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One of the stories on Yahoo's front page right now is that Samuel H. Bowers, a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, died this morning in a Mississippi state prison, where he was serving a life sentence for ordering the 1966 assassination of Vernon Dahmer.

Dahmer, a black civil rights leader, storekeeper, farmer, and NAACP official, was murdered on January 10, 1966, by a firebomb thrown at his farmhouse. He fired his shotgun repeatedly at the Klansmen attacking his home, giving his wife and children enough time to escape and saving their lives. The previous day, he had announced publicly that black citizens could pay their poll taxes, required for them to register to vote, at his store.

He was murdered because he wanted every citizen to be able to exercise the right to vote. It took 32 years to bring the man who ordered his murder to justice.

So what does this have to do with Tuesday's election?

It's not an exact parallel, but consider that Dahmer was murdered by bigots who wanted to disenfranchise voters who sought to exercise their right to vote, and possibly to remove their oppressors from political power. Consider that this murder took place in Mississippi, a state currently represented in the Senate by Trent Lott, who is up for re-election, who famously lost his job as Senate Majority Leader not because of the utterly inappropriate nature of his pro-segregationist comments at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party but because of his inability to spin his remarks as something other than racism, who was himself first elected to public office on the strength of his reputation as a segregationist, and who maintains an affiliation with the Council of Concerned Citizens (the same hate group with which George Felix "Macacawitz" Allen, Jr. is affiliated). Consider everything we know about Rethug attempts to suppress votes, disenfranchise voters, steal or otherwise suppress evidence of stealing votes, and other dirty tricks intended to ensure a specific outcome without regard to the ballots.

Now remember that Trent Lott, George Felix "Macacawitz" Allen, Jr., Bob Corker, Dave Schultheis, Tom Tancredo, Peter Roskam, Conrad Burns, Ralph Arza, Kerry Healey, the Texas Republican Party, and any number of other Rethug candidates for re-election this week, other Rethug officials, and many of the Rethugs' supporters strongly subscribe to some of the most vile, hateful, racist beliefs in US society and derive a lot of support from hate groups like the KKK.

Vernon Dahmer died because he believed that all Americans deserve equal rights, and that racism has no place in American government. Let's honor his memory by electing a government that shares his values -- and ours.

Originally posted to וויסקמס on Sun Nov 05, 2006 at 03:38 PM PST.

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