Petition to Congress: Stop the militarization of local police.

Please sign and share this petition if you are willing and able (via CREDO* Action):

stoppolicemilitarizationDonald Trump recently rewarded the country’s biggest police union for their endorsement of his dangerous, racist candidacy. He is going to give state and local police military-grade weapons of war.1

In 2014, police in combat gear driving mine-resistant tanks violently confronted people protesting the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The national outrage and organizing, including from more than 100,000 CREDO members, helped force President Obama to dramatically scale back the 1033 program.

Recently, police in St. Louis in full riot gear were chanting “whose streets, our streets” as they violently confronted people protesting yet another not guilty verdict for another police killing of a Black man.3 But Trump, whose racist, xenophobic agenda depends on demonizing communities of color and unleashing law enforcement, wants to bring 1033 back in full force.

Fortunately, there is a bill that would stop Trump’s dangerous escalation and help keep weapons of war out of our communities, the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act. The more of us who speak out, the more pressure on Congress to act.

Tell Congress: Pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act and block Donald Trump’s attempt to militarize local police.

Police militarization contributes to the over-policing of communities of color and the erosion of trust between communities and police. When police departments are armed with military-grade weapons and trained to use military tactics, they are more likely to treat the people they are meant to serve as enemy combatants.4 In many communities, fully militarized SWAT teams routinely issue search warrants, terrorizing people in their homes and neighborhoods.5

Police militarization also undermines people’s right to peacefully and safely protest. The hyper-militarized and clearly disproportionate police response to largely peaceful protesters in Ferguson is far from the only example. In the summer of 2016, Baton Rouge, Louisiana police responded to peaceful protests of Alton Sterling’s murder as if they were going to war.6 Last fall in North Dakota, police in riot gear confronted peaceful Standing Rock protesters with armored vehicles, automatic rifles, sonic weapons, concussion grenades, pepper spray and beanbag bullets.7 Surveillance devices like the Stingray, which can secretly download cell data and disrupt cell service, are also part of the 1033 program.8

It is no surprise that Trump, who condoned white supremacist Nazi violence against peaceful protesters last month in Charlottesville, wants to further weaponize police, terrorize communities of color and stifle peaceful dissent to his hateful regime. That is why it is more important than ever to pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act now. The bill would shut down the direct pipeline between the Department of Defense and police, ban the transfer of a long list of military equipment, require extensive documentation and reporting, and prohibit the militarization of departments under investigation for civil rights violations.9

Donald Trump’s extreme agenda has already emboldened law enforcement agents across the country, at the local, state and federal level. Making sure that his administration cannot arm police with weapons of war is a powerful way to fight back.

Can you add your name today to tell Congress to pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act and block Donald Trump’s attempt to militarize local police?

Thank you for everything you do.

References:

  1. Tom Jackman, “Trump to restore program sending surplus military weapons, equipment to police,” The Washington Post, Aug. 27, 2017.

  2. Matt Apuzzo, “War Gear Flows to Police Departments,” The New York Times, June 8, 2014.

  3. Nicole D. Nelson, “When Will Black Lives Matter in St. Louis?” The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2017.

  4. ACLU Foundation, “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” June 2014.

  5. ibid.

  6. Tess Owen, “Baton Rouge cops dressed for war to confront protesters,” Vice News, July 11, 2016.

  7. Standing Rock Special: Dallas Goldtooth on Police Violence & Repression of Movement Against DAPL,” Democracy Now, Nov. 24, 2016.

  8. Jeremy Scahill and Margot Williams, “Stingrays: A Secret Catalogue of Government Gear for Spying on Your Cellphone,” The Intercept, Dec. 17, 2015.

  9. H.R.1556 – Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act

__________
*CREDO is a lefty activist mobile telecom company: every month it allocates a portion of its revenue to various activist non-profits, as voted and allocated by its customers. CREDO is, for example, Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor. Please consider switching to CREDO as your mobile carrier, and stop supporting anti-democratic corporations that fund conservatives like AT&T. Yes it is true that CREDO runs on Verizon’s network and it’s also true that Verizon is a ginormous shitweasel, so some of CREDO’s revenue is indeed funding conservative shitweaselry. But compared to the telecom behemoths CREDO is a tiny company, and yet it still manages to donate $150-200k per month to well-vetted, worthwhile organizations.

WTF, people.

I go off the grid for a little R&R, and I return to this? White supremacist terrorism and imminent nuclear war? I mean, I can barely even walk on land yet without my snorkel flippers attached to my feet and my butt cheeks are still painfully sunburned (don’t ask). JFC.

Continue reading

“Supporting the Troops,” everyone.

The Los Angeles Times ran a piece over the weekend revealing efforts by the California National Guard to claw back reenlistment bonuses and student loan payments from 9,700 soldiers it has determined were ineligible for these incentives. According to California Guard official Col. Michael S. Piazzoni, “The system paid everybody up front, and then we spent the next five years figuring out if they were eligible.”

“‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first—verdict afterwards.'”

“‘Stuff and nonsense,’ said Alice Iris loudly.”

Continue reading

#muschniwogdowis of the day: Your liberal media.

Today’s report in Most US Citizens Have No Idea What Our Government Does Or Who It Serves (#muschniwogdowis) follows.

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”Carl Sagan

Continue reading

#muschniwogdowis of the day: Syria.

Today’s report in Most US Citizens Have No Idea What Our Government Does Or Who It Serves (#muschniwogdowis) follows.

The United States violated its ceasefire commitments with Russia, flew four military aircraft and a drone out of Iraq and bombed the shit out of a fragile Syrian Arab Army position at Deir ez-Zor, killing over 60 soldiers and injuring more than 100 others. Earlier in the day, Syria announced the arrival at the base of 1,000 additional soldiers to help liberate the surrounding region from ISIS control. A statement from US Central Command said “U.S. surveillance had been ‘tracking’ an Islamic State fighting position ‘for a significant amount of time before the strike.'” [<- o.O] An anonymous US official from the Department of Defense said the US strike “appears to be an intelligence failure.”

Whoops?

150,000 civilians (still) live in the Deir ez-Zor region, which has been held under ISIS control. While the Syrians and Russians have been hitting ISIS targets in the region for some time, the US had done absolutely nothing about that until yesterday.

For a…slightly different view, let’s hear what Russian envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin had to say:

Continue reading

New feature! New acronym! VERY EXCITING.

A nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can’t be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship. –Chalmers Johnson

In the ordinary course of going about my life—you know: tormenting conservatives, torturing faith healers, smashing the patriarchy, extracting $82 billion worth of amusement for readers out of the Religion-Industrial-Complex, sounding the alarm about the deadly squirrel menace, all the usual stuff—I have found myself repeatedly thinking a very specific sentiment: most US citizens have no idea what our government does or who it serves. And to be clear, by “most,” I mean the vast, overwhelming majority.

This is true for a number of reasons. It starts with our grade schools serving up steaming piles of shit: the noble escapades of Christopher Columbus, the warm and cooperative relationship between Native Americans and European colonialists we celebrate as a national holiday, a justice system that produces justice, our fearless and vaunted adversarial press, the great cause of democracy for which US citizens routinely sacrifice blood and treasure all over the world, the moral meritocracy of capitalism and The American Dream™, and on and on. Don’t even get me started on the myths we are fed about race. NEWSFLASH: there is no part of U.S. history or culture that is not inexorably linked to Africans dragged to this country in chains, and forced to work under the most brutal conditions imaginable, thereby amassing great wealth for America’s Owners. It continues to this day.

And then of course our rancid corporate media piles it on, 24/7/365, its sins of omission frequently far greater than its whitewashing of reality. We USians are surely among the most propagandized populations in the world, ever. The fog is so thick, we choke on it.

But this is what a ruling class does. This is what a ruling class has always done, and will always do. And so, quite understandably, most US citizens have no idea what our government does or who it serves.

Most US Citizens Have No Idea What Our Government Does Or Who It Serves.

MUSCHNIWOGDOWIS

#muschniwogdowis

!!!

OMG don’t you love it?! I LOVE IT. This ingenious new hashtag is guaranteed to be trending worldwide on Twitter. Any minute now.

Okay, maybe it’s a little clunky. Also: practically unpronounceable. But I am nevertheless finding it very, very useful.

Today’s demonstration of its utility comes courtesy of this headline in The Nation: The Obama Administration Has Brokered More Weapons Sales Than Any Other Administration Since World War II. You can read the whole thing for yourself for a nice overview of how it all works, though not for all the nasty little devils in the details. But the takeaway is this: the Executive Branch of the US government, from the Pentagon to the State Department to the Commander-in-Chief, is a dedicated worldwide sales force shilling for Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrup Grumman.

Here is one example of how it works:

Take the administration’s proposed new 10-year aid deal with Israel. If enacted as currently planned, it would boost US military assistance to that country by up to 25 percent—to roughly $4 billion per year. At the same time, it would phase out a provision that had allowed Israel to spend one-quarter of Washington’s aid developing its own defense industry. In other words, all that money, the full $4 billion in taxpayer dollars, will now flow directly into the coffers of companies like Lockheed Martin, which is in the midst of completing a multi-billion-dollar deal to sell the Israelis F-35s.

What looks like a $40 billion US taxpayer gift to Israel is actually a $40 billion US taxpayer gift to Lockheed Martin. Israeli citizens, by the way, enjoy excellent universal health care, including mental health treatment and dental care for their kids. Unlike, say, the very same US citizens shelling out that $40 billion.

Hell, why not just hand it over directly to Lockheed, with the tiny little caveat that it reincorporate itself as a non-profit? (Hahaha. Oh man, sometimes I really crack myself up.)

__________

I remember reading something somewhere sometime about war profiteering once being considered an unconscionable crime, if you can believe it. Moneymaking from warmaking is evil, generating as it does massive profits for an elite few out of volatility and violence for the many. Now it is quite literally the American Way.

The ‘defense’ budget is three quarters of a trillion dollars. Profits went up last year well over 25%. I guarantee you: when war becomes that profitable, we’re going to see more of it. –Chalmers Johnson

In closing, ask yourself this question: if America’s Owners (the permanent power factions in Washington DC, a.k.a. the deep state) are perfectly willing to bomb and invade sovereign countries at will, to destabilize and violently overthrow the democratically elected leftist governments of countries whose resources they feel entitled to exploit and install brutal tyrants to guarantee unimpeded access, to assassinate and neutralize labor activists, minority and indigenous organizers or indeed anyone who poses even a minor threat to the profit-making schemes from which they so richly benefit, do you believe for one second that they will ever allow leftists in the US to amass sufficient power to turn the ship of state 180 degrees and put it to work creating more just, peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies?

Aww fuck, I’m sorry. That was a loooong question. Makes my new acronym seem downright pithy by comparison, doesn’t it?

#muschniwogdowis.

Have a nice day

Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 3: Yes and hahaha no.

UPDATE: WordPress apparently black holed a few of sentences re: Purvi Patel (and some formatting tags). I fixed it—I think.

(Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does mention: rape, sexual assault and violent abuse, including against children; mental illness including suicidal ideation; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

To briefly recap: While atheist Big Willie Jerry Coyne is notoriously prone to poo flinging, he also said some very interesting things in his Darwin Day lecture at the British Humanist Association (and elsewhere). I transcribed a few sections of his talk because I’d like to have a handy link to it to help shut down the font of incoherent nonsense that is conservative movement atheism. I also thought some readers here just might (a) find some of this talk as worthwhile as I do (see Part 1), and/or (b) enjoy my documenting Coyne’s insulting, dismissive, nearly comical obliviousness to his privilege (Part 2).

Part 3 focuses on a section of the Q&A wherein Coyne manages both to say some more really cool stuff, and then go into full mansplain-to-the-feminists mode and pull a classic Dear Muslima.

CAUTION:
POO FLINGING AHEAD.

Continue reading

The banishment of John, Part 3.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia, eliminationism, misogyny and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

This is the last installment.

Part 2 left off in the middle of my meticulous dismemberment of John Miller’s final, terrible comment, at which point he had finished addressing commenter khms (who responded to him beautifully here, as did Rotary Wing here). John now turns to address Your Humble Monarch™ directly. But before I finishing dissecting this specimen, please allow me to reiterate some important points to bear in mind.

NOTE 1: There is virtually never any point in deploying reason and evidence to argue with conservatives. They are by definition not terribly rational people, and thus neither reason nor facts are likely to penetrate their reality distortion fields enough to sway them in the direction of understanding or accepting reality—and in fact, a backfire effect may occur. There are, however, at least two reasons to make an exception to this rule. The first is for the infotainment of others, such as lurkers, bystanders, captive dinner guests, fellow bar flies, Loyal Readers™, young and impressionable children, etc. The second exception is for the pleasure to be found in the sharpening of one’s (rhetorical) fangs, whether in preparation for the aforementioned audiences or for the sheer enjoyment of it in its own right. I leave it to Loyal Readers™ to discern under which caveat(s) this particular exercise falls.

NOTE 2: Because I quote from John’s final comment in addition to material from elsewhere, in order to avoid any (highly unlikely) confusion as to who is doing the talking here I have taken the liberty of making all quotes from John’s text the color of shit.

Shall we?

__________

Iris, I would have described the core values of Western culture as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality for women and girls coupled the right to an education and the right to marry who they choose, freedom from institutionalized paedophilia and genital mutilation, the separation of powers …

It is absolutely adorable that John thinks the US is a democracy, or that the permanent power factions in DC  (i.e. the deep state) value the concept of democracy for anything other than the ease with which they can exploit it.

It is super sweet that John thinks the rule of law operates here.

It is positively precious that John thinks “freedom of speech” is a cherished principle in these United States.

It is particularly priceless that John thinks equality for women and girls is now,
or has ever been, a defining feature of Western society.

It is deliciously delightful that John sees Western civilization as a beacon of freedom from institutionalized paedophilia, rather than practically being defined by it.

It is seriously stunning that John believes routine genital mutilation is somehow unique to Muslim cultures.

And it is really remarkable that John views the separation of powers as A Thing That Exists—except, of course, in the sense of powers being separated from We, the People.

__________

These values need to be cherished and protected.

I seem to recall “freedom of religion” being a cherished and protected value of this much-touted Western culture. I guess I must have made that up, because it’s missing from John’s list of “core values of Western culture.”

__________

I don’t know why you’d continue to live in a society that was ‘patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist’.

Really? Aww, come on! That’s an easy one! TO MAKE IT BETTER. Funny thing about that, though: the biggest obstacle to making progress on any of these fronts is people like John, whose willful ignorance magically allows them to see themselves, their uninformed and toxic views and the evil that results as somehow benevolent, despite all evidence to the contrary.

A real conundrum.

__________

Come to Australia, we don’t have many patriarchs, imperialists, racists or colonists, we’re more laid back here.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one! See, e.g., the entire fucking history of Australia. [h/t Rotary Wing.]

On a related note, I now wish to demonstrate for Loyal Readers™ my astonishing psychic abilities: without having ever met John, interviewed him (or others about him), researched into his background, seen a picture of him, or indeed learned anything at all about him except through his comments here, I am willing to bet the entire Palace Treasury that in addition to being a (cisgender) male, John is also white, straight and Australian-born.

TA-DA!  My mad clairvoyant skillz simply cannot be explained away by guessing that:

  • John doesn’t see racism in Australia, because he has never been, and likely will never be, oppressed in any way because of his race.

I AM FUCKING AMAZING AMIRITE.

__________

We’re more interested in football, cricket and tennis.

How nice for John and his friends. Some people would loooooove to be interested in those things, but they’re kinda busy with other things. Things like fleeing violent conflicts and keeping themselves and their children alive.

By the way, it turns out that the Aussies are interested in a few other things, too.

__________

If you come to Canberra I’ll show you around.

I appreciate the offer, but…

You’ll meet some fair dinkum, true blue, dinky di, fun-loving Aussies.

I have no idea what any of that means. But if it means “people who are like John,” I (dis)respectfully decline.

__________

When people come to Australia they don’t have to sign up to a set of values that those born her are inculcated with from birth. We take our way of life for granted, until we see how Muslims come in, live in enclaves and start to run their own societies.

Wow, it sure is a mystery why Muslims immigrants to Australia might wish to live in enclaves.

SPOILER ALERT! It’s… people like John.

__________

It’s costing Australian governments billions of dollars beefing up security arrangements to second guess would be terrorists. Yep, welcome to the new Australia.

It’s a real shame the Australian government is so cash-strapped and has nothing better to spend money on. Besides directly creating the conditions that lead to Islamic terrorism and mass migrations of Muslims in the first place, OBVIOUSLY.

__________

I believe Western nations need to have a document that sets out some of the cultural rules.

Gosh, I wonder what exactly these “cultural rules” might be, how they might be enforced in a diverse society, and who will enforce them. Are they anything like, you know, “laws”?

If people don’t like them they can go somewhere else.

For example, to prison? I must be off my game, because I sort of agree with John here.*

*Except we all know that by “cultural rules” John doesn’t mean laws. He means something else entirely, more along the lines of an Official Real Australian™ Dress Code For Women, as we shall see.

__________

People then have a choice, fit in or ship out. Wearing headgear is the ultimate symbol of not wanting to fit in to the society that’s welcomed them. In the 1920’s Kemal Ataturk got rid of the head gear, thus liberating Muslim women.

That John thinks he can simultaneously write comments like the one we’re addressing here, and also claim to be part of a society that welcomes Muslims, is…um, interesting. And by now it will surprise no one that John is just as WRONG about Atatürk getting rid of “the head gear” as he is about everything else:

Even though he personally promoted modern dress for women, Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk] never made specific reference to women’s clothing in the law, as he believed that women would adapt to the new clothing styles of their own free will. He was frequently photographed on public business with his wife Lâtife Uşaklıgil, who covered her head in accordance with Islamic tradition. He was also frequently photographed on public business with women wearing modern Western clothes. But it was Atatürk’s adopted daughters, Sabiha Gökçen and Afet İnan, who provided the real role model for the Turkish women of the future. He wrote: “The religious covering of women will not cause difficultyThis simple style [of headcovering] is not in conflict with the morals and manners of our society.

[emphasis mine.]

Yes, John is oddly obsessed with superficial conformity to (arbitrary) local dress codes, especially for women. I was momentarily curious as to whether John would have similar objections to Orthodox Jewish men in black hats and curls. Or to nuns wearing habits. Or to Sikhs wearing turbans. Or to Hindus wearing bindis on their foreheads and other traditional garb. Or ooh! OOH! To priests wearing collars! Now I personally think priest collars should not just be permitted but actively encouraged, because (a) it makes them stand out such that I can easily avoid or engage with priests as I see fit, and (b) I’ve always had a serious fetish for hawt priests. WIN-WIN.

australianorthodoxjews

Australian Orthodox Jewish men with the head gear.”
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, JEWS!

carmelitenunsaustralia

Australian Carmelite nuns with “the head gear,”
plus some d00ds.
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, NUNS!

australiansikhsprayervigil

Australian Sikhs, some with “the head gear,”at a prayer vigil for a mass murder at a Sikh temple by a white supremacist in Oak Creek, Wisconsin (USA).
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, SIKHS!

australianhindus

Australian Hindus.
FIT IN OR SHIP OUT, HINDUS!

robgaleaaustralianpriest

Fr. Rob Galea, Catholic priest in Australia.
OMFG *swoon*
Don’t worry, sweetheart! If mean old John tells you to “FIT IN OR SHIP OUT!” you just come right over here and sit by me. :D

But then suddenly I remembered that I don’t give a fuck what John thinks, as long as he thinks it somewhere else.

However for the record: the people pictured here are just as “Australian” as John is. Whatever that even means.

__________

These days the sisterhood thinks it’s smart to encourage Muslim women to wear what ever they like – not recognising the symbolism.

Okay, I’ve been around the Interwebz a time or two, so please allow me to translate John’s drivel for you. By “the sisterhood,” John means his warped caricature of feminists, i.e., a group of humans which (a) includes no men and no Muslims, (b) has no understanding of misogyny, especially Islamic-flavored misogyny, and (c) lacks John’s in-depth and comprehensive understanding of culture and symbolism.

… as opposed to, say, John having no fucking clue what women in virtually every culture in the world including his own must navigate just to survive.

Interestingly, actual feminists want a world where everyone—and yes, “everyone” even includes Muslim women!— is free and encouraged to wear whatever the fuck they want.

And, until it is safe for everyone to choose to wear whatever the fuck they want without oppression resulting, everyone needs to STFU about whether, when and where it is appropriate for Muslim women to wear “the head gearbecause we do not live in that fucking world goddammit.

Seriously, do people even think for one second about the choice they want some of the most oppressed people in the world—immigrant Muslim women of color—to make here? Be shunned by your family and everyone you know in the religious community to which you belong, or, apparently, be judged and demonized by the Johns of the (supposedly “free”…) wider society?

palacefuckyou

Please accept this hearty Palace FUCK YOU.

__________

When ever you see a woman wearing a burka, hijab or scarf you know they’re both the victim and perpetrator of misogyny on a grand scale.

OMG YOU GUYS! John has figured out the solution to misogyny! And it’s so simple, I cannot believe we didn’t think of it before! It’s… people like John policing what women wear! Fit in or ship out, bitchez! And for good measure, blaming the women of a persecuted religious minority—many of whom are also women of color in predominately white (and white supremacist) societies—for perpetrating their own oppression, if for whatever reason they do not conform strictly to local, provincial standards of dress. (Hey, I wonder if the dress standards John espouses are gender neutral. I’m just kidding! LOL! I crack myself up.)

____________

Incidentally, this is how I picture John dressing:

johnswear

Note in particular the lack of “the head gear,” such lack being customary and characteristic of Real Australians™.

All of this^ he is (and damn well ought to be) 100% free to wear, no matter how repulsive I or anyone else may find his personal style or reasons for presenting himself the way he does.

Everyone should have that freedom.

THE END.

__________

Wherefore, and in Due Consideration of All of the Foregoing Acts of Unrepentant Conservatism, Which Having Been Finally Exhausted of All Explanatory and/or Entertainment Value, Let It Be Known Throughout the Land That

John Miller

is Hereby Forever Banished to

All of the Other Places on the Internet
(Most of Which By the Way are Generally Not as Reality-Based and Fun as This One.)

__________

banishmentjohnmiller

__________

Let us rejoice, for John Miller’s odious stench shall ne’er again befoul this Palace!

CHEERS.

red&amp;whitewinecheers

The banishment of John, Part 2.

[CONTENT NOTE: xenophobia, bigotry, Islamophobia and a whole bunch of other horrible shit.]

Part 1 is here.

We last left off in November, at the point in our story where commenter khms and I responded to (yet another one of) John Miller’s terrible comments. Having thought—nay, hoped—this was the end of it, I was surprised to see that John recently responded to us. And now khms has responded to him beautifully, and you should go read that; as has Rotary Wing, and you should go read that too, if for no other reason than to see two sparkling specimens of civil, mockery-free, reality-based rebuttals to John’s bigoted, vicious, fact-free conservative noise.

But now it’s my turn. And I plan to relish dismembering the horrifying shitshow that is the mind of John Miller, conservative—for the very last time.

NOTE: It is always worth remembering that there is virtually never any point in deploying reason and evidence to argue with conservatives. They are by definition not terribly rational people, and thus neither facts nor reason will sway them in the direction of accepting reality—in fact, the opposite effect is just as likely to occur. There are, however, two important exceptions to the utter pointlessness of engaging with conservatives. The first is for the infotainment of other people, such as lurkers, bystanders, captive dinner guests, fellow bar flies, beloved Loyal Readers™, etc. The second is for the pleasure to be found in sharpening one’s own rhetorical fangs, either to prepare for the aforementioned audience, or for the sheer enjoyment of it in its own right. I leave it to Loyal Readers™ to determine under which caveat(s) this particular exercise falls.

NOTE 2: Because I quote from John’s final comment as well as material from elsewhere, in order to avoid any (highly unlikely) confusion as to who is doing the talking, I have taken the liberty of making all quotes from John’s text the color of shit.

__________

First, let us all behold with awe and wonder John’s retort in its entirety:

KHMS, been to Marseilles, Paris, London or Bradford recently? Watched TV or read a newspaper? Half the children born in France and Britain are born as Muslims – despite them being (around) 5% of the population. The second language in Marseilles? French. The first, Arabic.

Many of the Muslims in these communities have little respect for the cultures to which they have chosen to live. They want to destroy them and turn them into the shitholes from whence they have come.

They have high levels of welfare dependence, they breed like rabbits. If they don’t take over countries with the Kalashnikov or the suicide bomb they’ll certainly do it with the pork sword.

The freedoms that have attracted these people to Europe are the very freedoms that are under threat. America seems to have missed out on the Muslim onslaught. Australia hasn’t, having excepted anyone and everyone who chose to come her by boat over the last five years.

KHMS, go spend a week In Marseilles, London, Paris and Bradford, then report back.

Iris, I would have described the core values of Western culture as democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, equality for women and girls coupled the right to an education and the right to marry who they choose, freedom from institutionalized paedophilia and genital mutilation, the separation of powers … These values need to be cherished and protected. I don’t know why you’d continue to live in a society that was ‘patriarchal, imperialist, racist, colonialist’. Come to Australia, we don’t have many patriarchs, imperialists, racists or colonists, we’re more laid back here. We’re more interested in football, cricket and tennis. If you come to Canberra I’ll show you around. You’ll meet some fair dinkum, true blue, dinky di, fun-loving Aussies.

When people come to Australia they don’t have to sign up to a set of values that those born her are inculcated with from birth. We take our way of life for granted, until we see how Muslims come in, live in enclaves and start to run their own societies. It’s costing Australian governments billions of dollars beefing up security arrangements to second guess would be terrorists. Yep, welcome to the new Australia.

I believe Western nations need to have a document that sets out some of the cultural rules. If people don’t like them they can go somewhere else. People then have a choice, fit in or ship out.

Wearing headgear is the ultimate symbol of not wanting to fit in to the society that’s welcomed them. In the 1920’s Kemal Ataturk got rid of the head gear, thus liberating Muslim women. These days the sisterhood thinks it’s smart to encourage Muslim women to wear what ever they like – not recognising the symbolism.

When ever you see a woman wearing a burka, hijab or scarf you know they’re both the victim and perpetrator of misogyny on a grand scale.

Well then. Shall we begin?

KHMS, been to Marseilles, Paris, London or Bradford recently? Watched TV or read a newspaper? Half the children born in France and Britain are born as Muslims – despite them being (around) 5% of the population.

BZZZT. I don’t know what TV John’s watching or newspapers he’s reading (though I have my suspicions!), but these birthrate claims are simply false. As in, WRONG:

Around the world, the global average Muslim family size has fallen from 4.3 children per family in 1995 to 2.9 in 2010, and is expected to fall below the population-growth rate, and converge with Western family sizes, by mid-century.

Muslims in France and Germany are now having only 2.2 children per family, barely above the national average. And while Pakistani immigrants in Britain have 3.5 children each, their British-born daughters have only 2.5. Across Europe, the difference between the Muslim and non-Muslim fertility rate has fallen from 0.7 to 0.4, and is headed toward a continent-wide convergence.

__________

The second language in Marseilles? French. The first, Arabic.

OMG THESE MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS SPEAK A FOREIGN LANGUAGE!!!11!!!! Even if this is true, it is not the slightest bit alarming in any way. You know how I know? I know because there are many, many cities and towns in the United States where the primary language spoken is not English. In the state of California, 43.8% of people over 5 years old speak a language other than English at home, and that figure rises to over 90% in cities and towns across that state. (And that’s to say nothing of enormous, heavily populated ethnic-minority and immigrant neighborhoods that make up large swaths of California’s major cities, like Los Angeles and San Francisco.) And guess what? No one except conservatives gives a shit. Well, the rest of us care because we want non-English speaking immigrants and their children to have access to the resources they need to learn basic English proficiency. And unlike John, we all understand that immigrant populations acquire English fluency by the second generation (frequently accompanied by the loss of fluency in their family language, unfortunately).

__________

Many of the Muslims in these communities have little respect for the cultures to which they have chosen to live. They want to destroy them and turn them into the shitholes from whence they have come.

WRONG:

Actually, Muslims change their cultural views dramatically when they emigrate. For example, 62% of American Muslims say that “a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of Palestinians are addressed” — a rate barely lower than that of average Americans (67%), and vastly ahead of the miniscule response among Middle Eastern Muslims — for whom between 20% and 40% agreed with that statement.

Similarly, 39% of American Muslims and 47% of German Muslims say they tolerate homosexuality, compared to single-figure responses in most Islamic countries — and those rates are rising with each immigrant generation. On these important questions, Muslim immigrants are converging with Western values fast.

__________

They have high levels of welfare dependence,

Actually, it is true that immigrants generally have significantly higher levels of welfare use than native-born US citizens. Much of that gap is accounted for by lower education levels, language barriers and other factors leading to lower pay among some of our largest immigrant populations. But! It is also true that immigrant households generally are significantly more likely to have workers than native households:

Of legal immigrant households, 85 percent had one or more workers, as did 95 percent of illegal immigrant households and 76 percent of native households.

If those two facts seem contradictory, consider that welfare as it currently exists in the US is designed to supplement low-wage workers, among whom there is a disproportionate share of immigrants.

But we were talking about Muslims specifically. It is much more difficult to find data on US welfare use and religious affiliation—at least if we discount sources like Breitbart, World News Daily, Eagle Forum and other right-wing propaganda outlets best known for distortion levels that would have made Jimi Hendrix scream in pain and then set himself on fire instead of his guitar. Also, the US census does not ask questions about religion, so it is difficult to determine how many Muslims there are and where. But there are some things we do know that have a bearing on Muslims and their (alleged) uniquely high levels of welfare dependence.

Muslim Americans have income levels that match the US public. Immigrant Muslims are slightly more affluent than native-born Muslims: 41% of all Muslim Americans and 45% of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher, compared to the national average of 44%. Among high-income earners, 19% of immigrant Muslims claim annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher, compared to the U.S. average of 17 %. This is likely due to the strong concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.*
*[Text excerpted from Strengthening America: The Civic and Political Integration of Muslim Americans, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, © 2007; Statistical data excerpted from Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, Pew Research Center, May 22, 2007; via the U.S. State Department.]

Muslim Americans are highly educated. “[40%] of Muslims say they have a college degree, making them the second most highly educated religious group surveyed after Jews (61 percent), compared with 29 percent of Americans overall who say they have a college degree, according to Gallup [PDF]. That carries across gender lines, with Muslim females being the second-most educated religious group in the country, after Jewish females.”

Sadly, because he is a proud, card-carrying math illiterate, John will not understand any of that.

__________

they breed like rabbits.

WRONG.

__________

If they don’t take over countries with the Kalashnikov or the suicide bomb

If that’s their plan, they really better step up their game over here.

__________

they’ll certainly do it with the pork sword.

WRONG.

_________

The freedoms that have attracted these people to Europe are the very freedoms that are under threat.

Perhaps Muslim immigrants are attracted to the “freedom” of living in a place that isn’t being occupied, bombed, destroyed, exploited and/or otherwise destabilized by Western governments and their agents? Or “freedom” from violent Islamists created, armed and empowered by the West? I mean, even John can probably grok the fact that by far, most victims of Muslim terrorism are other Muslims.

Or maybe not.  :|

The freedoms under threat in Europe are the same freedoms under threat in the US—not from Muslims, mind you, but from conservatives, who currently allow Muslims to be used as a convenient pretext for radically undermining democracy, civil rights and the rule of law—a.k.a. freedom. See, e.g., mass surveillance, mass incarceration, police militarization, illegal wars, press freedom erosion, lawless drone assassinations and elite immunity from large-scale crimes, just off the top of my head.

But somehow I doubt those are the freedoms John worries about. No, apparently there are other, Very Important FREEDOMS™ under imminent threat from small and politically powerless populations of Muslims.

__________

America seems to have missed out on the Muslim onslaught.

Not for long: they’re among the fastest growing immigrant groups to the US. And, once again, no one cares except conservatives. Because the rest of us know we are a nation with a long history of immigration (and colonization—a topic for another time), and we know that immigrants assimilate within a few generations. But more to the point, there isn’t exactly an “onslaught” in Europe, either:

In fact, we now have several large-scale projections based on population-growth trends and immigration rates which show that the Muslim populations of Europe are growing increasingly slowly and that by the middle of this century — even if immigration rates are not reduced — the proportion of Muslims in Europe will probably peak somewhere short of 10% (it is currently around 7%). By that point, Muslims will have family sizes and age profiles not that different from Europe in general.

And what if it’s even double that? Say, 20%? Immigrants assimilate—unless shitweasels like John see to it that they cannot, of course.

__________

Australia hasn’t, having excepted [sic] anyone and everyone who chose to come her  [sic] by boat over the last five years.

WRONG. And that’s a real bang-up job you guys are doing over there, too. Goddamn paragons of human rights, to which we can all only hope to aspire!

Jeezus.

__________

KHMS, go spend a week In Marseilles, London, Paris and Bradford, then report back.

Sounds fantastic! Hey khms, if you go let me know when and where you’ll be and I’ll try to come meet up with you. And while we’re having a ball touring around some of the great cities of Europe, John will go spend a week investigating Australian immigration policy (including its history of white European immigration and its present-day immigrant detention centres) and report back to us.

I AM SURE.

__________

Stay tuned for Part 3.

palacehappyface

Honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[Repost]

It has become a Palace tradition on this day of remembrance to post the speech delivered by Dr. King on April 4, 1967 at Manhattan’s Riverside Church. We do this not because we are supremely lazy—although we are most certainly that—but because it is truly excellent, yet tends to be given short shrift relative to other works of the slain civil rights leader.

King’s “I Have A Dream” speech is of course his most well-known and celebrated. He gave it from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, at the closing of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and major television networks broadcast it live. The text is short (by King’s standards) and is notable for, among other things, painting a vivid picture of what racial justice looks like.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is also frequently cited. He wrote it in response to an April 12, 1963 open letter by eight white Alabama clergymen, who took issue with King and his tactics. In Why We Can’t Wait, King said of his response:

“Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly black trusty, and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to leave me.”

Its central focus is a beautiful, powerful defense of non-violent activism. But what always strikes me most about it is King’s crushing disappointment upon learning that the greatest enemies to social progress are not, in fact, those who are openly and hatefully opposed to it, but those “allies” who rend their garments and advocate moderation, patience and gradualism in the face of immediate, deadly and enduring injustice. King held up a mirror, and in doing so, he showed us what ally-ship looks like.

Five years later, he spoke the words of Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Here, he showed us exactly how inextricably linked are the battles against discrimination, oppression, poverty, injustice, and many other social ills to the evils of war. This is a broader, much more sweeping vision; in our opinion, these are his finest words.

As King said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

PEACE.

__________

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.
By Rev. Martin Luther King
4 April 1967

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church — the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate — leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

The Importance of Vietnam

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years — especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, “Aren’t you a civil rights leader?” and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission — a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for “the brotherhood of man.” This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men — for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the “Vietcong” or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

Strange Liberators

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not “ready” for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators — our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change — especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy — and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us — not their fellow Vietnamese –the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go — primarily women and children and the aged.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one “Vietcong”-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them — mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only non-Communist revolutionary political force — the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on — save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front — that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of “aggression from the north” as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them — the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

This Madness Must Cease

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:

“Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.”

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.

Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.

Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.

Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.

Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.

Protesting The War

Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation’s role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military “advisors” in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken — the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

The People Are Important

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.”

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept — so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force — has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on…” We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world — a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah,
Off’ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet ’tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.

PEACE.

__________