- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2007

Noble: The Tuskegee airmen, the all-black World War II unit, who this week received the recognition that they have long deserved for their patriotic service in the face of continued discrimination.

“These men in our presence felt a special sense of urgency. They were fighting two wars. One was in Europe, the other was in the hearts and minds of our citizens,” said President Bush during a ceremony Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda. Nearly 300 veterans gathered in the rotunda to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor that Congress can award.

The black airmen faced segregation, training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama and serving during the war only in all-black units. Returning home after their brave service in Europe and North Africa, the airmen found themselves confronted by the same shameful bigotry. Their service was exemplary; in some 15,500 missions the unit never lost a bomber to enemy fire. At home, however, they were still discriminated against and barred from entering officers’ clubs. The caliber of their service is credited with both helping to dispel notions that blacks weren’t capable enough and persuading President Eisenhower to issue an executive order in 1948 that led to the desegregation of the military.

Rep. Charles Rangel and Sen. Carl Levin both deserve credit for seeing to it that the airmen received the medal. Through courage and conviction, the Tuskegee airmen contributed to victory on both fronts — against a Nazi menace abroad and against an institutionalized culture of racism at home. For their patriotism and service, both at home and abroad, the Tuskegee airmen are the Nobles of the week.

Knave: U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz, for letting two executives from the Golden State Fence Co., a firm hired to build part of a fence along the southern border, off with light sentences for employing illegal aliens.

Federal prosecutors sought jail sentences for Mel Kay Jr. and Michael McLaughlin of Golden State Fence Co. for what U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents revealed to be a pattern of hiring illegals. The two faced a maximum of five years in jail. Instead, Judge Moskowitz decided to fine the two a total of $300,000 and sentence them on Wednesday to six months home confinement. This didn’t stop Judge Moskowitz from claiming that “prosecution is long overdue in this area.”

The company was notified in 1999 that several of its employees were illegal aliens. But, despite claims from executives that it had fired those identified as illegals, it was discovered in 2004 that the company was still employing such workers — including three it claimed to have fired five years earlier. The fact that the Golden State Fence Co. apparently pays its illegal employees well convinced Judge Moskowitz to go easy on the offenders.

The purposes of the border fence, which apparently weren’t clear to this construction firm, are to help bring law and order to the border region and to stop the influx of illegal aliens. There could hardly have been a more appropriate firm to single out in order to send a strong message to employers about violating the law. For failing to send that strong message, Judge Moskowitz is the Knave of the week.

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