Friday, August 27, 2010

Glenn Beck: We knew Martin Luther King, We loved Martin Luther King. You, sir, are no Martin Luther King.

Tomorrow is the 47th anniversary of the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs. Glenn Beck is going to attempt to hijack this day for his conservative agenda and has, to that end, been spreading a meme that conservatives--white conservatives--were the driving force behind the civil rights movement. This meme is false. They weren’t. Conservatives--not necessarily Republicans but Conservatives--were vehemently opposed to the movement and its goals. I have, in other posts, quoted William F. Buckley who articulated the conservative opposition to civil rights and so will not belabor the point here. However, I cannot--as the child of parents who were at the march with my elder sister (who was only a few months old at the time)--sit idly by and not try to counter this meme in some small way.

If one were to listen to FOX news or conservative rhetoric generally, one would think that the only significant words King ever uttered were “I have a dream...content of our character”. That’s it. Well, the man had much, much more to say and if he were alive today conservatives would pillory King as being so Marxist that they would consider Obama the second coming of Adam Smith in comparison. At any rate, I thought it might be useful to post--in all of its glory--the full text of King’s “I have a dream” speech.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yvette Carnell: Low Black Male Graduation Rates Indicate a Failure in Faith, Not Circumstances

This is an eloquent and wonderful statement about lowered expectations within the black community, specifically as it relates to our young men. This was originally posted at Huffington Post.
Who was the first person in your life to introduce you to the concept of failure? Now, who was the first person in your life to teach you that failure was not only possible, but probable?
If you consider yourself successful by any measure of the Western standard, then you were probably never introduced to the Negro narrative of obfuscation, which teaches the inevitability that outward circumstances will methodically undermine any constructive steps you take in the direction of upward mobility.
All varieties of Negro head honchos, from shepherds of churchgoing hallelujah flock, to old timey civil rights activists, preach the defeatist mantra of how "the man" is out to get them and the variety of ways that our system keeps a "brotha" down.
Unfortunately, it now appears that this chorus of pessimism has entrenched itself in the minds of African American young men, teachers, and even parents.
According to a recent study by the Schott Foundation for Public Education, less than 50% of black males graduated from high school during the 2007-2008 school year. Even worse, according to the report, "(M)ore than twice as many black students are classified as 'mentally retarded' in spite of research demonstrating that the percentages of students from all groups are approximately the same at each intelligence level."
It is clear from the data that young black men are throwing in the towel at record numbers. These numbers should be anything but surprising considering how the black community has systematically lowered expectations for black men on every conceivable level.
In education, we feed young black men bleak statistics which forewarn that he will be killed or imprisoned before age 25, making the pursuit of education futile. In love, black women welcome the most pitiful representations of manhood into their hearts (and bedrooms) with open arms. And in our families, it is now widely accepted for black single moms to raise their kids alone and leave the court system to do battle on their behalf for child support - but what of male parental support?
Even the language we use to refer to our beloved black boys bespeaks his littleness and certain demise. The term 'young black male' is cold and devoid of any true emotion.
If we choose to push for a transformation of thought which undoes the damage of the over-empathizers, apologists, and recklessness in our community, then we must teach young black boys that life has meaning under all conditions. To suffer is a small thing, but to suffer without meaning is despair, and that should be avoided at all costs.
We must also implant in them the truest of all human truths; that they alone are responsible for their choices, and that although hustling has been painted as the clear choice for all warrior hearts, it is not. It is, in truth, a coward's exit. His flee from the battlefield.
Famed psychiatrist Viktor Frankl once mused that "If we take man as he is, we make him worse, but if we overestimate, we promote him to what he really can be." What our education system, homes, and churches are missing are idealists. Believe him grand, and he will be that. Believe him held captive by statistics and circumstances, and he will be just that.
You see, we save young black boys not by sharing their opinion of their own lives, but by nourishing a grander dream for them than the one they currently dream for themselves.
Our freedom, their freedom, lies in perception. You can either allow them to believe that their current conditions are building them up, or tearing you down. But in order to succeed, young black men must be taught that their lives are not subject to the whims of societal laws alone. They must be lived to have meaning.
It's time that educators and advocates alike tone down the rhetoric with regard to the circumstances young African-American men face, and turn the conversation in the direction of what they already have - inside. If we lose this generation of young black men, it won't be because of society, or our crumbling education system, but because we stopped believing.

Yvette Carnell: Low Black Male Graduation Rates Indicate a Failure in Faith, Not Circumstances

NYPD Charges Man With Hate Crime After He Allegedly Stabbed Muslim Cab Driver | TPMMuckraker

Just saw this at Talking Points Memo. And so it, if anyone is tempted to connect this incident to, say, the controversy involving the Cordoba House community center let’s just stop that right here. This incident is the result of (everyone sing it, you know the words!) “one bad apple”. And when there is another incident--a firebombing at a mosque or what-have-you that will also be “one bad apple”. However, should some person who is the target of anti-Muslim violence strike back then that is all Muslims.

The New York Police Department has confirmed to TPM that a cab driver in Manhttan was allegedly stabbed by a passenger who asked if the cabbie was Muslim, and says the incident is being treated as a hate crime. The suspect has been charged with attempted murder and other crimes.
According to Detective Marc Nell, at 6:12 pm last night, the driver picked up Michael Enright, 21, of Brewster, NY, at the intersection of 24th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. The cab proceeded to drive north, and Enright asked the driver, who Nell identified as a 43-year-old Asian male, if he was Muslim. After the driver responded that he was, Enright allegedly stabbed him repeatedly with a Leatherman tool, according to police.
"[Enright] stabbed the driver in the throat, right arm, left forearm, right thumb and upper lip," Nell said.
According to police, the driver called 911, and stopped the cab on 3rd Avenue between 40th and 41st streets, managing to lock Enright inside until police arrived.
Nell told TPM that the cab driver is in stable condition, and that Enright has been charged with "attempted murder two as a hate crime, assault with a weapon as a hate crime, aggravated harassment second degree because of race and religion, and criminal possession of a weapon."
Nell could not confirm that Enright had admitted to asking the driver if he was Muslim.

NYPD Charges Man With Hate Crime After He Allegedly Stabbed Muslim Cab Driver | TPMMuckraker

Nature is altogether more clever than we are

Earlier this summer, I made a post on the BFP message boards talking about the Gulf oil spill and how bacteria could be deployed to clean up the oil. At the time, I was thinking of oil-eating bacteria that lived in soil being adapted to live in salt water. What I didn’t realize (but probably should have) is that nature had already hit on this little trick and there are already bacteria that live in the deep, cold water and love to eat oil. NPR did a story on them this morning.
There are some encouraging signs from the Gulf of Mexico that bacteria are consuming the underwater oil plume from the broken BP well. The news comes just days after oceanographer Christopher Reddy and a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said they had found a big underwater oil plume in May and June, but no signs of oil-eating bacteria.
At the time, Reddy said microbes are about as predictable as teenagers.  "Microbes are pretty selective in how they eat oil," he explained.  "Sometimes they kick in; sometimes they don't. Sometimes they do the easiest work and they don't do the hard work."

The thing that I'm learning from this project is that there are no shortage of surprises from the microbial point of view.

- Benjamin Van Mooy, scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
The hard work is what scientists had been hoping to see — bacteria consuming the more toxic chemicals in the oil plume and rendering them harmless.  Reddy said sooner or later, the bugs should show up.