Yesterday I watched a film that made my jaw drop. It was based on a historical event that happened right here in the US of A. All I could think as I watched this movie was – January 6. Yet the events of this story occurred more than a century ago. There were some similarities in the circumstances of both events but for the most part they were very different. Only the reaction was, in some ways, a carbon copy of how our government is handling what occurred on that day.
The movie is The Conspirator. It is by no whiff of the imagination a “right wing propaganda piece”. In fact, in some other light, just the opposite is more likely to be inferred.
It is the story of Mary Surratt. She was a southern woman, a Confederate supporter who ran a boarding house in Washington D. C. when Lincoln was shot. She was implicated in the plot to assassinate the President, Vice-President Johnson and Secretary of State Seward because her son, a friend of John Wilkes Booth and, allegedly a co-conspirator met at her boarding house to further their plans. Here are some of the similarities I saw.
Mary Surratt was charged because of her proximity to some of the bad actors.
Little or no evidence was forthcoming.
The evidence that was presented was thin, at best, and possibly false.
She was held without bail until trial in a dank cell. Though I imagine it may be better accommodations than those of some J6 prisoners and she was likely treated better.
The prosecution stacked the deck against her. A civilian, she was tried by a military court rather than a jury of her peers in a civilian court.
She was going to be tried to appease those who abhorred the assassination.
While she was found guilty, her original sentence was life rather than hanging.
The powers that be demanded and got the death penalty for her.
A writ of habeas corpus was obtained, granting her a civilian trial. The writ was overruled by President Johnson, who had zero authority to do so.
Of course, this dark chapter in our history envelopes the worst moment of our nation. In fact, one could say, and yes, I do say it, if our constitution was followed, this nation as it stands today would not exist at all.
The Confederates were not “rebels”. These sovereign southern states did not attempt to “overthrow” the Union, they seceded – they opted out. It was their absolute right. Now I am not going to debate their intentions or the merits or demerits of their contentions. What I will say is they had every right to act as they did, even if they were wrong.
The Union had already trashed the Constitution many times over. Thus the monkey trial of Mary Surratt pales by comparison. Yet the total disregard for her rights as a citizen and as a human being should glare as a festering sore on this nation’s history.
It is not the first, the only nor the last time the powers that illegitimately be, have trampled on the rights of us citizens – individually and as a group. Every instance is an affront to our sovereignty as citizens.
Someone once put forth an analogy concerning illicit sex that works here. He said illicit sex was like duct tape. Used once the very strong adhesive binds two together so it is very difficult to separate them. However once the tape is removed and applied to another and the bond becomes weaker. When repeated over and over again, eventually there is not enough adhesive to bond at all.
The same thing can be said for our rights as enumerated in the Constitution. Each time an amendment is “temporarily” lifted from our founding document it needs to be bound back in but each time the bond is weaker. At some point, a point we are dangerously close to, the bond will be too weak to stick at all.
Don’t take my word for it, watch The Conspirator for yourself. Compare that story with the plight of the J6 political prisoners. The details are different for sure but the substance – the stark obliteration of these citizens’ rights to appease a handful of political cockroaches, if not to deflect attention and shelter them from their own treasonous actions, is glaring.