11/27/2005 08:48 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Governor Schwarzenegger: Please Show the World American Compassion

Dear Mr. Governor,

Granting clemency to Stanley “Tookie” Williams is not only the right thing to do for the citizens of California, but it will also be the first outward symbol of American compassion that the world has seen in a very long time. Think back, Mr. Governor, to the day after September 11th when the entire world lit candles and wept over our tragedy. Then came our invasion of Iraq and the horrific reports of detainee abuse both in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and then Hurricane Katrina and our nation’s utter failure to protect its most downtrodden. Instead of being a beacon of liberty, America today is viewed as a brutal, unfeeling behemoth. You and I know that that characterization is both unfair and untrue.

As an international celebrity, a naturalized citizen and the Governor of our most powerful state you are in a unique position to remind the world about the best that our nation represents. We are the land of the second chance, a land where immigrants can come to start over, and if they apply themselves there is no telling what heights they might reach.

Mr. Governor, think of Stanley Williams as an immigrant who needed a second chance and he took it in prison in 1992 when he renounced violence and dedicated his life to undoing the evil that he had brought to his community by co-founding the Crips. By sparing his life and commuting his death sentence to life without the possibility of parole you will be allowing him to keep repaying his huge debt to society.

And to the world at large closely following this case (including front-page stories in the Italian, British and German press) you would be making a strong statement that justice in America is severe but flexible and hardly unfeeling. The world has already seen enough of America at its most brutal. With the stroke of a pen you, Mr. Governor, could show the world the America that rest of the world wistfully remembers, an America that is fair, strong and compassionate.