Friday, January 30, 2009

From the Mouths of the Wealthy

What is it like to be the spoiled sex partner of a wealthy, thieving, taxpayer-sponging banker? Well, for those who have no souls, here they are.

Blog charts woes of dating Wall Street bankers

By Jill Serjeant Jill Serjeant Fri Jan 30, 12:15 pm ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) – Their clothing allowance has been halved, they've had to fire their personal trainers and their sex lives have tanked.

They're the once-pampered -- now highly disgruntled -- women partners of U.S. bankers and they're speaking out about how the financial meltdown has changed their lives and their relationships.

Dating A Banker Anonymous (, a blog started by two New Yorkers, has made waves on the blogosphere this week with its tales of woe.

The venture has sparked a feminist backlash, suspicions of a marketing stunt, and hilarity over accounts of weekends in Europe and opera tickets being traded for gloomy nights at home with anxious bankers who are fixated by TV financial news.

"The sitter's hours are cut, both the family and my private credit card are cut in half, and I'm switching from having my facials and massages in my earthy, yoga-and-wine serving downtown spa to a midtown been-in-business-forever place with ladies in cubbies wearing pink jackets and lots of make-up giving facials only," says one entry from Cathy, who wrote about life in Manhattan with a banker husband whose income was cut in January by 75 percent.

The blog is described as a "a safe place where women can come together -- free from the scrutiny of feminists -- and share their tearful tales of how the mortgage meltdown has affected their relationships."


Comments on the blog in recent days ranged from sympathy, accusations of heartless gold digging, scorn from feminists and laughter at what some presume is satire in a era when Wall Street's excesses are facing plenty of mockery.

In a blog on the National Public Radio website, Linda Holmes suspected the venture was a publicity stunt aimed at getting its creators a TV show or book deal.

"My guess is that the women are setting themselves up for a kind of reality-show 'Confessions Of A Shopaholic' book, real-but-not-real, and ... whatever, they're not hurting anyone," Hunt wrote on Thursday.

Ryan Tate, writing on, called the women "an imploding caste of spoiled harpies" whose boyfriends and ex-lovers "spent their economic plunder as carelessly as they hoarded it."

Best friends Laney Crowell, a beauty editor, and lawyer Megan Petrus of New York, say they started the site when they realized their FBF's (finance guy boyfriends) had become emotional trainwrecks due to the collapse of venerable financial institutions.

"We felt our relationships were being victimized by the economy ... Not knowing what else to do, we did what enraged yet articulate people have done since the beginning of time. We started a blog," they wrote on their blog.

Crowell and Petrus spoke to the New York Times this week but could not immediately be contacted by Reuters on Thursday.

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Frances Kerry)

Yes, you started a blog, about what it is to be a poor little rich one, while people go without jobs, homes, and health care. I mean, hey, they go without caffe lattes. All the while, every automobile factory and steel worker in my family (four generations of workers in those industries) have lost their jobs and under threat of losing everything (health care, pensions, everything they have worked for). But these people are losing their manicures.

Maybe Robespierre was right after all.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Victory for Justice: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act

President Obama is signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act today. It is a great day for justice and equality. It was made necessary because our wonderful Supreme Court, whose Chief Justice cannot remember how to correctly recite an oath, ruled that pay discrimination cases must be filed within six months of hire (effectively outlawing all pay discrimination lawsuits because it typically takes years to find pay disparity). It was one of the Supreme Court's worst rulings since it overturned parts of the Violence Against Women Act (dealing with lawsuits against men who kidnapped women [apparently, most of our Supreme Court is populated by anti-litigious cavemen with kidnap dungeons hidden underneath their houses]).


Obama To Sign Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Thursday

Kris Alingod - AHN Contributor

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - President Barack Obama is scheduled to sign into law on Thursday the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill giving workers more time to make pay discrimination complaints.

The President will sign the measure at 10:00 am ET at the East Room of the White House. He will be joined by First Lady Michelle Obama.

The White House has said in a statement, "This bill will be a big step forward not just for women, but for families. It is not only a measure of fairness, but can be the difference for families struggling to make ends meet during these difficult times."

The President will also briefly attend a reception for Lilly Ledbetter, the Alabama woman for whom the legislation is named.

In November 1998, Ledbetter, who endorsed Obama during the presidential race, had sued her employer of 20 years, the Goodyear tire company, for pay discrimination. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 by a vote of 5-4 reversing a lower court's decision and saying Goodyear was not required to pay her any back wages because two decades was too long a period for the complaint. Ledbetter had claimed she had been paid 40% less than her male co-workers.

Democrats had tried but failed to pass a bill, the Fair Pay Restoration Act, that would have effectively overturned the Supreme Court ruling. Republicans had argued the bill would make employers vulnerable to lawsuits.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed by the House on Tuesday by a 250-177 vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had said in a media availability after the vote, "Congress has taken a bold step to move away from that parsimonious interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court. In doing so, it has injected fairness, reason and common sense back into our policy."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said last week when the Senate passed the measure, "Republicans and Democrats united around ensuring that hardworking individuals across this country should be paid fairly - and that they will have a fair shot to fight back when they are not. There is no reason anyone should take home a paycheck different from his or her coworker's based solely on that worker's gender, race, age, ethnicity or disability. And in a historically weak economy such as ours, American families can no longer afford it."

Lilly Ledbetter, for those who do not know, is a lady from Alabama who discovered that the company she worked for over the course of decades systematically discriminated against female workers at her Goodyear Tire plant when it came time for raises (and based on the same level of job performance). It should have been a clear cut case of sex discrimination, which is banned under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, but lawsuits against wealthy corporations are one of those things that angers Republicans the most (since they are for the most part sponsored by those corporations). Our business-minded misogynists claimed such lawsuits would hurt business, and so it would, if your business discriminated against people.

Here is Lilly describing her struggles with Goodyear and why it is so important to end pay discrimination.

Congratulations, Lilly and to all of those who now have an extra legal avenue for those to fight discrimination.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Moron Report #29: The Struggle for Blago

For the first time ever, or since I have been writing this blog, Rod Blagojevich has earned the distinct honor of being a subject of my moron report, twice. And he did not get there by accident. No, he channeled Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. I am sure they told him to extort his contributors and job seekers for cash and favors, over the phone, knowing that he was under federal investigation the entire time. Congrats, Rod, you are officially a moron twice over.

Blagojevich takes his case to TV circuit

(CNN) -- As Gov. Rod Blagojevich's impeachment trial proceedings got under way Monday, the embattled Illinois governor hit the media circuit, answering questions about Oprah, foul language and why he isn't resigning.

Blagojevich appeared Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America" and "The View," and gave his first live prime-time interview on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"I'm not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing," Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell President Obama's former Senate seat, told King. "I'm entitled to a presumption of innocence."

Blagojevich also further explained comments that he channeled major political figures who overcame adversity as he was being arrested.

"I've been criticized for this, but I'm not comparing myself to Dr. King or Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi, but I tried to reach in to history and imagine some inspiring figures that would have gone through something like I was going through for sustenance and inspiration."

Blagojevich also said that he looks forward to the day when he can tell his story in full, rather than people judging him by snippets of conversation released to the media. Video Watch Blagojevich tell Larry King he's done nothing wrong »

The governor said he is the victim of political enemies who want to raise taxes in Illinois.

"Snippets of conversations out of full context is unfair," Blagojevich told CNN. "If the full context, all of the tapes are heard, you hear the story of someone trying to make decisions and maneuver for the best intentions of the people of Illinois."

However, Blagojevich said he has not listened to the tapes in their entirety.

He addressed the news that his lead attorney, Ed Jenson, is leaving his defense team. "Look, I think lawyers like that want you to simply say nothing, and I'm champing at the bit, dying to show my innocence."

Blagojevich said his legal fees will be paid through campaign funds.

Blagojevich did say he looked forward to calling witnesses -- including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel; Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois; and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- who had conversations with him about who should replace Barack Obama as the junior senator from Illinois. Blagojevich maintained the goal of the conversations was to get the best senator for the people of Illinois.

"There was a lot of exchanging of ideas, asking questions, exploring options -- including Oprah Winfrey -- but never, not ever did I have any intention of violating any criminal law," Blagojevich said. "Never was this about selling any Senate seat for any kind of personal gain."

On both of his ABC appearances and on CNN, Blagojevich explained why talk-show host Oprah Winfrey was a contender to fill Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

"I was trying to think outside of the box. The idea came to me from a friend who suggested Oprah -- it wasn't my idea," Blagojevich told CNN. "I threw it around in conversation with senior staff and political advisers, who were all involved in this whole adventure we're on.

"And among the things we talked about was the, you know, the unlikelihood she would be interested in it, because she has a bully pulpit that's worldwide and more influence that U.S. senators combined -- all 100 of them."

Winfrey said that she had no idea she was under consideration. She said she found out from best friend Gayle King, who called to tell her on Monday morning. Video Watch Oprah's reaction »

Winfrey said she was "amused by the whole thing" but would have turned down the proposal had it been made.

Blagojevich also said he was worried about how to present the offer to Winfrey without it looking like a gimmick.

The governor said the talks never got to that point "partly because I was interrupted on December 9."

Blagojevich and his chief of staff were arrested then on federal corruption charges, including allegations that the governor tried to trade or sell the Senate seat that became vacant after Obama was elected president.

Blagojevich ended up picking former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to replace Obama. Share your questions for Blagojevich

The governor's impeachment trial began Monday in the Illinois Senate. The Illinois House of Representatives impeached him earlier this month.

Blagojevich has denied any wrongdoing.

A 76-page criminal complaint against Blagojevich includes snippets of intercepted phone calls involving the governor's alleged efforts to benefit from the Senate vacancy. Those conversations are laced with expletives.

Asked on "Larry King Live" about his foul mouth, Blagojevich said, "Had I known someone was listening, I wouldn't have used language like that. For those who might have been offended, I apologize. Again, I didn't know you were listening."

He also defended his wife, Patti, saying he takes responsibility for any recordings of her using foul language because he may have rubbed off on her.

"I was raised in a big city in a tough neighborhood, and when you're a kid growing up in a neighborhood like that, you would never say words like that in front of your mother. But when you're out there at the schoolyard ... it's just sort of the thing you do," he said.

"Unfortunately, you try to get rid of some of those habits; you may have left the neighborhood, but part of that neighborhood never left you."

In each of his media appearances Monday, Blagojevich maintained his innocence. He said the impeachment proceedings are unfair because he is unable to call witnesses.

The governor said he is the victim of political enemies who want to raise taxes in Illinois.

Asked by "The View's" Barbara Walters why he doesn't step down for the sake of his state and his dignity, Blagojevich said resigning would be "the worst thing I could do."

"I'm an innocent man who has not done anything wrong. And when you're wrongfully accused and you're not given the chance to properly defend yourself ... for me to resign would be to admit that I did something wrong, which I did not do."


Blagojevich said resigning also would be a way for him to "disgrace" his children. iReport: Your questions for the governor

"So I'm going to fight to the finish because there's a bigger principle here and it's this: Can a legislature take out a governor elected by the people two times without giving that governor a chance to confront witnesses, bring witnesses in and prove his innocence? That's what they are doing in Illinois, and that's why I'm here in New York -- because this is much bigger than me or Illinois."

Thanks to this future felon, Obama's replacement is a man with his own living mausoleum.

By the way, here are some of the tapes of the soon-to-be ex-Governor of Illinois.

Here is another take, and much funnier, I might add.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Profiles in Crime: Murderers of the Week, Bay City Electric Light & Power

If there really is a hell, I hope to the goddess above that the "people" who turned out the lights and life on this 93-year old man burn in the Ninth Circle.

WWII Veteran Freezes To Death In Own Home

Bay City Electric & Light Restricted Power To Man's Home After Not Paying Bills
POSTED: 2:20 pm EST January 26, 2009
UPDATED: 6:33 pm EST January 26, 2009

Officials in central Michigan say a 93-year-old man who owned more than $1,000 in unpaid electric bills froze to death inside his home -- where the municipal power company had restricted his use of electricity.

Neighbors and friends of Marvin Schur want answers as to how this could happen.

“Now that we do know it was hypothermia, there’s a whole bunch of feelings that I’ve got going through me,” said Jim Herndon, a neighbor of Schur’s. “There’s anger, for the city and the electrical company.”Bay City officials said changes are on the way in an attempt to not let another instance like this happen again.
An autopsy determined Schur, 93, died from hypothermia in the home he lived in for years.

Bay City Electric Light and Power sent Schur a shutoff notice through the mail a few weeks ago.Then crews placed a shutoff notice on his front door. A few days later, Schur was found by neighbors.

Bay City Electric Light and Power, which is owned by the city, said a limiter was placed on Schur’s electrical line.

The device limits the power that reaches a home, and it blows out like a fuse if power consumption rises past a set level.The manager of Bay City said the limiter was tripped sometime between the time of installation and the discovery of the man's body.

The city manager said city workers keep the limiter on a house for 10 days, then shut off power entirely if the homeowner hasn't paid utility bills or arranged to do so.A medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Schur told TV5 and that Schur died a painful death due to the hypothermia.

Dr. Kanu Varani has done hundreds of autopsies, and he said he’d never seen a person die of hypothermia indoors.

A neighbor who lives across the street from Schur is angered that the city didn’t personally notify the elderly man about his utility situation.

Schur’s neighbor, Herndon, said Schur had a utility bill on his kitchen table with a large amount of money clipped to it, with the intention of paying that bill.Right now the city said the situation is still under investigation. Marvin Schur was a World War II veteran.A memorial service for him will take place Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. at the Gephart Funeral Home in Bay City.

There can be no excuse for this whatsoever. I am from the Midwest. I know how cold it gets this time of the year. They had to know what the consequences would be of turning off this man's power in near zero temperatures, with the kind of wind and snow ripping through that area in late January. This man suffered terribly and died a slow and sad to say painful death, probably taking hours to succumb to the elements inside of his own house. In any other setting, this would be prosecutable, the defendants (in this case, the city government) arrested, thrown in jail and, in a death penalty state, sent to the poison needle room. In today's society, of course, such punishment is only reserved for people too stupid or poor to afford real attorneys, or lucky enough to have the sponsorship of the state when murdering its elderly citizens, not the least a man who served this country in World War Two.

Rest in peace, Marvin Schur. You deserved a country that rewarded your service with some modicum of respect.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Nazi Pope: Benedict XVI

I admit upfront that I am no fan of Joseph Ratzinger (aka, Pope Benedict XVI). He has spent the better part of the last four decades making the Catholic Church into a reactionary, misogynistic, right-wing institution, rolling back many of the gains of the Second Vatican Council. Indeed, it was the horrid, hate-filled policies of the Catholic Church, along with the raping of God knows how many children (and the Vatican's protection of these pedophiles and their harboring supporters like Bernard Law and Roger Mahony), in conjunction with my increasingly secular worldview that naturally swells up from any person who takes seriously his or her biology class, that pushed me away from the Church. The thought of ever stepping back into one of these churches, or looking at a priest as anything less than a closeted deviant, instills in me a healthy dislike for my old faith (a hatred that only fellow recovering Catholics can truly know the depths of).

Low and behold, just when I thought the leadership of this woman-hating cult could get no worse, our kindly Pope Benedict XVI gives us a whole new reason to lament that Stalin's tanks did not reach Rome.

Pope move ignites Holocaust row

The Pope has lifted the excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church of four bishops appointed by a breakaway archbishop more than 20 years ago.

One of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre's appointees, Briton Richard Williamson, outraged Jews by saying the Nazi gas chambers did not exist.

Two of the other three appointees are French while the fourth is Argentinean.

Israel's envoy to the Vatican said the papal decision would "cast a shadow on relations with Jews".

"We have no intention of interfering in the internal workings of the Catholic Church, however, the eagerness to bring a Holocaust denier back into the Church will cast a shadow on relations between Jews and the Catholic Church," Mordechai Lewy told Reuters news agency.

Lefebvre, who died in 1991, rebelled against liberal reforms in the Church, such as the end of the Latin Mass.

He opposed replacing the traditional Mass with services in national languages.

The Vatican said the excommunications had been lifted after the bishops affirmed their willingness to accept Church teachings and papal authority.

'No gas chambers'

Relations between the Vatican and representatives of the Jewish faith have been strained throughout much of the Church's recent history; Jewish groups have accused Pope Pius of turning a blind eye to the fate of the Jews in World War II.

The latest move by Pope Benedict is likely to add to those strains.

Bishop Richard Williamson recently told Swedish TV: "I believe there were no gas chambers. I think that two to three hundred thousand Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps but none of them by gas chambers."

The Vatican has distanced itself from those remarks.

But its spokesman, Rev Federico Lombardi, still stood by the decision to rehabilitate Bishop Williamson and the others.

"This act regards the lifting of the excommunications, period," he told reporters.

"It has nothing to do with the personal opinions of a person, which are open to criticism, but are not pertinent to this decree."

The concentration on Williamson is disingenuous. In actuality, the founding leader of this Jew-hating sect, Marcel Lefebvre, was himself also a Holocaust denier (claiming that Jews were never murdered en masse during the Holocaust), and a supporter of fascism (a friend of Franco, Salazar, and Pinochet, as well as a supporter of Petain's Nazi collaborating Vichy regime). Lefebvre was also prosecuted in France for racism when he openly opposed the allowance for Muslim immigrants in France. Marcel Lefebvre was basically a neo-Nazi, as is his organization (which previously gave refuge to wanted WWII-era war criminals). By bringing these people back into the fold of the Church, this is Benedict's message of what he thinks of the rest of the world. It is why Catholicism is dying and hopefully will continue to contract and decompose, in Europe, the US, Latin America, everywhere its churches exist, until one day the stupidity and ignorance of this controlling evil is done away with.

And just in case Bill Donohue or one of his minions from the Catholic League is reading, here is what I really think of you.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

AKs in American Cities

Here is something to whet the appetite for all of those gun lovers out there. No doubt, their answer would be, if only the victims had automatic weapons and grenade launchers, this all could have been prevented....

Victims say masked gunman responsible for Miami shootings

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Miami police issued a plea for information Saturday after at least one person with an assault rifle opened fire on a crowd of people on a streetcorner Friday night, killing two teens and wounding seven other people.

"We need the community to come together, someone come forward and give us a tip," Miami Police Officer Kenia Alfonso told CNN.

"There are a lot of people in that area. Someone must have seen something, someone must know who could've done this horrific crime."

Alfonso said two teens, ages 16 and 18, died in the attack, which broke up a game of craps in front of a grocery store about 9:50 p.m. Friday in the city's Liberty City neighborhood.

Five of the shooting victims were still in the hospital Saturday night, according to CNN affiliate WSVN.

Others told WSVN that a masked man with an AK-47 burst onto the scene and ordered everyone to the ground.

"Boy came round the corner; he was like, 'Get down,' and he just started shooting," 16-year-old victim Andrew Jackson told WSVN.

Six of the nine shot were current or former Northwestern Senior High School students, Alfonso said.

"It was like a war zone," resident Joan Rutherford told WSVN. "I witnessed this guy laying there with his face, looked like it was completely tore off. His eyes was all I could see, and he had a grip on some money and gasping and trying to lift his head up to say something."

Police Chief John Timoney said that at least one man with an AK-47 "discharged numerous rounds, then ran around the corner. There were some more rounds discharged there from an AK-47 and another weapon."

One of those wounded was in critical condition Saturday and undergoing surgery, Timoney said.

"We are convinced that because of the amount of people out here last night that there is somebody that knows the individuals or individual involved, and we need them to come forward," Timoney said, according to WSVN.


"These are weapons of war, and they don't belong on the streets of Miami or any other street in America," Mayor Manuel Diaz said. Video Watch Miami residents call for stricter laws »

Sure, this is the fault of people with masks, never the guns, not the least a permissive culture of gun ownership that makes trotting around with an AK-47 acceptable. Surely, this is what Madison had in mind when he wrote the Second Amendment.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It is Choice Day

Thanks to the good folks at Bitch Ph.D. and NARAL for this important reminder. Today is the 36th anniversary of one of the most important human rights of any woman--to decide when and if to give birth. It is something we should treasure, first, because so many people in this country cannot bring themselves to trust women to make their own choices on childbirth, and also on account that we assume the permanence of certain rights that we have in a free society.

The right to an abortion is special and different from other rights in one major way. It was created by the Supreme Court in its Roe v. Wade decision, and even though the right to an abortion is every bit a part of the spirit and tradition of individual choice in our Bill of Rights it can be easily taken away by any future court decision. The government can temporarily ignore the Fourth Amendment guarantee on search and seizure, even violate it blatantly, but the Fourth Amendment will always be there. Roe v. Wade was created by the court's growing acceptance of the right to privacy, which itself was a product of a court-invented right to contraceptives in Griswold v. Connecticut. Consequently, because this right can be rescinded on the whim of five like-minded justices, such as the fool who administered the oath of office yesterday, this is not something we should take lightly. Without the maintenance of stare decisis, the right to choice can disappear, and it most certainly would in many of our states that have already passed resolutions pledging to ban it if the Supreme Court ever overturns Roe (putting the issue back to the states).

Also, while there will be those who believe that a fetus is equivalent to a live, breathing human being, you will never see the anti-abortion crowd denounce their date of births as a contrived feminist conspiracy to make them forget their first nine months of "life." We know instinctively there is a difference. And even if one was still morally opposed to abortion, like with gay marriage, it can be easily avoided by choosing not to have one. That is the whole point of being pro-choice, leaving this momentous decision to the woman, not the state or any of its nannies from the ranks of our pulpits. So, on this date in 1973, we won a great victory for everyone (yes, men too, when you consider we are half the act in pregnancies). Here is to hoping we are celebrating it 36 years from now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Moron Report #28: Chief Justice Roberts

Just in time for the inauguration, our esteemed Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, the honorable John Roberts, was attacked and possessed by the departing intellect of George W. Bush. Of course, I am certain it is a total coincidence that then-Senator Obama voted against the confirmation of Justice Roberts. Congratulations, Johnny, welcome to my hall of shame.

A Few Rough Patches for a Presidential Oath

Published: January 20, 2009

For a couple of smooth-talking constitutional experts, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and President Obama had a hard time getting through the constitutional oath of office.

There was a false start by Mr. Obama, who started to respond before Chief Justice Roberts had completed the first phrase. Mr. Obama ended up saying the first two words — “I, Barack” — twice.

Then there was an awkward pause after Chief Justice Roberts prompted Mr. Obama with these words: “That I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.” The chief justice seemed to say “to” rather than “of,” but that was not the main problem. The main problem was that the word “faithfully” had floated upstream in the constitutional text, which actually says this: “That I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.”

Mr. Obama seemed to realize this, pausing quizzically after saying, “that I will execute.”

Chief Justice Roberts gave it another try, getting closer but still not quite right with this: “Faithfully the office of president of the United States.” He omitted the word “execute.”

Mr. Obama now repeated the chief justice’s error of putting “faithfully” at the end and said, “The office of president of the United States faithfully.”

From there, smooth sailing.

It is academic to argue about what the failure to utter the words in the precise order required by the Constitution means. Who would have standing to raise the argument that Mr. Obama had not become president as a consequence?

There is, in any event, no rule against a do-over. When questions were raised about whether Calvin Coolidge, in 1923 after Warren G. Harding died, should have been sworn in by his father, a notary public, he took the oath again from a federal judge.

As they say, seeing is believing (for those who were hiding under a rock yesterday or working away under a Republican boss).

Seriously, John, how hard can the oath be? After all, it is in our Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clause 8, for those of you keeping score). You are the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, an ex-federal judge, lawyer, Ivy League school graduate (of course, by the same token, so is George W. Bush). Is this what happens to people's brains when they start to think that Roger B. Taney was right after all?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Meaning of This Day....

It is hard to put into words how I felt about watching the inauguration today. On the one hand, I have little faith in my mind that we are going to be in for the kind of government that I as a progressive would like to see. Yes, we will win some fights, hopefully most, but overall we are going to lose (consider the presence of someone line Lawrence Summers advising on economic policy). At this point, that is what it means to be a leftist in this country, if you vote Democratic--accepting imperfection and losing. On the other hand, I can take heed on two things. One, George Bush and his cronies are no longer in power. The sight of the outgoing President today was almost like looking at some defeated German general in 1945. He knows he lost. He knows his ideology wrecked his country and everyone else's. However, while others will miss him, I will not, especially when I think of the hundreds of thousands of corpses strewn throughout this world because of this man. Personally, I will not be satisfied until he is being prosecuted and imprisoned for the crimes he has committed. If we are to arrest Augusto Pinochet, I see no reason why George Bush should avert the same fate. He killed many more people.

The second thing that struck me was the sight of the older black folk watching the inaugural proceedings, seeing so many of them in tears of happiness. These are the true victims of the past, those who went through Jim Crow, suffered under it and remember George Wallace and Bull Connor. I surmise that most of them felt this day would never come. After casting my first vote for Jesse Jackson in 1988, and going through the disappointment of watching him lose the nomination (and the way he was baited by members of his own party), I was convinced that it would be another 50-100 years before an African American was ever elected President of the US. Considering what the real victims of this system had to endure, I guess I was too much of a cynic. Yes, it is symbolism and does nothing to alleviate the million or so African Americans we have locked in our prisons (most for nonviolent drug offenses). It does not make up for the very real racial disparities that exist and persist in this country. And I seriously doubt that today will do much to stop local police departments from murdering young black men (in hails of 40-50 bullet fests or one in the back).

All of the aforementioned notwithstanding, today's inauguration brought me back to an ex-neighbor of mine, who I lived next door to for over four and half years. Her name was Carlene, and when I first met her she was a recently widowed and retired lady in her late 60s. Her husband had just died a couple of months before, not long before my own father passed away, so we had much to talk about. She was a lonely soul and really had no one to share her time with. She would talk for hours to me about her family, her children (I felt I knew them as much as anyone), and about her youth. She grew up in the same state as I did, but a different part of it (which was culturally closer to the South), after moving north from Georgia as a little girl. She grew up as a young African American child of segregation, and what amazed me the most, other than how horrific the South was in those days, was the degree to which the state-sanctioned racism followed her. Private segregation in swimming pools, clubs, and businesses was not uncommon in those days in the Mid-West (basically, until the Civil Rights Act), and she relayed about the way she was treated (kicked out stores, pools, etc.), about meeting her husband in college, about how they participated in the civil rights movement, demonstrations, and were actively involved at the local level in eliminating the racial exclusions that were in place in the north in those days.

I knew there were places like this in the north into the '60s (Indiana had the highest membership of the KKK in the 1920s, and my home state tolerated voluntary segregation from white-owned businesses and facilities), but to hear it first person, to listen to her parlay her experience and how she was treated, it gave me a greater appreciation for a person's internal fortitude and how often whites have lived a privileged existence in this country (think of how white people respond to gun control laws back in the '90s, and ask yourself how they would have responded to treatment like this?). I rarely discussed politics with her, but Carlene was a soldier of that movement. She was excited about Barack Obama winning the nomination. Sadly, tragically, she died of cancer in the summer, several weeks before the convention, and never saw the general election. I thought of her that election night, about how sad it was that she did not live to see it. I could not help but to think of her today. It was really her time. More than anyone, it was people like her (a housewife and secretary) who broke down racial barriers in this country.

And yes, I am sure I will be disappointed with future actions of my newly elected government, but on this day I will give it a rest. If nothing else, Dick Cheney broke his back.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Real Martin Luther King Jr.: Advocate of Peace and Social Justice

This is the second Martin Luther King Jr. Day in which I am administering this site. I am reposting this because the Martin Luther King Jr. I grew up with was somewhat different from the icon all the rest of the white people have been propagandized by popular culture.

For most people, King is some mythologized leader of a movement everyone today gives lip service to and whose goals all respectable citizens lay claim to. In reality, King was a hated man. He was hated by most whites, especially white Southerners, who obviously saw the threat of civil rights to their twin evils of white supremacy and states' rights. King was even criticized within his own community, with black nationalists accusing him of being overly pacifistic towards whites, and the liberal civil rights leadership who thought King was too radical. Yes, Martin Luther King Jr. was a radical--a radical advocate of peace, social and economic justice, and a socialist (that dirty word made so by the same people who gave us the Confederacy and Wall Street [it is worth noting that half of the founding traders on the NYSE were slaveholders and sellers]).

In 1967, Dr. King delivered this message of peace and justice, linking the problems of racism with war. It is relevant today because we are fighting our own Vietnam here and now, in Iraq, and the issue of exploitation abroad and at home is as true then as it is now. So, when Barack Obama mentions the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. tomorrow, this is what he should be talking about.

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

By Rev. Martin Luther King
4 April 1967

Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

[Please put links to this speech on your respective web sites and if possible, place the text itself there. This is the least well known of Dr. King's speeches among the masses, and it needs to be read by all]

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:

  1. End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.
  2. Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
  3. Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. n 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 thosse 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.