Dear New York Times,
Although John Brown’s cause was heroic and his intentions were admirable, his actions should not be condoned by the U.S. government; he should not be awarded a pardon. John Brown’s attack on Harper’s Ferry in an effort to capture arsenal in order to lead a slave rebellion was, in theory and intention, a good idea. And there is no argument to the fact that Brown meant well and that he had respect and vision ahead of his time for harmony between races. John Brown should be remembered as a hero and a man ahead of his time for his racial attitudes. But for the crimes and murders he committed, he should not be pardoned.
Just because his intention were noble does not mean his actions were justified. The murders that John Brown committed, the violence that he encouraged, cannot be condoned by the U.S. government. He was not falsely or unjustly convicted; the innocent people that he killed were real, his actions would still be outlawed today. Pardoning John Brown would be forgiving an act of violence, an act of terrorism, in service of a higher cause. In today’s world, where hate crimes and volatile situations are still common and a pardon would be an okay for other violent acts for a “good cause.” The ends cannot justify the means or we will have a disastrous and violent society on our hands.
So, John Brown’s cause may be remembered as prescient and just, but his actions must still be remembered as a crime and an example for the punishment of violence everywhere.