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Memories of war protests and civil rights demonstrations.

 
 
goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 04:20 pm
I was trapped between duty and personal views during that time. I had recently graduated from 3 years training at the Academy and was waiting to find out whether or not I had been drafted and I was staunchly opposed to the Vietnam War. Yet I was out there on the barricades doing public order duty. However it had its lighter moments. At one demo I saw on the other side (ie the demonstrators) an old school friend of mine. He recognised me at the same time. There we were out in no-man's land between the police lines and the demonstrator lines (nothing was happening obviously) and we were catching up. When I got back to my lines I was ripped into by my supervisor for fraternising with the loonies. Funny thing is when he got back to his lines he got told off by his mates for fraternising with the pigs Very Happy
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Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 04:46 pm
I would note with regard to George's fantasy observations about the "leadership" of the anti-war movement of the 1960s and -70s, that although when dealing with the calibre of those who become sailors and marines (especially the officers), leadership is a must--those with heartfelt conviction about the essentially immoral "wrongness" of a national policy can feel that sentiment, and express it, without reference to leadership. When it reached the point that housewives and professional men and women took to the streets to protest, even that gobshite Nixon knew it was all over. Despite George's silly "commie under the bed" paranoia, there was no such thing as anti-war movement leadership. We were opposed (even those who, as was the case with me, served in the armed forces) and needed none to lead us on, or tell us what to feel and what to say.
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Steppenwolf
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 05:31 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
Apart from the PRK and Myanmar (Burma) also ruled by authoritarian regimes, Vietnam and Cambodia are the poorest and most backward nations in Asia.


Not true at all. A partial list of Asian countries that are poorer than Vietnam: Pakistan, Afganistan (vastly poorer--and they were liberated from the Soviets), Nepal, Bangladesh, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan... Even India is only slightly wealthier (2,700 per capita for Vietnam as compared to 3,100 for India). If you're only talking about East Asia, what about Mongolia, Laos, Bhutan, etc.? You're almost right if we limit this statement to Southeast Asia, but only after you've eliminated Burma and Cambodia, leaving us with only a handful of countries.

Anyway, hypotheticals about Vietnam's wealth under different circumstances are more the stuff of fantasy than reality. Indeed, the communist regime that took control of Vietnam was horrible, but so was the regime we supported. How can you be so sure that Ngo Dienh Diem's brutal successors would have been any less authoritarian than the Viet Cong? Pure speculation...
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Steppenwolf
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 05:50 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
War is indeed a terrible thing and one shouldn't indulge in it either lightlly or to feed the vanity of self-proclaimed intellectual strategists.


As for this one, I wholeheartedly agree. I'll also agree that the people who blamed veterans for Vietnam were plainly wrong, but that doesn't salvage that disastrous war, nor does it save either LBJ or Nixon.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 06:00 pm
Steppenwolf wrote:
. I'll also agree that the people who blamed veterans for Vietnam were plainly wrong, but that doesn't salvage that disastrous war, nor does it save either LBJ or Nixon.


Don't forget to include the sainted John Fitzgerald Keennedy in that group. He engineered the assasination of Diem and the sucession of generals who led the SV government afterwards. One could also add the Democrat-controlled Congress.

Of the three Presidents only Nixon had a self-consistent, goherent plan for resolving the conflict on acceptable termen over a finite time span. Johnson's strategy verged on insanity. The protesters merely wanted a bug out on any terms.


Delighted to see that this has stimulated a rare post from Setanta. Even his sneering hostility is refreshing and interesting. I was beginning to find the political forums a bit stale.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 06:07 pm
1/23/73 Richard Nixon
Quote:
Good evening. I have asked for this radio and television time tonight for the purpose of announcing that we today have concluded an agreement to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia.
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Steppenwolf
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 06:10 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
Steppenwolf wrote:
. I'll also agree that the people who blamed veterans for Vietnam were plainly wrong, but that doesn't salvage that disastrous war, nor does it save either LBJ or Nixon.


Don't forget to include the sainted John Fitzgerald Keennedy in that group. He engineered the assasination of Diem and the sucession of generals who led the SV government afterwards. One could also add the Democrat-controlled Congress.

Of the three Presidents only Nixon had a self-consistent, goherent plan for resolving the conflict on acceptable termen over a finite time span. Johnson's strategy verged on insanity. The protesters merely wanted a bug out on any terms.


Delighted to see that this has stimulated a rare post from Setanta. Even his sneering hostility is refreshing and interesting. I was beginning to find the political forums a bit stale.


That works for me. Unlike many, I don't consider Vietnam a partisan affair, and JFK will certainly never make it into my personal pantheon or list of saints. As for Nixon, I guess I would say that he was better than LBJ. A compliment? Not much---LBJ was almost certainly the worst president in modern times.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 06:12 pm
Nixon had a plan, an unworkable plan. Plus, he didn't give a **** how many people died in the process. That makes him similar to GW Bush, who doesn't give a **** either, so long as it isn't him personally. I don't know what is more disgusting - Leaders who manufacture a cause for war and send others off to fight it, or people like bush who support a Vietnam War, but hide from duty. Then they tell how addlepated the Peace Movement is. Right.

I didn't like Kennedy in the 60s and I hated Johnson and Nixon. You can tear into them all you like without getting a rise out of me.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 06:16 pm
the "peace with honor" fall of Saigon
http://www.georgetreks.com/Everest/chopper.jpg
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edgarblythe
 
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Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 06:37 pm
That debacle didn't look too honorable to me.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 07:44 pm
The Master of Self-Delusion wrote:
Of the three Presidents only Nixon had a self-consistent, goherent plan for resolving the conflict on acceptable termen over a finite time span.


Man, you couldn't make this shite up . . . oh yeah, a real "goherent" plan--let's see, bomb bejeebus outta Laos and Cambodia, then invade the latter, pretending we'd never dream of that. Then after we kill a few protestors on college campuses, we'll peddle some crap about peace with honor . . .

I got some nice, colorful brochures about lake front property you might like, George . . .
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 09:31 pm
There was every reason to expect that a South Vietnamese government could have survived long enough to establish an equilibrium with the North. However when the Democrat Congress voted to mandate an end to all aid and support for them, that otherwise good chance was lost for good. If there was any dishonor in the process it was that act of the Congress.

Glad to see you in good form Set. There have been many things here worse even than your irritable bombast and few as good as your odd moments of calm, informative and often lucid argument.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 09:35 pm
It was beyond time to end the war. It doesn't matter to me if the congress was Democrat or Republican, they were many years overdue doing the right thing.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Dec, 2005 10:10 pm
Reformed Klansman C.P. Ellis dies at 78
Los Angeles Times C.P. Ellis, whose startling metamorphosis from Ku Klux Klan officer to civil rights activist was described in the 1996 book Best of Enemies and a subsequent documentary, An Unlikely Friendship, has died. He was 78.

Ellis died Thursday at Durham Regional Hospital in Durham, N.C., of undisclosed causes. He had suffered from Alzheimer's disease and used a wheelchair in recent years.

Both Ellis' "enemy" and "friend" of the book and film titles was Ann Atwater, a black advocate of desegregation in Durham. The event that converted the city's oft-praised "odd couple" from adversaries to allies was a 1971 community discussion session about the violence occurring as Durham tried to integrate its schools. Ellis and Atwater co-chaired the 10 days of 12-hour talks, forging not only the unusual friendship but profoundly changing Ellis' deeply rooted segregationist thinking.

Ellis and Atwater had been such bitter foes that she once pulled a knife on him at a Durham City Council meeting, and Ellis brought a machine gun to their first 1971 discussion session.

They became such close comrades that, after the meetings, Ellis renounced his position as Exalted Grand Cyclops of the KKK, repudiated segregation and joined Atwater in working to desegregate the Durham school system. They continued to speak jointly at civil rights seminars and meetings for three decades.

"God had a plan for both of us, for us to get together. . . . ," Atwater said at Ellis' funeral Saturday.

When Osha Davidson's book was published in 1996, Atwater told the Raleigh, N.C., News and Observer that Ellis had become "part of my family" and that she wished others could work together as well as the two of them to end racial strife.

"Ann and I were really thrown together and forced to work together," Ellis told the Durham Herald-Sun in 1999. "During those days it became clear to me that she had some of the identical problems that I had and that I'd suffered like she had and what in the hell had I spent all my life fighting people like Ann for?"

Claiborne P. Ellis grew up in poverty in Durham, the son of a mill worker. He married at 17 and quickly fathered three children, the youngest born blind and retarded. Despite working two jobs, he could rarely pay the bills.

"I worked my butt off and never seemed to break even. They say abide by the law, go to church, do right and live for the Lord and everything will work out. It didn't work out. It kept gettin' worse and worse. I began to get bitter," Ellis once told columnist and author Studs Terkel.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Terkel interviewed Ellis twice for such books as his 1991 Race: How Blacks & Whites Think & Feel about the American Obsession.

"So I joined the Klan," Ellis had related to Terkel. "My father told me it was the savior of the white race. I'll never forget the night when they put the white robe on me and the hood, and I was led down the hall and knelt before the illuminated cross. It was thrilling. Me, this poor little ol' boy Claiborne Ellis, a nobody, felt like somebody."

When Atwater pulled the knife on Ellis, he had just urged the City Council to adopt apartheid-like rules that would, in part, keep what he labeled "n------" off the Durham streets.

After Ellis began championing desegregation in 1971, he was ostracized by angry white former colleagues and became such an outcast that he considered suicide. Instead, the redeemed Duke University janitor went back to school, earned his high school diploma and became a successful union organizer -- in a union with a majority of black members.

"These days," he told Terkel, "when you walk into a plant with those black women and butt heads with professional union busters, college men. And we hold our own against them. Now I feel like somebody for real."

Ellis' survivors were not immediately known.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jan, 2006 06:27 pm
Martin Luther King's
Letter from Birmingham Jail
[ N. B. All typographical errors are from the original source and therefore have not been corrected. A PDF version can be found here. ]
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This response to a published statement by eight fellow clergymen from Alabama (Bishop C. C. J. Carpenter, Bishop Joseph A. Durick, Rabbi Hilton L. Grafman, Bishop Paul Hardin, Bishop Holan B. Harmon, the Reverend George M. Murray. the Reverend Edward V. Ramage and the Reverend Earl Stallings) was composed under somewhat constricting circumstance. Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly Negro trusty, and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to leave me. Although the text remains in substance unaltered, I have indulged in the author's prerogative of polishing it for publication.

April 16, 1963

MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN:

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here In Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I. compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place In Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through an these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants --- for example, to remove the stores humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained.

As in so many past experiences, our hopes bad been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self-purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves : "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct-action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic with with-drawal program would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoralty election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run-oat we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run-off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct-action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may won ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there fire two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the Brat to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all"

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distort the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I-it" relationship for an "I-thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and awful. Paul Tillich said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression 'of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.

Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to ace the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fan in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.

I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "An Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this 'hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to 6e solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At fist I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self-respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best-known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do-nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle.

If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble-rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black-nationalist ideologies a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides-and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist.

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that an men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we viii be. We we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jeans Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some-such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle---have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach-infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.

Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a non segregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who 'has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of Rio shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leader era; an too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, on Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious-education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Walleye gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? l am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators"' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide. and gladiatorial contests.

Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Par from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it vi lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom, They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jai with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham, ham and all over the nation, because the goal of America k freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation-and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if .you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handing the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in pubic. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."

I wish you had commended the Negro sit-inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face Jeering, and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My fleets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he k alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Mar, 2006 12:03 pm
Plenty of new memories to be made, out on the streets. If today I were in the same circumstance I was in during the 60s and 70s I would likely be dead or sitting in jail somewhere.

Friday, March 10, 2006
There Are Criminals, and Then There Are CRIMINALS

By Cindy Sheehan

As I lie here in bed recuperating from the injuries that I received from a federal agent and the NYPD in front of the US Mission to the UN (USUN) the other day, I have had time to reflect on the experience, the state of our union and its descent into a fascist state.

When the four of us, Missy Beattie, Rev. Patricia Ackerman, Medea Benjamin, and I, were arrested the other day, I was singled out for federal police brutality. The other three ladies were picked up, both gingerly, though, and I was dragged across the pavement and treated very, very roughly -- having both arms wrenched out from beneath me. I looked to my doctor as if I had been beaten. My daughter, Janey, asked if I had been resisting arrest. I told her if one considers going into a fetal position and saying, "Please don't hurt me anymore!" resisting, then I guess I was.

Why was I targeted for the abuse? Is it revenge for my work at exposing the lies of BushCo, of which John Bolton is a leading co-criminal? Or is it to discourage other activists from taking the same path I have taken: demanding an end to the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq, and demanding that our freedoms be returned to us? I wish the Senate had the courage to stand up to the fascists in our government -- or are the 90 who voted "Yea" to extend the Patriot Act also co-slitherers into fascism?

Neocon John Bolton has had a long and checkered career of lying and doing dirty work for the regime. In 1994 he harassed and terrified whistle-blower Melody Townsel who worked for US AID. She urged the Senate Foreign Relation Committee not to approve Bolton's nomination and she wrote in a letter to them: "John Bolton put me through hell - and he did everything he could to intimidate, malign and threaten not just me, but anybody unwilling to go along with his version of events. His behavior back in 1994 wasn't just unforgivable, it was pathological." Not only has John Bolton not been punished for this incident and other involving harassment and abuse, he was rewarded with a recess appointment to the UN when George Bush, again, circumvented our political processes.

L. Paul Bremer slunk, under the cover of darkness, out of Iraq two months after my son, Casey, was killed there with $8.8 BILLION missing from the Coalition Provisional Authority. Has L. Paul been held accountable for the missing money? No, as a matter of fact, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and is a highly paid speaker on the rubber chickenhawk Republican circuit.

Such war profiteers as Halliburton are raping the American tax payer of billions of dollars as a matter of company policy. A Halliburton whistle blower accused the company of charging us $45.00 per case of soda and ten thousand dollars a night to stay in Kuwait's finest hotels. They charge immoral prices to feed our soldiers who often complain of rotten food. Our young people even have to pay to have their laundry done by these outrageous over-chargers. Have they been punished or monetarily penalized for these crimes? No, as a matter of fact, Halliburton gets awarded more no-bid contracts in America and around the world.

A book could be written about the felonies of the Bush Crime Family and their mafia-style buddies, but I am running out of space. George Bush has committed crimes against humanity and high crimes and misdemeanors in his tenure as (P)resident of the White House. Has he been held accountable for any of this? No, he spends his nights and days comfortable and content in the fact that he is a lame duck, already rich, and knowing that Congress is spineless and he won't be impeached for his transgressions that have caused the deaths of so many thousands of people worldwide.

When we were in the cockroach and feces-decorated jail system in NYC the other night, we met some other women who felt they had to resort to crime to try to survive in BushWorld. We met intelligent young women who felt their last resort was to resort to victimless crimes. Now for their petty thefts, they will have to spend months in institutions where they are stripped of any human dignity or comfort. All of the women we met knew they broke the law and were resigned to their punishment but where is the justice in our system where all people are supposedly equal?

However, we four white, middle-class women were the lucky ones. We only had to spend one night in jail and we knew our lawyers would be there in the morning to spring us. When we were heading for court, we walked by our sisters in the holding cell and our hearts sank, because we know what it is like to spend even one night in jail. Our souls also connected with our sisters and brothers all over the world who are imprisoned in far worse conditions by the policies of BushCo and are being inhumanely tortured by these same medieval and draconian policies.

Even if John Bolton, L. Paul Bremer, George Bush, Halliburton execs, etc. ad nauseum are ever punished, we all know the conditions won't be (but should be) as harsh as those of the other people who live in subhuman conditions because of them. These people operate on the standard of having all the money and all the power and they don't care for anyone who they victimize on their way to obtaining their obscene and ill-gotten gains.

One of our so-called crimes in front of USUN was "Obstructing Governmental Administration." I say "Hell, yes! Anyone with a conscience or any moral courage should be doing everything in his/her power to obstruct the administration of the Bush government. Only massive, peaceful, non-violent resistance to his calamitous policies will be able to stem the dreadful tide!

That is why we need to stand up to the neo-fascists and take our humanity back.

While we are still able. I will stand up to them again and again, I just hope next time that they drag me by my good arm!

Cindy Sheehan is the very proud mother of Casey Sheehan who was KIA in the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq. She is Founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace and author of Not One More Mother's Child available at Koa Books. Cindy is above all the proud mom of her surviving children: Carly, Andy, and Janey.
0 Replies
 
blueflame1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Mar, 2006 03:35 pm
edgar, the Peace Mom has grown. She's a force to reckon with. She's embraced human rights in a very real way. And even as she grows and America turns on Bushie he has KBR building detention centers.
0 Replies
 
paull
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Mar, 2006 03:40 pm
LOL Cindy!

Was there ever a better creation of the mastermind ROVE than she?

She taints anyone who appears with her, refers to her, or quotes her, imo.
0 Replies
 
Anon-Voter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Mar, 2006 03:53 pm
edgarblythe wrote:
Nixon had a plan, an unworkable plan. Plus, he didn't give a **** how many people died in the process. That makes him similar to GW Bush, who doesn't give a **** either, so long as it isn't him personally. I don't know what is more disgusting - Leaders who manufacture a cause for war and send others off to fight it, or people like bush who support a Vietnam War, but hide from duty. Then they tell how addlepated the Peace Movement is. Right.

I didn't like Kennedy in the 60s and I hated Johnson and Nixon. You can tear into them all you like without getting a rise out of me.


I second this post!!

Anon
0 Replies
 
blueflame1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Mar, 2006 03:54 pm
paull, one thing for sure is Bushie World has imploded since August 6. And most of America now agrees with Cindy that Bushie deliberately lied is into war. If Cindy is a Rove creation then Rove has it in for Bushie. Wait'll Easter.
0 Replies
 
 

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