Cass Street in Omaha is named after Lewis Cass, the 1848 Democratic presidential nominee and a U.S. senator from Michigan. Just as President Barack Obama argues today that our country has a moral obligation to do something about the situation in Syria, Cass in 1849 proposed in the U.S. Senate that the United States suspend diplomatic relations with the Austrian Empire to make a moral statement about how the Austrian government (aided by Russian troops) imposed a bloody crackdown that ended the Hungarian people’s attempt to become independent and create their own democratic republic. Cass’s proposal was voted down, but the Senate’s debate featured many of the same basic arguments heard today, pro and con: Some moral outrages abroad deserve a U.S. response, Cass said. No, other senators said, our country can’t be the world’s policeman.
It was heartening to see Omaha Creighton Prep football leaders step forward after a supporter defaced a meaningful piece of property at Omaha Westside’s stadium. Someone vandalized a stone left in memory of the late, cancer-stricken Westside school board member Liz Karnes. Prep students, motivated to right this wrong, raised $500 over two lunch periods and gave the money to Westside. The school, which already had cleaned the stone, said it would donate the money to cancer research in Karnes’ name. Fitting.