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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 05:41 AM
Original message
MLK quote: unacceptably far left?
Your opinions, please, as to whether these words from 1966 are safe today or whether they represent political suicide. I happen to think that they're fine, but I say so knowing that I am not in the mainstream.
Thank you in advance.

"The new era of abundance finds us not only with proliferating ghettos, but it finds us enmeshed in confused commitments and distorted values. Our confusion can be illustrated by an unanswered question. Are we more concerned with the size, power, and wealth of our society, or with creating a more just society? The failure to pursue justice is not only a moral default. Without it, social tensions will grow and the recurring turbulence in the streets will persist despite disapproval or repressive action. Even more, a withered sense of justice in an expanding society leads to corruption of the lives of all Americans. All too many of those who live in affluent America ignore those who exist in poor America. In doing so, the affluent Americans will eventually have to face themselves with the question that Eichmann chose to ignore: How responsible am I for the well-being of my fellows? To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it. "

...

"In still another area the expenditure of resources knows no restraints--here, our abundance is fully recognized and enthusiastically squandered. This is the waste of war. While the antipoverty program is cautiously initiated, zealously supervised, and evaluated for immediate results, billions are liberally expended for ill-considered warfare. The recently revealed misestimate of the war budget amounts to $10 billion for a single year. The error alone is more than five times the amount committed to antipoverty programs.

The security we profess to seek in foreign adventures, we will lose in our decaying cities. The bombs in Vietnam explode at home--they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America."

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dbt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 05:48 AM
Response to Original message
1. These words were never 'safe.'
"I support our President" and "My country right or wrong*" are safe words. Look where they've taken us.

One Martin Luther King alive today would cancel out a hundred Rush Limbaughs. Go with King's words!

:bounce:
dbt

(*Yes, I know the entire quote, but this is the only part that ever gets used.)
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loudnclear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 06:00 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Thanks for posting this. eloquent.
It's been so long since we have been able to hear or read eloquent word of passion and compassion for the poor, downtrodden, and disenfranchised. God MLK could speak truth.
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WillyT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 06:07 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. Exactly !!! - And BTW, When Did The Truth Become 'Far Left' ???
:shrug:

Guess that just means we've been correct all along.

:hippie:
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baldguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 06:20 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. When lies become government policy.
Telling the truth becomes radical and unpatriotic.
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WillyT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 06:23 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. True.
So very true.
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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 07:03 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. True
true true true

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La_Serpiente Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 05:59 AM
Response to Original message
2. No
Those quotes are exactly what we need today. NOW is the time for the political earthquake in America. NOW is the time.
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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 06:05 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Remember that Paul Robeson thread?
A couple of weeks ago Q posted Paul Robeson's testimony before the House Unamerican Activities Committee. DU readers were heartened by those words too.

A courageous articulation of principle motivates us all, yet we seem to be terrified of it or of anything outside of technocratic centrism.
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loudnclear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-01-03 06:59 AM
Response to Reply #4
45. Would someone re-post it or link to the Robeson statement, please
Thanks, I missed it.
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prolesunited Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-01-03 08:53 AM
Response to Reply #45
47. Here you go!
Testimony of Paul Robeson before the HUAC







You Are the Un-Americans, and You Ought to be Ashamed of Yourselves: Paul Robeson Appears Before HUAC

Many African-American witnesses subpoenaed to testify at the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings in the 1950s were asked to denounce Paul Robeson (18881976) in order to obtain future employment. Robeson, an All-American football player and recipient of a Phi Beta Kappa key at Rutgers, received a law degree at Columbia. He became an internationally acclaimed concert performer and actor as well as a persuasive political speaker. In 1949, Robeson was the subject of controversy after newspapers reports of public statements that African Americans would not fight in an imperialist war. In 1950, his passport was revoked. Several years later, Robeson refused to sign an affidavit stating that he was not a Communist and initiated an unsuccessful lawsuit. In the following testimony to a HUAC hearing, ostensibly convened to gain information regarding his passport suit, Robeson refused to answer questions concerning his political activities and lectured bigoted Committee members Gordon H. Scherer and Chairman Francis E.Walter about African-American history and civil rights. In 1958, the Supreme Court ruled that a citizens right to travel could not be taken away without due process and Robeson passport was returned.

----------------

Testimony of Paul Robeson before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, June 12, 1956

THE CHAIRMAN: The Committee will be in order. This morning the Committee resumes its series of hearings on the vital issue of the use of American passports as travel documents in furtherance of the objectives of the Communist conspiracy. . . .

Mr. ARENS: Now, during the course of the process in which you were applying for this passport, in July of 1954, were you requested to submit a non-Communist affidavit?

Mr. ROBESON: We had a long discussionwith my counsel, who is in the room, Mr. Boudinwith the State Department, about just such an affidavit and I was very precise not only in the application but with the State Department, headed by Mr. Henderson and Mr. McLeod, that under no conditions would I think of signing any such affidavit, that it is a complete contradiction of the rights of American citizens.

Mr. ARENS: Did you comply with the requests?

Mr. ROBESON: I certainly did not and I will not.

Mr. ARENS: Are you now a member of the Communist Party?

Mr. ROBESON: Oh please, please, please.

Mr. SCHERER: Please answer, will you, Mr. Robeson?

Mr. ROBESON: What is the Communist Party? What do you mean by that?

Mr. SCHERER: I ask that you direct the witness to answer the question.

Mr. ROBESON: What do you mean by the Communist Party? As far as I know it is a legal party like the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Do you mean a party of people who have sacrificed for my people, and for all Americans and workers, that they can live in dignity? Do you mean that party?

Mr. ARENS: Are you now a member of the Communist Party?

Mr. ROBESON: Would you like to come to the ballot box when I vote and take out the ballot and see?

Mr. ARENS: Mr. Chairman, I respectfully suggest that the witness be ordered and directed to answer that question.

THE CHAIRMAN: You are directed to answer the question.

(The witness consulted with his counsel. )

Mr. ROBESON: I stand upon the Fifth Amendment of the American Constitution.

Mr. ARENS: Do you mean you invoke the Fifth Amendment?

Mr. ROBESON: I invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Mr. ARENS: Do you honestly apprehend that if you told this Committee truthfully

Mr. ROBESON: I have no desire to consider anything. I invoke the Fifth Amendment, and it is none of your business what I would like to do, and I invoke the Fifth Amendment. And forget it.

THE CHAIRMAN: You are directed to answer that question.

MR, ROBESON: I invoke the Fifth Amendment, and so I am answering it, am I not?

Mr. ARENS: I respectfully suggest the witness be ordered and directed to answer the question as to whether or not he honestly apprehends, that if he gave us a truthful answer to this last principal question, he would be supplying information which might be used against him in a criminal proceeding.

(The witness consulted with his counsel. )

THE CHAIRMAN: You are directed to answer that question, Mr. Robeson.

Mr. ROBESON: Gentlemen, in the first place, wherever I have been in the world, Scandinavia, England, and many places, the first to die in the struggle against Fascism were the Communists and I laid many wreaths upon graves of Communists. It is not criminal, and the Fifth Amendment has nothing to do with criminality. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Warren, has been very clear on that in many speeches, that the Fifth Amendment does not have anything to do with the inference of criminality. I invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Mr. ARENS: Have you ever been known under the name of John Thomas?

Mr. ROBESON: Oh, please, does somebody here wantare you suggestingdo you want me to be put up for perjury some place? John Thomas! My name is Paul Robeson, and anything I have to say, or stand for, I have said in public all over the world, and that is why I am here today.

Mr. SCHERER: I ask that you direct the witness to answer the question. He is making a speech.

Mr. FRIEDMAN: Excuse me, Mr. Arens, may we have the photographers take their pictures, and then desist, because it is rather nerve-racking for them to be there.

THE CHAIRMAN: They will take the pictures.

Mr. ROBESON: I am used to it and I have been in moving pictures. Do you want me to pose for it good? Do you want me to smile? I cannot smile when I am talking to him.

Mr. ARENS: I put it to you as a fact, and ask you to affirm or deny the fact, that your Communist Party name was John Thomas.

Mr. ROBESON: I invoke the Fifth Amendment. This is really ridiculous.

Mr. ARENS: Now, tell this Committee whether or not you know Nathan Gregory Silvermaster.

Mr. SCHERER: Mr. Chairman, this is not a laughing matter.

Mr. ROBESON: It is a laughing matter to me, this is really complete nonsense.

Mr. ARENS: Have you ever known Nathan Gregory Silvermaster?

(The witness consulted with his counsel. )

Mr. ROBESON: I invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Mr. ARENS: Do you honestly apprehend that if you told whether you know Nathan Gregory Silvermaster you would be supplying information that could be used against you in a criminal proceeding?

Mr. ROBESON: I have not the slightest idea what you are talking about. I invoke the Fifth

Mr. ARENS: I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that the witness be directed to answer that question.

THE CHAIRMAN: You are directed to answer the question.

Mr. ROBESON: I invoke the Fifth.

Mr. SCHERER: The witness talks very loud when he makes a speech, but when he invokes the Fifth Amendment I cannot hear him.

Mr. ROBESON: I invoked the Fifth Amendment very loudly. You know I am an actor, and I have medals for diction.

. . . .

Mr. ROBESON: Oh, gentlemen, I thought I was here about some passports.

Mr. ARENS: We will get into that in just a few moments.

Mr. ROBESON: This is complete nonsense.

. . . .

THE CHAIRMAN: This is legal. This is not only legal but usual. By a unanimous vote, this Committee has been instructed to perform this very distasteful task.

Mr. ROBESON: To whom am I talking?

THE CHAIRMAN: You are speaking to the Chairman of this Committee.

Mr. ROBESON: Mr. Walter?

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

Mr. ROBESON: The Pennsylvania Walter?

THE CHAIRMAN: That is right.

Mr. ROBESON: Representative of the steelworkers?

THE CHAIRMAN: That is right.

Mr. ROBESON: Of the coal-mining workers and not United States Steel, by any chance? A great patriot.

THE CHAIRMAN: That is right.

Mr. ROBESON: You are the author of all of the bills that are going to keep all kinds of decent people out of the country.

THE CHAIRMAN: No, only your kind.

Mr. ROBESON: Colored people like myself, from the West Indies and all kinds. And just the Teutonic Anglo-Saxon stock that you would let come in.

THE CHAIRMAN: We are trying to make it easier to get rid of your kind, too.

Mr. ROBESON: You do not want any colored people to come in?

THE CHAIRMAN: Proceed. . . .

Mr. ROBESON: Could I say that the reason that I am here today, you know, from the mouth of the State Department itself, is: I should not be allowed to travel because I have struggled for years for the independence of the colonial peoples of Africa. For many years I have so labored and I can say modestly that my name is very much honored all over Africa, in my struggles for their independence. That is the kind of independence like Sukarno got in Indonesia. Unless we are double-talking, then these efforts in the interest of Africa would be in the same context. The other reason that I am here today, again from the State Department and from the court record of the court of appeals, is that when I am abroad I speak out against the injustices against the Negro people of this land. I sent a message to the Bandung Conference and so forth. That is why I am here. This is the basis, and I am not being tried for whether I am a Communist, I am being tried for fighting for the rights of my people, who are still second-class citizens in this United States of America. My mother was born in your state, Mr. Walter, and my mother was a Quaker, and my ancestors in the time of Washington baked bread for George Washingtons troops when they crossed the Delaware, and my own father was a slave. I stand here struggling for the rights of my people to be full citizens in this country. And they are not. They are not in Mississippi. And they are not in Montgomery, Alabama. And they are not in Washington. They are nowhere, and that is why I am here today. You want to shut up every Negro who has the courage to stand up and fight for the rights of his people, for the rights of workers, and I have been on many a picket line for the steelworkers too. And that is why I am here today. . . .

Mr. ARENS: Did you make a trip to Europe in 1949 and to the Soviet Union?

Mr. ROBESON: Yes, I made a trip. To England. And I sang.

Mr. ARENS: Where did you go?

Mr. ROBESON: I went first to England, where I was with the Philadelphia Orchestra, one of two American groups which was invited to England. I did a long concert tour in England and Denmark and Sweden, and I also sang for the Soviet people, one of the finest musical audiences in the world. Will you read what the Porgy and Bess people said? They never heard such applause in their lives. One of the most musical peoples in the world, and the great composers and great musicians, very cultured people, and Tolstoy, and

THE CHAIRMAN: We know all of that.

Mr. ROBESON: They have helped our culture and we can learn a lot.

Mr. ARENS: Did you go to Paris on that trip?

Mr. ROBESON: I went to Paris.

Mr. ARENS: And while you were in Paris, did you tell an audience there that the American Negro would never go to war against the Soviet government?

Mr. ROBESON: May I say that is slightly out of context? May I explain to you what I did say? I remember the speech very well, and the night before, in London, and do not take the newspaper, take me: I made the speech, gentlemen, Mr. So-and-So. It happened that the night before, in London, before I went to Paris . . . and will you please listen?

Mr. ARENS: We are listening.

Mr. ROBESON: Two thousand students from various parts of the colonial world, students who since then have become very important in their governments, in places like Indonesia and India, and in many parts of Africa, two thousand students asked me and Mr. Dadoo, a leader of the Indian people in South Africa, when we addressed this conference, and remember I was speaking to a peace conference, they asked me and Mr. Dadoo to say there that they were struggling for peace, that they did not want war against anybody. Two thousand students who came from populations that would range to six or seven hundred million people.

Mr. KEARNEY: Do you know anybody who wants war?

Mr. ROBESON: They asked me to say in their name that they did not want war. That is what I said. No part of my speech made in Paris says fifteen million American Negroes would do anything. I said it was my feeling that the American people would struggle for peace, and that has since been underscored by the President of these United States. Now, in passing, I said

Mr. KEARNEY: Do you know of any people who want war?

Mr. ROBESON: Listen to me. I said it was unthinkable to me that any people would take up arms, in the name of an Eastland, to go against anybody. Gentlemen, I still say that. This United States Government should go down to Mississippi and protect my people. That is what should happen.

THE CHAIRMAN: Did you say what was attributed to you?

Mr. ROBESON: I did not say it in that context.

Mr. ARENS: I lay before you a document containing an article, I Am Looking for Full Freedom, by Paul Robeson, in a publication called the Worker , dated July 3, 1949.

At the Paris Conference I said it was unthinkable that the Negro people of America or elsewhere in the world could be drawn into war with the Soviet Union.

Mr. ROBESON: Is that saying the Negro people would do anything? I said it is unthinkable. I did not say that there : I said that in the Worker .

Mr. ARENS:

I repeat it with hundredfold emphasis: they will not.

Did you say that?

Mr. ROBESON: I did not say that in Paris, I said that in America. And, gentlemen, they have not yet done so, and it is quite clear that no Americans, no people in the world probably, are going to war with the Soviet Union. So I was rather prophetic, was I not?

Mr. ARENS: On that trip to Europe, did you go to Stockholm?

Mr. ROBESON: I certainly did, and I understand that some people in the American Embassy tried to break up my concert. They were not successful.

Mr. ARENS: While you were in Stockholm, did you make a little speech?

Mr. ROBESON: I made all kinds of speeches, yes.

Mr. ARENS: Let me read you a quotation.

Mr. ROBESON: Let me listen.

Mr. ARENS: Do so, please.

Mr. ROBESON: I am a lawyer.

Mr. KEARNEY: It would be a revelation if you would listen to counsel.

Mr. ROBESON: In good company, I usually listen, but you know people wander around in such fancy places. Would you please let me read my statement at some point?

THE CHAIRMAN: We will consider your statement.

Mr. ARENS:

I do not hesitate one second to state clearly and unmistakably: I belong to the American resistance movement which fights against American imperialism, just as the resistance movement fought against Hitler.

Mr. ROBESON: Just like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman were underground railroaders, and fighting for our freedom, you bet your life.

THE CHAIRMAN: I am going to have to insist that you listen to these questions.

MR, ROBESON: I am listening.

Mr. ARENS:

If the American warmongers fancy that they could win Americas millions of Negroes for a war against those countries (i.e., the Soviet Union and the peoples democracies) then they ought to understand that this will never be the case. Why should the Negroes ever fight against the only nations of the world where racial discrimination is prohibited, and where the people can live freely? Never! I can assure you, they will never fight against either the Soviet Union or the peoples democracies.

Did you make that statement?

Mr. ROBESON: I do not remember that. But what is perfectly clear today is that nine hundred million other colored people have told you that they will not. Four hundred million in India, and millions everywhere, have told you, precisely, that the colored people are not going to die for anybody: they are going to die for their independence. We are dealing not with fifteen million colored people, we are dealing with hundreds of millions.

Mr. KEARNEY: The witness has answered the question and he does not have to make a speech. . . .

Mr. ROBESON: In Russia I felt for the first time like a full human being. No color prejudice like in Mississippi, no color prejudice like in Washington. It was the first time I felt like a human being. Where I did not feel the pressure of color as I feel in this Committee today.

Mr. SCHERER: Why do you not stay in Russia?

Mr. ROBESON: Because my father was a slave, and my people died to build this country, and I am going to stay here, and have a part of it just like you. And no Fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear? I am for peace with the Soviet Union, and I am for peace with China, and I am not for peace or friendship with the Fascist Franco, and I am not for peace with Fascist Nazi Germans. I am for peace with decent people.

Mr. SCHERER: You are here because you are promoting the Communist cause.

Mr. ROBESON: I am here because I am opposing the neo-Fascist cause which I see arising in these committees. You are like the Alien Sedition Act, and Jefferson could be sitting here, and Frederick Douglass could be sitting here, and Eugene Debs could be here.

. . . .

THE CHAIRMAN: Now, what prejudice are you talking about? You were graduated from Rutgers and you were graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. I remember seeing you play football at Lehigh.

Mr. ROBESON: We beat Lehigh.

THE CHAIRMAN: And we had a lot of trouble with you.

Mr. ROBESON: That is right. DeWysocki was playing in my team.

THE CHAIRMAN: There was no prejudice against you. Why did you not send your son to Rutgers?

Mr. ROBESON: Just a moment. This is something that I challenge very deeply, and very sincerely: that the success of a few Negroes, including myself or Jackie Robinson can make upand here is a study from Columbia Universityfor seven hundred dollars a year for thousands of Negro families in the South. My father was a slave, and I have cousins who are sharecroppers, and I do not see my success in terms of myself. That is the reason my own success has not meant what it should mean: I have sacrificed literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for what I believe in.

Mr. ARENS: While you were in Moscow, did you make a speech lauding Stalin?

Mr. ROBESON: I do not know.

Mr. ARENS: Did you say, in effect, that Stalin was a great man, and Stalin had done much for the Russian people, for all of the nations of the world, for all working people of the earth? Did you say something to that effect about Stalin when you were in Moscow?

Mr. ROBESON: I cannot remember.

Mr. ARENS: Do you have a recollection of praising Stalin?

Mr. ROBESON: I said a lot about Soviet people, fighting for the peoples of the earth.

Mr. ARENS: Did you praise Stalin?

Mr. ROBESON: I do not remember.

Mr. ARENS: Have you recently changed your mind about Stalin?

Mr. ROBESON: Whatever has happened to Stalin, gentlemen, is a question for the Soviet Union, and I would not argue with a representative of the people who, in building America, wasted sixty to a hundred million lives of my people, black people drawn from Africa on the plantations. You are responsible, and your forebears, for sixty million to one hundred million black people dying in the slave ships and on the plantations, and dont ask me about anybody, please.

Mr. ARENS: I am glad you called our attention to that slave problem. While you were in Soviet Russia, did you ask them there to show you the slave labor camps?

THE CHAIRMAN: You have been so greatly interested in slaves, I should think that you would want to see that.

Mr. ROBESON: The slaves I see are still in a kind of semiserfdom. I am interested in the place I am, and in the country that can do something about it. As far as I know, about the slave camps, they were Fascist prisoners who had murdered millions of the Jewish people, and who would have wiped out millions of the Negro people, could they have gotten a hold of them. That is all I know about that.

Mr. ARENS: Tell us whether or not you have changed your opinion in the recent past about Stalin.

Mr. ROBESON: I have told you, mister, that I would not discuss anything with the people who have murdered sixty million of my people, and I will not discuss Stalin with you.

Mr. ARENS: You would not, of course, discuss with us the slave labor camps in Soviet Russia.

Mr. ROBESON: I will discuss Stalin when I may be among the Russian people some day, singing for them, I will discuss it there. It is their problem.

. . . .

Mr. ARENS: Now I would invite your attention, if you please, to the Daily Worker of June 29, 1949, with reference to a get-together with you and Ben Davis. Do you know Ben Davis?

Mr. ROBESON: One of my dearest friends, one of the finest Americans you can imagine, born of a fine family, who went to Amherst and was a great man.

THE CHAIRMAN: The answer is yes?

Mr. ROBESON: Nothing could make me prouder than to know him.

THE CHAIRMAN: That answers the question.

Mr. ARENS: Did I understand you to laud his patriotism?

Mr. ROBESON: I say that he is as patriotic an American as there can be, and you gentlemen belong with the Alien and Sedition Acts, and you are the nonpatriots, and you are the un-Americans, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

THE CHAIRMAN: Just a minute, the hearing is now adjourned.

Mr. ROBESON: I should think it would be.

THE CHAIRMAN: I have endured all of this that I can.

Mr. ROBESON: Can I read my statement?

THE CHAIRMAN: No, you cannot read it. The meeting is adjourned.

Mr. ROBESON: I think it should be, and you should adjourn this forever, that is what I would say. . . .

Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Investigation of the Unauthorized Use of U.S. Passports , 84th Congress, Part 3, June 12, 1956; in Thirty Years of Treason: Excerpts from Hearings Before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 19381968 , Eric Bentley, ed. (New York: Viking Press, 1971), 770.

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6440 /

And the link to the original thread:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 06:29 AM
Response to Original message
8. About as far left as Cuomo's...
Two America's speech. And look how far that got us.

No one wants to hear it now. We are in a bitter, selfish, conservative phase of our history. The milk of human kindness has turned rancid.

But, the pendulum tends to swing back.

I hope soon.





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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 07:17 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. I hope so too.
There seem to be two schools of thought on how to get there. One accomodates the selfish, conservative phase that you mentioned; the other opposes it. The former anticipates a naturalistic and spontaneous swing back of a political pendulum; the other attempts to create the conditions under which it might occur.
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Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 07:27 AM
Response to Original message
11. It's hard to admit that our country has been living a lie...
...and that many of us continue to defend this lie.

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Michael Harrington Donating Member (304 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 07:34 AM
Response to Original message
12. It sickens me...
That he's become, (much like George Orwell), a figure appropriated in death by the sort of people he worked against in life. When I hear Orrin Hatch and greasy ilk quote him, it ratchets my loathing of them even higher.

Michael Harrington always believed after talking privately w/ Martin that he was a Democratic Socialist, but he never wanted to publicly label him as such, given the inherent misundertanding that would flow from it.
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JanMichael Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 08:33 AM
Response to Reply #12
17. True.
As MLK progressed you could actually hear his movement toward Socialist ideals in his speeches.

Probably right to have kept it quiet though or he probably wouldn't have made to 1968.
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Brewman_Jax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 07:36 AM
Response to Original message
13. The truth is timeless
and insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. History is repeating itself, and if something isn't changed, the same results will occur.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 07:39 AM
Response to Original message
14. It's the spirit we've lost
We need voices like that today. We've lost piur spirit trying to "market" ourselves to the selfish side of people, instead of promoting an inspiring vision.

We need to both address individual self-interest, and relate that the greater good.

The problem today is that tyhere are not enough MLK's.
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prolesunited Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 08:06 AM
Response to Original message
15. What is interesting to note
is that King was "tolerated" when his struggle was confined to civil rights. He didn't become truly "dangerous" until he became an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and began advocating for economic justice, not just for blacks, but for all.

Although he was successful in the South, King's popularity began to wane when he spoke out against the Vietnam War. In May of 1966, against the wishes of even some of his close confidants, King began to denounce the conflict. Many thought that he should just stick to the issue of civil rights and leave foreign policy to others. However, feeling that it was an unjust war, King decided to speak out. After voicing his opinion on the war, nearly every major U.S. newspaper came out against him. As his popularity began to decrease, King launched the Poor People's Campaign that would transcend the wide chasm of race, culture, and religion. Tragically, he was fatally wounded by an assassin's bullet on April 4, 1968 while aiding Memphis sanitation workers in their fight for better working conditions.
http://martinlutherking.info/martinlutherking/dr-martin...

But Martin Luther King, Jr. was driven by his convictions and he continued to fight not just for the betterment of black people, but for all people. In 1968 King was planning for another demonstration in Washington, D.C. This time it was to be the Poor People's March to Washington, which King hoped would focus the nation's attention on poverty in America. But a sanitation workers' strike in Memphis, Tennessee drew his attention, and he travelled to Memphis and delivered a speech on April 3, 1968 in support of the workers. The next evening, Martin Luther King, Jr. was felled by an assassin's bullet as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Martin Luther King, Jr. was dead. The nation was shocked by the violent end of its most prominent civil rights advocate.
http://www.netstate.com/states/peop/people/ga_mlk.htm

The argument that he was assassinated when his rhetoric and movement began threatening the status quo is put forth here:
At the time of their assassinations, both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were embarking on a course in opposition to the capitalist system. It is clear from reading and listening to their final speeches that they had both evolved to similar conclusions of capitalism's role in the maintenance of racism. That is why they were "neutralized."

Unlike Malcolm X, who never got the opportunity to act upon his convictions, Martin Luther King was organizing a movement to obtain his stated goals when he was assassinated in Memphis. He was in Memphis to build "the coalition of an energized section of labor, Negroes, unemployed, and welfare recipients" in support of municipal garbage workers on strike.
http://www.geocities.com/youth4sa/mlk2.html

Interesting discussion points
http://www.howardri.org/MLKing%20Workshop.html
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SeattleRob Donating Member (893 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 12:47 PM
Response to Reply #15
24. Thanks...
I believe there was a revolution here in the 1960's and it was crushed in 1968 with the Assasinations of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, and the ascension of Nixon to the Whitehouse.

What would our world be like if Kennedy became president in 1968 and MLK continued his work? I know we would have been out of Vietnam a lot quicker and I suspect that more effort would have been made to fight the "War on Poverty."

This was one of the most tragic eras in our history. So much promise and hope shattered by violence. Look at what came after. Look what continues....

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prolesunited Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 01:07 PM
Response to Reply #24
27. I agree
There certainly was revolution in the air during that time period and I believe there was a deliberate attempt to stop it. I'm certain the world would be a FAR different place than it is today if they would have been able to see their dreams and visions to fruition.

I think you have to include Malcolm X on your list as well. Although he has been demonized to some extent, he did have an awakening after he traveled to Mecca. He had softened his militant stance and was ready to join whites to focus on the issues of social and economic justice. Of course, that's why he was then taken out.

I really believe our current observance of MLK Day does a great injustice to his legacy by so narrowly focusing on his efforts in the civil rights movement. His voice resonated far beyond that cause.
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Mairead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 12:54 PM
Response to Reply #15
26. "He didn't become 'dangerous' til he started advocating social justice"
"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.
When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist"
-- Dom Hlder Cmara, Archbishop of Recife
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JanMichael Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 08:30 AM
Response to Original message
16. It seems as if we've been locked in time.
I was reading, for the first time if you can believe it, Chomsky's "Democracy and Education" (Yes he gave props to Joh Dewey, one of my personal favs) and in a couple of his essays, dated in the late 60'2-early 70's, he spoke about US militarism and the perpetual "War Economy".

Rather chilling really.

MLK to far Left? Not for me but probably far to far Left for the Plutocrats.
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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 09:14 AM
Response to Original message
18. a modest kick
:thumbsup:
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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 12:13 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. and another
I bet most discussants are unfamiliar with the excerpted quotes.
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sangh0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 12:17 PM
Response to Original message
20. MLK wasn't a politician
and didn't have to win an office. There are pelnty of people saying similar things today. Unfortunately, they don't have the gift for dramatizing the issues the way MLK did
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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #20
22. sure, but how about the question of the thread.
Your answer could be interpreted as no, it's not unacceptably far left because people say similar things today. However, your answer could also be taken as yes, it's unacceptably far left because a politician might find those words too risky.

Please clarify.
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sangh0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 12:50 PM
Response to Reply #22
25. Sure
Asking "Is it too far left?" leave off an important part of the question, IMO. A more revealing question would be "Is it too far left to get elected?" and "Is is too far left to be effective?", etc

IOW, the question should put the issue in some sort of question so we can decide if it's "too far left" for a particular set of circumstances. IOW "too far left for what?" Without specifying a goal, there's no way to tell if it's "too far left" to achieve that goal.
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htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 12:26 PM
Response to Original message
21. Gotta read the 'Beyond Vietnam' speech too
Most people have never read that speech, or had any idea that King held so many views now dismissed as 'far left'. That's no accident, I suppose...(Americans seem to prefer the 'Hallmark Card MLK', a far less threatening image to those wedded to the status quo).


Riverside Church, NY, NY
April 4, 1967

(snip)

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

(snip)

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."

http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html

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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 12:28 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. a welcome quote
Thanks for posting it.
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Nederland Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 01:13 PM
Response to Original message
28. Its not too far left, its just empty
These quotes do nothing more than point out that America has an inequitable distribution of wealth. They do not specify solutions. As the 30 years that followed MLK proved, solutions to problems are far more difficult find than words to describe them. The anti-poverty programs of the Johnson era proved to be a failure in the minds of many if not most Americans. Sure, its easy enough to transfer wealth from the rich to the poor and improved the standard of living of the poor, but that's not what most Americans consider success. Success is when poor people have the opportunity to work and earn enough money to support themselves without help from other people. That is how we generally define success here in America: the ability to support yourself and your family.

Americans wanted to see the problem solved, not the symptom treated. Simply transferring money to the poor wasn't accomplishing this. As we entered the 1990's, descriptions of 3rd generation welfare families convinced many people that the anti-poverty solutions enacted in the Johnson era were not working. They started to listen to Democrats such as Patrick Moynihan who had been telling us from the very beginning that the programs were flawed. Sure, they raised the standards of living of millions of poor people, but they did not address (in fact many argued they exacerbated) the causes of poverty: broken families, illiteracy, and crime. The result of this dissatisfaction was Welfare Reform, which irrefutably proved what many Americans had thought was true all along: millions on the welfare roles were perfectly capable of working, they simply chose not to.

If King's words were spoken today this is the history that would be flung back into the face of the speaker. Unless you can clearly articulate a plan that is radically different from what was tried before you will get nowhere. In King's day what was needed was a person to clearly articulate the problem. Today we need someone to clearly articulate the solution. With all due respect to Dr. King, the later is far more difficult.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. Not empty
Public rhetoric exists on two levels. The emotional and the factual. Both are part of a great goal of motivating people to support and/or participate in solutions to problems.

Reagan and the GOP right provided the right mix to revitalize conservatism. Reagan gave people the rhetoric of "Morning in America" and the GOP backed it up with specific policies.

I think much of the backlash against our side is not due to an excess of "empty rhetoric." On the contrary I think we suffer from a deficit of "larger vision" such as those in the words of MLK (and JFK and otehrs of their ilk).

Instead, all we have heard in public discourse is the bean-counter side and dry policy analysis. And that leads to apathy and inertia on social progress.



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Nederland Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 01:42 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. There is a reason for this...
I think much of the backlash against our side is not due to an excess of "empty rhetoric." On the contrary I think we suffer from a deficit of "larger vision" such as those in the words of MLK (and JFK and otehrs of their ilk).

Instead, all we have heard in public discourse is the bean-counter side and dry policy analysis. And that leads to apathy and inertia on social progress.



There is a reason that all we have is bean-counter side and dry policy analysis, and it is the reason I articulated in my post. We are past recognizing the problem. Unlike the dreamworld of the 50's and early 60's , today if you told the average American that there were millions of people in poverty they would not disagree with you. Rather, their respoonse would be something along the lines of "sure, but what are you going to do about it?" Hence the dry policy analysis.

You lament the loss of people that articulate a "larger vision", but that is simply where we are in the process. The first stage is to raise awareness of the problem, the second is to debate solutions, and the final stage is to implement solutions and solve the problem. With regard to poverty, we are well past stage one. In fact, we are actually in stage two for the second time around. After King and others raised awareness of the problem, Johnson and the politicans debated solutions and implemented them. The problem is, the solutions articulated by those Johnson era programs turned out not to work. Hence we are in stage two for the second time.

Its not that we need lofty rhetoric to convince people that there is a problem, its that we lack solutions that work.
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Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 02:19 PM
Response to Reply #30
33. We need to be reminded
I think what's happened is that we have allowed too much to be swept under the rug. People are hurting today -- and it's not just "the poor" anymore. Average middle class people are slipping down the econimic scale, while a handful are being pushed higher up.

We need the equivalent of MLK style inspiration -- only this aimed at both the middle class and the poor. They are becoming increasingly intertwined.

As for specific solutions, I agree with you. It can;t just be rhetoric. But there are plenty of possibnle answers around -- including new progressive approaches that can appeal both to the lefties and those like you who recognize similar problems.

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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 02:33 PM
Response to Reply #28
34. a curious response
It is true that those quotes do not articulate a solution. To conclude that they are therefore empty is a bit surprising. I didn't realize that a solution had to be present, and I must now consider holding every subsequent quote I read to that same test. I wonder how many will pass muster. Perhaps as many as 1% will make it.

On the other hand, we do have a political discourse in this country, and some subjects are on the table for discussion whereas others are not. Some topics may only be broached in certain ways, while others may be initiated relatively freely.

I might even stick my neck out really far and postulate that there have been some political changes in the last 35 years, and we might even have something to gain in understanding where we are by looking back at where we've been.

Naw, that's crazy. You're right. Quoting MLK without adding solutions is totally empty. No benefit whatsoever. Sorry for wasting everyone's time.
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Nederland Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #34
36. Just answering the question...
Edited on Fri Oct-31-03 05:34 PM by Nederland
The question you originally asked was whether or not "these words from 1966 are safe today or whether they represent political suicide." My answer to that question was that these words are not political suicide, but empty unless you are prepared to offer a solution.

Imagine if a speaker stood up and said: "Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. We need to solve this problem!" Now imagine if this same speaker stood up and said this exact same thing for thirty years but never added anything more. No talk of solutions, no talk of how the problem was going to be solved, merely the same old tired statement that the problem exists and something should be done about it. How well do you think the public would respond to this speaker in the long run? Do you think, maybe, just maybe, that over time they would start to tune out? Its like standing up and saying the sky is blue--the fact that its true does not make it interesting or compelling.

I think the parallels to the Democratic party here are pretty obvious.

You imply that I believe that all statements that do not specify solutions are empty. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, as I specifically stated in post #30, there are stages to polical rhetoric. The first stage is raising awareness of the problem, and this is the stage where statements like King's are valuable and necessary. What was valuable and necessary 30+ years ago, however, may not be valuable and necessary today.

Everybody knows that poverty is a problem. What we need to day is solutions.
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SeattleRob Donating Member (893 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #28
35. The money wasn't transfered to the poor
Most of the money from the so-called "War on Poverty" was funneled into the Vietnam effort. At the end of the sixties, there was a famous study about poverty and inequity in this country. I think it was called the "Kerner Commission" or something like that. (I know someone out there in DU land knows about this report.) This study mentioned specific problems and potential solutions to these problems. Very little has been done to address these problems.

Look at what's going on now. We're throwing 87 billion dollars to Iraq. 87 billion! We have a huge and ever growing defense budget. Why do other "western" countries around the world have better worker rights, universal healthcare, low cost or free education? Because they spend a large chunk of their money on their people. We spend some money on our own, but so much of it goes to military expenditures. Everytime we drop a bomb, launch a missile, someone is getting rich. And remember, the people who actually fight the wars come from working class, low income backgrounds. I think this is what was at the heart of Dr. King's argument. If speaking the truth to power is too far left, then I guess I am a lefty
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Nederland Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 05:32 PM
Response to Reply #35
37. Life After Vietnam
True, a great deal of money of money was funneled into the Vietnam war effort. However, it is pointless to try and deny that billions of dollars were spent on anti-poverty programs from 1970 onwards, well after Vietnam ended. Spending on anti poverty program in 1980, for example, was over 14 billion dollars (in 1980 dollars). The fact that spending on anti-poverty program continued at this rate for years while the actual poverty rate stayed the same or even rose is a testement to the fact that these programs were a failure.
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camero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-01-03 06:03 AM
Response to Reply #37
44. HUH?
Look, when the amount spent on anti-poverty programs equals the amount spent on the bombs that we drop and the poverty rate stays the same, then I will consider it a failure. Not until then.

$14 billion was a drop in the bucket even then.
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bread_and_roses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #28
39. Your analysis
seems to presume that the arguements put forward to justify the draconian welfare "reform" were all true. "The result of this dissatisfaction was Welfare Reform, which irrefutably proved what many Americans had thought was true all along: millions on the welfare roles were perfectly capable of working, they simply chose not to."
The vast majority of people on welfare never fit the stereotypes that were put forward as the "failures" of welfare. Two simple examples, many worked when they could, and many failures to retain work were attributable to lack of day care, transportation, and health care. this was all well documented back then, and now. As for people being able to make it without assistance, the rising numbers of homeless, hungry, and unemployed call that into question.
Welfare reform was an easy out from addressing problems of structural poverty, racism, unemployment, the abandonment of the inner cities and the ever-increasing inequality of wealth in this nation.
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ShaneGR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 02:07 PM
Response to Original message
31. Looks fine to me.....
Of course, he doesn't cheer on the vietnamese resistance.
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Isome Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #31
38. Cheer on the Vietnamese resistance...
Did you read it?

"We in the West must support these revolutions."
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ShaneGR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-01-03 07:00 AM
Response to Reply #38
46. Yeah, I did, did you?
I don't see him cheering them on. Do you?
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
32. How about you speak the truth, and say to hell with whats "popular"
That would be a nice change in politics.
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bread_and_roses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-31-03 06:09 PM
Response to Original message
40. If we had Democrats
speaking the truth, I firmly believe we would have a Democratic majority in this country. Instead, most of our fearless "leaders" could double for Grima Wormtongue.
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prolesunited Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-01-03 12:39 AM
Response to Original message
41. I liked this thread
:kick:
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Ani Yun Wiya Donating Member (639 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-01-03 01:42 AM
Response to Original message
42. How can....
A truth, clearly stated be "too far left"?
I would not think that currently restating these evident truths would be "suicidal".
It may however bring out the homicidal tendencies of those who fail to recognize these stated truths.
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-01-03 02:34 AM
Response to Original message
43. I am DYING for someone to speak truth like this without apology...
...like a man without water in an endless desert.... :(
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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-02-03 05:20 AM
Response to Original message
48. Sunday morning kick
:donut:
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