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December 18th, 2009
11:02 AM ET

Violence based on hate has to stop

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/12/15/hate.crime/story.ramirez.hospital.jpg caption="Luis Ramirez was in a coma on life support before he died two days after he was beaten." width=300 height=169]

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

Don't look now, but Pennsylvania might be the new Mississippi.

Some Americans resist any attempt to compare the modern plight of Latino immigrants to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Likewise, when it comes to race issues, many whites in the Northeast like to think of themselves as morally superior to their counterparts in the South. Both these groups need to brush up on their history - and pay closer attention to current events.

In 1967, the Justice Department brought to trial 18 men - including at least one law enforcement officer - in Meridian, Mississippi, charging them with conspiracy to deny three slain civil rights workers their civil rights "under the color of state law."

Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney became martyrs for the civil rights movement when they were beaten and shot to death in June 1964 for what some of the locals considered the unpardonable sin of helping register blacks to vote during Mississippi's "freedom summer."

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