Thursday, April 8, 2021

Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day

"It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere." - Primo Levi, 1986 The Drowned and the Saved

Never Forget
We must never forget what happened and remain vigilant now and in the future to battle against the mass destruction of innocent human beings.  News today with polls showing that new generations are ignorant of the Holocaust is deeply troubling. As Santayana observed, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. This is why we must remember and say never again.  

Never Again
Unfortunately the international community has failed more than once since 1945 to prevent another mass slaughter. Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge murdered between one fourth and one third of its population between 1975 and 1979, civil libertarian Nat Hentoff pointed to another genocide that could have been stopped in Rwanda in 1994, and witnessed in Syria in 2016 where religious minorities, including Christians were targeted.

Today it is also important to remember that antisemitism is on the rise world wide and people of the Jewish faith need our solidarity and support in confronting rising hatred and intolerance to ensure that what Nazi Germany did never be repeated, and that there be no more Cambodias, Rwandas, and Syrias.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Exposing the Castro regime's record of not reporting epidemics, and when an attack backfires

Engaging in the conversation over the human rights situation in Cuba leads to ad hominem attacks against ones character, in order to avoid a substantive conversation of the facts presented and the arguments put forward. 

Yesterday, The Washington Post published a letter to the editor on the important topic of the regime in Cuba covering up past epidemics and punishing whistleblowers with prison, and tweeted it out upsetting some folks. The letter is reproduced below.

The Washington Post, April 5, 2021

Letters to the Editor

Opinion: Cuba’s powerhouse status comes through repression

April 5, 2021 at 4:35 p.m. EDT

Patient receives Sputnik V vaccine dose against Covid-19 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. (Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters)

The March 31 news article “Cuba could become a vaccine powerhouse” pointed out that Havana wants to soften its image as a “broadly authoritarian country” that has done “some pretty bad things.” Cuban doctors and journalists who raised the alarm in prior outbreaks on the island were locked up and punished.

Desi Mendoza Rivero was arrested on June 25, 1997, for warning about a dengue epidemic in Cuba. On Nov. 24, 1997, he was sentenced to eight years in prison for “enemy propaganda.” Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience and campaigned for his freedom. Dr. Rivero’s claims were eventually confirmed, and he was forcibly exiled.

On Sept. 2, 2016, the Associated Press reported that Cuba had “remarkable success in containing Zika virus.” On Jan. 8, 2019, New Scientist reported the whole story when the facts became known: “Cuba failed to report thousands of Zika virus cases in 2017.”

Repression patterns during this pandemic in Cuba indicate officials seek to downplay covid-19’s severity on the island. According to Duane Gubler at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, “Cuba has a history of not reporting epidemics until they become obvious,” and that is pretty bad.

John Suarez, Falls Church

The writer is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba.


This led to attacks against the author, including for being formerly of Freedom House, raising questions about the organization because it has received public funds. It is a ridiculous argument, because the organization has also been critical of the U.S. government and human rights deficits in the United States.

Anti-Nazi, Anti-Communist, Pro-Freedom org founded 1941

On May 30, 2006, The New York Times announced the death of one of the founders of Freedom House, George Field, and in the obituary revealed the pedigree of this human rights and pro-democracy organization.

"George Field, who fought isolationism, Fascism, Communism, racism, McCarthyism, anti-Semitism and other extremisms for three decades as the guiding spirit behind Freedom House, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to democracy and human rights, died Friday in Kennett Square, Pa. He was 101."

It is ironic that Castro regime apologists question the bonafides of Freedom House, but not surprising because they have done the same to Amnesty International in the past. Meanwhile conservatives are upset with Freedom House because it has also viewed with a critical eye Western Democracies, including the United States.

Civil rights icon Bayard Rustin was called by some "the unknown hero" of the civil rights movement. He was a "tireless crusader for justice, a disciple of [Mohandas] Gandhi, a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr., and the architect of the legendary [1963] March on Washington." Rustin debated Malcolm X in 1962 from both a principled and strategic nonviolent position and would go on to play an important role at Freedom House.

It is doubly ironic because of Soviet Communism's and Castroism's alliances with Nazism and embrace of antisemitism and other extremisms to create new levels of misery for those unlikely enough to fall under their rule.

Sorry, but the fight against tyranny, racism, and other bigotries over the past 80 years beginning in 1941, the same year that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union began still allied together to conquer the rest of the world imposing the perpetual darkness of totalitarianism, and Freedom House came into existence to resist both of them, and their ideologies on October 31, 1941.

Being linked to Freedom House is high praise, now defending the Castro regime on the other hand is shameful.





Sunday, April 4, 2021

The Radical Left's Contempt for Martin Luther King Jr. in his final years

"But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation." - Luke 17:25  
MLK Jr. shot in Memphis, TN at the Lorraine Motel on 4/4/68 at 6:01pm CST
Today is Easter Sunday, but it is also the 53rd observance of the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. On Good Friday, I quoted Reverend James Lawson, who like King is an apostle of nonviolence and a Christian pastor, said that “if you want to understand King, you must look at Jesus.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., like Jesus, was rejected by all.  He was rejected by conservatives, by liberals, by radicals, and by communists.
Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon  published today an interesting piece titled, "The Liberal Contempt for Martin Luther King’s Final Year" calling to account Liberals who condemned Dr. King for his anti-militarist ideals and opposition to the Vietnam War in 1967, but then also engage in the same "evasion by omission" that they criticize liberals for today.  They fail to mention how radicals and communists also hated him for his commitment to nonviolence and the beloved community.
Reverend King's opposition to the war in Vietnam was a position he evolved into, much like Gandhi did in South Africa, a rejection of all violence, including warfare to resolve problems of human conflict. He listened to others, and engaged in dialogues with a Socratic quality. This is clearly seen in the line of argument he laid out in his April 4, 1967 speech "Beyond Vietnam":
"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 the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent." 
Eldridge Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael, Frederick H. Brooks and others that believed violence was a legitimate means to confront white supremacy in the United States did not view Dr. King favorably.  Cleaver following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. wrote honestly about how Reverend King was viewed in these circles prior to his murder.
"To black
 militants, Dr.
 block in 
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criticism was
Malcolm X had led the way, among black radicals, slandering Martin Luther King Jr. in a June 24, 1963 interview titled "Negro and the American Promise"as an Uncle Tom who was teaching African Americans how to be defenseless:

Dr. Kenneth Clark: I see. Well, Reverend Martin Luther King preaches a doctrine of non-violent insistence upon the rights of the American Negro. What is your attitude toward this philosophy?

Malcolm X: The white man pays Reverend Martin Luther King, subsidizes Reverend Martin Luther King, so that Reverend Martin Luther King can continue to teach the Negroes to be defenseless. That's what you mean by non-violent: be defenseless. Be defenseless in the face of one of the most cruel beasts that has ever taken a people into captivity. That's this American white man. And they have proved it throughout the country by the police dogs and the police clubs.

A hundred years ago they used to put on a white sheet and use a bloodhound against Negroes. Today they've taken off the white sheet and put on police uniforms, they've traded in the bloodhounds for police dogs, and they're still doing the same thing. And just as Uncle Tom, back during slavery, used to keep the Negroes from resisting the bloodhound, or resisting the Ku Klux Klan, by teaching them to love their enemy, or pray for those who use them spitefully, today Martin Luther King is just a 20th century or modern Uncle Tom, or a religious Uncle Tom, who is doing the same thing today, to keep Negroes defenseless in the face of an attack, that Uncle Tom did on the plantation to keep those Negroes defenseless in the face of the attacks of the Klan in that day.

These were untruths that also pointed to a deep misunderstanding of nonviolent resistance to evil. On July 1, 1963, The New York Times reported that blacks had thrown eggs at Reverend Martin Luther Jr. the night before when he arrived at a Church in Harlem.  Dr. King reflected on the circumstances surrounding the egg throwing incident.

"When they threw eggs at me in New York, I think that was really a result of the Black Nationalist groups. They had heard all of these things about my being soft, my talking about love, and they transferred that bitterness toward the white man to me. They began to feel that I was saying to love this person that they had such a bitter attitude toward. In fact, Malcolm X had a meeting the day before, and he talked about me a great deal and told them that I would be there the next night and said, "You ought to go over there and let old King know what you think about him." And he had said a great deal about nonviolence, criticizing nonviolence, and saying that I approved of Negro men and women being bitten by dogs and the fire hoses. So I think this kind of response grew out of all of the talk about my being a sort of polished Uncle Tom. 

My feeling has always been that they have never understood what I was saying. They did not see that there's a great deal of difference between nonresistance to evil and nonviolent resistance. Certainly I'm not saying that you sit down and patiently accept injustice. I'm talking about a very strong force, where you stand up with all your might against an evil system, and you're not a coward. You are resisting, but you come to see that tactically as well as morally it is better to be nonviolent. Even if one didn't want to deal with the moral question, it would just be impractical for the Negro to talk about making his struggle violent."

Malcolm X, prior to his February 21, 1965 assassination revealed that in 1961 he had met secretly with the Klu Klux Klan, representing the Nation of Islam, to divide up the United States along racial lines. He was also an admirer of Mao Zedong.

Malcolm X had also begun to evolve towards King's position, and rejected the head of the Nation of Islam. In a letter dated September 22, 1964 from Mecca, Saudi Arabia addressed to a friend in New York he explained his break.

“I declare emphatically that I am no longer in Elijah Muhammad's ‘strait jacket,’ and I don't intend to replace his with one woven by someone else. I am a Muslim in the most orthodox sense; my religion is Islam as it is believed in and practiced by the Muslims here in the Holy City of Mecca.

“This religion recognizes all men as brothers. It accepts all human beings as equals before ‐God, and as equal members in the Human Family of Mankind. I totally reject Elijah Muhammad's racist philosophy, which he has labeled ‘Islam’ only to fool and misuse gullible people, as he fooled and misused me. But I blame only myself, and no one else for the fool that I was, and the harm that my evangelic foolishness in his behalf has done to others.”

Malcolm wrote that he was neither anti‐American, un-American, seditious nor subversive, but an open‐minded man who was trying to weigh everything objectively."

Stokely Carmichael: American Barabbas

Carmichael clapping at Organization of Latin American Solidarity in Havana (1967).

However, Stokely Carmichael, many in the Black Panther movement, and others had embraced Maoism, and the aid of Havana to overthrow the American system through violent means.

Many Leftists highlight the FBI's spying and active measures against Martin Luther King Jr., but only a handful discuss the campaign of active measures by the Soviet KGB, and the desire that  Reverend King be replaced by someone they could control such as Stokely Carmichael.

Reverend King in his 1958 book Stride to Freedom summed up his views on Marxism and rejected Communism for the following reasons:

The Challenge of Marxism
During the Christmas holidays of 1949 I decided to spend my spare time reading Karl Marx to try to understand the appeal of communism for many people. For the first time I carefully scrutinized Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto. I also read some interpretive works on the thinking of Marx and Lenin. In reading such Communist writings I drew certain conclusions that have remained with me to this day.
First I rejected their materialistic interpretation of history. Communism, avowedly secularistic and materialistic, has no place for God.4 This I could never accept, for as a Christian I believe that there is a creative personal power in this universe who is the ground and essence of all reality—a power that cannot be explained in materialistic terms. History is ultimately guided by spirit, not matter.
Second, I strongly disagreed with communism’s ethical relativism. Since for the Communist there is no divine government, no absolute moral order, there are no fixed, immutable principles; consequently almost anything—force, violence, murder, lying—is a justifiable means to the “millennial” end.5 This type of relativism was abhorrent to me. Constructive ends can never give absolute moral justification to destructive means, because in the final analysis the end is preexistent in the mean.
Third, I opposed communism’s political totalitarianism. In communism the individual ends up in subjection to the state. True, the Marxist would argue that the state is an “interim” reality which is to be eliminated when the classless society emerges; but the state is the end while it lasts, and man only a means to that end. And if any man’s so-called rights or liberties stand in the way of that end, they are simply swept aside. His liberties of expression, his freedom to vote, his freedom to listen to what news he likes or to choose his books are all restricted. Man becomes hardly more, in communism, than a depersonalized cog in the turning wheel of the state.
This deprecation of individual freedom was objectionable to me. I am convinced now, as I was then, that man is an end because he is a child of God. Man is not made for the state; the state is made for man. To deprive man of freedom is to relegate him to the status of a thing, rather than elevate him to the status of a person. Man must never be treated as a means to the end of the state, but always as an end within himself.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a radical in the sense that he was going to the root of things, and seeking solutions informed by his Christian faith. Reverend King was a Christian Democrat who sought to narrow the gap between the wealthy and the poor with a politics focused on the person because "he is a child of God."  The "Beloved Community" seeks justice for all not through a violent class struggle, but through a "critical mass of people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence." 

Not all that joined him could follow him down this road. Stokely Carmichael enrolled in Howard University and joined "the school's Non-Violent Action Group, a civil-rights organization. In 1961 he participated in a number of anti-segregation initiatives in the Deep South, including "freedom rides" organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Carmichael graduated from Howard University in 1964, with a degree in philosophy. Two years later he replaced John Lewis as head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Followers of King that viewed him as not being sufficiently radical abandoned him and criticized him. Stokely Carmichael who had derisively called the 1963 March on Washington, a "middle class picnic" left the nonviolent Civil Rights movement and rejected King's approach.  

The Black Panther Party was founded in 1966 and was influenced by Robert F. Williams, a black militant nationalist living in Cuba from 1961 until 1966 then moving to Maoist China in the midst of the Cultural Revolution and stayed there until 1969.  Members of the Black Panther Party were reading Che Guevara's books on Guerrilla Warfare and applying it on the streets of America to deadly effect.

In 1967 Carmichael was interviewed by Mario Menendez, editor of Sucesos, a Mexican magazine, while he was staying in Havana, Cuba attending the Organization of Latin American Solidarity (OLAS), a communist alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS) and made claims about the SNCC that others would reject:

  "Now, we used the word nonviolent because at that time the central figure in the struggle to defend the black race was no one less than Martin Luther King and anyone who resorted to violence was considered a traitor. Consequently we resolved to use the word nonviolent. However we knew that our struggle would end up in violence, that it was only necessary to wait for the right time. So we accepted this name for the grouping and coordinated activities from city to city, wherever we could engage in nonviolent demonstrations."

Stokely Carmichael told an audience in Havana in 1967: ''We are moving toward guerrilla warfare in the United States. We are going to develop urban guerrilla warfare and we are going to beat them in this field because there is one thing the imperialists do not have: their men don't want to fight, they don't want to fight what they call guerilla warfare, which is really hand-to-hand combat."  

He believed that, "[u]rban guerrilla warfare is the only means by which we can win in the United States because they cannot use bombs against us, since we are inside the country. They will have to fight us in hand-to-hand combat and we will defeat them." 

On February 17, 1968 H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael addressed the Oakland Auditorium. Carmichael made the case for armed insurrection

"We have to recognize the major enemy is the honky and his institutions of racism." ... "Whenever anyone prepares for revolutionary warfare you concentrate on the major enemy." ... "We will not fight each other. There will be no fights in the black community among black people. There will just be people who will be offed." ... "We must first develop an undying love for our people ... an undying love as is personified in brother Huey P. Newton ... If we do not do that, we will be wiped out."

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 groundbreaking 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. Andrew Mitrokhin, in  their book,  outlined the KGB's active measures to achieve the goal of race war in America and mentioned Carmichael's visit to Cuba in 1967.

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."

Stokely Carmichael would go on to become "prime minister" of the Black Panther Party in 1968 and left for Africa in 1969 as America's cities burned following the Reverend King's assassination.  The violence continued into the 1970s.

Setting the record straight 

The false claim made by Holly Genovose in Teen Vogue on April 4, 2018 to a new generation of youngsters that the Black Panthers and Martin Luther King Jr shared "many of the same ideologies," must be challenged. She should have revisited the interview in 2017 with John Lewis, who rejected the violence of both Carmichael and Malcolm X. There is a world of difference between the social democracy and beloved community advocated by Martin Luther King Jr., and the Maoist revolutionary vision advocated by the Black Panthers who viewed King's nonviolent movement as an obstacle. Genovese also failed to mention that King had been a target of active measures by the KGB, while highlighting the terrible history of the FBI towards the Civil Rights leader.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech reaffirmed his commitment to nonviolent change

Reverend King outlined the purpose of the overall nonviolent struggle in broad terms in his final speech on April 3, 1968:

 "And that's all this whole thing is about. We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying -- We are saying that we are God's children. And that we are God's children, we don't have to live like we are forced to live."

He spoke of the importance of maintaining unity, noting how in Ancient Egypt pharaoh had sought to maintain control over his slaves by having them fight among themselves. King then explained the failings of violence, even a little violence and the specific issues of the campaign for the sanitation workers.

"Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we've got to keep attention on that. That's always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn't get around to that."
King addressed the resilience and persistence of the Civil Rights movement to resist water cannons and police dogs, and the restraining order to block the march, challenging the authorities to live up to the American traditions of liberty and the rule of law.
"Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we're going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren't going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on."

Martin Luther King Jr explained the superior power of nonviolent resistance in concrete terms.

"Now the other thing we'll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively -- that means all of us together -- collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That's power right there, if we know how to pool it.

We don't have to argue with anybody. We don't have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don't need any bricks and bottles. We don't need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say,    
"God sent us by here, to say to you that you're not treating his children right. And we've come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God's children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you."  
 And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy -- what is the other bread? -- Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on town -- downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.  

But not only that, we've got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a "bank-in" movement in Memphis. Go by the savings and loan association. I'm not asking you something that we don't do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We are telling you to follow what we are doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an "insurance-in."

Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here."

The following day they had won in court and the march was on. The civil rights leaders were in good spirits. Reverend King had been suffering from a fever and had been resting throughout the day, but feeling better he got dressed to go out to dinner at 5:30pm.

Less than 24 hours after his historic speech, the 39 year old Baptist Minister and Nobel Laureate was struck down by a sniper's bullet at the Lorraine Motel and by 6:03pm he lay there dying. Andrew Young checked and found a slight pulse. King was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. at St. Joseph Hospital.

Lorraine Motel 4/4/68: Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson, MLK Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Hosea Williams,

On April 5, 1968 in Washington, DC Black power militant Stokely Carmichael held a press conference and appealed for violence and called for retaliation for the killing of Reverend King.

"When White America killed Dr. King last night, it declared war on us. There will be no crying there will be no funerals. The rebellions that have been occurring around the cities of this country is just light stuff to what is about to happen. We have to retaliate for the deaths of our leaders. The executions of those deaths won't be in the courtroom but in the streets of the United States of America. Last night we led all of those youngsters up and down the street to close every store in this area. Because Dr. King was shot and they should have closed those doors. Now some of them kicked glass door windows in. We are not stopping them from kicking in the store windows. We are stopping them from coming out on the streets without guns. When they come out on the streets we want them with guns. If they don't have guns we won't let them throw bricks and bottles, but when they get guns we will be out on the street."

Carmichael had already been advocating for armed insurrection on American streets prior to Dr. King's assassination and on February 17, 1968 explicitly made the case for "offing" blacks who did not agree with hm. Following the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Carmichael's threat was made reality. Newsweek reported that "riots broke out in dozens of cities across the United States. The rampage left 39 dead, 21,000 arrested, more than 2,600 injured and was responsible for damages estimated at $65 million." The negative impact for black communities is still felt today.

Meanwhile in Memphis the local government met the demands that had been made by Reverend King and the striking sanitation workers.

The King family held solemn services for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia, attended by thousands including the Vice President of the United States, Hubert Humphrey and then former Vice President Richard Nixon.

Coretta Scott King requested that King eulogize himself: His last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a recording of his famous 'Drum Major' sermon, given on February 4, 1968, was played at the funeral. The King family went on to found the King Center and continued his nonviolent legacy to the present day. Other activists from King's inner circle continued their civil rights work, while some, like John Lewis, entered political life and continued the long hard journey to realize Reverend King's beloved community.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Reflection On Nonviolence On Good Friday : Jesus’ Third Way

 And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Matthew 26.51-52


Mohandas Gandhi said that "it is a first-class human tragedy that peoples of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus, whom they describe as the Prince of Peace, show little of that belief in actual practice."
The essence of Jesus's message is found in his Sermon on the Mount, and it moved Gandhi greatly, and he embraced it. Mohandas Gandhi quoted those lines from the Sermon in his autobiography.
For a bowl of water give a goody meal;
For a kindly greeting bow thou down with zeal;
For a simple penny pay thou back with gold;
If thy life be rescued, life do not withhold.
Thus the words and actions of the wise regard;
Every little service tenfold they reward.
But the truly noble know all men as one,
And return with gladness good for evil done.
  This video contains audio and text of the entire Sermon on the Mount.

Thankfully, Gandhi was mistaken and some of the people who believe in the message of Jesus of Nazareth demonstrate that belief in actual practice as did a group of Catholic Monks in Algeria in 1996 now made known to the world in the film Of Gods and Men. Others continue to do so today around the world. 

What better day than Good Friday to reflect on those who took up the cross and followed and continue to follow Jesus? James Morris Lawson 92 years old and has spent a life time following Jesus and continues to do it today. He is a Methodist minister, and a nonviolence practitioner.

Reverend James Lawson, prepared students for nonviolent action at a Fellowship of Reconciliation workshop  over half a century ago where he revealed its fundamental Christian nature.

"When you are a child of God... you try thereby to imitate Jesus, in the midst of evil. Which means, if someone slaps you on the one cheek, you turn the other cheek, which is an act of resistance. It means that you do not only love your neighbor, but you recognize that even the enemy has a spark of God in them, has been made in the image of God and therefore needs to be treated as you, yourself, want to be treated Jesus is very clear about this: "do unto others as you want others to do unto you." — which is a rather powerful ethic for personal relationships, regardless of whether family or school or community or nation." 

The documentary "A Force More Powerful" is about non-violence, and its power to change the world over the past century. It is worth noticing that faith and belief played a major role in these movements that achieved positive and lasting change.

Reverend Lawson is featured in the documentary and has been called the "architect of the civil rights movement." The good Reverend observed that “if you want to understand King, you must look at Jesus.” The message of Jesus and the example of what he went through on Good Friday, and the manner in which he did it is a powerful study in nonviolence, of taking on suffering, while forgiving your enemies.

"You have learnt how it was said: 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I say to you, Offer the wicked man no resistance. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him." Matthew 5.38-41



Monday, March 29, 2021

24 years without justice for Danish student gunned down in Havana by a soldier

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture 1986

Joachim Løvschall: December 7, 1970 - March 29, 1997
Joachim Løvschall was studying Spanish in Havana in the spring of 1997. He was gunned down by a soldier of the Castro regime in Havana, Cuba twenty four years ago today on March 29, 1997. The identity of the soldier was never revealed to Joachim''s family. No one was brought to justice. Joachim's family is not satisfied with the official explanation.

The last time they saw Joachim
On March 28, 1997 Joachim Løvschall ate his last dinner with white wine in a little restaurant called Aladin, located on 21st street in Havana. He went to the Revolutionary Plaza and bought a ticket to the Cuban National Theater. Following the performance he went to the theater's bar, Cafe Cantate, and met up with two Swedish friends. They each drank a couple of beers, but soon left because Joachim did not like the music. At 23:30, they said good bye to each other on the sidewalk in front of Cafe Cantate. 

Joachim was never seen alive again. 

The Castro regime's version of what happened
On September 28, 1997 the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published an article by Kim Hundevadt titled "Dangerous Vacation" that outlined what happened to Joachim Løvschall and presented the Castro dictatorship's version of the events leading to this young man's death:

Around 23:30, a person matching Joachim Løvschall's description was in a bar named Segundo Dragon d'Oro. The bar lies in the hopeless part of town, around the Revolutionary Plaza which is dominated by ministry and other official buildings of harsh concrete architecture, and lies empty in at night.
At 2:45am he left the bar, after becoming intoxicated. Around 20 minutes later, he was walking down the Avenue Territorial, behind the Defense Ministry.

Joachim Løvschall walked, according to the Cuban authorities, first on the sidewalk that lies opposite the Ministry. Midway he crossed over to the other sidewalk, considered to be a military area, though it is not blocked off.

The Cubans have explained that Joachim Løvschall was shouted at by two armed guards, who in addition fired warning shots, which he did not react to. Therefore, one guard shot from the hip with an AK-47 rifle. The first shot hit Joachim in the stomach and got him to crumble down. The second shot hit slanting down the left side of the neck.
Joachim Løvschall gunned down in Cuba in 1997
Fourteen years ago
On June 12, 2007 Christian Løvschall, Joachim's father, at a parallel forum at the United Nations Human Rights Council spoke about his son's disappearance and the struggle to find out if Joachim was dead or alive:
"Although the killing took place on the 29th of March, we only came to know about it on the 6th of April - i.e. after 8 days were we had the feeling that the Cuban authorities were unwilling to inform anything about the incident. Only because of good relations with Spanish speaking friends in other Latin American countries did we succeed in getting into contact with the family with whom Joachim stayed and the repeated message from their side was that they could reveal nothing, but that the situation had turned out very bad and that we had to come to Cuba as soon as possible. At the same time all contacts to the responsible authorities turned out negatively... Only after continued pressure from our side on the Cuban embassy in Copenhagen, things suddenly changed and the sad information was given to us by our local police on the evening of the 6th of April. We are, however, 100% convinced that had we not made use of our own contact and had we not continued our pressure on the embassy in Copenhagen, we might have faced a situation where Joachim would have been declared a missing person, a way out the Cuban authorities have been accused of applying in similar cases."
 Ten years later Christian Løvschall outlined what he knew concerning his son's untimely death:
We do feel we were (and still are) left with no answers except to maybe one of the following questions: Where, When, Who, Why Starting out with the where we were told that Joachim was killed by the soldiers outside the Ministry of Interior.
What we do not understand is why no fence or signs did inform that this is a restricted area? I have been on the spot myself, and the place appears exactly like a normal residential area. So you may question whether this in fact was the place of the killing? Contrary to this the authorities keep maintaining that the area was properly sealed off, and the relevant sign posts were in place.
As to when Joachim was killed we only have the information received from the police because of the delay informing one might believe that this is another forgery made up to cover the truth.
The who was in our opinion has never been answered by the Cuban authorities. We understand that a private soldier on duty was made responsible for the killing, and also it has been rumored that his officer in charge has been kept responsible. This is of course the easy way out, but why can't we get to know the whole and true story?   
Why did the soldiers have to fire two shots, one to his body and one to his head, to murder him? Was Joachim violent and did he, an unarmed individual, attack the armed soldiers? Or is it simply that the instruction to Cuban soldiers are: first you shoot and then you ask? But again: Who can explain why two shots were needed?
Despite the claims made by the travel industry there have been other travelers to Cuba who have been killed or gone missing under suspicious circumstances. Others have been falsely imprisoned in legal proceedings that fall far short of international standards. Like North Korea, but with a tropical twist, Cuba suffers a dictatorship where both nationals and foreigners have no legal protections locally if they run into trouble with the regime. The ongoing plight of Benjamin Tomlin, who has spent three years in a Cuban prison, should lead others considering a holiday in Cuba to think twice. So should what happened to Joachim Løvschall on March 29, 1997 when he was gunned down by an AK-47 wielding Cuban soldier for allegedly walking on the wrong sidewalk.