We Didn’t Start the Fire. They Did.

Baltimore riots 1968: The Past is Prologue (AP Photo)

 

Regarding the protests in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray which have metamorphosed into throwing rocks at the police, looting stores, burning buildings including a newly constructed senior center, this can all be explained as a simple matter of logic.

Too much of THIS:

Eventually gets you THIS:

A riot is of course, a terrible thing.  They are often started because a terrible thing happened to start a riot.

“The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“The poor suffer twice at the rioter’s hands. First, his destructive fury scars their neighborhood; second, the atmosphere of accommodation and consent is changed to one of hostility and resentment. “
—- Lyndon B. Johnson

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Marti...

The President and the Preacher understood riots in different ways. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I later heard somewhere, or read, that Malcolm X telephoned an apology to the reporter. But this was the kind of evidence which caused many close observers of the Malcolm X phenomenon to declare in absolute seriousness that he was the only Negro in America who could either start a race riot-or stop one. When I once quoted this to him, tacitly inviting his comment, he told me tartly, “I don’t know if I could start one. I don’t know if I’d want to stop one.”
― Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Robbing stores, stoning the cops and burning your own neighborhood down and ripping shit up solves nothing, helps no one and will only make a terrible tragedy a horrible one.   The family of Freddie Gray should have been respected enough not to send his city up in flames and every looter, every criminal, every wannabee revolutionary who thinks they’re doing this in Gray’s name is lying to themselves.

They are not lying to me, because I fully expected this which puts me ahead of the mayor of Baltimore, the police chief and the governor of Maryland who all misread the signals.  Bad may get worse but the rioters didn’t start the fire.  The cops did and it’s too late to turn back now.  This fire has smoldered for years and it must burn itself out.   More damage will be done before it’s over and possibly more people will die, but if only someone had taken control of the Baltimore Police Department Freddie Gray might still be alive and the city wouldn’t be in flames.

Maybe this time they will learn.   They never have before.

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The Oscars Grew Tired of Us.

Academy Awards to Ava DuVernay: “Love your movie. You, not so much.”

It’s not so much I’m mad about Selma and its directory Ava DuVernay being screwed over by the Academy Awards, because I haven’t seen Selma yet and I thinking I’d get around to it in my own good time but since Selma and DuVernay were snubbed now it’s a holy mission.

There’s a certain irony Martin Luther King fought a strategic battle in Selma, Alabama against racial discrimination and 50 years later along comes a woman who makes a movie about the battle ends up facing racial discrimination all over again.

Columnists, bloggers and social media blew up with a collective Now this is some bullshit when the Academy Awards nominations were announced and Selma was limited to one category it won’t win (Best Picture) and another nobody cares about (Best Song).   New York film critic David Edelstein summed up how Selma got screwed, “I tend to think that the Academy collectively thought it had discharged its duty to the African-American experience with 12 Years a Slave. How else, in a year in which black people confronted inequality with greater urgency than any time in the last 50 years, can you account for the omission? You say it wasn’t a very good movie? You’re wrong. Selma has scale and depth. Ava DuVernay was robbed.”

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deuts...

Too black, too strong to be honored by the Academy

Here’s a plausible reason for the exclusion and  it’s right there in the title of an 2014 article in The Atlantic:Oscar Voters: 94% White, 76% Men, and an Average of 63 Years Old.” Blacks make up only two percent of the Academy Awards voters and to drive the point home of how White the folks are who decide who goes home with the little gold man, if they were a state, Oscar Voters would be the eighth Whitest state in America.

Well. Damn.

How embarrassing it must be for Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first Black president of the Academy of Motion Pictures to be the diversity hire thrust in the spotlight and have to represent, but represent she did.   Or at least she tried as Boone Isaacs looked to score a few brownie points,  “In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members. And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories, “

The sad thing is Boone Isaacs knows what she said is a steaming load, but she has to say it anyway.  The old White guys who hired her in the first place exactly for a bit of cover provided by the a Black face in a formerly all-White place.  Let’s cut the crap.  Cultural diversity was the big hit of 2014 with all that 12 Years A Slave stuff.   Throwing an Oscar, if not jobs at Lupita Nyong’o gave all those good liberals a warm, fuzzy feeling especially when Brad Pitt showed up to free the slaves,  but there’s no time to linger on faded glories.  Hollywood is getting back to doing what it does best:  Celebrating White men making movies about White men doing White men stuff.

We gave you people a holiday. You want Oscars too?

Being blown off by withered old bastards of the Academy is nothing new for someone like Spike Lee, no stranger to Oscar snubs for both Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X had some explicit advice for DuVernay about being passed over by the bosses,  “…That doesn’t diminish the film. Nobody’s talking about motherfuckin’ Driving Miss Daisy. That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like Do the Right Thing is. Nobody’s discussing Driving Miss Motherfuckin’ Daisy. So if I saw Ava today I’d say, ‘You know what? Fuck ’em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one.”

“Anyone who thinks this year was gonna be like last year is retarded,” said Lee. “There were a lot of black folks up there with 12 Years a Slave, Steve [McQueen], Lupita [Nyong’o], Pharrell. It’s in cycles of every 10 years. Once every 10 years or so I get calls from journalists about how people are finally accepting black films. Before last year, it was the year [in 2002] with Halle Berry, Denzel [Washington], and Sidney Poitier. It’s a 10-year cycle. So I don’t start doing backflips when it happens.”

You can’t go to awards like the Oscars or the Grammys for validation. The validation is if your work still stands 25 years later.’”

Absolutely motherfuckin’ right, Spike.

It’s possible Selma marches to a Best Picture victory even with DuVernay denied a shot at Best Director and David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. passed over as Best Actor, but it’s obvious the fix is in. How can a movie be nominated and win as Best Picture of the Year but the director, screenwriter and none of the actors aren’t? Does that mean the movie was great but everybody who made it sucked?

I have nothing against Boyhood,  The Imitation Game, Birdman or any of the other nominees for the Picture of the Year, but I don’t have anything for them.  Every movie is not for everyone and this movie  tells a story about people who look like me and not the Academy membership.    DuVernay probably pissed off some movers and shakers in Tinseltown when she dismissed  the film’s critics who griped she didn’t give President Lyndon Johnson enough credit by clarifying,  “I wasn’t interested in making a white-savior movie.”

“Oh yeah?  Then we’re not interested in giving you an Oscar, so there!”

King deserves his praise.  A lot of folks believe Selma does too, but the voters of the Academy doesn’t have anything for them either.

A man who knows something about getting spiked.

Dead Again.

Michael Brown

Left in the street like a dead damn dog.

Michael Brown was supposed to start college today.  Supposed to.  He didn’t make it.  He wasn’t absent.  He was dead.

Another young Black man dropped by the cops shouldn’t be any sort of big newsflash by now. Like celebrity divorces and mass shooting episodes, fatal encounters between cops and Black males more often results in a dead Black male than a dead cop.

What makes Michael Brown’s killing any different? Nothing, really. It’s actually sort of ordinary.

Cop stops an unarmed teenager for reasons only the two of them (and potential witnesses) know.

Something happens. Maybe the teenager says “the magic word” that sets the cop off? We don’t know. The official story isn’t sounding very official so far. Everything is still being investigated. Or everything is being covered up. You decide.

Why would Brown struggle with a police officer days before he was supposed to start college? Seems like an odd time to show a secret death wish for suicide by cop.

No mother should have to bury a murdered son

As Brown’s body laid in the street, a puddle of blood trickling down the street, the excuse was the cops (all 15 departments that were involved) were processing the scene, gathering evidence, and waiting for their Krispy Kremes to arrive. What the corpse of Michael Brown baking on the hot August asphalt said to the hundreds of neighbors, onlookers, parents and children was, Look at me. Look at what they did to me. They could do this to you too. Anytime they want.

There is a LOT of information missing from this story, but the insensitive and inept way the Ferguson cops have handled matters couldn’t be much more tone-deaf. If there’s looting and pillaging going on the police practically dared the community not to respond to their provocation.

Leave a dead kid on the street like a dog for hours, but hurry up and get the SWAT teams, riot guns and dogs ready ’cause them Black folks might get uppity!

All the right things are being said and all the now standard pacification protocols are being implemented. Call in the FBI to aid in the investigation. Politicians and public officials will make pleas for peace and calm while they put the home number of the governor on speed dial should the National Guard need to be mobilized when the savages stop burning cars and looting liquor stores and start burning cop cars with cops still in them and looting White neighborhoods.

It would seem the hacktavist activist group Anonymous has gotten wind of what’s going down in Ferguson, Missouri. They aren’t too cool about it either.”

It’s worth sharing.

Twitter pic by Raheem DeVaughn

Greetings, world. We are Anonymous.

“On August 8th in Ferguson, Missouri, the 17-year-old and unarmed Mike Brown was shot several times and killed by an officer of the Ferguson Police Department. His body was left to lie in a pool of blood in the sweltering heat for hours while 15 police departments militarized the area against protestors, sealed the roads leading to Ferguson in a vain attempt to prevent protestors from reaching the city.

“The police has clearly crossed a line in the sand….

“To the good people of Ferguson, take heart and take your streets. You are not alone. We will support you in every way possible. Occupy every, square inch of your city. Demand justice….

“To the Ferguson Police Department and any other jurisdictions who are deployed to the protests, we are watching you very closely. If you abuse, harass, or harm in any way the protestors in Ferguson, we will take every web-based asset of your departments and governments offline. That is not a threat. It is a promise. Attacking the protestors will result in the release of personal information on every, single member of the Ferguson Police Department… We will seize all your databases & emails pools and dump them on the Internet.

“This is your first and last warning….

“The time has come for more than simple justice for these atrocities…. Until justice prevails, hack and protest will replace it.

“Operation Ferguson engaged.

“We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget.

“Ferguson, expect us!”

If Anonymous says it, they probably mean it. Known for their sense of humor they are not. Anonymous adds an interesting twist to the story, but I don’t believe they are going to find justice for Mike Brown by threatening to crash into the cops’ computers and unearth all the dirt.

That sort of threat has never slowed cops from killing any Black man that makes them feel uneasy.

Riots are terrible. Looting is terrible. Setting stuff on fire is terrible.

It’s also terrible when yet another Black man has yet another fatal encounter with the police.

Reference Sean Bell. Or Amadou Diallo. Or Oscar Grant. Or Patrick Dorismond. Or Jonathan Ferrell. Or Eric Garner.

Or Mike Brown.

We’ve been here before. We’ll be here again. Change the name, but the game remains the same. Oh, we’ll get hyped for a while, but then we’ll calm back down and wonder what’s on TV tonight? It’s easier to get people hyped over non-events like the state of Queen Bey and Jay-Z’s marriage than killed by cops due to Living While Black or the rape of a 16-yr-old who is raped a second time when her assailants go viral with video.

Ain’t we got NO shame? Or priorities?

There is a sickness killing our souls like Ebola is killing Africans. Maybe we’ll notice it at some point. Probably we won’

Martin Luther King noted a riot is the language of the unheard.

Can you hear them now?

Mike Brown was supposed to start college today.  His family can start planning a funeral instead.

A Real American Horror Story

is this the face of a criminal? Or a victim?

A woman should not leave two children in a truck in the sun with the window partly open and the keys left in the ignition. Not even if she’s homeless, has no one to watch her kids and chooses to take an awful risk so that she can make the job interview that just might be her path out of poverty and desperate decisions.

When you’re faced with nothing but bad or terrible choices who wouldn’t try to choose the least awful option? Shanesha Taylor shouldn’t have done it, but she did it and all it got her was a week behind bars, her children taken from her and the scorn of every morally superior idiot who never committed a sin and is armed and ready with a pocketful of rocks.

So much cynicism. So little heavy lifting to prove this story isn’t every bit as tragic a damning indictment of both bad personal decisions and an American society that doesn’t give two slimy shits about poor people as long as they stay out of sight and die quietly in their hovels.

Is anyone really giving Shanesha Taylor a pass for the bad decision to leave two infants in a locked car? No, but nobody has nominated Taylor as Mother of the Year material either.   There are plenty of creepy politicians like Paul Ryan happy to exploit the most helpless while accepting back-slapping praise for guns, not butter budgets.

Contemporary conservatives like Ryan  backhand away any concern for someone like Taylor. His ilk are determined to punish people like Taylor for her sins. The sin of being a poor Black woman with children who probably doesn’t vote the right way.

Shanesha Taylor without tears.

I understand Ryan’s lack of compassion for and inability to identify with Taylor’s plight. They have never been an impoverished, homeless and desperate Black woman with two kids facing a bad choice and a worse choice.    Any indignation I feel for Taylor’s irresponsible decision is tempered by sympathy for the dilemma that drove her to make it.

“I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.” Malcolm X said that. I second it.

Like me, he was a Black man who could see the connections and contradictions of Shanesha Taylor’s story and those whom self-righteously penalize her for being too weak to carry the weight of a system that fails poor women and children with disgusting certainty.

How many Wall Street executives are sleeping on a thin mattress with their backs to the wall lest they receive a midnight visit from a Nazi skinhead with a swastika face tattoo? Think of all those corrupt Congresscritters who resign to “spend more time with their families” as well as their mistresses and boy toys on the side. If leaving infants in a truck in the heat of the Arizona day is grounds for legal sanction then what should be done with a president, vice-president, National Security Adviser and Secretary of Defense who lie an entire country into a phony war and kill nearly 5,000 U.S. troops and possibly a million Iraqi citizens?

If George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld don’t deserve to be arrested for war crimes, can’t they at least have the goddamn decency to hide in their holes like the criminal scum they are? Why hasn’t someone performed a citizens arrest yet and marched the lot of them into The Hague or at least a Supermax prison?

This is what real criminal behavior looks like.

Putting Taylor behind bars may satiate the need to make her pay for her bad judgment, but it glosses over how states like Arizona balance the books on the backs of their least affluent and most needy citizens eventually creating “solutions” as dire as the original problems.

Criminalizing poverty is insane. Conservatives have made it their mission to slash and gut social programs designed specifically to assist women like Shanesha Taylor. Welfare, daycare and childcare, food stamps, homeless shelters, jobs programs, WIC, and anything else that isn’t a sacred cow like tax cuts and military spending.

A tax cut wouldn’t have helped Taylor and neither will Paul Ryan’s latest punish the poor Congressional budget. The Republican Party wants people to learn how to catch their own fish instead of sitting around and waiting for someone to give them fish to eat. They forget how hard it is to catch a fish when you can’t afford to buy a pole or bait.

Probation, jail time, and the other suggested corrective measures for Taylor show the disdain of the well-fed and markedly unsympathetic for a woman who doesn’t look like them, doesn’t belong in their circles they travel in and whose circumstances they can’t begin to conceive.

Conservatives like the idea of poor people working, but they want them to suffer a bit for whatever little help they receive and if they can be humiliated and have their dignity peeled away from their body in strips, that’s always good for a laugh.

When they actually break down in tears as Shanesha Taylor did, then it’s downright hilarious.

Taylor is, we are told, a bad mother. A loser. A dope who probably made dopey and bad decisions all her life so we must hold her up to contempt and compare her to welfare cheats and con artists.

But race has nothing to do with it. Gender has nothing to do with it. Poverty has nothing to do with it and how do we know this? We don’t. We just say we do because then its all of the individual’s fault and society is blameless.

American Injustice.

Taylor lives in an America most Americans don’t see because she cannot claim “affluenza” to escape responsibility.  Pleading she would not fare well in prison  is not a defense available to her.  Any society that has no fairness, understanding or compassion in it for desperate people is a society with no goodness or mercy in it and is not a society that can be defended.

“This is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.”

One day we will have to stand before the God of history and we will talk in terms of things we’ve done. Yes, we will be able to say we built gargantuan bridges to span the seas, we built gigantic buildings to kiss the skies. Yes, we made our submarines to penetrate oceanic depths. We brought into being many other things with our scientific and technological power.

It seems that I can hear the God of history saying, “That was not enough! But I was hungry, and ye fed me not. I was naked, and ye clothed me not. I was devoid of a decent sanitary house to live in, and ye provided no shelter for me. And consequently, you cannot enter the kingdom of greatness. If ye do it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye do it unto me.” That’s the question facing America today.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break the Silence” delivered on April 4th 1967

 

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American Martyrs, American Shame

A better America today was born out of their tragic deaths.

A better America today was born out of their tragic deaths.

1963 isn’t only the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.  It is also the grim anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history when acts of domestic terrorism were so prevalent in Birmingham, Alabama it was nicknamed “Bombingham.”

In a rare show of bipartisan unanimity, Republican and Democratic leaders gathered to honor the four girls that were slain when a bomb exploded in a Birmingham church in 1963.  Their deaths were credited with providing the impetus that led to the 1964 and 1965 Voting Rights Act.

House and Senate leaders Tuesday formally awarded Congress’ highest civilian honor to the families of four girls killed in an Alabama church bombing nearly half a century ago that is now regarded as one of the most horrific acts of violence of the civil rights era.

The Congressional Gold Medal was posthumously presented in Washington on Tuesday to Addie Mae Collins, 14; Carole Robertson, 14; Cynthia Wesley, 14; and Denise McNair, 11.

The ceremony was held five days ahead of the 50th anniversary of their tragic deaths inside the walls of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, honored the legacy of the four slain girls, who were preparing for Sunday worship when they died.

“There was no safety for those four little girls. Not even Sunday school,” Reid said. “But there really was salvation. Not only for the four young ladies, but for a nation.”

He added: “That outrage sparked by the deaths of these four innocents ignited the civil rights movement like nothing had up to that time.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that on the day of the bombing virtually every stained glass window in the church was blown out — except for one bearing the image of Christ leading a group of children, with his face missing.

“The symbolism was potent,” McConnell said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, teared up near the end of his remarks when he said: “Once again, our children have led us to this simplest of notions: They bring us together.”

For one day Republicans and Democrats remember they are Americans first.

For one day Republicans and Democrats remember they are Americans first.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, addressing a statute of Rosa Parks, said: “We won’t disappoint you.”

Pelosi was alluding to the recent Supreme Court decision upending a key anti-discrimination provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which she had referenced earlier in her remarks.

The girls were killed when a bomb planted outside the church by white supremacists exploded. The brutal attack sent aftershocks across the nation and triggered violent clashes between police and protesters.

Today, the bombing — and the outrage and reflection it prompted — is widely credited with helping to spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The church, which had a predominantly African-American congregation, served as a gathering place for civil rights leaders and activists.

Past recipients of the medal include civil rights icon Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and his wife, Coretta Scott King.

It’s nice now and then for our elected leaders to act like leaders instead of blind partisans.

We could use a lot more of that sort of thing.

The next time someone points their crooked little finger at a some extremist or terrorist who kills children for their own twisted cause, we should take a moment to recall extremism and terrorism right here is as old and American as apple pie and the 4th of July.     Racial segregation is America’s greatest shame and the scars it left on this country’s soul have yet to fully heal.

MLK and The Fierce Urgency of Now

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

It was 50 years ago through the blood, sweat, time, toil and tears that a 34-year-old Baptist preacher stepped to the microphone on the Mall in Washington and for the next 17 minutes he gave what is perhaps the greatest speech in America’s history.

Five years later, Martin Luther King would lie dead from an assassin’s bullet and much of his Dream of a better world for children of all races, creeds and colors died with him that day as his blood drained from his body on the balcony of a second-rate motel in Memphis.

From the moment life left King’s body in the process of celebrating the Dreamer forgot all about our responsibility to make his Dream come to fruition.   King challenged all of America to step its game up and be better and kinder to each other, but instead he has been appropriated into a dumb game of “What Would MLK Say About…?”

I refuse to play this silly game.

If Dr. King were alive today, he’d be 84 years old. I can’t begin to speculate how an 84-year-old man feels about anything. At that age you’re probably happy if you can make it to the bathroom with peeing on yourself.   He would be deserving of a little quiet in his sunset years instead of being badgered for a comment on the issue of the day.

An equally dumb game is the “Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican” crap advanced by colored conservatives like Alveda King, the loudmouth niece of the slain civil rights leader who will tell anybody who asks, “Dr. King was a Republican!  I know it.”   How she knows this when King never said he was a Republican, his wife never said he was a Republican and his children never said he was a Republican is anybody’s guess.

Saying it doesn’t make it so. Providing proof makes it so.  PoltiFact deems the claims of MLK as a Republican to be FALSE:

…in a 2008 Associated Press story, King’s son and namesake Martin Luther King III said: “It is disingenuous to imply that my father was a Republican. He never endorsed any presidential candidate, and there is certainly no evidence that he ever even voted for a Republican. It is even more outrageous to suggest he would support the Republican Party of today, which has spent so much time and effort trying to suppress African American votes in Florida and many other states.”

Was MLK a Republican? No. But if Alveda King wants to believe he was I’m okay with that.  If she wants to believe MLK would make a better Batman than Ben Affleck  that’s fine too. It’s nuts, but so is the suggestion one of the greatest and most committed activists of his age, would be watching Fox News religiously.

If the Right-Wing Noise Machine had existed then as it exists now they would denounce King as a Black racist, a malcontent, an agitator, a race hustler who was stirring up resentment against Whites.  The Dr. King the right-wingers have attempted to appropriate for their own is one they have turned into a harmlessly naive toy figure whom when you pull his string he says, “I Have A Dream.”

What they don’t realize is King wasn’t simply a dreamer and his Dream was rooted in harsh reality.

King dreamed of a better America than the one he lived in, but he wasn’t asleep to how pernicious and persistent an adversary institutional and individual racism truly is.  Those who would manipulate King invoke his most famous speech to chastise Blacks but deceptively overlook  King put Whites on the spot when he said,  “The Negro needs the white man to free him from his fears. The white man needs the Negro to free him from his guilt.”

“I have a dream” isn’t my favorite part of the speech, but the less optimistic and slightly ominous caution of growing Black restlessness and discontent as King challenged America to confront its shabby treatment of its Black citizens.


Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

That part of MLK’s speech is a callback to Frederick Douglass’ admonishing White Americans that there could be no progress without a struggle, but even more pointedly, Douglass warned, “The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.”

That is as true now for America now as it was 50 years ago on a beautiful day in Washington.  The misery of Black people should not make White people happy.  People in misery are volatile people and people with grievances are subject to be manipulated and misled by opportunistic extremists who stoke the fires of racial resentment for their own cynical purposes.

That’s not the kind of extremism King was advocating.  His was a creative extremism where love drove out hate, the artificial divisions of racism, sexism, and classism would fall away before the soldiers of peace, progress and prosperity.     They call Martin a “dreamer” but he was wide awake.   It was the rest of us who had drifted into a slumbering stupor that required him to stir, awake and arise to make a better world.

We are closer today than we were 50 years ago, but close isn’t the same as being finished.

 

Shut Up, Fool! The Post-Zimmerman Bipartisan Edition.

Show you my championship rings? Man, I don’t have to show you any championship rings! I don’t have any to show!

1. Charles Barkley, the Still Round Mound of Rebound:  “Well, I agree with the verdict. I feel sorry that young kid got killed, but they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him. Something clearly went wrong that night — clearly something went wrong — and I feel bad for anybody who loses a kid, but if you looked at the case and you don’t make it — there was some racial profiling, no question about it — but something happened that changed the dynamic of that night.”

“Mr. Zimmerman was wrong to pursue, he was racial profiling, but I think Trayvon Martin — God rest his soul — I think he did flip the switch and started beating the hell out of Mr. Zimmerman. But it was just a bad situation.”

“I just feel bad because I don’t like when race gets out in the media because I don’t think the media has a ‘pure heart,’ as I call it. There are very few people who have a pure heart when it comes to race. Racism is wrong in any shape [or] form — there are a lot of black people who are racist, too. I think sometimes when people talk about race, they act like only white people are racist. There are a lot of black people who are racist. And I don’t like when it gets out there in the media because I don’t think the media has clean hands.”

Neither do you, Chuck. 

2.  Bill Cosby, Cranky Comedian:  “See this racial stuff goes into a whole bunch of discussion which has stuff that you can’t prove. You can’t prove if somebody is a racist unless they really come out and do the act and is found to be that.”

3.  Ted Nugent, Aging Rocker, NRA Member, Draft Dodging Dickhead:   The race-baiting industry saw an opportunity to further the racist careers of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Black Panthers, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, et al, who then swept down on the Florida community refusing to admit that the 17-year-old dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe Trayvon Martin was at all responsible for his bad decisions and standard modus operendi of always taking the violent route.”

“Trayvon had no reason not to attack, because it was the standard thug thing to do. See Chicago any day of the week.”

Ted is well-known for not using drugs or alcohol.   The Nuge’s vice was groupies,, Lots of then and if they were pre-pubescent girls at the time, that didn’t slow Teddy’s roll.   Maybe he has syphilis from too much sex with no latex.   One can only hope. 

The Rock n’ Roll Racist Redneck

4.  Lupe Fiasco:   “Rub your face in it! Swallow down that hard pill! Black blood spills in the streets of America nightly at the hands other blacks,” reads one tweet. “Half y’all been partying to Black Death for the past 2 decades…the other half watched the party…don’t be angry now!”

“Nobody knows what really happened except Trayvon and Zimmerman. The justice system relies on reasonable doubt not our emotions.”

“The case should have never been televised as the potential to antagonize US race relations was, in my dumb opinion too risky & unnecessary.”

When a man calls his own opinions “dumb” I have no choice but to concur.  Lupe is a Fiasco. 

5.  Jimmy Carter, Failed Ex-President:  “I think the jury made the right decision based on the evidence presented, because the prosecution inadvertently set the standard so high that the jury had to be convinced that it was a deliberate act by Zimmerman that he was not at all defending himself, and so forth. It’s not a moral question, it’s a legal question and the American law requires that the jury listens to the evidence presented.”

Thank you Mr President for reminding me why I voted for John Anderson.   It took Clinton and Obama both winning second terms to finally rid the Democratic Party of the stink of your loser ass. 

Yep. I sucked as president.

6.  Alveda King, Martin Luther King’s right-wing niece, but mostly a nobody:   “It is not helpful to race-bait.  “[The] NAACP and all of the organizations … We need to wonder why they’re doing that, what kind of checks and money they’re getting behind the scenes to stir us up into racial anarchy.

“We should be speaking nonviolence, justice, peace and love as Trayvon’s parents are doing, by the way. So we need to ask why they’re race baiting, because they are.  There’s no black race, white race, yellow race and red race. The other thing is, Mr. Zimmerman is not a Caucasian. He’s a Hispanic. The media is somehow forgetting that, so [there are] all of these nuances, all of the race-baiting, all of the pain.”

“Stop thinking that this is a race thing between separate races. This is all human beings here. If we’re still feeling that one part of our community is better than the other because of skin color, that’s got to change right now.”

Aw, go pimp your dead uncle’s last name some more.  That’s what you do best.

7.  Ann Coulter:  Black liberals keep bemoaning the danger to their own teenage sons after the “not guilty” verdict in George Zimmerman‘s murder trial. To avoid what happened to Trayvon Martin, their boys need only follow this advice: Don’t walk up to a stranger and punch him, ground-and-pound him, MMA-style, and repeatedly smash his head against the pavement.

Perhaps, someday, blacks will win the right to be treated like volitional human beings. But not yet.

Perhaps, someday,  Ann Coulter won’t say something that is vile,  repugnant, racist and stupid, but she’ll probably be lying in her casket when that day comes. 

Annie and a friend

8.  Bill O’ Reilly,  Well-Paid, Big Mouth Angry White Guy:  The sad truth is that from the President on down, our leadership has no clue, no clue at all about how to solve problems within the black community. And many are frightened to even broach the issue. That’s because race hustlers and the grievance industry have intimidated the so- called “conversation,” turning any valid criticism of African-American culture into charges of racial bias.

Trayvon Martin was killed because circumstances got out of control. He was scrutinized by a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, because of the way he looked. Not necessarily his skin color, there is no evidence of that but because he was a stranger to Zimmerman and was dressed in clothing sometimes used by street criminals.

It was wrong for Zimmerman to confront Martin based on his appearance. But the culture that we have in this country does lead to criminal profiling because young black American men are so often involved in crime, the statistics overwhelming.

But here is the headline: young black men commit homicides at a rate 10 times greater than whites and Hispanics combined. When presented with damning evidence like that, and like the mini-holocaust in Chicago where hundreds of African-Americans are murdered each year the civil rights industry looks the other way or makes excuses. They blame guns, poor education, lack of jobs, rarely do they define the problem accurately. So here it is. The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family.
You want a conversation, you got it. You want a better situation for blacks, give them a chance to revive their neighborhoods and culture. Work with the good people to stop the bad people. Pumping money into the chaos does little. You can’t legislate good parenting or responsible entertainment. But you can fight against the madness, with discipline, a firm message and little tolerance for excuse-making.

It is now time for the African-American leadership, including President Obama to stop the nonsense. Walk away from the world of victimization and grievance and lead the way out of this mess.

Big Bill has vast experience dealing with Blacks as he shared in 2007 when as Al Sharpton’s dinner guest at Sylvia’s in Harlem,  O’Reilly was flabbergasted to report, “[There] wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.   There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M.F.-er, I want more iced tea.’ It was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense that people were sitting there and they were ordering and just having fun.”

Bill O’Reilly:  BFF with the Black Community. 

“Damn. I’m gorgeous!”

9. Richard Cohen Washington Post columnist and reactionary:  I don’t like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead. But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize. I don’t know whether Zimmerman is a racist. But I’m tired of politicians and others who have donned hoodies in solidarity with Martin and who essentially suggest that, for recognizing the reality of urban crime in the United States, I am a racist. The hoodie blinds them as much as it did Zimmerman.

I hate to tell you Richard, but when you make a sweeping generalization about every Black kid who wears a hoodie with “the reality of urban crime” that is not just unrealistic, it’s a little bit racist. 

10.  Allen West: One-Term Congressman and Full-Time Dipshit:  “I am a black male who grew up in the inner city of Atlanta and no one ever followed me in a mall. I don’t recall any doors clicking when I crossed the street. And I never had anyone clutching their handbag when I got on an elevator. I guess having two awesome parents who taught me to be a respectful young man paid dividends.”

Ooh.  Nice burn of Trayvon Martin’s parents, Al  It’s too bad your “awesome parents” didn’t teach you to be respectful of a family grieving for their murdered son.  They should have taught you not to be such a flaming asshole. 

“How many people don’t think I’m an asshole? THIS many!”

Madea’s Big Dumb Publicity Stunt

madea benjamin

“Listen to me! I am a well-meaning idiot and have many important things to say and I must say them at the top of my lungs!”

Wherever the president goes the sideshow follows.   Vendors set up tables to hawk their t-shirts and buttons.  The press descends on the place hoping for a juicy quote, an off-guard mistake and even to cover what he says.  If it’s a public event, people make plans to come hear and see the president in hopes they might get close enough to snap a picture and maybe even shake his hand if he ventures near the crowd.

Other folks get excited too.  These are the professional protestors whose calling in life is appearing where politicians, CEO, celebrities and other famous people can be found so they can yell loudly, wave banners, and call undue attention to themselves.  President Obama has faced his share of heckling coming from this critics on the Right, but he gets it in the ear from what passes as the lunatic fringe of the Left too.  During his national security speech on Thursday, Obama came face-to-face with one Madea Benjamin,  a founder of the anti-war activist group Code Pink  interrupted the president several times before she was hustled out of the building.

Toward the end of Obama’s address, a woman identified in the White House pool report as Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of the anti-war organization Code Pink, implored the president to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and otherwise criticized his foreign policy.

Through three separate episodes, the president traded words with the woman, asking her to let him finish and succeeding — at least momentarily — twice.

“Why don’t you sit down, and I will tell you exactly what I’m going to do,” Obama said, ending their first exchange. “Thank you, ma’am.”

But soon, Benjamin was back, apparently not happy with Obama’s comments about sending detainees to other countries, pleading with him to “release them today.” She was again quieted, and Obama even acknowledged her opinion was valid.

“Okay, Madea. I’m convinced. I’ll release the prisoners at Gitmo and lock your ass up instead.”

Tickled pink (Sorry. Couldn’t resist) Benjamin rushed to celebrate her little stunt plastering the web with a series of self-congratulatory stories, including “Medea Benjamin Calls President to Account”  By Medea Benjamin if there was any question who deserved the credit.

Like most zealots, Benjamin believes completely in the righteousness of her mission and is repulsively self-righteous in how obnoxious she is in shoving it in everyone’s face.

While I have received a deluge of support, there are others, including journalists, who have called me “rude.” But terrorizing villages with Hellfire missiles that vaporize innocent people is rude. Violating the sovereignty of nations like Pakistan is rude. Keeping 86 prisoners in Guantanamo long after they have been cleared for release is rude. Shoving feeding tubes down prisoners’ throats instead of giving them justice is certainly rude.

At one point during his speech, President Obama said that the deaths of innocent people from the drone attacks will haunt him as long as he lives. But he is still unwilling to acknowledge those deaths, apologize to the families, or compensate them. In Afghanistan, the US military has a policy of compensating the families of victims who they killed or wounded by mistake. It is not always done, and many families refuse to take the money, but at least it represents some accounting for taking the lives of innocent people. Why can’t the President set up a similar policy when drone strikes are used in countries with which we are not at war?

Benjamin makes some valid arguments, but can’t she find a way to make them without screeching like a cat with it’s nuts snagged on a fence?  Yelling at the president isn’t speaking truth to power.  It’s only publicly making an ass of yourself like getting drunk and urinating in public.

Madea’s Big Happy Protest Parties are all-purpose.   Here she is fighting for her right to dance at the Jefferson Memorial.  Why does anyone want to dance at the Jefferson Memorial?    Aren’t there all sorts of clubs, ballrooms, country bars and living rooms for that sort of thing?   Of course there is, but the right of the people to shuffle around  like zombies with tired feet shall not be abridged by a capitalist running dog lackey.

I grew up with Martin Luther King and the Freedom Riders marching for their civil rights and catching hell.  I was around in 1968 when college students took to the streets to protest the Vietnam War and drive Tricky Dick Nixon insane.   I saw the Black Panthers strut  around in public with loaded rifles daring the cops to start something.   You think I’m impressed by some ditz in pink flitting around like the world’s oldest fairy princess acting like a diva because she can’t twitch like a spastic at a national monument?    Is this what passes for the Left in this country has been reduced to?    Protest cabaret?

Welcome to the full-time malcotent.  George Bush had Cindy Sheehan (and a guy who tossed a shoe at him) and Obama has Madea’s Big Dumb Publicity Stunt, but while  this isn’t a Tyler Perry production it is another bad comedy.   This woman is a dunce who is impossible to take seriously and her clown act only serves to lessen the chance her causes will be taken seriously either.

Protestin’ ain’t easy.  At least not the way dummies like Mad Madea do it.   She doesn’t just give activism a bad name.   She makes it a bad joke.   Madea may actually be sincere in her beliefs, but the way she chooses to express them to the world is by acting out like a spoiled brat thrashing around on the dirty floor of a Wal-Mart embarrassing themselves.

"But..but I don't WANT to go to Gitmo."

“But..but I don’t WANT to go to Gitmo.”