When four white New York policemen were accused—and eventually acquitted—of murdering an innocent, unarmed black man, the issue of race could hardly be avoided, though it could not be introduced into courtroom proceedings. The officers had stopped Amadou Diallo in 1999 on a routine patrol in the Bronx and ended up shooting him after they mistook the wallet he pulled from his pocket for a gun.
In an issue of the magazine devoted to themes of spiritual renewal, we would underscore the significance of Pope John Paul II’s dramatic effort to renew and purify the Roman Catholic Church through repentance. In celebrating mass on March 12, the first Sunday of Lent, John Paul took the unprecedented step of publicly confessing the sins of the church.
Where were the parents? we ask when a kid commits a crime. In the case of the first-grader in Mount Morris, Michigan, who brought a gun to school and shot classmate Kayla Rolland to death on February 29, we know where the parents were: the mother was pursuing a drug habit and the father was in jail. The other adults in his life were thieves and drug dealers.
Just a few years ago the Religious Right was talking about making itself more appealing and effective in mainstream politics. The head of the Christian Coalition at the time, Ralph Reed, declared that the Religious Right needed to tone down its rhetoric, overcome its tradition of racial bigotry, and reach out to Jews, Catholics and ethnic minorities.
When the last remnants of Operation Uphold Democracy—a UN peacekeeping force but predominantly American for much of its duration—left Haiti a few weeks ago, some observers voiced dire predictions of a descent into chaos and civil war. Time will tell. But others argued that the situation could hardly be worse than it is.