Posts Tagged ‘civil disobedience’
Notes and comments on FB and Twitter. Part 25
Yesterday, Dec. 23, 2016, the UN issued a resolution summoning Israel to desist from further settlements in the West Bank. Israel vowed to empty this resolution from any effects. Like practically killing the spirit of UN resolution 198 of 1948 declaring the Right of Return for Palestinians to their homeland.
Most new politicians have excessive good intentions. Otherwise, how could they indulge in this nasty business?
What insomnia can generate in Black Matter hypotheses
Black Matters essentially fill the intergalactic spaces. It’s main purpose is to delay the pull of the larger galaxy of smaller ones by reducing the accelerated attraction. Eventually, black matter infiltrates and invade galactic space to fill the void. It then generate these phenomena: 1) It plays the catalyst for enhancing the explosion of supernova by preventing it from naturally dissipating surplus energy to it environment. The dissipated energy from the explosion transform portion of black matter into live matter that reach planets in the form of gamma rays. 2) It accelerates the dying process of White Star by playing the buffer zone for Not allowing external sources of energy to come in. A Dwarf Star are then invaded with black matter and become the hub for a nascent Black Hole
Kamal Jumblat wrote in 1976: The Syrian military occupation of Lebanon will terminally harm Hafez Assad. Assad’s theory that protecting the Christian Maronite sect (with entrenched Crusader/Zionist mentality) will encourage them to side with “Arab” cause is too far fetched
The US Congress and Senate is doing far more harm to people in Middle-East than a WW3 war in the region. Too lazy in the mind. Israel Knesset discuss more at length the issues in this region.
The Palestinian Authority in the occupied West bank strategy should be to extend the conditions so that towns and villages could sustain civil disobedience in the medium-term
Get the last paper issue of the Al Safir. And read the interviews of the leaders who passed away. You’ll learn something you don’t know.
On ne pouvait pas se contenter du melodrama et des sauces pathétiques: Tout doit avoir un sens.
Nul besoin de déranger les saints pour etre des fils de putes.
La volonté d’éclairer la destiné de l’homme, que du destin d’un seul etre aimé.
Le Libanais avait du mal a réfrainer ses sarcasmes. Qu’y avait -il de devin, de sacré et d’occulte dans une bande de camorra óu le faible est ecrasé et le fort prend sa place?
Une organization mafieuse de la loi de la rue, version terrible, sans drapeau et sans honneur.
Personne ne me fera voir dans le comportement sexuel des personnes le critére du bien et du mal.
Hiroshima, Buchenwald, pelotons d’ execution. la terreur, et la torture… sont mille fois plus horrible et funeste que l’ incest ou coucher avec sa mére
Trop de controle peut s’averer dangereux: il faut ouvrire quelques évents. Il vaut mieux provoquer de petites pétarades, quelques petit “muort”.
Peut etre que les amoureux ne savent pas s’y prendre: Ils cherchent de tous les cotés.
On avait a peine 10 ans. Le patissier Michka etait un grand artiste. Apres avoir observé ses ebats amoureux avec une servant, il fit de nous des hommes modestes. On ne pouvait plus prétender avoir inventé la poudre.
J’avais a peine fini de manger les escargos (coquille et tout) que Valentine (8 ans) m’avait tendit, qu’elle me dit negligemment: “Jocek a mangé 10 araignées pour moi”
Les hommes vantars, ne vous font grace d’aucun detail de leurs prouesses viriles: ils ne vous dit pas ce que les femmes leurs ont fait manger, meme des souliers en caoutchouc.
Tout ce petit bric-a brac que l’humanité laisse derriere elle, dans des greniers, des granges… Laisser sur ses rives, a force de couler, a force de mourir, traces de passages… de mille campements evanouis.
Germany to withhold any development aid to States dragging their feet for accepting the return of its expulsed citizens. The worst draggers are Tunisia, Bangladesh, Egypt and Gabon. The best States in quickening the process of return are Armenia, Angola and China.
Civil Disobedience Not weakening: Mobilization of Garbage crisis
Lebanese youth have been manifesting for 2 months against Not resolving the garbage crisis that has been accumulating in all streets and provinces for the last 3 months.
Au 5ème jour des manifestations qui ont débuté ce samedi, la mobilisation ne faiblit pas alors que d’autres revendications se font désormais entendre que celles plus basiques du ramassage des ordures, se font désormais entendre.
La société civile réclame désormais des réformes en profondeur de l’Etat.
Alors que le gouvernement libanais a annoncé hier l’annulation des résultats de l’appel d’offre qui s’est clôturé ce lundi, suite aux prix excessifs des entreprises candidates au ramassage des ordures des 6 régions libanaises, provoquant au passage un tollé à la fois dans les milieux politiques et sociaux, cette décision est vécue par la société civile présente dans les rues du centre-ville comme une véritable victoire, amenant certains à s’interroger sur la possibilité d’une #RevolutionDesOrdures (voir la tribune libre publiée sur notre site).
Le Conseil des Ministres – marqué par une crise politique et le retrait des ministres du CPL, du Tashnak, du mouvement Marada et du Hezbollah – qui s’était exceptionnellement réuni ce mardi pour discuter des résultats de l’appel d’offre, avait annulé les procédures en cours, en raison des prix demandés et considérés comme excessifs par les entreprises participantes (voir le lien).
Le Mouvement YouStink, qui avait annulé les protestations initialement prévues ce lundi, a indiqué qu’une nouvelle protestation aura lieu ce samedi en dépit des incidents désormais devenus quotidiens à proximité immédiate du Grand Sérail, siège du gouvernement libanais. Une autre manifestation du Mouvement WeWantAccountability entamera elle, une manifestation aujourd’hui à partir de 18 heures.
Les entreprises gagnantes dénoncent l’annulation de l’Appel d’Offre par le Cabinet Gouvernemental
2 responsables des entreprises candidates ont dénoncé l’annulation de l’appel d’offre ce mardi, accusant le gouvernement de vouloir favoriser la reprise de l’activité du ramassage des déchets par Sukleen.
Ces derniers ont également accusé le ministre de l’environnement Mohammed Machnouk d’avoir menti au sujet des prix proposés et de les avoir augmenté afin de permettre à l’entreprise Sukleen de paraitre compétitive.
La solution gouvernementale rejetée aussi bien au Akkar qu’à Naameh
Sous le slogan « Le Akkar n’est pas une décharge », les mouvements civils locaux dénoncent le projet de création par les autorités gouvernementales d’une décharge provisoire dans cette région du Nord Liban, et annoncent la tenue de prochaines manifestations.
Ils dénoncent également le versement – vécu comme une véritable tentative de corruption des habitants – de la somme de 100 millions de dollars à cette région considérée comme déshéritée, estimant la qu’il s’agit d’un droit et non d’une récompense pour accepter l’ouverture d’une déchetterie.
A Naameh également dont la fermeture, le 17 juillet dernier, de la décharge a été à l’origine de l’accumulation des ordures des régions du Mont Liban et de la Capitale Beyrouth, les habitants redoutent la réouverture évoquée par le Ministre de l’Environnement Mohammed Machnouk en attendant la mise en place d’une solution permanente, de la cette dernière et menacent de mettre le feu à toute benne à ordure pénétrant dans la zone de depot.
Ils réclament également l’adoption par le Conseil des Ministres, d’un décret déclarant la fermeture permanente de la déchetterie.
Les conducteurs de Sukleen en grève
Les conducteurs libanais de l’entreprise Sukleen en charge jusqu’en juillet dernier du ramassage des ordures ont entamé ce mercredi une grève ouverte provoquant une nouvelle accumulation des déchets dans les régions du Mont Liban et de la capitale libanaise. Manifestant devant le siège de la compagnie située dans le quartier de la Quarantaine, à l’entrée Est de la capitale libanaise, ils réclament aux autorités de connaitre le sort qui leur ait réservé.
Après #YouStink, #WeWantAccountability se joint au mouvement
Le mouvement “We Want Accountability” (Nous demandons des Comptes) s’est joint au Mouvement #Youstink, demandant une transparence accrue et une lutte contre la corruption au sein des administrations publiques, avec une manifestation prévue ce mercredi à 18 heures, cela afin de redonner les droits fondamentaux à la population libanaise.
#WeWantAccountability a également exigé la démission du gouvernement du Premier Ministre Tamam Salam dans un communiqué publié aujourd’hui
« Les autorités craignent les personnes qui réclament leurs droits », a indiqué, ce mercredi depuis la place Riad el Solh, épicentre des manifestations, le porte-parole de ce mouvement qui dénonce également les violences dont on été sujet les manifestants, estimant par ailleurs que la guerre n’est pas avec la police mais avec « le régime ».
Ce mouvement a appelé à la libération immédiate des manifestants encore détenus.
Les collectifs civils dénoncent le maintien en détention de manifestants
Alors que le mouvement “We Want Accountability” dénonce le maintien en détention de 60 personnes, les forces de sécurité libanaises ont indiqué que 48 individus ont été arrêté dont seulement 18 personnes sont toujours en détention.
Le collection “We Want Accountability” indique également être sans nouvelle de 4 personnes désormais portées disparues depuis les manifestations de ce mardi.
Selon les informations disponibles à cette heure, les activistes notent que les voitures des personnes disparues sont toujours au Centre-Ville de Beyrouth alors que leurs téléphones mobiles sont éteints. Des membres de cette même organisation ayant préparé les manifestations des derniers jours font état de violences politiques et de mise en détention arbitraire.
Plusieurs proches des personnes arrêtées et emmenées aux commissariats des quartiers de Sodeco, Mar Elias, Corniche al-Nahar, Hamra, Verdun et de Bachoura, ont fait part de l’interdiction faite par les FSI aux détenus de consulter leurs avocats.
Ils ont indiqué que les suspects des violences subissent également des examens sur fond de suspicions d’utilisation de drogues.
Les personnes depuis libérées ont indiqué avoir payé une caution de 50 000 Livres Libanaises à l’issue d’un examen de prise de drogue négatif.
Pour rappel, le juge militaire Dani al Zaani a débuté l’enquête ouverte suite aux violences ayant visé manifestants et forces de sécurité au centre ville de Beyrouth ces 5 derniers jours avec l’interrogatoire de plusieurs membres des forces de l’ordre et le témoignage de manifestants présents.
Certaines sources médiatiques que l’enquête viserait notamment 7 personnes impliquées dans les incidents au cours desquels plus de 100 membres des forces de l’ordre et un nombre équivalent de civils auraient été blessés. Dans un communiqué publié par les FSI, on indique que les Forces de Sécurité ont été aspergées avec de l’essence lors des manifestations de ce mardi, entrainant l’entrée en action des forces anti-émeutes au cours desquelles plusieurs personnes ont été arrêtées.
Les Emirats Arabes Unis et la France appellent leurs ressortissants à la prudence.
Après Bahrein qui avait appelé ses ressortissants à quitter le Liban et le Koweit qui demandait à ses compatriotes d’éviter les déplacements non-nécessaires voir même à préparer leur départ si nécessaire, les Emirats Arabes Unis ont demandé à leurs ressortissants d’éviter de se rendre au pays des Cèdres. La France appelle ses compatriotes également à la prudence dans un message envoyé par SMS.
Before you join the protesters: #YouStink movement
Desist from all illegal activities
Refrain from steeling electricity and water
Stop pocketing bribes as a civil servant
Reform your behaviors as a law abiding citizens
Who want a legitimate government…
These are fine recommendations, unless the youth movement declare civil disobedience. Then citizens have:
To stop paying taxes that go to the pockets of mafia and militia leaders ruling this defunct system for over 35 years
To change your life style that is permitting this rotten system to get richer from your immoderate consumption
Slow down on driving your cars that guzzle gasoline (one third of the price goes to the State)
Do not patronize public beaches that have been privatized by the militia leaders
Do share the list of life-style changes that should make a dent on the politicians and deep pocket wealthy consciousness
Participating In a Protest, sit -in, marches…? A few Ways to Protect Yourself
Comparing Beirut’s You Stink protest to Kiev’s Orange Protests is quite alarming.
If history has taught us anything is that peaceful protests soon turn violent on both ends.
The Security Forces will not back down, and will be escalating into fatal assaults on the demonstration since the usual Arab strategy of divide and conquer has not worked yet.
Egypt’s spring has proved that warlords that have ruled for decades sometimes lose their grip on reality, and tend to muscle their way using old techniques.
Ferguson’s protest also turned violent overnight and gained international media attention, although to this day it has lacked any significant changes in the way minorities are policed.
Occupy Wall street are still without a clear victory.
There will be more bloodshed before the end.
While the ISF (Lebanon internal security forces) has been the source of much corruption, the army has been the only thing to hold this country together.
The bloody conflicts in Nahr El Bared, Arsal, and other instances have shown that the Army is the least sectarian entity. Not without their vices, I remember distinctly being beaten senselessly by the army on more than one occasion during the 2008 university “incidents”.
I came through those times solely on instinct and pure luck. A lot of my friends had the misfortune of being arrested and getting the ass-whooping of their lives.
Our only target back then was surviving the snipers from the rooftops and protecting our own, as the ISF and army were powerless to protect any civilian at the time, and took their frustration and anger out on the helpless and unarmed.
To this day I have never held a weapon in the face of any military man in uniform, Lebanese or otherwise, and I do not ever intend to.
Despite my martial arts lifestyle, I am a pacifist at heart and dedicate most of my free time to making sure people can negotiate confrontations in a non-violent manner.
In all further demonstrations, civilians are urged to bring gas masks, home made shields, wet cloths, milk, and water proof phones to document everything live.
Do NOT depend solely on Touch and Alfa communications as they have been known before to shut off 3G and 4G networks to provide cover to the corrupt governing entities. Bring alternate internet devices with you.
I believe that it is not yet time for civil disobedience, as the Lebanese people are not yet united. They do not have a cause yet. There are no martyrs yet.
This, unfortunately, will soon change. Give it a few days, and if the political parties do not tear the You Stink campaign to shreds, the ISF will. I can’t say how many martyrs will be necessary for Machnouk to give more than a statement from his vacation abroad, or how deep the rivers of blood will run for the international media to understand that this is more than a fight for garbage collection but rather a fight for control of the country.
With several political countries backed by international powers, I would not expect any change to come easily.
The last internal victory Lebanon had as a country was in 2005, but that was backed by certain political powers uniting against their common enemy at the time.
Since then, a long list of arrests, beatings, assassinations, and targeted political bankruptcy have been methodically used to target enemies of these governing entities.
I do not condone violence, neither through street protests nor open revolutions.
Nonviolent confrontations have succeeded in the past and will do so in the future. MLK’s I Have A Dream VS the Black Panthers has proved this ideology.
You have the power of Google (if you have internet and electricity lol), use it to research self protection in these times. Gas masks are expensive, but there are home made products and methods that can me used safely and legally. Remember, safety first, both digitally and on the field.
- To the protest organizers: DO NOT USE THE FACEBOOK PAGE as a single point of communication with the masses. Facebook is not your friend, and a page can easily be taken down blocked or seized through legal and illegal methods.
- Have a united list of demands. It’s ridiculous how a garbage cleanup and demands for a minister resigning can quickly turn into an unplanned demand for cabinet resignation into a void, or even complete revolution. Stay focused. Baby steps. Bad media will jump on the chance to show divided lines.
- Using a website hosted in a non friendly country will retain it’s uptime to 99%.
- Using a domain name should have a hidden credit card, with a private domain name registration in order to avoid hacking and legal seizure of digital assets.
- Using emails should not be through Gmail or Hotmail. They are the easiest to track back to their source.
- Do not use home internet connections to upload sensitive data. Non government entities can also track them back to the source. Saving phone contacts under “Ryan Hamze – YouReek” makes it easier for ISF to track down others in case of arrest (and illegal phone searches).
- If you cannot physically take part of a movement, support them online. Do NOT criticize anyone during major incidents as tensions are high. Leave the constructive criticism for later and talk with community leaders.
- Always give credit to photo or video takers. During the chaos people tend to forget the ethics that govern social media. It is a weed that I’ve been trying to get rid of for 5 years, and others have joined this fight too like “السلطة الخامسة “, Blog Baladi, and Lebanese Blogs. The rest think it’s just a side issue, but at this point, I digress. I’ve been trying to track down the original taker of this epic shot, but come up short. This may well represent the image of the movement/revolution/ideology in the future, so it would be nice (and ethical) not to piggy pack on an anonymous tweep.Update: photographer wishes to remain anonymous
- If you are a protest organizer, do not be a media hog. They will target you and arrest you while you sleep a week later. Be anonymous.
- If you are a protest organizer, do not use your personal email or home internet connection. You are already being monitored and documented, so your plans will be used against you when you set them inn action.
- Steel trays will not be of much use against bullets, but a properly modified Sobia Tray would be of use against the riot police. Straps should be tested before hand.
- Do not park near the main event. Assume things will turn nasty and roads will be blocked and people pursued en masse.
- Have an emergency point of assembly every hour on the hour. Once cell coverage is blocked (or the infrastructure breaks thank you Botrous Harb) you will be acting blind and people who are afraid and lost tend to do stupid things.
- For those who have gas masks, I suggest they train on how to sling small objects (like gas grenades) back at the source since they will be in the front line of fire.
- Do not bring knives or guns to the protest, it will deem the protest violent instead of a peaceful one. Hell will be unleashed. This is a method used methodically by Shabiha and secret police, who run with the crowd and trick the mass psychi into violence or entrapment.
- If you see secret police or Shabiha or overzealous demonstrators doing something against the common good, do not be afraid to call them out. Others will still see sense through the red haze of anger and help control the situation.
- Containers of milk should be on standby with makeshift bases for the Lebanese Red Cross.
- Bring Spray paint with different colors. Marking the ground for crowd control, marking a shabiha among you, and a bunch of other legal and safe uses. Do NOT spray the police riot shields, this will hinder their vision and render you a threat.
- Everyone should have Superglue (Altico) with them. It might save a life once the bullets start flying.
- Make sure the flags do NOT have strong wooden sticks that can be used for violence in case of trouble. Also, nobody wants to see that flag on the ground so be smart.
- Waterproof your phones and provide shock proof casings.
- Don’t forget to clean up after the demonstration. Bad media can rip a cause to shreds.
- Try not to get arrested. It’s not a smart thing to play martyr, especially since you may get beaten up and raped by parliament security and ISF.
- Never take the offensive when ISF and Army are involved. They are trained men and have Shabiha among them, they will not hesitate to kill you. Defensive tactics are your only friend.
- Children, and the elderly should be made aware to step back in case of violence. Let the stronger individuals cover a retreat. Obviously in this case I cannot say “Women” should stay back, because honestly I’ve seen a more than a few hard headed Lebanese women take on the ISF before. Do you remember “The Tomato Revolution”?
- For front runners, always wear a mask or kuffyye. Even if you escape the events taking place, your family may not be so safe.
- Safety in numbers. Stay close to large groups, ISF will more likely pick off anyone claiming they’re Press or injured.
- Always run to the edge of any mass confrontation.
- If you are cornered, DO NOT FIGHT BACK. These men are trained their entire lives to subdue people like you. Put your arms over your head and curl into the fetal position. If you raise your arms above your heads like in Hollywood movies, you will get your head bashed in as per the Lebanese code of ethics.
- Self Defense only in case you are being beaten senselessly and fear for your life:
- Assess your assailant. Look at their hands. If they were about to attack with their hands, they would have their hands out. However, if they are concealing a weapon, they will have them hidden or at their side. If Batons are shaking then they are revving up for a coordinated assault, do NOT take head on, use defensive tactics and trays. In case of gunfire in the air, stay united in a single line. In case of gunfire directly into your ranks, do NOT run, you will only trample the people behind you, go to the sides and lay down on the floor until you are able to run freely to safety and escape arrest.
- Go for the eyes and nose. If you have to end the fight as quickly as possible by striking first, strike hard, and strike as many times as you can, then run for help
- Kick or grab the groin of a male attacker. Bringing a knee sharply into the groin of an attacker or grabbing the groin with your hand and twisting is an instantly effective move that will take your attacker down.
- Go for the kneecaps. If, for example, you are being choked, or your assailant has their hands up in your face, attacking their legs will give you the opportunity to open him up to more attacks, or allow you to escape. This is especially effective on larger attackers and easy to do from your guarded position.
Comparing Beirut’s You Stink protest to Kiev’s Orange Protests is quite alarming. If history has taught us anything, is that peaceful protests soon turn violent on both ends.The Security Forces will not back down, and will be escalating into fatal…ryanhamze.com
Jewish authors opposing Israel genocide “preemptive war” on Gaza: Got arrested in the US
Norman Finkelstein and 25 others were arrested for civil disobedience. (July 29, 2014)
“For 20 days I have sat in front of this computer like a mad man.
Tomorrow I will be arrested and arrested and arrested until this madness ends.”
Stop The Terror Bombing!
Lift The Blockade!
Indignation. Of the Righteous Kinds: militarism, liberal capitalism, institutionalized Terror…
What is the Radical Tradition of Martin Luther King Jr?
“How many of your parents support the war?”
“The USA is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”.
“And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in the rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.
So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
Michael Caster posted this January 20, 2014
Revisiting Righteous Indignation
There’s a scene in Lee Daniel’s The Butler when the son of Forest Whitaker’s character is sitting in the Lorraine Motel with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., shortly before his assassination.
Dr. King asks those assembled, “How many of your parents support the war?”
All the young men gathered in the room raise their hands, and in one sentence King summarizes that his opposition to the war is because the Vietnamese do not prejudice blacks.
There is something insidious in this scene, unintentional by the director, no doubt. It is the reproduction of the simplification myth of Dr. King, the crusader of a narrowly conceptualized struggle, rather than the fiery radical that he was.
His opposition to the Vietnam War was far more complex than the one liner afforded his character in the film, but the portrayal is sadly in line with the hijacking of his comprehensive philosophy.
For King’s was a radicalist of total justice, for black, white, rich, poor, gay, lesbian, Christian, Jew, or Muslim, that bears remembering as we honor him with a federal holiday this week.
One year to the day before his assassination, on April 4th, 1967, Dr. King delivered his most critical and divisive speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.
It was an impassioned excoriation of imperialism and militarism, against the American government that King referred to as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”
There was no ambivalence in his conviction. He had refused a first draft prepared by his close friend and legal counsel, Clarence Jones, who attempted to present multiple sides. King favored the total condemnation of war provided in Vincent Harding’s first version.
The two men agreed; their conscience left them no other choice but to speak out. King says:
It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war.
And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in the rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.
So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.
Four years earlier, in a Letter from a Birmingham Jail Dr. King acknowledged that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
He was certainly focused on combating the institutionalized terror of segregation and racism, which was the target of the direct action that found him in that Birmingham Jail on April 16th, 1963.
King concerns for justice everywhere extended beyond contemporary popular depictions that his campaigning was confined to concerns of race alone. King makes it very clear,
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we, as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.
We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society.
When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
That same purveyor of violence abroad targeted in Beyond Vietnam, the United States, perpetrated and sponsored a great deal of violence against its own people. And the struggle for human rights in the United States is a savage one still raging 28 years after the first Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as myriad incidents such as the killing and trial surrounding Trayvon Martin or Jena 6 illustrate.
It is not my intention to downplay the brutality of racial injustice targeted by King and others. My intention is to point out that King acknowledged that the causes of these and other injustices were inherently linked to a certain structure of oppression.
King and others targeted the totality of this violent power structure through sustained nonviolent action. It is that narrative of comprehensive resistance that has been sterilized.
In sickening episodes of appropriation, King has become a plaything in the hands of those who seek to justify their profiting from that same structure of abuse that he fought against with the bastardization of his legacy.
King’s most famous oration is his I Have a Dream speech and rightly should it be hailed for its outstanding rhetoric and the power of change it inspired. But so is “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” far less threatening to the established structure of power than denouncing it as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.
The famous speech was uttered to an assembled crowd of more than 250,000 people in front of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. With reason it is remembered as a decisive moment in the American Civil Rights Movement.
Latching onto King as the desegregator and not King the fiery radical is more comfortable for the creation of King the symbol.
Vincent Harding explained in a 2013 interview that conservatives love to take hold of the I have a Dream speech when King talks about not being judged by the color of ones skin as a way to avoid discussing race at all.
In the same interview, Harding challenges us to find ways to discover the content of one’s character. It is through critical dialogue, through nonviolent engagement, he says.
Meanwhile, as evidence of Harding’s concern, former Republican Florida representative, Allen West, wrote in an article for USA News on the 50th anniversary of that speech, that King’s dream had been derailed by liberal politics.
While Dr. King advocated evaluation on the content of one’s character, he opined, Americans had instead voted for Obama strictly based upon the color of his skin.
What is often altered through the lens of history, however, is the action at which the speech was delivered. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was as much about race as it was about economic inequality. (The main theme in Davos this year is social inequalities)
Its chief architects remind us of the diversity of participation and the complexity of grievances within the Civil Rights Movement.
The 1963 campaign drew its inspiration from the 1940’s desegregationist and labor rights March on Washington Movement organized by Philip Randolph, who began as a labor organizer and activist in New York in 1917, and Bayard Rustin, an openly gay former Quaker conscientious objector during World War II.
It is this confluence of interests that better encapsulates the character of King’s resistance, so callously warped by Allen West 50 years later.
There is no greater bastardization of King’s legacy than Glenn Beck’s 2010 so-called ‘Restoring Honor Rally.’ In his characteristic histrionics Beck credited divine inspiration in the timing of his political theatre set to coincide with the 47th anniversary of King’s I have a Dream speech.
Beck claimed to be picking up Martin Luther King’s dream in order to restore and finish it. But Beck’s narrative is one of resounding contradiction to everything epitomized by Martin Luther King.
A month preceding the farce, Glenn Beck spoke with King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, who later also participated in his rally, alongside Sarah Palin and others.
Shockingly the niece embraced Beck’s subterfuge on his television program. The two, joined by then Republican congressional hopeful Stephen Broden, went so far as to cite the Biblical idea of an individual relationship with God as the justification for neo-liberal individualism, and the implicit demonization of social welfare.
The outrage is not in their personal interpretation of Biblical text but the way their discussion forced that argument into their constructed narrative of Martin Luther King. The obscenity continued when Alveda King claimed that her uncle would have approved of Beck’s message.
Not only did Beck use the platform of his rally to further his rhetoric of violence against the poor but the event was also billed to celebrate and promote the American military.
Glenn Beck is a wild supporter of American militarism and most recently attacked a LA Weekly film critic because she gave a recent war movie a bad review.
Glenn Beck is as good an antithesis to Martin Luther King as is available and because of the pomposity of his pulpit he represents an ideal lens through which to appreciate the various trends of abandoning King’s message and profaning his name to justify the very things he so fervently fought against.
And yet, popular outrage at Beck’s appropriation of King’s legacy was equally culpable in neglecting King’s fervent posture against materialism and militarism, or so the majority of mainstream criticism seemed to be.
In response to this kind of theft of the King narrative, Union Theological Seminary philosopher and preacher, Dr. Cornel West explains,
The absence of a King-worthy narrative to reinvigorate poor and working people has enabled right-wing populists to seize the moment with credible claims about government corruption and ridiculous claims about tax cuts’ stimulating growth. This right-wing threat is a catastrophic response to King’s 4 catastrophes; its agenda would lead to hellish conditions for most Americans.
Despite the issues addressed by Dr. West, it is far from merely conservatives and right-wing populists who have distorted King’s inherent radical commitment, and subdued the awesome force of his righteous indignation.
History has been contorted to shape a more consumer friendly image of Martin Luther King Jr. He is not hailed by popular commentary or honored by Obama on the federal holiday as the radical who would today be decrying the prison and military industrial complex, demanding the trial and incarceration of Wall Street executives, and sternly speaking against Obama’s continuation of Bush era disregard for human rights in the ‘war on terror’ and the ‘war on drugs,’ or the appallingly disproportionate numbers of convictions for people of color in the latter.
Where would King stand on the Tea Party’s fetishism of state’s rights?
One might recall the number of incidents necessitating federal troop intervention in Alabama, Arkansas, and elsewhere or the same rhetoric now employed by Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or Rand Paul that echoes similar positions by “Bull” Connor or George Wallace.
How might King relate to Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, or, as public intellectual Tavis Smiley has posed, comment on the more than a billion dollars raised between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the 2012 election versus the money spent on poverty reduction?
Martin Luther King gave his final speech on April 3rd, 1968 at the Mason Temple in Memphis Tennessee. What is often remembered of that last prophetic I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech is King’s, “And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!”
The speech is haunting in retrospect because it almost seemed as if King were prophesizing, much like Christ at the last supper, his impending assassination. But what drew King to Memphis that day is less repeated in popular retelling.
Dr. James Lawson, who like King had been baptized in the late 1950s by the nonviolent tradition of Gandhi and was a powerful figure in the movement, had encouraged Dr. King to join him in Memphis to show support at the Memphis sanitation worker strike that had begun two months earlier.
The catalyzing incident for the strike was the gruesome death of two black sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, crushed to death because of city rules that stated black sanitation workers were only allowed to shelter from the elements in the back of their garbage trucks.
The incident served to highlight years of gross labor violations and sparked the strike, along with boycotts, sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience in support of the workers attempt to engage in collective bargaining for better working conditions.
This episode in Memphis was about racial discrimination but it was also about abhorrent labor rights and the exploitation of the poor.
King often reiterated the call to struggle against all forms of atrocity, violence against people of color and violence against the poor, as they are inextricably linked, and so too is war, the enemy of the poor, as Cornel West and Tavis Smiley are wont to repeat.
Or in his own words from the August 16th, 1967 Where do We go From Here, “when I say questioning the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.”
The day after standing in solidarity with the Memphis strikers, King was gunned down by James Earl Ray, an outspoken racist and active campaign volunteer for George Wallace’s pro-segregationist presidential campaign.
Despite the prima facie connection between Ray’s racism and the assassination, Vincent Harding is convinced that the most contributing factor to King’s murder was his vociferous condemnation of the war in Vietnam and his outspoken denouncement of American imperialism and militarism.
We do at least know that the last poll taken on King’s popularity revealed that indeed 55% of black community and 72% of Americans at large had turned against King because of his opposition to the war.
By the late 1960s, the US government, under the Johnson administration, had slowly become prepared to tolerate some of the notions of increasing racial equality and access to public space but the apex of intellectual and symbolic power, the capitalist war machine, was aghast that King would enter their world.
The structure of power was warming to the idea of tolerating King the civil rights leader and desegregationist but it was unwilling to desegregate the symbolic power to be analyzed and critiqued.
It is a segregation of thought and a demonization of those who would criticize America that still haunts whistleblowers and activists in Obama’s America today.
It was King’s sophisticated and emboldening challenge to capitalist morality and militaristic or imperialistic motives that needed to be sterilized before he could become a politically viable symbol.
In a recent piece for Salon, historian David L. Chappell outlines the history of congressional objections to the creation of an MLK federal holiday. His article serves to refute the odd conservative claims to the legacy of civil rights going back to Lincoln, because of textual similarity in the name of their party.
A few days after the assassination, Michigan Democratic congressman, John Conyers, first proposed honoring Martin Luther King Jr. with a federal holiday.
Illinois was the first state to adopt MLK Day as a state holiday in 1973. Ten years later, North Carolina senator Jesse Helms loudly objected to honoring King with a federal holiday, specifically citing King’s stance on Vietnam and his war on poverty, calling him a Marxist and Communist.
As reported at the time, Helms’ fanatical objections were crushed by a ‘scathing denunciation’ by senator Edward Kennedy and similar criticism from Republican presidential hopeful Bob Dole.
But two recent Republican presidential candidates, Ron Paul and John McCain were among those who agreed with Helms in objecting a federal holiday for MLK.
After nearly two decades of discussion and puerile character assassination, Congress eventually passed Conyers’ proposal to remember King with a federal holiday. Reagan signed the bill in 1983 and it took effect in 1986.
Shockingly not until 2000 did all 50 states recognize it as a state holiday. South Carolina was the last.
In observation of the 28th MLK day it is a moral duty to ensure that the legacy observed is honest to the content of his character. We should repeat his rhetorical question of August 16th, 1967.
In his own words, “When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalist economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society.”
King broadened the target of his resistance to encapsulate the totality of an oppressive power structure, moving beyond purely race-based grievances.
The abhorrent racism prevalent in King’s America and its mutated contemporary manifestations are a byproduct of this power, but King’s speeches reveal a more diverse synthesis for resistance.
It was this unwavering challenge of the very foundations of that structure of power that needed to be sterilized, lest his posthumous words serve their intentions to mobilize. By stripping him of his radicalism, and simplifying his challenges against power to a selection of sound-bite grievances, the institutions of oppression maintained their monopoly on symbolic power and rebranded Martin Luther King into more comfortable and narrowly confined terms.
This is the alchemist disregard for truth that has attempted to warp the spirit of King’s radicalism for political expediency.
It has become a convenient platform for some to spin King’s radicalism into a de-fanged demand for racial harmony and a colorless society, where claims of reverse racism are mingled with blanket denouncements of racial violence because we live in a post-racial America.
It is a twisted appropriation of King’s words to blame the victim of abuse for continued victimization, and we see this in the surprisingly bipartisan attacks on the poor and people of color. For some, King’s Reverend status has become an argument for injecting fundamentalist evangelicalism into politics, as we noticed of Beck above.
These are the most flagrant bastardizations but what is more frustrating is the popular amnesia, the collective will to accept the sterilized form and neglect the righteous indignation that demands coordinated action in the face of all injustice.
This is not to neglect active resistance such as the Occupy movement and myriad other campaigns. However, in certain contemporary radical movements we find the negative effects of the simplification of King’s sophisticated analysis of the diversity of oppression and the need for coordinated, strategic resistance.
We can see this in the balkanization of resistance on the left, where interests vie for prominence rather than seeking consensus. A continuing frustration for those who have carried on with King, Lawson, and others’ efforts is the abandonment of strategic nonviolence, or treating King as nothing more than a symbolic tactic, for the same kind of commoditized radicalism that has made radical democratic theory or Anarchism a fashion accessory.
It is King’s righteous indignation at injustice everywhere and profound challenge to all forms of abusive power that should be reenacted in his name, not the political pageantry of Obama’s community service.
With that radical reenactment we must respond to the question “where do we go from here?”
Dr. Cornel West hazarded a response in 2011, noting that rather than a memorial King would have wanted a revolution.
Note 1: Michael Caster is a researcher and human rights advocate. He has lived and worked in five countries on four continents, focusing on nonviolent civil resistance and contentious politics. On Twitter @michaelcaster and he can be reached at email@example.com. Read other articles by Michael.
This article was posted on Monday, January 20th, 2014 at 5:48pm and is filed under General.
Note 3: There is a difference between Civil Disobedience and non-violent movements https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/disobedience-is-mans-original-virtue-and-non-cooperative-movements-of-gandhi/
“Disobedience is man’s original virtue…”
In “The soul of man under socialism”, Oscar Wild wrote:
“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, and through rebellion…”
In “On the concept of history”, Walter Benjamin wrote:
“There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism…”
James Fenton in “Blood and Lead”
“Listen to what they did.
Don’t listen to what they said.
What was written in blood
Has been set up in lead”
In “The recollection of Alexis de Tocqueville 1896”
“In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the End”
W.H Auden in “Epitaph on a Tyrant”
“Perfection, of a kind, is what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets.
When he laughed, respected senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried, the little children died in the streets.”
In “Sonnets from China II”, Auden wrote: “They wept and quarreled: Freedom was so wild”
Mustafa Abdel Jalil (Libya interim president) said in September 2011:
“I hope the revolution will not stumble by retribution, taking matters into your hands and oppression…”
Late Vaclav Havel (President of Austria) said:
“Decent people cannot sit back and watch systematic, state-directed massacres. Decent people cannot fail to come to the rescue when within their power…”
Joseph Joubert wrote: “Love and Fear. Everything the father of a family says must inspire one or the other”
Joseph Stalin (Absolute dictator of the Soviet Union) said:
“Death is the solution to all problems. No man, no problem”
Omar Mukhtar (Libya resistance fighter leader to Italian occupation during Mussolini) said:
“We win or we die.” Finally, he surrendered and was taken to Rome in chains
Muammar Qadhafi wrote in his “Green Book”:
“There are inevitable cycles of social history:
1. The Yellow Race’s dominion of the world in Asia
2. The White Race’s attempt at colonizing extensive areas in all continents
3. Now it is the turn of the Black race to prevail in the world…”
One of the first steps to disobedience is to wean yourself out of rituals and ceremonies. Start to question the rationale and historical meaning and purposes of the rituals you are submitting to.
Civil disobedience is not an easy resolution to get engaged in: Law and Order institutions have to be revisited and reflected upon their validity in the pursuit of happiness, freedom of expression, human rights, and availability of opportunities to all regardless of race, genders, religious belief, and financial status.
Gandhi has developed the guidelines for non-cooperative movements against governments that broke their oaths and pledges to serving the people and are exercising cruelty, exploitation and oppression.
The program of non-cooperation is of 4 steps, each step is meant to reach a higher level of disobedience to the authority.
The first responsibility is to exposing, precisely, the project to the population at large through meetings and focused communication.
The next step is to convince the public servants to voluntarily abandon their titled positions and charges with the government and encouraging the lawyers and judges to stop serving the government. No pressures should be exercised on the functionaries, especially if the movement is unable to provide for the bread winners. The private employees are excluded from the requirements of abandoning their services.
The third step would ask the army and security officers and soldiers to retreat from their duties.
The last step would amount to refusing paying taxes to the government.
In order to shorten the period of resistance with a successful outcome, the organization of the non-cooperative movement should cater to the weakest members in social status or economic needs. The members of the movement should:
1. stop taking loans from government funds;
2. conflicts among the members must be resolved through private arbitrage because lawyers should suspend the exercise of their official profession toward the government.
3. The members should start boycotting public schools; (in this request, I would include boycotting private schools so that no discrimination in economic status should be established).
4. The members should not attend any government reunions and meetings and ceremonies; they should refuse accepting any civil or military post.
5. In case of being under occupation, the members should rely solely on local and national products and manufactures “swadeshi” and thus,boycotting imported consumer’s products from the colonial powers.
Note 1: Quotes taken from “Sandstorm (El Ghibli): Libya in the time of revolution” by Lindsey Hitsum
Note 2: Listen to Matt Damon on “Civil obedience is the problem” Howard Zinn