

Digital digressions aside, the letter from Conyers and Sanchez telegraphs an important evolution of the inquiry.

In a letter dispatched this week to Duncan, Conyers and Sanchez have requested copies of emails sent and received on RNC accounts that discuss the performance of any U.S. attorney, including questions of whether to retain, dismiss or seek resignations.

The letter goes into detail about the Wisconsin case in which a state employee was prosecuted by a Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney on a timeline that coincided with a tight gubernatorial race between incumbent Jim Doyle, a Democrat, and Congressman Mark Green, a Republican with close ties to the Bush White House. The employee, who was charged with steering a contract to a Doyle campaign donor was convicted and jailed. Republicans made the case a prime feature of their fall campaign against Doyle.

This month, a federal appeals court panel, on which the majority of judges were Republican appointees, threw the conviction out and ordered the jailed woman freed from federal prison. One of the federal judges referred to the evidence against the state employee as "beyond thin" and the panel repeatedly questioned how and why the U.S. Attorney, Steven Biskupic, brought the case.

White House counselor Dan Bartlett has acknowledged that President Bush discussed concerns about politically-sensitive federal prosecutions in Wisconsin with Gonzales in October of 2006, as the gubernatorial election approached. Those conversations reportedly involved so-called "voter fraud" cases that were being promoted by state and federal Republicans, but Bartlett has not said whether the conversation was limited to such matters.

Conyers and Sanchez want to know what the president's political chief, Rove, and other Republican operatives working within the White House were saying in emails about federal prosecutions in Wisconsin, a key battleground state that has long been a subject of Rove's personal scrutiny.

Specifically, Conyers and Sanchez wrote to RNC chair Duncan, "We have also been advised that there may be RNC e-mail traffic relating to Republican Party concerns about the United States Attorney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, prior to his announcing, on the eve of the hotly contested 2006 gubernatorial election, that he was indicting an official in the incumbent Democratic governor's administration. This prosecution was a topic of energetic discussion by Republicans in Wisconsin in the days leading up to the election, but was apparently so lacking in merit that the panel of judges on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reviewing the case, after a thirty-minute oral argument, immediately ordered, from the bench, that the official be released from prison and indicated it was reversing the conviction because it was unsupported by sufficient evidence."

No one was particularly surprised that the RNC's initial response to various congressional requests was to suggest that at least some of the emails in question had gone missing. But, just as Senate Judiciary Committee chair Patrick Leahy isn't buying the claim by White House aides that they have lost emails the Senate committee has sought, House committee chairs are not backing off.

The duel over access to the emails -- which computer experts generally agree can be found -- will play out in coming days.

But don't miss the key development here.

The Conyers-Sanchez letter represents another important move by the House and Senate judiciary committees to expand the U.S. Attorneys inquiry beyond a precise focus on the fired prosecutors.

Conyers and Sanchez, along with their Senate colleagues, are beginning to ask vital questions about whether any of the 85 U.S. Attorneys who were not fired used their offices to mount political prosecutions during an election season that was of critical concern to the Bush White House.

Emails from Rove and other White House operatives, which should be in the RNC's possession, may well hold the answers to those questions. However, since George Bush does not use email, Rove's testimony about what he and others said to the president regarding prosecutions in Wisconsin and elsewhere, becomes all the more essential.


John Nichols' new book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure forRoyalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use ofthe 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democraticleaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by thefounders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"

Post-Imus Fatigue

For those of you who think Don Imus got a bad rap, and you know who you are, how do you defend this Maya Angelou poem parody a producer on his show read last month?

"Whitey plucked you from the jungle; for too many years took away your pride, your dignity and your spears."

My guess is you can't and you don't because just like most of Mr. Imus' "comedy" it ‘s about cruelty rather than wit or insight. In fact, I would argue that it's even more offensive than the now infamous "nappy headed ho's" remark which ultimately lost him both of his high profile, high paying jobs. Yet it was usually simply shrugged off or excused as the madcap antics of one of our beloved American shock jocks.

Am I glad Mr. Imus has been fired? More relieved then glad. I want to believe those in the media who have said that this incident has given the country an opportunity to explore our still very real and very deep racial divisions in this country but then I think about how the same things were said after Hurricane Katrina and the Michael Richards outburst but people moved on sooner rather than later after those too.

I also roll my eyes at the notion that the black community's loudest voice on these issues is Rev. Al Sharpton, a man who for about 20 years has demonstrated an amazing talent for self-promotion and little or nothing else. His role is a true national leader is highly suspect and his record as a public figure is incredibly dubious and checkered.

As reprehensible as Imus' behavior has been, I don't think he can hold a candle to Rush Limbaugh's radio rants in a competition for who spews the most purely hostile bile. And programs like Vh1's "Flavor of Love" have arguably contributed far more to the degradation of Black Americans than anything Mr. Imus has said. As far as I'm concerned the work of healing this nation's racial wounds is far from over and we shouldn't be looking to men like Rev. Sharpton to do it for us.