Jan 22

Human dignity and human rights, “for all God’s children.”

How ironic that the day set aside to honor Dr. King is only a few days before the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade anniversary. What would he say?

Alveda King, the niece of MLK and a dedicated pro-life advocate, notes her uncle was strongly pro-life.

“Were he alive today, he would be working to secure peace and justice for those in the womb and healing for a nation that is still pained by over 53 million missing lives,” King says. The toll abortion has taken on the African American community is enough to shock the conscience of every American.

According to the US Census Bureau, African Americans comprise 12.4% of the American population; however, over 30% of the nation’s abortions are done on black women. Recently released data from the New York City Department of Health shows the Big Apple hitting a 40% abortion rate. As if that number wasn’t appalling enough, when the data is broken down all racial lines, around 60% percent of New York City’s abortions are done on black women. In other words, 1,448 African American babies are aborted for every 1,000 born. Among black teens in New York City, that number jumps to a staggering 72% abortion rate or 2,360 abortions for every 1,000 babies born.

Read that. Engage this issue.

Center for Disease Control data shows that since Roe vs. Wade (1973) abortion has been the leading cause of death among African Americans. More African Americans have lost their lives to abortion than to heart disease, cancer, accidents, violent crimes or AIDS- combined.

Let that sink in. It’s not a coincidence.

African Americans are a prime target of the abortion industry. In analyzing the location of the nation’s abortion centers, some have found a disproportionate number situated in majority-black neighborhoods. One such center was that of Kermit Gosnell, the disgraced abortionist from Philadelphia who is now charged with murder after the deaths of at least two women and seven newborn infants at his facility.

According to the Grand Jury report, the Gosnell abortion business preyed upon low-income black women. These women were subjected to absolutely deplorable conditions. Basic health considerations were ignored and abortions were being performed by unlicensed and even untrained staff using unsanitary surgical instruments.

That trial should have made a huge difference, one that’s bee overdue for decades.

The Gosnell case made national headlines but his business strategy of targeting low-income black women is not an anomaly in the abortion industry. This goes back to the beginning of the modern pro-abortion movement with Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger, an unabashed eugenicist.

Despite its claims otherwise, the pro-abortion movement does a grave disservice to African American women and the greater African American community. Abortion advocates fail black women when they rally against common sense clinic regulations, which could have prevented the Gosnell tragedy. They fail black women when they work to undermine crisis pregnancy centers, which are an invaluable resource for so many low-income black women. And they fail the African American community by denying basic humanity to black babies in the womb.

Martin Luther King, Jr. boldly envisioned an America in which everyone would be free to share in the same opportunities as everyone else.

However…

In legalizing abortion-on-demand, the Court ruled that a group of people, namely unborn children, did not deserve any legal protection whatsoever. For this reason, Roe vs. Wade is completely antithetical to King’s Dream.

Abortion has not made our society more equitable. In fact, it has done the opposite. Abortion has allowed society to arbitrarily decide whose lives are valuable and whose are expendable. True equality treats all human life the same, regardless of race, stage of development or condition of dependency. Abortion prevents millions of African Americans from sharing in King’s Dream and it must be ended.

That’s why they march, the pro-life movement who began giving voice to the voiceless on the first anniversary of Roe. Like King, they never gave up and never will. In fact, their ranks are only growing larger and younger and more determined. They’ve spread from the annual Washington DC rally and March for Life throughout the country to the West Coast Walk for Life.

The Chicago March for Life held last Sunday had a tenfold increase in participants over last year, and they were loud, joyful, exuberant, determined, happy, hopeful, positive, and very supportive. The plaza erupted at just about everything any speaker said, starting with the young African-American woman who was pressured to have an abortion but looked into a pregnancy help center where she found support and everything she needed to keep her baby, which wound up being babies when she learned she had twins. The beautiful little girls, Amelia and Olivia, were with her on stage as she spoke of hope and life and aid for women.

Two congressmen, Democrat Dan Lipinski and Republican Peter Roskam, spoke of bipartisan support for the protection of all human life and women’s health in Congress. They were brief but powerfully moving, invoking predecessors in the cause of human rights, including the drafters of the Declaration of Independence.

Dr. Martin Luther King invoked that, too. On many occasions. Because the majority of Americans still hold those truths as self-evident.

In one of his lesser known addresses, ‘Our God Is Marching On’, King explained why he and his movement marched.

He said “it is not an accident that one of the great marches of American history should terminate in Montgomery, Alabama.” In that city, “a new philosophy was born” of the struggle of the oppressed, one that united an entire community to squarely face the oppressors. And out of that struggle, he said, a powerful new idea was born, one “that electrified the nation and the world.”

And then “the conscience of America began to bleed.” And as a result “of this democratic spirit,” the nation finally forced Congress  to write legislation in the hope that it would eradicate “the stain of Birmingham”, of discrimination of a whole class of human beings by another class. And that legislation gave them some degree of “their rightful dignity”.

Once more the method of nonviolent resistance was unsheathed from its scabbard, and once again an entire community was mobilized to confront the adversary. And again the brutality of a dying order shrieks across the land. Yet, Selma, Alabama, became a shining moment in the conscience of man. If the worst in American life lurked in its dark streets, the best of American instincts arose passionately from across the nation to overcome it. There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger  at the side of its embattled [Blacks].

At the side of its embattled, oppressed fellow human beings discriminated against and denied human rights by a class of human beings who had the legal right to do so, until those laws changed.

That’s why they marched then, said Dr. King. That’s why they march today.

 

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Aug 28

On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, coverage is all over the media and snips from the speech are being played and printed. But only selective snips.

Americans haven’t been seeing or hearing his fuller message. There’s no question the civil rights movement the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led made historic and lasting gains in this country’s laws, politics and social fabric. He dedicated his life’s work to that, always grounding those soaring speeches and addresses in the Gospel, weaving scripture throughout his messages and referring nearly always to the Almighty, on behalf of “all God’s children.”

But some of the very people today who stand on the shoulders of the great civil rights leader and who claim his legacy gave them that opportunity, cite only portions of the Rev. Dr. King’s speeches and apply them strategically and even politically in ways he may not appreciate if he were here today.

But his niece Alveda King is here and was with me on radio with her unique insight into the fullness of Dr. Martin’s message and intentions. Which she said were all about ‘finding a more excellent way.’ Some of what she told me she had already shared here.

…Martin Luther King, Jr., my Uncle M. L. took a lot of time praying, seeking the Lord, inquiring of the Lord. So as we continue to follow his pattern for the rest of this week, for the rest of this year, for the rest of our lives – if we can only begin to realize that we’re not separate races – we are one human race in need of the love of God – and believe that truth will set us free – together we can overcome in Christ.

Therefore, I can understand why my uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “We must learn to live together as brothers [and I add sisters] or parish together as fools.”

And so, for those of us who believe the Bible, who trust God, who have been very sinful and are now repentant, we know that we need God. We know that we need to be forgiven and healed. We know that we cannot be intolerant of other. That we must seek transformation, not just tolerance, not compromise but transformation.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said the same thing, movingly, in talking about Dr. King’s legacy and the modern movement for human rights and dignity. He was the Catholic bishops’ representative at a Christian symposium in Alabama earlier this year commemorating Dr. King’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail.’ His remarks then applied today, so we discussed them again today.

This letter, which is rich in foundations of scripture and human philosophy, direct, and prophetic, gave a rationale for strong action as well as marching orders for the steps we must follow to lift us, as the letter states, “from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.” Rightly, he uncovered the words of St. Thomas Aquinas that the unjust law is “the human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law” and so is, as Dr. King says, “out of harmony with the moral law.”

Archbishop Kurtz talked about the consequences of losing the sense and awareness of the natural law written on the heart, and we’re certainly facing the signs of that in the culture, law, politics, everywhere.

But it’s important, he added, to recognize the gains and the good and acknowledge them.

Thus today, we must ask forgiveness for past wrongs, be grateful for words that have already borne fruit, and be resolved for more action…

Listen again to the final words of Rev. King’s fifty-year-old letter: “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.”

We hear and heed these words with great hope, and we pray “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where is sadness, joy … For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.”

And as Dr. Michael Coulter points out, we need to hear the words of Dr. King’s famous speech later that same year, commemorated this Wednesday, lesser known words from ‘I Have A Dream’.

In the third paragraph of King’s text, he says that “when the architects of our Great 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.”…

A “promissory note” is not one of those terms we use frequently, but it’s a powerful term. It’s not a hope or a wish. In fact, there was an international agreement in 1930 which defined a promissory note as implying an unconditional promise. For King, the Declaration of Independence, which he quoted directly from, was a promissory note that the United States would ultimately guarantee for all people “the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As King then said, “It is obvious that America has defaulted on this promissory note.” King was not calling for the destruction of the American political order, but rather for us to be true to the ideals of the founding, and that’s why it is important that he quoted the Declaration.

So few commentators note this, or know this. But it’s important to know and talk about.

Finally, at the end of King’s speech is a beautiful sequence where he presents images of a truly post-racial society—and there again is one more reference to the Declaration of Independence. As he begins this “dream” section, he says: “I still have a dream. It is deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

King’s hopes were rooted in that powerful second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence that claims that no man by nature is ruler or the servant of another. It’s not just a great statement during a social struggle, it’s a great statement about what it means to be an American.

And one hoping to reveal and struggling to defend self-evident truths about the dignity of “all God’s children”, no exceptions.

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Jan 21

First, respect the fact that he was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend first.

Everything he preached and said and wrote was based on the Gospel and the example of Christ. His niece Dr. Alveda King tells me that in every interview. But it’s self-evident in his writings and speeches.

Politicians and social activists who stand on his shoulders today and invoke his name and memory selectively skip over the most siginficant part of his identity.

Martin Luther King Day is a time to promote racial harmony in America and honor the slain civil rights leader who was “inspired by the teachings of Christ,” says the head of the Knights of Peter Claver.

“Considering that so many ‘church-going folks’ were supporting segregation and Jim Crow laws during the civil rights movement, it is wonderful that King dedicated his life to employing Christ’s teachings to resist and counter the very social sins of prejudice, racial discrimination and segregation,” Supreme Knight F. DeKarlos Blackmon told CNA Jan. 18.

He said Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. a Baptist minister, was “a man of faith and deep conviction” who studied Catholic theology and was “particularly impressed” with St. Augustine.

And St. Thomas Aquinas. Kathy Schiffer gives perspective here, starting with a snip from King’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail.’

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.

Schiffer continues:

Was Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. a Thomist?

Well, yes. Thomas Aquinas argued that laws bind the conscience—that is, obligate one to obey—only when the laws conform to “eternal law.”…

So Martin Luther King, Jr. is, in fact, a Thomist. In his famed Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he argued that a nonviolent campaign follows four stages:

1. collection of facts to determine whether injustice actually exists;
2. negotiation in order to resolve the matter peacefully;
3. self-purification, in which there is careful preparation for nonviolent direct action;
4. direct action through nonviolent means.

Were the civil rights protestors in 1963 offending God when they broke the law and sat at a lunch counter, or refused to give up their seat on the bus to a white person? No, said Dr. King; and to prove that, he cited Aquinas’ argument. “Any law that degrades human personality,” said King, “is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality.”

What King did was skillfully apply Aquinas’ Third Objection—teaching that the South’s segregation laws were unjust because of the moral and physical injury they induced.

Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., continues his legacy of peaceful protest today—reminding us that her uncle was pro-life. Had King lived to see the dire consequences of Roe v. Wade, the innocent children torn apart in the womb, he would have applied Aquinas’ logic to this most pressing societal ill.

Correct. Dr. Alveda King affirmed that, eloquently, in our discussion today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “Uncle Martin was pro-life and would be in the pro-life movement today,” she said. “If you read or listen to his words, you can see that he promoted and respected the life of all God’s children.”

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Jan 17

For many years and political cycles, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words and works have been selectively remembered according to which passages and sound clips work for the advantage of a political agenda.

It’s been more heat than light in public debates over civil and human rights, and we can’t rely on activists or media to generate the light, so it’s up to us. So say the co-authors of the Public Discourse article about MLK’s Philosophical and Theological Legacy, in a radio interview I did with them on Martin Luther King Day. They focus on King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail to show the civil rights leader’s grounding in natural law as a deciding influence.

For a key reason:

King faced vexing moral and philosophical questions from the outset: how did he know whether a law was just or unjust, and when, if ever, was it morally permissible to disobey? In his now-celebrated “Letter from Birmingham City Jail,” King’s answer was that “a just law is a manmade 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,” King explained, “an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.”

Those who praise the modern civil rights movement, but who also want to keep morality and theology absent from public discourse, seldom mention King’s reliance on natural law in his justly famous letter.

Some who are quick to revile slavery and racism as the nation’s greatest sins are blind to its  moral parity in the movement to defend abortion on demand as “reproductive rights”, though the analogy is jarringly clear. In both causes an entire class of human beings are deemed unworthy of rights, even to the recognition as persons with inherent dignity. So Dr. King is claimed by abortion activists, as absurd as that is.

His niece, Dr. Alveda King, speaks to this all the time.

Don’t accept what the media say about what Dr. King said. Read it yourself, engage the eloquent philosophical and theological reasoning of a well-educated and committed Christian. On his national day of honor, The King Center archive site was officially launched, making his writings more available than ever.

And don’t miss the Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

As Justin and Kevin summarized:

King is of course the kind of historical figure that practically everyone wants to claim as his own. Reality, however, is often complex, and the truth about King is that his primary motivations, his most fundamental commitments—the very core of his thought—were rooted in a worldview repugnant to many of those who now claim his legacy.

The ironty and disonesty of that is important to understand, because it’s based on religiously informed convictions that pre-date the state, convictions the state is increasingly driving out of the public debate and battle over civil rights.

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Oct 17

The Washington Memorial to the civil rights leader was opened in August, but a freak hurricane postponed official ceremonies. A reminder that Rev. King weathered many storms.

And the fact that he was a Reverend needs a reminder, notes Elizabeth Scalia and others who rightfully point out that the Christian roots of the social movements have been ignored.

What saddens me instead is that while students might “sort of” remember who Martin Luther King Jr. was, he is not remembered as “the Reverend” Martin Luther King, a pastor turned social movement leader. [...] Due to an absence of education about contemporary religiously-motivated social movements in public schooling and private Christian schooling, the average student will not identify the Civil Rights Movement with Christianity. Thus most students will interpret institutionalized programs that were borne out of the struggle to address systemic racial inequity as a secular movement. For the devout Christians, I’d expect that they will more often reject such programs on the grounds of preventing secular encroachment in the private domain where religious expression is protected under law. Those who participate in the Black Church however will stand in support of these programs knowing full well that its roots lie in the very application of Christian theology.

Dr. King’s niece sure does. Dr. Alveda King discussed these roots with me on radio and proudly proclaimed her uncle’s undying dedication to Gospel values in the civil rights movement, insisting he would uphold the sanctity and dignity of human life through natural death today, rejecting abortion and euthanasia as ‘rights’. Some have claimed otherwise, she notes, but then reasserts ‘Uncle Martin’s’ Christian beliefs that motivated his relentless struggle for human rights.

Another reminder is what he wrote himself, in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. He explains the fundamental basis for civil disobedience in the face of laws against humanity.

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.

Dr. Alveda King, in carrying on the tradition of her inheritance, says abortion is the civil rights issue of our time. And she’s dedicated her life to backing it up.

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Aug 30

I’m told it’s the political power of unions. Makes me wonder about all the good teachers trapped in a system without the power to express or carry out their own ideas.

Dr. John Sparks is concerned, too, and we spoke late last week about the problems. Here’s how he expressed it in his latest column for the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College.

In a recent editorial, The Wall Street Journal calls 2011 the “year of school choice.” Parents and the legislators who represent them, particularly in inner-city schools, are tired of waiting for the promised effects of “educational reform” on the public schools their children attend. Therefore, according to the Wall Street Journal, in one form or another, 13 states have passed school-choice legislation, and similar changes are proposed in 28 other states. Such legislation often permits the formation of publicly financed “charter schools,” which are run by new schools boards whose members insist upon an educational environment that will produce real learning.

Despite progress in many places, New York City children, many of them African-American, may not be able to return to charters or start in them anew in the fall due to a lawsuit instituted against the NYC’s Department of Education by what would seem to be a tragically ironic twosome: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

What? That doesn’t make sense. Sparks makes the point, connecting the dots.

One would certainly assume that NYC’s charter program—which would allow parents to withdraw their children from the 22 poor public schools in New York and move them to effective charter or other schools—would be eagerly supported by the NAACP and the UFT. After all, these are schools deemed (by pre-established criteria) to be “failing.” But that is not the case. Why?

Perhaps one could understand the UFT, long an ideological champion of public schools, no matter how poorly they perform, engaging in such a suit, but why the NAACP, in light of its announced commitment to black and Latino youths and their parents? Here is a case where political/ideological dedication to the public-school monopoly is stronger than loyalty to the very people which the NAACP is pledged to help.

Fortunately, NYC parents with children attending or about to enter charter schools in the fall are not committed to this ideological blindness. They simply want the good schooling for their children that educational choice provides, and they are speaking out.

Good for them. In fact, Hooray for them. Outraged parents are telling the UFT their time’s up.

The same could be said to the NAACP. How can an organization supposedly committed to helping blacks and other minority groups climb the educational ladder file a lawsuit to obstruct educational opportunities for what amounts to 7,000 of New York’s most disadvantaged kids? Black parents have a right to be perplexed, frustrated, and outraged by such a stance.

The Economist reports that another parent, Ny Whittaker, whose child attends a Harlem charter school, summarized it well: the “NAACP is on the wrong side of history.”

So is the US Department of Education, at this point. In operation only since 1980, note this part of its original stated mission:

The Department’s mission is: to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

Seriously. Each time I’ve brought that up in an interview, someone inevitably expresses incredulous surprise.

Which makes the case for a movement to respect education and equal access to it as the civil rights issue it is.

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Feb 15

The subject of America’s painful past with slavery is in the news again. Good….we need to have this debate.

What brought it up this time is the effort in Mississippi to get approval for a particular new license plate.

Plans for a Mississippi specialty license plate honoring controversial Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest are reviving tensions over “unreconstructed” Southerners and their place in the modern South.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans want to honor Forrest on a 2014 specialty license plate…

But the state NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and a Facebook group are raising objections, saying that a state-sanctioned Forrest license plate sends a not-so-subtle signal to African-Americans that Mississippi condones a man who helped start the Ku Klux Klan after the war.

On the heritage of the South, I defer to those most directly linked. Starting with this HuffPo commentator.

If the account he cites there is true, it’s sickening and repulsive. Most people of common sense and goodwill are beyond even questioning or debating that. America largely thought we triumphed over our racist past in 2008 when an African-American man was elected president. Half black, half white, Barack Obama represented for many people the post-racist modern era of tolerance, diversity and acceptance of common and shared humanity.

But the wrinkle in this picture was always the troubling and frankly, intellectually staggering, debt this politician….as well as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a few others….owed or tried to pay to the abortion movement. With seemingly no awareness of not just the similarity between the two movements, but the exact mirror images of abortion to slavery.

What isn’t clear about this? One whole class of human beings was deprived of their rights when their entire being was subordinated to the will of another class of human beings who ‘owned’ them and could determine their fate at will. In our ‘modern’ age, it’s….exactly the same. One whole class of human beings is being deprived of their rights while their entire being is subordinated to the will of another class of human beings who have the legal right to determine their fate, whether they live or die, with no guarantee of constitutional protection or recognition as persons under the U.S. Constitution.

Let’s look at that HuffPo commentary again.

When debates arise over symbols and heritage and identification I am infuriated when such ideas as this license plate rears their ugly heads. We can’t have one state, much less one nation, when we embrace symbols that reflect a tense and asymmetrical heritage.

It’s a false heritage we seek to elevate when our symbols divide rather than include. Our energy and spirits are washed down into the gutter when we fight to uphold a heritage that seeks to alienate rather than embrace.

Yes, some of our heritage belongs in museums. We have plenty of nobility and decency to embrace and stand on, stand on together, without the insecurities and ignorance of racism elevated to places of honor.

Exactly.

I caught CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewing gentlemen on both sides of this debate and was struck that in the closing comments, the Princeton professor lamented ‘the erasure and revision’ going on here.” Why, I wonder, can’t they see the obvious?

Dr. Alveda King works to help them, every day. Like…this one.

I have always found it interesting that two polar opposite anniversaries are in January: the life of a man who promoted religion, peace, nonviolence and justice, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, which allows the violence and injustice of abortion.

Since 1973 there have been 53 million abortions.

It is fitting that this month Dr. Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia was arrested on Jan. 19. He is charged with killing seven babies who were born alive during the abortion procedure, killing one patient and a host of other crimes.

The seven babies Gosnell is charged with murdering were born alive during the attempt to abort them. To terminate the babies’ lives, which is abortion’s essence, he shoved scissors into the babies’ necks and severed their spinal cords…

Gosnell is not being charged for the thousands of babies he killed before they were born.

Without a doubt, King would oppose Gosnell’s actions. As a Christian minister and civil rights leader, King would have impressed upon Gosnell and Americans the difference between a just and unjust law.

Which comes, full circle, to the issue at hand. It’s so clear.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The Negro cannot win . . . if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Jul 23

What a good time to recall the hard won victory of human dignity over degradation that the civil rights movement struggled for in the South and ultimately, nationwide, in the ’60′s.

And what a noble way for the new civil rights movement to show the coherence of the cause.

As the civil-rights movement was simmering in the early 1960s, black men and women, often accompanied by white sympathizers, boarded buses in the American South and sat wherever they wanted. These “freedom riders” challenged local and state laws and customs that kept the races separate on public transportation as well as in waiting rooms and restrooms.

This Friday, a new kind of freedom rider will take to the road…

‘Freedom Rides for the Unborn’. Led by Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, and Dr. Alveda King, director of PFL’s African-American Outreach, this undertaking is more than symbolic.

Linking the Freedom Rides for the Unborn to the concept and method of the 1961 Freedom Rides for civil rights was the result of a conversation Father Pavone and King had while attending a March for Life.

“This is the civil-rights movement” of this century, King concluded.

“I always see the pro-life effort and my own involvement as a striving for freedom,” said Father Pavone. “We’re talking about real people who are really enslaved, oppressed. And the whole ministry of the Gospel and priesthood is what Jesus said about his ministry: ‘I come to proclaim liberty to captives.’”

Ride on

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Jul 22

In the past two week, racially charged arguments and accusations have been heating up the air waves. Allegations are out there about the Tea Party movement, the New Black Panthers, the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, and certain members of the Obama administration. What’s going on here?

We’re supposed to be ‘post-racial’.

The election of Barack Obama, America’s first black president, was supposed to be a sign of our national maturity, a chance to transform the charged, stilted “national conversation” about race into a smarter and more authentic dialogue, led by a president who was also one of the nation’s subtlest thinkers and writers on the topic.
Instead, the conversation just got dumber.

And a lot angrier.

Fox News often stars a leather-clad New Black Panther, while MSNBC scours the tea party movement for racist elements, which one could probably find in any mass organization in America. Obama’s own, sole foray into the issue of race involved calling a police officer “stupid,” and regretting his own words.

Since that was written, however, Obama has at least secondarily figured into another flareup, the Shirley Sherrod fiasco.

The ex-official spoke following a whirlwind 48-hour period in which the Obama administration completely reversed its position toward Sherrod. The former Georgia director of rural development was compelled to resign Monday after a brief video surfaced showing her telling a story to an NAACP audience about how she once withheld support to a white farmer. Vilsack said he, not the White House, urged her to resign. The NAACP also initially condemned her…

The NAACP later rescinded its earlier statement and on Wednesday both Vilsack and the White House apologized, calling the incident a “teachable moment.”

Yes, it is. So what have we learned?

Now, that the facts have come to light, we have another one of those teachable moments that keep piling up without, apparently, teaching us anything.

The conservative wing of the media (on the internet, talk radio and Fox News) ran way too quickly with a story that seemed to support the narrative of reverse discrimination in the Obama administration — particularly coming on the heels of questions regarding the Justice Department’s handling of a caught-on-tape alleged voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panthers.

On the other hand…

Here’s one, for those who cringe at the very mention of the Tea Party movement…The leftist organization Think Progress has created a video allegedly demonstrating racism by Tea Party demonstration participants — except that at one of those shown was plucked from another video which clearly shows the clown being shunned by the other demonstrators.  It was a fact that didn’t seem to matter to the video’s creator — and clearly casts doubt over the validity of the overall piece.

Charges and counter-charges have been fast and furious.

If we were all to actually learn something from this incident (doubtful) it might be to slow down and think before reacting to the latest video that happens to support the narrative we have come to believe (and, therefore, are always looking to corroborate).

I happened onto a conversation Dr. Alveda King was having about the current flareup of racial allegations and the longterm civil rights cause, and she and Pastor Stephen Broden gave the best commentary and analysis on this I’ve heard. May calm heads, and hearts with honest intent, prevail.

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