Rep John Lewis on Peaceful Protest

Alabama Police Attack Selma-to-Montgomery Marchers
Alabama Police Attack Selma-to-Montgomery Marchers

Apparently Rush Limbaugh made a statement that armed marchers of the Civil Rights Movement would have not been physically assaulted during “Bloody Sunday” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He said African Americans, but if I recall my history correctly there were a Caucasian Americans there who were also assaulted. Perhaps armed marchers might not have been struck with weapons by police. Though there were definitely guns present on the police side as you can see in this FBI photograph of the event. If the people intended to attack are armed with guns, then the attackers use their guns not batons. Bull Conner knew shooting unarmed marchers would go too far. Armed CRM marchers would have invited a massacre. Unarmed peaceful protesters getting attacked by armed police attain the sympathy of the general public who shift more strongly to the side of the protesters. If the CRM marchers had been armed, then like all the failed rebellions of the past, almost no children or adults today would know anything about them. Certainly there would be no Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Because we as Americans do not celebrate those we deem as fomenting insurrections. There is no Nat Turner Day. (Okay Southerners do celebrate Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis, but they view Lincoln as the leader of the rebellion.)

Here is Rep John Lewis’ statement on what Limbaugh said.

Our goal in the Civil Rights Movement was not to injure or destroy but to build a sense of community, to reconcile people to the true oneness of all humanity,” said Rep. John Lewis.  “African Americans in the 60s could have chosen to arm themselves, but we made a conscious decision not to.  We were convinced that peace could not be achieved through violence.  Violence begets violence, and we believed the only way to achieve peaceful ends was through peaceful means.  We took a stand against an unjust system, and we decided to use this faith as our shield and the power of compassion as our defense.

And that is why this nation celebrates the genius and the elegance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s work and philosophy.  Through the power of non-violent action, Dr. King accomplished something that no movement, no action of government, no war, no legislation, or strategy of politics had ever achieved in this nation’s history.  It was non-violence that not only brought an end to legalized segregation and racial discrimination, but Dr. King’s peaceful work changed the hearts of millions of Americans who stood up for justice and rejected the injury of violence forever.

The philosophy of “violence begets violence” goes back to the Gospel of Matthew, “Then said Jesus unto him [Peter], Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Attaining the moral high ground is difficult as an armed mob.

It was curious to see Limbaugh make the case that African Americans should be armed. Usually the arguments I see regarding the need to for guns as protection are to protect themselves from those nasty criminal African Americans who all have illegal guns.

Source of the photo above is the Library of Congress.

Weekly Roundup for Jan 20, 2012

This is my first attempt at something like a weekly roundup like I said I should try in To Blog Or To Share?. Hopefully I can maintain it.

  • Martin Luther King Jr on education:
    1. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the ligitimate goals of his life. Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking… We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.”
  • More quotes:
    • Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
    • I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
    • Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
  • Apple to announce tools, platform to “digitally destroy” textbook publishing

The Enemy’s POV

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.

From the Martin Luther King, Jr. entry on wikiquote.

At brunch yesterday, the point was being made to me over and over that if climate change advocates could ask deniers, “What would it take to convince you?” and give that data or answers, then that would spark the necessary dialogue to help both sides understand each other. Running across the quote above, it struck me as quite funny and unsurprising that I would be on the wrong side of MLK.

As though proving my point, my repeated argument that ideology trumps facts according to studies fell on deaf ears. False information (such as a misleading negative campaign ad) agreeing with a person’s ideology followed by a retraction or fact checking tends to result in strengthening the false info. The recalled “facts” are those necessary to defend conclusions. It appears to work this way for both liberals and conservatives. The mechanics appear to include remembering the false information because they agree and not the correction because they disagree.

Even before I ran across this through to the present, I try to expose my self to Libertarian, Republican, Green, and Democrat information sources. I find myself dismissing some things and then armed with the ideas above feel bad about having done so. So I dig for more information and sometimes find I was wrong. Doing this is hard. It is far easier to just assume I was already correct. But then I am an information glutton.

Martin Luther King, Jr. : Quotes to Make You Think

Various Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes my Facebook friends posted today. Strangely enough I did not already have any on the Quotes to Make You Think page.

The time is always right to do what is right.

Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. (from Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.)

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Some others:

Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another’s flesh. (from Why We Can’t Wait, 1963.)

All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

Of course, the The Vision of Race Unity: America’s Most Challenging Issue seems very applicable here. Dr. King’s views and that of the Baha’i Faith seem very much in sync.

On Loving Our Enemies

In honor of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., it seems we need his wisdom more than ever. A friend posted part of this on Facebook, so I found this expanded version.

Why should we love our enemies?

The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiples hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

Another reason why we must love our enemies is that hate scars the soul and distorts the personality. Mindful that hate is an evil and dangerous force, we too often think of what it does to the person hated. This is understandable, for hate brings irreparable damage to its victims.

But there is another side which we must never overlook. Hate is just as injurious to the person who hates. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

A third reason why we should love our enemies is that love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy be getting rid of enmity. By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up. Love transforms with redemptive power.

A great example of how the above is true can be seen in the media reports about the vitriol passing between the United States political parties over health care. The reactionary climate resulted in counter-productive posturing and slowing the process. Of course, no one physically assaulted others or shot them in a duel, so I guess things are civilized… Just full of hate. We all suffer because these people take opposition personally. That is easy to do when their best arguments are ad hominems.

Maybe 50%+ (House) and 60% (Senate filibuster proof) are too low of a threshold to get consensus. What about 66.7% like that for amendments or 75% or 80% as the necessary threshold? Even better? Since the issue here is the parties don’t work together, maybe the solution is passage requires 10% more votes over the membership of the majority party?