Guest column: Davis execution raises question of U.S. morals

Maria Micholas

Guest column via UWIRE in Washington Square News

Banners pleading for justice to prevail in the case of Troy Davis waved vehemently outside the death-row prison in Jackson, Ga. 140-character-long tweets, with hashtags #TooMuchDoubt and #IAmTroyDavis, carried the voices of protestors whose potent message unequivocally decried the gross injustice and cruelty plaguing our nation’s judicial system. Over 20 years of struggle for vindication has ended tragically with the execution of Troy Davis — described as a “legalized lynching” by his attorney Thomas Ruffin. Today I mourn both for the life of an innocent man and for the remnants of humanity that once existed within the U.S.

Since Davis’ conviction for killing off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Ga., 22 years ago, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted their testimony, having alleged “police coercion” in securing a testimony that would pin Davis as a murderer. Despite no physical evidence associating Davis with MacPhail’s death, the state of Georgia administered a lethal dose of pentobarbital into Davis’ veins, taking his life in a mere 15 minutes.

Despite masses of people calling for a strike, begging for the state of Georgia and the Supreme Court Justices to reprieve an innocent man of the greatest crime against humanity, capital punishment has prevailed over the pillars of humankind that our government has failed to uphold. Despite Pope Benedict XVI, former President Jimmy Carter, former FBI director William Sessions and Archbishop Desmond Tutu all speaking out against an act so unfathomably inhumane, their voices were dismissed.

In a country that condemns the human rights violations of China, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Bahrain and others, that is the first to wave the flag of ethics, we have now become inaudible and illegitimate, negating our position in global leadership. While two-thirds of the world have abolished the death penalty, the U.S. is among several nations — China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia included — that finds a gross sense of rightness in executing. The United States and Japan are the only fully developed countries that still engage in this practice of torture.

The death certificate of Troy Davis will read homicide at the hands of a corrupt judicial system. Crime rates will not decrease. Homicide rates will not be abated. We have made a travesty in the name of justice and it will be not served. The United States, as Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, mournfully stated, has become “a dim light in the world.”

The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles has neglected its decision not to permit an execution unless there is affirmatively “no doubt” about guilt. Until human rights activists triumph over the perils of malevolence and achieve justice for all of the lives unfairly taken, our judicial system will be regarded as a beacon of barbarism. As the eyes of the international community will be upon us — shocked, disgusted, mournful — I ask my country what kind of world it wants to be a part of. Where have our values gone? What are we teaching? Who will hear our beckoned call if and when another American citizen is detained overseas? Rather than validating the U.S. as a bastion of humanity, our nation has legitimized itself as an emblem of hypocrisy.

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