Comments (Page 2)
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'The Least of These'-- Martin Luther King's Advocacy for the Poor
Albert Raboteau.Author,'Slave Religion: The 'Invisible Institution' in the Antebellum South'
Martin Luther King Day memorials tend to celebrate King the Civil Rights leader, stressing his activism on behalf of interracial equality and reconciliation. We slight his emphasis on the link between racism and poverty and so neglect King the advocate of the poor. At the time of his assassination King was participating in the Memphis Sanitation Workers' struggle to achieve a decent wage while simultaneously planning the Poor People's Campaign. King's sermons, speeches and writings echo ancient Christian teachings on poverty and wealth, which may still serve as a resource for the contemporary struggle to overcome economic inequality. He was a 20th century exemplar of a very old tradition.
Princeton Historian Peter Brown argues convincingly that "a revolution in the social imagination occurred between 300 and 600 C.E. closely associated with the rise to power of the Christian bishop. For the Christian bishop was held by contemporaries to owe his position in no small part to his role as the guardian of the poor. He was the 'lover of the poor' par excellence." The 4th century bishops, St. Basil of Caesarea, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory of Nazianzus elucidated this novel virtue and its centrality to the community life of Christians. In 369 a severe drought followed by famine prompted Basil to preach a sermon on the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-18), the man who decides to tear down his barns and build new ones to hold his surplus grain. "But God said to him,'Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Basil elaborates:
"Who, then, is greedy?-- The one who does not remain content with self sufficiency. Who is the one who deprives others? The one who hoards what belongs to everyone. Are you not greedy? Are you not one who deprives others? You have received these things for stewardship, and have turned them into your own property! Is not the one who tears off what another is wearing called a clothes-robber? But the one who does not clothe the naked, when he was able to do so -- what other name does he deserve? The bread that you hold on to belongs to the hungry; the cloak you keep locked in your storeroom belongs to the naked; the shoe that is moldering in your possession belongs to the person with no shoes; the silver that you have buried belongs to the person in need. You do an injury to as many people as you might have helped with all these things!"
Basil enacted the Christian social vision he preached by establishing a hospice and soup kitchen for the famine victims and later developed a large complex to house the poor, tend the sick, and where the poor who could work were employed or trained in various trades. Around 369, St. Gregory of Nyssa preached on almsgiving: "Do not look down on those who lie at your feet, as if you judged them worthless. Consider who they are, and you will discover their dignity: they have put on the countenance of our Savior; for the one who loves humanity has lent them his own face, so that through it they might shame those who lack compassion and hate the poor."
Read more at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/albert-raboteau...
MLK Injustice Index 2011: Racism, Materialism and Militarism in the US
Bill Quigley.Legal Director, Center for Constitutional Rights; Professor, Loyola New Orleans
Posted: January 16, 2011 02:00 PM
We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values... 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." Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4, 1967
As we remember the courage and hope of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we must not forget that he spoke out and worked against the injustices of our nation, particularly those of racism, materialism and militarism. Indeed that is what made him so hated and so dangerous when he was alive.
We have achievements to celebrate: the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell;" the release of San Suu Kyi in Burma; the enactment of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights by the NY legislature that extends important labor rights to 200,000 nannies and housekeepers; the victories of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers; and the exposure of secret US and other country machinations by Wikileaks, among others.
There has been progress in dismembering the laws of segregation which divided our country. We must celebrate the successes that many struggled to achieve. However, as we celebrate those victories let us not lose sight of the challenges still facing this country.
Here are some of the facts about racism, materialism and militarism in the US which we should reflect on as we decide how best to carry on the radical struggle for justice of Dr. King.(For each fact, I provide a brief cite to the sources which are listed at the end of the article).
Let us renew our commitment to the radical revolution of values for which Dr. King gave his life as we turn to the realities of current life.
Racism: Health, Housing, Income and Jobs
Health - Infants born to black women are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to die than infants born to women of all other races or ethnicities. Black men and women are much more likely to die of heart disease and stroke than their white counterparts. Hypertension is by far most prevalent among non-Hispanic blacks (42% vs. 29% among whites). Uninsured persons are only about half as likely to have hypertension under control as those with insurance Source: Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Twenty-five percent of black workers and forty-three percent of Hispanic workers do not have health insurance, compared to fifteen percent of white workers.(Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)
Overall, sixteen percent of all whites, twenty-one percent of blacks and thirty-two percent of Hispanics do not have health insurance.(Source: The Census Bureau)
Housing - In cities with large African American populations, black segregation looks pretty much the same as it did 40 years ago; Hispanic segregation is on the rise.(Source: Princeton Study, details below)
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the crisis in subprime mortgages in minority neighborhoods was not the result of riskier lending spurred by the Community Reinvestment Act or a decline in underwriting standards.(Source: Princeton Study)
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-quigley/ml...
The Spirit of King: Urgency and Hope From the Birmingham Jail
Robert Creamer.Political organizer, strategist and author
Posted: January 17, 2011 09:41 AM
In 1963, Martin Luther King was not being celebrated with a national holiday. He was a controversial figure who found himself in the Birmingham jail.
While he was incarcerated, he wrote one of the most remarkable letters in American history.
It was written during a critical campaign of civil disobedience, in response to another letter published in the press from moderate clergy who urged restraint on the civil rights movement. The letter is an eloquent argument explaining "why we can't wait." But it is much more.
King dispatches all of the "moderate" arguments for inaction and "patience." He clearly paints the picture of what it is to be the subject of discrimination and oppression. He says,
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed... 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."
But then toward the end of his letter, after cataloging the horrific treatment of African Americans, he does something quite remarkable.
King could easily have written a letter that was nothing more than condemnation of hypocrisy and inaction... he could have focused on the horrific record of European settlers in the New World -- exterminating the Native Americans, enslaving African Americans.
Instead he calls on all Americans to live up to the values inherent in the other set of American traditions... the traditions that celebrate equality and freedom.
King believed that everyone has within him both a potential for good and a potential for evil. Rather than simply decrying the potential for evil, or the evil itself, he sought to reawaken the potential for good. That is a key lesson that is absolutely necessary to make America successful today, just as it was in the 1960's.
He closes his letter:
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, and all over the nation, because the goal of America is 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. 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.
...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 of their scintillating beauty.
Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Keith Thomson.Reporter and author
Posted: January 16, 2011 06:32 PM
Recently, a diverse group of New York City high school students was assigned to write reports on Martin Luther King, Jr. Searching the Internet, several students learned that the renowned civil rights leader had in fact been a drunken philandering con man. Others concluded that the federal holiday marking King's birthday should be repealed.
Where in the www did these kids search?
Google, for starters.
If you enter "Martin Luther King, Jr." as a search term, the site netting the third-highest ranking is martinlutherking(dot)org, which purports to be "A valuable resource for teachers and students alike." Visit the site and you can read the "truth" about King -- communist, wife-beater, plagiarist, sexual deviant and all-around fraud. There are flyers to the same effect that children can download, print and bring to school.
As you have probably guessed, this site is not run by the King Center, the memorial established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King to the advance her husband's legacy ( TheKingCenter.org ranks seventh on Google). Rather, MartinLutherKing(dot)org is a spinoff of Stormfront(dot)org, the "white nationalist" online community created in 1995 by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Don Black. Stormfront's Web forum now claims nearly 214,000 participants. Black registered martinlutherking(dot)org on January 14, 1999, later adding MLKing(dot)org and MLKing(dot)com.
A Google spokesman told me, "Our search results are generated objectively and are independent of the beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google. A site's ranking in Google's search results is automatically determined by computer algorithms using hundreds of factors to calculate a page's relevance to a given query. The only sites we omit from our search results are those we are legally compelled to remove or those maliciously attempting to manipulate our results."
MartinLutherKing(dot)org also ranks third on Yahoo and Bing.
According to sociologist Jessie Daniels of RacismReview, "The decision to register the domain name 'martinlutherking(dot)org' relatively early in the evolution of the web was a shrewd and opportune move for advocates of white supremacy."
While proponents of the King Center message would love to pull the plug, they face multiple obstacles, not least of which is the First Amendment. Unless the Web content contains libel, a credible threat or incitement to imminent lawless action, the law offers little recourse. In a 2008 Atlanta Journal-Constitution interview, King Center CEO Isaac Farris, Jr., cited the "thin line between opinion and slander," adding, "You never authorize a lawyer to do whatever it takes because that could be a black hole."
The law also insulates Internet Service Providers from liability to the same extent telephone companies aren't responsible for crimes committed over their wires. Per the Telecommunications Act of 1996, "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."
Providers may prohibit racist or bigoted messages of their own volition, however--such prohibitions don't violate constitutional rights because a commercial provider isn't a government agency. MartinLutherKing(dot)org's ISP, Dallas-based SoftLayer, has a strict acceptable use policy.
Read more at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keith-thomson/w...
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