Monday, January 18, 2021

Martin Luther King Jr. rejected the cult of violence. Will you?

On riots, and rebellion in the United States

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. at Grosse Point High School

Despite the successes of the civil rights movement in the United States by 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. found his nonviolent posture challenged by a black power movement that instead of accelerating change in areas of social and economic justice brought it to a halt. Less than a month before his assassination on April 4, 1968 Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech at  Grosse Pointe High School on March 14, 1968 "The Other America" where he addressed, among other things, riots.

"Now I wanted to say something about the fact that we have lived over these last two or three summers with agony and we have seen our cities going up in flames. And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non­-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I'm absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. 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."

A year earlier in 1967 Reverend King had warned black activists not to take the way of the Castros and Che Guevara:

“Riots just don’t pay off,” said King. He pronounced them an objective failure beyond morals or faith. “For if we say that power is the ability to effect change, or the ability to achieve purpose,” he said, “then it is not powerful to engage in an act that does not do that–no matter how loud you are, and no matter how much you burn.” Likewise, he exhorted the staff to combat the “romantic illusion” of guerrilla warfare in the style of Che Guevara. No “black” version of the Cuban revolution could succeed without widespread political sympathy, he asserted, and only a handful of the black minority itself favored insurrection. King extolled the discipline of civil disobedience instead, which he defined not as a right but a personal homage to untapped democratic energy. The staff must “bring to bear all of the power of nonviolence on the economic problem,” he urged, even though nothing in the Constitution promised a roof or a meal. “I say all of these things because I want us to know the hardness of the task,” King concluded, breaking off with his most basic plea: “We must not be intimidated by those who are laughing at nonviolence now.”

In a 60 Minutes interview around the same time he re-stated his position on riots to Mike Wallace.

Today, all sides want to claim Martin Luther King Jr., and his family has fought to keep his real memory alive. 

When riots sparked last year with the death of George Floyd a partial quote by Reverend King circulated widely, but misrepresented the totality of his view on the subject. The second half of the quote at the top of the page was included, but left out his condemnation of riots. It happened again now with the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

That is unacceptable, and his full message needs to be shared. Not edited and misleading partial quotes. The fact is that until his dying day Martin Luther King Jr. embraced nonviolence. He rejected the cult of violence. Will you?

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Reflection for the current crisis on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday signed into law by Ronald Reagan, and it arrives this year at a moment of political crisis in the United States.  King's commitment to nonviolence, rejection of communism and the importance of conscience are crucial considerations for the current moment. In 1967 the civil rights leader doubled down on doing what is right as a matter of conscience.

Screen grab of Martin Luther King Jr. interview with NBC in 1967

 "Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? 

Expediency ask the question, is it politic? 

Vanity asks the question, is it popular? 

But conscience ask the question, is it right? 

And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right." 

                            - Martin Luther King Jr., May 10, 1967

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Cuba returned to list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Remembering when pro-Castro terrorists bombed the U.S. Capitol in 1983

We remember. Recovering some facts from the memory hole.

Windows blown out by bomb placed in U.S. Capitol by Pro-Castro terrorists in 1983

Source: CubaBrief 

The State Department re-designating Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SSOT) yesterday rectified an error made in 2015. Havana continues to “repeatedly provide support for acts of international terrorism” and has never stopped granting international terrorists safe haven in Cuba. 

Cuba continues to harbor dozens of wanted terrorists, among them the notorious cop-killer Joanne Chesimard. Havana provides a safe-haven for leaders of the Colombian terrorist group Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) and maintains close ties with terror sponsor states North Korea, Iran, and Syria

The State Department's January 11, 2021 announcement highlights that “Cuba has refused Colombia’s requests to extradite ten ELN leaders living in Havana after the group claimed responsibility for the January 2019 bombing of a Bogota police academy that killed 22 people and injured more than 87 others.” 

Colombian terrorist group Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN)

Havana continues to provide command, control, Cuban military and security agents, to violently prop up the illegitimate Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela, and has expanded its presence in other leftist Latin American countries including, but not limited to, Nicaragua and Bolivia. 

The decision to remove Cuba from the SSOT list in 2015 was a politicized decision made in response to demands from the Castro regime as a pre-condition of re-establishing diplomatic relations later that same year. In the belief that the American people have a right to know what the Cuban Government already does, the Center for a Free Cuba has requested that the record of the 2009-2017 US-Cuba negotiations to reestablish diplomatic relations be declassified.

Partners in Narco-terrorism: Nicolas Maduro and Raul Castro

When it normalized relations with Cuba, the Obama administration hoped to see political and economic reforms instituted by the regime. Instead, repression and human rights violations increased, as recognized by Obama’s own former Secretary of State John Kerry.

 Worse yet, in 2016 U.S. diplomats stationed in Havana began to suffer brain injuries, and regime officials were unhelpful in finding the cause. The US National Academies of Sciences reported that the “sonic” attacks against American and Canadian diplomats were the result of a “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy.” Cuba continues to deny any responsibility or recognize that the attacks occurred despite its responsibility to protect them under the Vienna Convention. 

"The reasons for Cuba to be on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List remain, and have indeed expanded since the original designation in 1982," said Ambassador Otto J. Reich, president of the Center for a Free Cuba.

Damage inside the Capitol from the 1983 bombing

The Castro regime aided and abetted American terrorists that attacked and bombed the U.S. capitol, and doubled down when one of those terrorists died. Radio Havana Cuba, official media of the Castro regime, published in 2010 an article titled "Political Activist Marilyn Buck Dies at 62" in which it referred to Marilyn Buck as an "activist and former political prisoner." In reality she was a terrorist who bombed the U.S. Capitol in 1983 to protest the Grenada Invasion.

"At two minutes before 11 o’clock in the evening on this day in 1983, a thunderous explosion tore through the second floor of the U.S. Capitol’s Senate wing. Since the area was virtually deserted at the time, there were no casualties. Minutes before the bomb went off, a caller claiming to represent the “Armed Resistance Unit” warned a Capitol switchboard operator that a bomb had been placed near the chamber — purportedly in retaliation for the recent U.S. military actions in Grenada and Lebanon. The force of the device, hidden under a bench outside the Senate chamber, blew the hinges off the door to the office of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the minority leader. It also damaged five paintings, particularly a stately portrait of Massachusetts Sen. Daniel Webster. (The blast tore away Webster's face and left it scattered across the floor tiles in one-inch canvas shards. Senate officials recovered the fragments from debris-filled trash bins. Over the coming months, a conservator painstakingly restored the painting to a credible, if somewhat diminished, version of the original.) The blast also punched a hole in a partition that sent a shower of pulverized brick, plaster and glass into the Republican cloakroom behind the chamber. Although the explosion caused no structural damage to the Capitol, it shattered mirrors, chandeliers and furniture. Officials placed the damage at $250,000." 

"After a five-year investigation, in May 1988 FBI agents arrested seven members of the 'Resistance Conspiracy': Marilyn Jean Buck, Linda Sue Evans, Susan Rosenberg, Timothy Blunk, Alan Berkman, Laura Whitehorn and Elizabeth Ann Duke. They were charged with executing the Capitol bombing as well as triggering similar blasts at Fort McNair and the Washington Navy Yard."

Two years earlier on October 20, 1981 as part of a group of Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army members assaulted a Brink’s armored car carrying 1.6 million in Nanuet, New York. Buck was a member of the Black Liberation Army. Two police officers and a guard were murdered in the course of the armed robbery and during the get away.

Marilyn Buck also pleaded guilty in 1988 to the 1983 bombing of the US Capitol. Her story is put into context in a long piece published in Politico by William Rosenau titled "The Dark History of America's First Female Terrorist Group," and exposes links to Havana.

Marilyn Buck: U.S. terrorist

Friday, January 15, 2021

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr was born 92 years ago today

"Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." - Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964 

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was born 92 years ago today in Atlanta, Georgia but never saw his 40th birthday because he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. A little over a year before his untimely death the nonviolent icon made an important speech at Stanford University which is worth listening to and studying.
"Let me say as I've always said, and I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I'm still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. I feel that violence will only create more social problems than they will solve." 
Dr. King's message remains relevant today and his family continues  to work at The King Center in  training new generations in the ways of nonviolence, and sharing his writings and speeches.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a radical critique of American society. He repeatedly challenged the United States to live up to its own aspired ideals and sought through nonviolent action and democratic norms, reforms to end segregation and ensure voting rights for African Americans

Reverend King's political outlook could best be described as falling within what is called Christian Democracy. This school of thought occupies the center with parties on the center left and the center right, but like Reverend King based on a Christian view of humanity in which "every individual is considered unique and must be treated with dignity."  In his April 4, 1967 speech, Beyond Vietnam gave full expression to this outlook:
"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, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see than an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. "
Mohandas Gandhi, who greatly influenced King, also spoke of social responsibility and trusteeship. Gandhi, a self-described socialist, was not an enthusiastic proponent of an expanded social-welfare state as commonly understood arguing
"The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence. Hence I prefer the doctrine of trusteeship. [...] What I would personally prefer would be not centralization of power in the hands of the State, but an extension of the sense of trusteeship, as, in my opinion, the violence of private ownership is less injurious than the violence of the State. However, if it is unavoidable, I would support a minimum of State-ownership."
Furthermore the critique made by both King and Gandhi of a "thing-oriented" society or the state as a "soulless machine" looks to the person or the individual not an economic mechanism  or economic class. The focus is on the human person and polices that recognize and respect the uniqueness of each human being and their dignity.

Last year,  Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter Bernice King over twitter offers a thread of tweets with a few things to consider about her dad of which an essential part was understanding that, "He was not passive. Nonviolence is not passive. It is active, principled, love-centered noncooperation with evil."
When he was alive the civil rights leader was considered a controversial figure. The American FBI wiretapped Martin Luther King Jr., monitored the Civil Rights Movement, and carried out active measures against him. Many have heard about this, but not of the other campaign waged against the civil rights leader by Soviet intelligence, also known as the KGB. It is also important to remember that today when Russian intelligence operatives seek to sow discord, division and hatred in the United States between citizens that they did it before.

In 1992 a high ranking Russian intelligence officer defected to the United Kingdom and brought with him notes and transcripts compiled over the previous thirty years as he moved entire foreign intelligence archives to a new headquarters just outside of Moscow. The Russian intelligence officer’s name was Vasili Mitrokhin and the information he gathered became known as The Mitrokhin Archive.

In the book The Sword and the The Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin published in 1999 details were obtained from the Mitrokhin Archive on Soviet efforts to replace Martin Luther King Jr. with a “more radical and malleable leader” such as Stokeley Carmichael to provoke a race war in the United States.

KGB targeted Martin Luther King Jr. for active measures.
Pages 237 and 238 of The Sword and the Shield excerpted below detail elements of the campaign waged by Soviet intelligence and the active measures arrayed against the civil rights leader:
“In August 1967 the Centre approved an operational plan by the deputy head of Service A, Yuri Modin, former controller of the Magnificent Five, to discredit King and his chief lieutenants by placing articles in the African press, which could then be reprinted in American newspapers, portraying King as an “Uncle Tom” who was secretly receiving government subsidies to tame the civil rights movement and prevent it threatening the Johnson administration." [...]  "King’s assassination on April 4, 1968 was quickly followed by the violence and rioting which the KGB had earlier blamed King for trying to prevent. Within a week riots erupted in over a hundred cities, forty-six people had been killed, 3,500 injured and 20,000 arrested. To “Deke” DeLoach, it seemed that, “The nation was teetering on the brink of anarchy.”86 Henceforth, instead of dismissing King as an Uncle Tom, Service A portrayed him as a martyr of the black liberation movement and spread conspiracy theories alleging that his murder had been planned by white racists with the connivance of the authorities."
 University of Cambridge professor Christopher Andrew, who coauthored The Sword and the Shield with Vasili Mitrokhin was interviewed by Charlie Rose on PBS on September 28, 1999 about the book and towards the end of the interview discussed how the Soviets celebrated when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray.  The Russians celebrated because they did not want an independent African American leader, that they could not control, who was a principled nonviolence practitioner.

Taylor Branch, in the third book of his trilogy on Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, At Canaan's Edge wrote about the Reverend's views on the militant call to armed struggle in the streets of the United States in January of 1968.
“Riots just don’t pay off,” said King. He pronounced them an objective failure beyond morals or faith. “For if we say that power is the ability to effect change, or the ability to achieve purpose,” he said, “then it is not powerful to engage in an act that does not do that–no matter how loud you are, and no matter how much you burn.” Likewise, he exhorted the staff to combat the “romantic illusion” of guerrilla warfare in the style of Che Guevara. No “black” version of the Cuban revolution could succeed without widespread political sympathy, he asserted, and only a handful of the black minority itself favored insurrection. King extolled the discipline of civil disobedience instead, which he defined not as a right but a personal homage to untapped democratic energy. The staff must “bring to bear all of the power of nonviolence on the economic problem,” he urged, even though nothing in the Constitution promised a roof or a meal. “I say all of these things because I want us to know the hardness of the task,” King concluded, breaking off with his most basic plea: “We must not be intimidated by those who are laughing at nonviolence now.”
Unlike others, who were funded and supported by the Soviet Union, Martin Luther King Jr was targeted by both American and Russian intelligence agencies because he was his own man, and not controlled by anyone, save his conscience. He didn't advocate or engage in violence and changed the United States and the world.

Let us remember him today on what would have been his 92nd birthday, and recommit ourselves to continuing his work "to shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society." The King Center in this difficult time, with parallels to 1968, the year Dr. King was assassinated has been organizing and offering a shining alternative: The Beloved Community, and in the time of COVID-19 we can all join in online.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Remembering Roger Scruton on the one year anniversary of his passing

"Manners are of more importance than laws. The law can touch us here and there, now and then. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation like that of the air we breathe in."  - Edmund Burke

Sir Roger Scruton died one year ago today, at age 75, and the world is a lesser place with his absence. A one paragraph press statement on his website announced the death of the writer, philosopher, husband, father, and brother following a six month battle with cancer. Months earlier on September 19, 2019 he received the "Defender of Western Civilization award" from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and spoke about "a thing called civilization." 

Sir Roger was a courageous man who in the midst of the Cold War traveled behind the Iron Curtain into Poland and Czechoslovakia to meet with dissidents, and demonstrate his solidarity with them, while risking prison himself.  He helped create "a pool of light" in which they could converse in freedom. He would continue this kind of work for the rest of his life.

He was a 21st century Burkean. Edmund Burke who was born 292 years ago today is viewed as the founder of the British conservative tradition, and Roger Scruton was a continuation of this tradition. Therefore it is interesting to read his 2018 essay on the current President of the United States titled "What Trump Doesn’t Get About Conservatism" in which the late British conservative concludes:

"Conservative thinkers have on the whole praised the free market, but they do not think that market values are the only values there are. Their primary concern is with the aspects of society in which markets have little or no part to play: education, culture, religion, marriage and the family. Such spheres of social endeavor arise not through buying and selling but through cherishing what cannot be bought and sold: things like love, loyalty, art and knowledge, which are not means to an end but ends in themselves.

About such things it is fair to say that Mr. Trump has at best only a distorted vision. He is a product of the cultural decline that is rapidly consigning our artistic and philosophical inheritance to oblivion. And perhaps the principal reason for doubting Mr. Trump’s conservative credentials is that being a creation of social media, he has lost the sense that there is a civilization out there that stands above his deals and his tweets in a posture of disinterested judgment."

We are in the midst of a political and cultural crisis in America, and now is the time to reflect on what is going on, return to first principles, and in the case of conservatives that means to rediscover and embrace Burkean conservatism applying its lessons for reforming and saving democracy in the United States.