Saturday, June 2, 2007

Remembering Steve Gilliard

(MG) Here's a quintessential Steve Gilliard post. For anybody who needs to have the dots connected, Steve laid it ALL out on the line:

Saturday, September 03, 2005

We told you so
An American failed by Bush

A note to our conservative friends:


Ever wonder why New Yorkers detest George Bush?

Because we experienced his incompetence up close and person. We knew this guy was full of shit, absolutely full of fucking shit, after they started to play games with the funding and gave Wyoming terrorism money. We knew he was an assclown then.

We thought DC 9/11 was a comedy, because the Bush we saw hid in AF One like the scared bitch that he is.

But did you listen?

Fuck no. Until last week, Ann Coulter was calling New Yorkers cowards for not endorsing Bush's folly in Iraq.

We have been screaming for two years that Bush and his team sucked. That they had no clue. They sent soldiers to be wounded in Iraq without armored anything. And you idiots cheered him on from the safety of your keyboards. We told you he was fucking up Iraq. But no, we supported Saddam, we were racist, we blamed America.

You say this isn't about politics? Fuck you, this IS politics, real time, real life politics, where the insanity of all your ideas are exposed to the world for the fraud that they are. Tax cuts kill. Ask the relatives of the dead of the Gulf Coast.

Well, motherfuckers, the alligators are feasting on dead nigger and there isn't an Iraqi in sight. And Bush is trying to gladhand his way through a mess which has stunned FOX reporters. I mean, Shepard Smith is calling Fox's talking heads liars ON THE AIR.

CNN rips Bush in print and online after nearly five years of sleep.

Instead of hearing what we had to say about Bush, you called John Kerry a coward, mocked Max Cleland, blamed everything but herpes on Bill Clinton. You enabled Bush into this mess and now you're shocked?

Now, Fox can be outraged, now, Wash Times and Union Leader call Bush weak? Well, his coward ass disappeared in 2001. But you rather blame Michael Moore for that.

He can't even explain the Iraq war to a grieving mother.

So what did you do?

Write the most vile things about her and her dead son. Attacked her patriotism and her honesty.

Well, motherfuckers, and that means you, fat ass Goldberg and your master, Rich Lowry, PNAC Bitch Beinart, the racist wannabe white Malkin and the little fucktards at LGF, Bareback Andy and "Diversity" Instacracker, all you backstabbing, fag hating uncle tom ministers, you can see Dear Leader in action. America's largest port is gone, maybe forever, gas is $5+ a gallon and FEMA is coming. Whores come faster with old men than FEMA is getting to NOLA.

How did your wartime President react? Like Chiang Kai-Shek when the Yellow River flooded in 1944, with corrupt indifference.

Bush, the man your fever dreams built into the next Winston Churchill when he is really the live action Chauncey Gardiner, has failed to everyone, in plain sight, without question. Rick Perry is trying to save his ass, but it ain't working. NOLA looks like ANGOLA and that ain't flying.

Say 9/11 changed everything now, motherfuckers. Ooops, 9/11, 9/11. 9/11. Doesn't work anymore? Gee, maybe the sea of alligator MRE's once known as the citizens of New Orleans has something to do with that. Now you can shut the fuck up about 9/11. Bush just proved what would happen with another 9/11. Dead Americans as far as the nose can smell.

Drunken Chris Hitchens muttered some nonsense about blacks having it so good here. The poor man needs to stay in his bottle or go to Betty Ford before someone beats his treasonous ass stupid. Islamofascism means what, now motherfucker? Shove Islamofascism up your well travelled ass. The most dangerous thing to average Americans is not some mullah in Iraq, not even Osama Bin Laden, but George Bush. If he doesn't get you killed in Iraq, he'll fuck up saving your city so it turns into Escape from New Orleans. Armed junkies roaming the streets, looking for a fix, robbing and looting like Serb paramilitaries and about as sober.

George Bush's ineptitude has killed far more Americans than Osama could have dreamed of.

Some of you still try to see the clothes on the Dauphin, but he's as naked as Peter North around Jenna Jameson. Bush fucked up so bad, FOX turned on him like a rabid dog.

You can't hide behind racism forever. Bush fucked up, Bush is a weak, callous leader and the world knows this like it knows few other things. And all the stolen TV's in the world cannot hide that.

Steve Gilliard

I just learned that Steve Gilliard has died, and my heart is filled with sorrow and anguish.

Steve's passion and integrity illuminated and ignited my world for the past four years. I began to leave comments on his blog about a year ago, spending hours to craft and hone a couple of paragraphs, not wanting to despoil his beautiful blog with bad grammar, bad punctuation, bad information, or bad ideas.

My heart and prayers go out to Steve's family and his blog partner Jen.

Steve's death is a great loss and I am overcome with an emptiness.

Let me remember and cherish Steve's example, and think very carefully upon his commitment to - literally, truth, justice and the American way. Let me see the big picture, the forest, as clearly as Steve could see it. And let me not be deflected by the irrelevant.

Lord, grant that Steve rests in a better place
Let his example continue to inspire us
To stand up, to speak out, to become involved
As would winter patriots - believing in a dream
To not merely complain,
But to work actively for change
To make ours a better nation
To make this a better world

Thinking of Steve, the words of the poet Langston Hughes echo through my brain

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

Mike Gavel's Platform Positions

(MG) Because of my opposition to the continuing invasion and occupation of Iraq, I've vowed to never again support a war monger for President. There are at least five declared candidates calling for withdrawal from Iraq. Not surprisingly, none are front runners.

(MG) Special consideration is due to Mike Gavel based on his record. The part where he read into the Congressional Record The Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War provided to him by Daniel Ellsberg. No other politician took such a pro-active position to inform the American people of the lies, deceits and obfuscations of this nation's invasion, occupation, and slaughter of the Vietnamese peoples.

Former Senator Mike Gavel's Issues:

The War in Iraq: Immediate and orderly withdrawal of troops followed by aggressive diplomacy

Iran: I firmly oppose a military confrontation with Iran and advocate a diplomatic solution to the current situation.

National Initiative for Democracy: Empower Americans and turn every citizen into a lawmaker by enacting a national initiative.

A Fair Tax: Eliminate the income tax and replace it with a progressive national sales tax.

Global Warming / Climate Change: We must reduce America’s carbon footprint in the world by passing legislation that caps emissions and improve energy efficiency while generating more energy from low-carbon sources.

Universal Healthcare Vouchers: A National Health Care Voucher plan will provide health care for all Americans.

Native American Health Care

Indian health care promoted
MISSOULA - American Indians will have better health care when they are able to provide the services themselves, the president of a large Alaska Native health care foundation said Thursday.

Doing so will allow Indians more control and reduce their dependence on the federal government, said Katherine Gottlieb, president and CEO of the Southcentral Foundation, which provides health care to more than 45,000 Alaska Natives and American Indians.

Health care also will improve when Indians "own" their own medical services, she said.

"We honor and respect our own," Gottlieb said. "Now that our care is in our own hands, we treat it with respect."

(MG) be assured, Native Americans do NOT receive comparable treatment that Anglo-Americans receive ... not all doctors treat all patients equally.

Gottlieb was one of the speakers at a Missoula health care
conference put on by Indian.

People's Action and the Montana/Wyoming Tribal Leaders Association. Health care providers, hospital and clinic administrators, tribal leaders, and academic and community leaders attended the gathering to discuss the state of Indian health care in Montana.

Montana's Indian population suffers higher rates of disease, death and infant mortality than other populations. But the Southcentral Foundation is turning similar statistics around in Alaska by focusing on prevention and wellness, Gottlieb and Dr. Ted Mala said.

(MG) On a stone in front of a church off of Foster Avenue in Chicago are painted words attributed to Albert Einstein to this effect: The physician of the future will not treat patients for their diseases but rather take an active hand in helping them to take control of their own health ... prevention, neo-natal care, nutrition, it begins before birth and is a life long process ... and how can the health of a nation's people not be a priority item homeland security?

"We're especially interested in prevention," said Mala, director of tribal relations and traditional healing at the foundation.

He said the foundation bases its treatment on traditional culture, including the use of traditional medicine.

The Southcentral Foundation has been around for 25 years. Before that, health care was handled by the federal Indian Health Service.

Gottlieb said health care has improved since Alaska's many tribes came together to run their own health care program in south-central Alaska, which includes Anchorage.

The foundation draws about 45 percent of its budget from IHS but controls how that money is spent, Gottlieb said. It has created a health care system that is responsive, culturally sensitive, proactive and more likely to promote independence over dependence, she said.

The foundation now has more than 1,200 employees and provides more than 65 medical and behavioral health services.

The client, working with doctors and other health care providers, dictates how treatment will progress, Gottlieb said.

"Our providers listen, and we tell them what we need," she said. "It's a conclusion reached by everyone involved."

Brain Wave Therapy for Meth Addicts

(MG) One of the great joys and pleasures of the internet is access to newspapers across the country and around the world. Here's an June 2, 2007 article from the Billings Gazette that offers some hope for meth addicts (and others).

At the Rimrock Foundation, addictions treatment patients are using "cranial electrotherapy" a
"method [that] uses a device called an alpha wave stimulator to send a certain radio frequency through the brain" at a frequency which "lulls the brain's neurons into their most relaxed waking state, called the alpha brainwave state ...
a pleasant place to be" and is naturally achieved "in the moments after you wake up but before you become fully alert" according to Jon Gjersing the nursing director.

People whose brains have been damaged by drug use or other trauma can lose their ability to slip into alpha's meditative mode, and that can prevent them from functioning well day-to-day. It can also block recovery efforts.

Cranial electrotherapy guides the brain into alpha and seems to help it remember how to get there again on its own, said Mona Sumner, Rimrock Foundation's executive director.

"It's almost like this targets the injured part of the brain and starts to promote healing," Sumner said.

"This particular intervention has been probably one of the most effective things we've seen," she said. ...
"It's basically like turbocharging your efforts at meditating" ...

A typical session lasts 20 to 30 minutes, and patients undergo the therapy two to six times a week.

Results are almost immediate, with antsy patients suddenly able to sit still and anxious ones able to relax. Gjersing has seen the therapy ease tremors in people with Parkinson's disease, restore balance and strength to people with multiple sclerosis and reduce discomfort for chronic pain patients.
For recovering meth addicts, the treatment can eliminate all-consuming cravings for the drug ...
Methamphetamine harms the reasoning part of the brain, and it can take up to two years after drug use stops for the brain to regain regular function.
At the very least, the therapy enables meth addicts to function better during those months when their brains are stabilizing.

Alpha wave stimulators can be purchased for a few hundred dollars and used at home, but getting one requires a prescription from a doctor.

(MG) I can't see Big Pharma being happy with these results, but they sure sound encouraging to me ... especially the applications to Parkinson's M.S. and chronic pain patients.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Collectively Defining One's Selves

(MG) In the May 28, 2007 edition of the Black Commentator, Larry Pinkney addresses the importance of self-identification for the black community. His comments apply equally to the Hispanic communities, Muslim communities, the LGBT communities and all other marginalized communities in America.

The Importance Of Collectively Defining Ourselves
By Larry Pinkney
BC Columnist

There is an African parable about a young child who perceptively asks his or her parents, "If the lions are the king of jungle, why are they so often captured and killed by humans?" The parents smile and wisely respond, "When the lions learn to speak for themselves, think for themselves, and define themselves, then shall they truly be king." Indeed, those who define, ultimately control.

To paraphrase the philosopher Albert Camus, "What better way to control a people than to give them [the right of] the vote and then to tell them they're free." In other words, as long as those other than ourselves, define to us Black people what is meant by freedom, justice, fairness and the like, we are, in fact, not truly free, for we continue to be controlled by the definitions of those other than we ourselves.

(MG) Coming from an entirely different context, Thomas Szasz, a clinical psychiatrist voices the same argument.

"The struggle for definition is veritably the struggle for life itself. In the typical Western two men fight desperately for the possession of a gun that has been thrown to the ground: whoever reaches the weapon first shoots and lives; his adversary is shot and dies. In ordinary life, the struggle is not for guns but for words; whoever first defines the situation is the victor; his adversary, the victim. For example, in the family, husband and wife, mother and child do not get along; who defines whom as troublesome or mentally sick?...[the one] who first seizes the word imposes reality on the other; [the one] who defines thus dominates and lives; and [the one] who is defined is subjugated and may be killed."

The institutions of racist white America were and definitely continue to be threatened by Black people who actively and consciously understand what it really means "To Be Black" [BC:To Be Black In America: An Unflinching Necessity - April 19, 2007 - Issue 226 ]. This is why so much of the histories of persons such as Denmark Vessy, Harriet Tubman, W E B DuBois, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Haimer, Paul Robeson, Huey P. Newton, and so many other actively conscious Black people continues to be hidden or distorted even to the present day. This is why the intense struggle to define ourselves and our histories as people of color continues today in the persons of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Assata Shakur, H Rap Brown (Jamil Al-Amin), the Rev. Edward Pinkney, Cynthia McKinney, and a host of others including, no doubt, many of you who are reading this piece.

(MG) In his masterful Vietnam and Other American Fantasies, H. Bruce Franklin has a chapter entitled: The Vietnam War and the Culture Wars; or, the Perils of Western Civilization. Franklin documents the history of the banishing and vanishing of other cultural voices from the American educational scene as follows:
Our contemporary American culture wars are neither new nor peculiar to the United States. The entire social history of the United States (not to mention its prehistory as North American British colonies) can be charted through its culture wars fought over contradictions among race, gender, and class. In education, these issues have always centered on what is to be studied, who should be allowed to study it, who should be selected to teach it, and how it should be taught.

In the first three decades of the nineteenth century, throughout New England and the Middle Atlantic states, there were ... "horrified outcries over the revolutionary, poisonous idea of teaching all children to read and write, even the children of parents who had no money to pay tuition fees." In the ensuing decades, religious opponents of public schools kept making dire predictions that would not seem out of place in today's debates. For example, in 1845 the Presbyterian Synod of New Jersey warned that "irreligious and infidel youth, such as may be expected to issue from public schools, deteriorating more and more with revolving years will not be fit to sustain our free institutions." In an 1830 article titled "Argument against Public Schools," a Philadelphia newspaper explained why education should be reserved for the wealthy:

Literature cannot be acquired without leisure, and wealth gives leisure. ... The "peasant" must labor during those hours of the day which his wealthy neighbor can give to the abstract culture of his mind; otherwise, the earth would not yield enough for the subsistence of all: the mechanic cannot abandon the operations of his trade for general studies; if he could, most of the conveniences of life and objects of exchange would be wanting; languor, decay, poverty, discontent would soon be visible among all classes. No government ... can furnish what is incompatible with the very organization and being of civil society.

In the 1830s, as the industrial revolution was transforming plantation agriculture, most of the slave states outlawed literacy for Afro-Americans. A Virginia law of 1831, for instance, decreed "that all meetings of free negroes or mulattoes, at any school-house, church, meeting-house or other place for teaching them reading or writing, either in the day or night, under whatsoever pretext, shall be deemed and considered an unlawful assembly."

The Morrill Act which established the land-grant colleges to provide higher education for working-class young men -- and, later, women -- could come about in 1862 only because of the wartime absence of congressmen from the slaveholding states. In 1857 President James Buchanan had vetoed the bill, declaring that it violated states' rights and set a dangerous precedent of federal aid to education.

As for the proper study of literature in America, we need to keep reminding ourselves that the holy canon of great literature presented to us by today's conservative cultural warriors as a timeless gift of God, somewhat akin to the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai, is in fact quite recent and has been continually changing throughout our history. Until the Civil War, the only literature considered worthy of serious study was the Greek and Roman classics. Defenders of the canon then were as alarmist as those today. ... The Modern Language Association--the organization of college and university teachers of post-classical literature and languages--was formed in 1883 as part of the struggle against the monopoly of Greek and Roman literature. English literature, American literature, modern literature--each new transformation of the canon was greeted with howls of outrage and alarm.

In the first two decades after World War I. the wost fears of the cultural conservatives seemed to be materializing. Not only were aesthetic standards being challenged and inferior modern writers displacing the classics, but also the very definition of literature was being brazenly widened to include the most vulgar forms, some not even written at all.

Bu the early 1930s, anthologies of American literature often included generous selections of Native American poetry, African American spirituals and blues, ballads and work songs, folk tales, and other forms of popular and oral literature. The most widely used anthology of poetry, for example was Louis Untermeyer's two-volume opus, American Poetry from the Beginning to Whitman and Modern American Poetry. The first volume included examples and analyses of the earliest African American poetry, plus sections titled "American Indian Poetry"; "Spanish-Colonial Verse": "Early American Ballads"; "Negro Spirituals"; "Negro Social, 'Blues' and Work-Songs": " 'Negroid' Melodies"; "Cowboy Songs and Hobo Harmonies"; "Backwoods Ballads"; and "City Gutturals." The various editions of Modern American Poetry track the rise of African American literature. The first editions, of 1919 and 1921, contained poems by Paul Laurence Bunbar. By the fifth edition, in 1936, there was major representation of other black poets, including James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, and Countee Cullen. These same black poets were also well represented in such other widely used anthologies as Alfred Kreymborg's Lyric America: An Anthology of American Poetry, 1630-1930 ... and The New Poetry: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Verse in English, edited by Harriet Monroe and Alice Corbin Henderson ... To meet the growing demand, anthologies of African American literature poured from major publishers. Yet from at least the mid-1950s until the late 1960s, African American literature was entirely eliminated from the standard American literature anthologies, bibliographies, histories, criticism, and college and university courses (except for some of the "Negro" colleges).

How did all the multicultural and popular literature manage to escape from its ghettos and get accepted into the prestigious neighborhood of literary studies? And how did it get forced back into its ghetto in the 1940s and 1950s--and even wiped from the pages of literary history? And what does all of this have to do with the Vietnam War and the postwar culture wars? To answer these questions in a way that will offer the deepest insights into the subject matter of this book, it is necessary to place them in the context of the most important historical event of the past five hundred years: the rise and fall of a global imperialist system dependent on racial domination and colonialism. In this light it is also possible to see the fullest significance of the Vietnam War, which plays a unique and crucial role in this history.

By 1800, as the industrial revolution was beginning to transmute the political economy of the planet, Europeans and their descendants--that is, "white" people--owned or controlled 35 percent of the earth's land surface. By 1875 this figure had approximately doubled with white people ruling 67 percent of the earth's surface. Imperialism's rapid expansion had entered a period of ferocious struggle over the last remaining lands available for colonization. As part of this process, continental powers such as the United States and Russia wiped out most of the indigenous populations blocking their expansion, whether westward across North America or eastward across Siberia. As another part of the process, the United States invaded and annexed the northern half of Mexico in 1848-49 and became a self-proclaimed global imperialist power in the 1890s with the seizure of Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. As still another part of the same process, France between 1858 and 1883 completed its conquest of the nation of Vietnam. By 1914 white people owned or controlled 85 percent of the earth's land.

To make all this seem rational, moral, and just, European culture had to be fundamentally racist, deeply imperial, and, at the same time, intensely nationalistic. Axiomatic within the dominant culture of each nation-state was a belief in the superiority not simply of the white race but of that nation's particular culture.

Such was the background of "the Great War," later aptly renamed the First World War. It was not caused by the assassination of some Austrian archduke by a Serbian nationalist. This was a war about redividing the planet. On one side the main combatants were the three largest colonial empires of the world--England, France, and Russia--while on the other side were the would-be great colonial empires landlocked in Europe (the Central Powers), allied with the Ottoman Empire, which was being dismembered by the European empires, When the United States plunged in on the side of the global empires, it began its role as the preeminent power of the twentieth century.

World War produced two unforeseen events with profound implications for the rest of the twentieth century, including the cultural wars of our historical epoch. The first was the Russian Revolution, which sparked communist revolutions and revolutionary movements from Mongolia to Germany and then around the world. The second was the national liberation movements of the colored peoples in the colonies and neo-colonies of the great empires.

The embattled French and British empires had taken two very dangerous steps during the war: they had brought troops from their colonies in Africa and Asia into the European battlefield, and they had ordered many of their African and Asian subjects to violate the most fundamental taboo underlying white colonial rule, the prohibition against people of color ever committing violence against white people. What happened to the consciousness of the African troops from the French and British colonies, for example, when they were ordered to kill white Germans? Even more dangerous was the light shed on the fundamental rationale of white colonialism--what the British called "the white man's burden" and what the French called "la mission civilisatrice"--that the "West" was bringing "civilization" to the backward, benighted colored peoples of the world. The colonized peoples were of course already aware of the misery and oppression brought to their homelands by these civilizers, and so were some people from the colonizing nations. For example, back in the middle of the nineteenth century, a young American author and ex-sailor named Herman Melville, whose global voyages had allowed him to witness some of the ravages of European colonialism, became convinced that "the white civilized man," as he put it in 1845, is "the most ferocious animal on the face of the earth." During World War I, what Africans and Asians, as well as American "Negroes," say in the great cradle of "Western civilization" was an insane orgy of mass murder and devastation on an unprecedented scale, as the hallmark of this civilization, its miraculous technology and vast production, was used to turn portions of Europe into poisonous wastelands.

In the global cultural and political wars emerging from World War I, the hegemony of European culture, as well as its alleged aesthetic and moral superiority, was directly challenged by people of color everywhere. This was the period, for example, of the May Fourth Movement in China, the Harlem Renaissance with its roots in the British Caribbean colonies, and the movement among francophone peoples in Africa and the Caribbean. Among the political and intellectual leaders who were to emerge from this awakening were Jomo Kenyatta, first president of Kenya; Sukarno, first president of Indonesia; Kwame Nkrumah, first president of Ghana; Mao Tse-tung of China; Carlos Bulosan of the Philippines; Agostinho Neto, first president of Angola; Leopold Senghor, first president of Senegal; and Ho Chi Minh. Many of these leaders were also distinguished literary figures, including such fine poets as Neto, Mao, Ho, and Senghor, who, together with Aime Cesaire, co-founded the negritude movement and translated many worked from the Harlem Renaissance into French. Culture, especially literary culture, in the lives of these anti-imperial revolutionaries was never divorced from political issues and action.

The explosion and recognition of multicultural and popular literature in America during the 1920s and 1930s must be seen in this global context of the anti colonial movement among people of color, the revulsion against the carnage of war, and the Russian Revolution, which was soon offering a theoretical basis for proletarian and ethnic literatures. It is no mere coincidence that the 1920s was the decade of both the Harlem Renaissance and the Jazz Age, a term borrowed from African American popular culture. Then, when the Great Depression struck the United States in 1928, it also blasted holes in dams that had long separated "high" and "low" culture, releasing a flood of multi-ethnic, working-class, and sometimes even revolutionary literature that threatened to overwhelm the dominant British tradition.

The conservative reaction against the radicalization of 1930s culture was swift and increasingly powerful. In literary studies it took three interrelated forms. First was the cult of the "great books," originally codified by overtly racist propagandists and soon institutionalized at Columbia and the University of Chicago, two universities in urban centers most threatened by the rising flood of radicalism. Second was a rigidly tightened definition of the canon of "major" or "great" literature to be included in anthologies and course, one that eliminated all writers of color. but most important in shaping the study of literature in the 1940s, 1950, and 1960s before the impact of the Vietnam War was New Criticism.

Although New Criticism came to be regarded as an apolitical methodology designed to study literature for "its own sake," without any corruption influence from ideology or social context, that was neither its founding purpose nor its enduring effect. The original New Critics, first coalescing at Vanderbilt University, explicitly presented themselves as "reactionary" saviors of the culture of Western civilization from the encroachments of the subcultural influences of colored and other working-class people. Their announced purpose ... was to combat "vulgar" culture, promulgating in its place the "finest" values of "the Old South" and literature congenial to their ideology. For example, the leading New Critic Allen Tate declared that "the Negro" had "had much the same thinning influence upon the class above him as the anonymous city proletariat has had upon the culture of industrial capitalism," and then went on to explain that "the Negro" "got everything from the white man," but "we could graft no new life upon the Negro; he was too different, too alien." The hallmark of New Critical methodology--intricately detailed and nuanced readings of texts--was actually a corollary of these texts deemed worthy of study, texts filled with elaborate ambiguities and ironies, texts therefore not easily accessible to common readers. In the two decades after World War II, New Criticism triumphed not only in American higher education but in the teaching of literature throughout elementary and high schools as well.

This is also precisely why trojan horse US Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, went so far as to smugly and most inaccurately state that "there is no Black America." [Reference NPR: Can Barack Obama Win the Black Vote?] Obama's "there is no Black America" assertion is an abomination, and is exactly the kind of dangerously ridiculous and demeaning rhetoric that Black America has endured from white racist political candidates. Perhaps, he wishes that there were "no Black America" and no Black American collective consciousness of Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Haimer, Medgar Evers, or even Martin Luther King, Jr. Perhaps, he wishes simply to define Black America out of existence. Black America will never allow itself or its ongoing collective struggle to be defined out of existence by Mr."There is no Black America"- Barack Obama or anyone else, regardless of their biological color. This is an example of how utterly horrendous the act of allowing others, who in actuality do not represent our social, economic, or cultural experience, to define who Black Americans are and can be. To Barack Obama, we Black Americans will surely say, as did our African ancestors, "Beware of the naked man who offers you clothes." Black America does exist and we shall continue this struggle to collectively define ourselves.

In our daily lives we must reject the subtle and overt racist assertions of white America. Simply replacing some white faces with a few biologically Black faces in television commercials for some white owned product or company is not progress or freedom. It is opportunistic exploitation, combined with cynical tokenism on the part of white racist, corporate, capitalist America. We must not let ourselves or our young people be defined by this most insidious form of cultural and financial exploitation. As Gil Scott-Heron and others so aptly said back in the day, truly "the revolution will not be televised." An important part of this ongoing political and cultural revolution or struggle in America (and it is ongoing) is all about definitions and defining. We must continue to collectively define ourselves as Black people in the 21st century.

Another potent weapon regularly used by others to negatively and inaccurately define us Black people and other people of color in America is the so-called "news" and information media. Just as when the so-called news and information media actively sought to demonize and discredit Marcus Garvey, his organization, and those who were a part of it, including the parents of Malcolm X, so it is today that it does precisely the same thing, albeit now sometimes utilizing a few well-placed token biological "people of color" to be white America's defining spokespersons of disinformation.

So it is today that far too few of our young Black, Brown, and Red youth know the repression against, and the actual detailed histories of, struggle by organizations in the 60s and 70s such as the Brown Berets, the American Indian Movement, and even the Black Panther Party etc. Indeed, today, the American "news" media continues to play a pivotal role in defining and misinforming people nationally and globally about the deplorable and worsening social and economic conditions endured by the vast majority of people of color in America. Moreover, even presently, a favorite bogey man / disinformation target of the US news media continues to be the Black Panther Party, which the US Government viciously wiped out, just as it had done to Marcus Garvey's organization in years prior. [Reference Biased Reporting on the BPP - Assata Speaks - Hands Off Assata - Let's Get Free].

We must not, for example, buy into the well perpetuated myth that all rap, hip-hop, or spoken word is disrespectful and monstrous for it is not, as the hip-hop / spoken word artist Black Man Preach demonstrates on the cd / album Bumpy Tymes. It shook me to my core and reminded me of the awesome responsibility we have to pass on active consciousness to our younger sisters and brothers. If we seriously do this, they will, more often than not, respond by defining positively themselves and their Black people. As back in the day, the incomparable Pharaoh Sanders wailed, "The creator has a master plan...." Ah, yes.

All of us have the sacred responsibility to take an active part in this ongoing process of defining and articulating what and who we people in Black America are. ALL of us must be the lions and lionesses that collectively define and articulate for ourselves, our youth, and the rest of the world, our past, our present, and most importantly, our future - as we keep on keeping it real.

Hate War, always. We must. pt 10

(MG) This post picks up from the latter parts of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's Time to Break Silence speech delivered 4 April, 1967. Its message resound today, echoing down from time across the rubble of Iraq, and the cesspool of the rotting American soul.


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 in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called "enemy," I am as deeply concerned about our own 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 a hell for the poor.

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 one who loves America, to the leaders of our 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, and I quote:

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 (unquote).

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. 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 horrible, 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:

Number one: End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.

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

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

Four: 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 any future Vietnam government.

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

Part of our ongoing...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 must provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country, if necessary. Meanwhile... 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 and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative method 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 a path now 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.

Now 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 that 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...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.

And so, 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 has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia 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 investments. 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...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, extreme 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 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 South 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 hand 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 the veins of peoples 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 engage in a negative anticommunism, 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.

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds 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 antirevolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that 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 mountain 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 worldwide 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 mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft 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 not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. 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-Muslim-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 every one 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. And 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" (unquote).

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, 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 flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues 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. Omar Khayyam is right: "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on."

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. 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 calling 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 a moment to decide,

In the strife of Truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side;

Some great cause, God's new Messiah offering 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 portions 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.

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace.

If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Hate War - Always we must - part 9

(MG) Of all the the people who have come to oppose war, few if any, had as much to lose as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. Even today, to read his Time To Break Silence speech, delivered 4 April, 1967, at the Riverside Baptist Church, exactly one year to the day before he was assassinated, makes one ask: "How did this preacher man, so focused on the civil rights of black American citizens, come to have such an intimate knowledge of and understanding of the forces at work ravaging the people and country of Viet Nam?"

(MG) I've excerpted portions that make the hairs on my arms stand at attention, or bring tears streaming from my eyes. Always, reading this speech, or listening to it, my reactions are identical. I am in the presence of a prophet, a voice crying out in the wilderness, a holy man of God trying to save his country, trying to save its peoples -- from themselves.

(MG) It causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble ...


I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join 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 statements 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." And 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.

And 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 movements 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 the 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 misunderstanding, 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 must play in the successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reasons 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 National Liberation Front, 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.

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 this 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. And 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. And so we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. 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 ask -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They ask 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 the 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 until 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 1954; 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'm 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?

And finally, as I try to explain 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 the victims of our nation and for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, 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 1954* -- in 1945 *rather* -- 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 their 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 Agreement. 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 rooted 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 United States' influence and then by increasing numbers of United States 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 dictators 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 the 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 on 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 out 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 noncommunist 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.

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 a 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 the United States of 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 not have a 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 upon 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.

(MG) If I had the power to make the rules governing what is to be taught to public school children in the U.S.A., the memorizing of this speech would be at the top of the list.

(MG) And if one were to change the words Viet Nam to Iraq, and change the word Vietnamese to Iraqis, how much would one have to alter this speech to produce as cogent a plea against the invasion and occupation of Iraq today?

(MG) We have all been here before. My, how quickly we forget.