America has struggled with her identity, values and morals from the first day settlers to the New World arrived on these shores mores than 400 years ago. Tensions with Native Americans turned into ethnic cleansing on President Andrew Jackson’s watch. The Trail of Tears is one of those stains on the American conscience. Jackson is lionized by Democrats as a populist hero; never mind that by the standards set by the Geneva Convention in the post-Holocaust era, he would likely have been an indicted war criminal. To be certain, slavery and the Middle Passage left scars on millions. The Civil War was about humanity as much as it was about “states’ rights” or “economics.”
With the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln set forth a new path for the United States of America. He ensured that the Constitution was the prism through which America’s future would be judged. With a few words, and the stroke of a pen, nearly four million slaves would realize freedom — if not equality. Lincoln’s words, in part, noted that all persons in the bonds of slavery “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”
In the 21st Century, Americans enjoy unparalleled liberty. We do not live in a utopia but we are free. More than anywhere else, equality thrives. Despite the hyperbolic tone pervasive in our domestic political discourse. But, as Robert Frost would note, there are miles to go before we sleep.
From Utah to Florida, evil still manifests itself. The faces of young girls and boys appear on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC or our local affiliates almost every day. Victims of kidnap, rape, murder with distraught families. We grieve with them, then change the channel because that sort of “reality TV” is too excruciating to watch. It’s not American Idol, or Ridiculous Housewives of whatever-town-USA. It is unredacted reality. Children and young women are brutally exploited, raped, tortured and murdered all across the globe every single day.
Confronting evil is not supposed to be easy. It requires patience, diligence, commitment, unwavering character and strength. Kim Stickney and her 16-year-old daughter, Bobbie, stayed in the home of a man who had brutally kidnapped, raped and tortured Bobbie for a month after the crimes were committed because she had no money and nowhere to go. Once they were free, they reported the entire chain of events. The perpetrator, Marc Clifton Bryant, faced numerous charges including kidnap, rape, and torture. Bobbie took the brave step of allowing her name to be revealed, and probably saved lives because of it. Others would not experience evil, as she had. From America’s Most Wanted: