Joe Connor was left fatherless in 1975 when a bomb planted by the Puerto Rican terrorist group the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional or FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation) exploded at the historic Fraunces Tavern in New York City. One other person was killed,* in addition to Joe’s Dad Frank Connor, and sixty people were injured.
Now, once again, the issue of pardoning a prominent FALN leader, Oscar Lopez Rivera, is surfacing yet again. The United Church of Christ is pressing for a pardon and doubtless other groups as well.
The UCC claims Lopez has the support of the Puerto Rican people in his drive to free Puerto Rico from the big bad colonial power that is the United States. In fact, overshadowed by the presidential election in November, 61% of the Puerto Rican people voted for Puerto Rican statehood. A mere 6% wanted independence.
Mr. Lopez is as unrepentant now as he was in his active FALN years, the latter activities and such small “d” democratic doings as bomb-making earning him his lengthy visit to federal prison.
For the last several days, Americans have been relearning what violence means in practice. Frank Connor, peacefully enjoying his lunch at a tavern once frequented by George Washington, was brutally killed with every bit as much violence as that which took the lives of the children and adults of Sandy Hook School.
There is no place for violence in American society. Our friend Dan Henninger over at the Wall Street Journal this morning has a considerable column entitled "No Guardrails, Again." Writes Dan:
We think it is possible to identify the date when the U.S., or more precisely when many people within it, began to tip off the emotional tracks. A lot of people won't like this date, because it makes their political culture culpable for what has happened. The date is August 1968, when the Democratic National Convention found itself sharing Chicago with the street fighters of the anti-Vietnam War movement.
The real blame here does not lie with the mobs who fought bloody battles with the hysterical Chicago police. The larger responsibility falls on the intellectuals—university professors, politicians and journalistic commentators—who said then that the acts committed by the protesters were justified or explainable. That was the beginning. America had a new culture for political action and for personal living.
The virtue known as self-restraint was devalued. Certain rules that for a long time had governed behavior also became devalued. Whatever else was going on here, we were lowering the barriers of acceptable political and personal conduct.
What is being asked in the pardon of an unrepentant Oscar Lopez Rivera is precisely Henninger’s point. There is an attempt by the UCC and others who will be clamoring for the release of this violent man to continue “lowering the barriers of acceptable political and personal conduct.”
It is unacceptable.
And as Christmas approaches for all those Newtown parents who have lost children, and the children who lost adults -- just, in the latter case, as Joe Connor did so many years ago -- it’s time to demand that the guardrails in American society once again go up.
There is no place in America for violence.
Feel free to contact President Obama and demand that Oscar Lopez Rivera not be pardoned.