Sunday, 19 September 2010

A time comes when silence is betrayal.

Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.

The title of this post comes from Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech Beyond Vietnam - A Time to Break Silence: Audio (about an hour), and Transcript. If you want to download a copy, open this page in IE, right-click on the 'Audio' link and 'Save target as'.

Far from being an 'accessible resource' the Internet is a vast daemonic confusion (where ignorant armies strive by night). There are dozens upon dozens of versions of this speech here and there and on YouTube and the like, but most are edited and incomplete and the transcriptions are inaccurate, and the shit-head barkers and shills tack on their sales pitches and ridiculous editorials. Nor am I completely confident in the one I have posted, it simply looks to be the best of a bad lot.

The line, "A time comes when silence is betrayal," is not King's. He took it (as he explains) from a statement by the committee hosting the event that night.

The title is from Martin Luther King Jr. but the purpose is to applaud the Kingsnorth-6. It began at Jim Hansen's talk here in Toronto the other night. On one of his slides was the URL of his website, and below that a notation, 'Kingsnorth 6' ... and wondering what it might mean (but thinking of B52-Two) I followed it up when I got home. Lo and behold! It all happened years ago; the action in 2007, the trial and aquittal in 2008; and sure enough Hansen was involved.

And a 20 minute film of the events by Nick Broomfield is called A Time Comes and the opening frames of the film give the quote, "A time comes when silence is betrayal."  So, quite a 'commodius vicus of recirculation' then.

The film is available on YouTube and is listed on IsoHunt though there were no active seeds the day I tried it. Anyway, you can download the YouTube with KeepVid.

Here they are then: Emily Hall, Kevin Drake, Ben Stewart, Tim Hewke, Huw Williams, and Tim Rose:
Kingsnorth Power StationKingsnorth-6Kingsnorth-6Kingsnorth-6
Kingsnorth-6, Emily HallKingsnorth-6, Emily HallKingsnorth-6, Kevin DrakeKingsnorth-6, Kevin DrakeKingsnorth-6, Ben StewartKingsnorth-6, Ben StewartKingsnorth-6, Tim HewkeKingsnorth-6, Tim HewkeKingsnorth-6, Huw WilliamsKingsnorth-6, Huw WilliamsKingsnorth-6, Tim RoseKingsnorth-6, Tim RoseJim Hansen

A good friend of mine reacts very negatively to any hint of "Look at ME!" or "It's all about ME!" as I have mentioned here before - feelings which I share. A close look at A Time Comes shows me (at least) that this objection cannot be raised in this case. Indeed, Kingsnorth-6 refers to the six who were tried - but none of it would have happened, and certainly not with the degree of success they achieved, without numerous and mostly anonymous supporters. Just consider those who chained themselves to the conveyor system - an essential diversionary tactic.

Having only partially survived the gross disorganization of every Toronto group involved in this struggle that I have seen ... the thinking and planning which went into the Kingsnorth action shine like a beacon and are a welcome antidote - It CAN be done! And more than that, the evident humility and focus of everyone involved ... literally brings tears to my eyes.

Ballard StreetBallard StreetAnd with that, a word about MEHee hee hee - it's all about ME!

and the ressurection of this blog after nearly a month's soul-searching hiatus, in the form of two Ballard Street cartoons that have appeared in the meantime.

I trust it is not too much of a stretch from what King says about the Vietnam war to what is needed now for a flourishing planet? In particular he says, "Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty."

Sound familiar?

We have had some timid John the Baptists: our Bill McKibben ever so wrapped up in himself, and our Clive Hamilton so cool & soi-distant; coming before and whispering, "Maybe it is time for civil disobedience," and the other evening I heard Jim Hansen say about the same thing (but with more substance).

But the leader who slouches now towards Bethlehem to be born, the third coming as it were, may not be a Ghandi nor a Winston Churchill, not Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva nor Barack Obama neither I don't think - I wonder that the language of this sexless secular time still permits the formulation of such heroic notions. No, it looks to me like it will have to be each and every one, or ... not quite so solitary maybe and hearkening to Matthew's "For where two or three are gathered together" ...

I was glad to hear Jim Hansen say that he had high hopes when Obama was elected. I did too. I followed his speeches and listened carefully and ... I believed in him. Even as Copenhagen was drawing to a close I believed. Lula too - I was in Rio when he was first elected, I saw him speak a few days before the election on the beach at Botafogo, and I believed in him.

And I was mistaken. I still admire these men greatly. They are heroes to me. But events are showing that they simply cannot do what (I believe) they set out to do. So what now? Well, if it's not them - then it must be me. That's all I can think.


King also talks about timing: "We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity."

Hard eh?

Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.
We must love one another or die.

From the year of 1833 if you can dig it here and here.

Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.Be well gentle reader.


Yes, as it was explained to me a long time ago by a Dutchman (and here reconstructed with some help from Google), there are three stages of the Netherlands' defence against the sea: “wakende dijken” (guarding dykes), “slapende dijken” (sleeping dykes), and “dromende dijken” (dreaming dykes). And there is a connection with the English 'dunderhead' and with 'schijten kop' too somehow? or was it Scheisskopf in Catch-22?

Dira PaesSheyla Yakarepi JurunaDira Paes narrates two short videos: Defendendo os Rios da Amazônia - Parte 1 & Parte 2 on the Belo Monte project in Altamira Brasil. As the election gets closer some of my friends there are circulating emails denouncing Lula. I remember that when he was first elected in 2002 a wave of hope spread over the country, and I remember his speech at Copenhagen last year (here and here) - one of the few adults in the place that I could see. So.

Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieLast week I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's first novel Purple Hibiscus ... How can I say this without sounding like a bullshit blurb on a book jacket? She blew my mind? Her sensibility is something I cannot remember ever encountering before? ... AI AI (fucking) AI! will have to do.

For the record I am already acquainted with African literature - I am not just haring off after another beautiful brown woman :-) I do wonder if literary development is somehow reversed in Nigeria. Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart was his first novel too I believe.

Doug SaundersPaula DobrianskyFor pure unadorned stupidity on the subject of women I have seen nothing to compare with Doug Saunders' Teenage girls can change the world. What can one say to such vicious nonsense? I'll see your 'teenage girls' Doug, and raise you ... Paula Dobriansky, or, or, Christine Shelley, or (lest I be accused of racism) Agathe Habyarimana ... Is that it?

Meera KarunananthanDavid SchindlerTwo water warriors I would honour here today: Meera Karunananthan & David Schindler; Meera for her work exposing what is being planned for Fish Lake in B.C. and Sandy Pond near Long Harbour, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland (on the other side of the bay from my old haunt, Great Paradise); and David for his work on the Athabaska River in Alberta (I post this Globe editorial even though they are so mealy-mouthed and hedge their bets so extravagantly with such bollocks as 'If it can be shown there are scientific reasons to doubt the veracity of Dr. Schindler's study ...' Doh!?).

Finally, remember that 10/10/10 is coming up. Even though the program stinks you have got to Get With It! check out 10:10 in the UK and Globally and of course, Bill McKibben's own

Strengthen the things which remain. :-)Like the man says, "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die."


1. A Time to Break Silence, Martin Luther King Jr., 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City.

2. Teenage girls can change the world, Doug Saunders, September 18 2010.

3. Groups call on the federal cabinet to save Fish Lake, News Fish Lake, September 3 2010.

4. Vale targets pristine lake for tailings, Linda Diebel, September 10 2010.

5. Take Athabasca science seriously, Editorial, September 7 2010.

A Time to Break Silence, Martin Luther King Jr., 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City.

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers. I also want to say that I consider it a great honor to share this program with Dr. Bennett, Dr. Commager, and Rabbi Heschel, some of the most distinguished leaders and personalities of our nation. And of course it’s always good to come back to Riverside Church. Over the last eight years, I have had the privilege of preaching here almost every year in that period, and it’s always a rich and rewarding experience to come to this great church and this great pulpit.

I come to this great magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization that brought us together, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” “Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people?” they ask. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment, or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church—the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate—leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in the successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reasons to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides. Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans.

Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, “Aren’t you a civil rights leader?” and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957, when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself until the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard from Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes, I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.” It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1954.* And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.

But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men—for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood. Because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1954—in 1945 rather—after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China—for whom the Vietnamese have no great love—but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva Agreement. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed and Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords, and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. The peasants watched as all of this was presided over by United States influence and then by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men.

Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call “fortified hamlets.” The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers.

Perhaps a more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation front, that strangely anonymous group we call “VC” or “communists”? What must they think of the United States of America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem, which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the South? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of “aggression from the North” as if there was nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings, even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent communist, and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam, and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will not have a part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them, the only real party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of a new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the North, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western worlds, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led this nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French Commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which could have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a unified Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again. When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be considered.

Also, it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva Agreement concerning foreign troops. They remind us that they did not begin to send troops in large numbers and even supplies into the South until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than eight hundred, or rather, eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Surely this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroy, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and dealt death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote:

Each day the war goes on the hatred increased in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.


If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.

I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

Number one: End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.

Number two: Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.

Three: Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.

Four: Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and any future Vietnam government.

Five: Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement. [sustained applause]

Part of our ongoing [applause continues], part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary. Meanwhile [applause], meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative method of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service, we must clarify for them our nation’s role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. [sustained applause] I am pleased to say that this is a path now chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. [applause] Moreover, I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. [applause] These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

Now there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing.

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality [applause], and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. [sustained applause] So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

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 has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.

It is with such activity 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.” [applause] 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 investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin [applause], we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see than an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. [applause]

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. [sustained applause]

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. [applause] War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and, through their misguided passions, urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not engage in a negative anticommunism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy [applause], realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity, and injustice, which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds 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 antirevolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that 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 mountain and hill shall be made low [Audience:] (Yes); the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.”

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I’m not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another (Yes), for love is God. (Yes) And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.

We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.” Unquote.

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.”

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message—of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation comes a moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet ‘tis truth alone is strong
Though her portions be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. [sustained applause]

Teenage girls can change the world, Doug Saunders, September 18 2010.

They are idealized, victimized – and doing most of the hard work

The Alam family lives in one of the more squalid corners of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and make their living in a pretty typical way: by deploying their teenaged daughters.

Each morning, 14-year-old Panchali walks down the mud lanes to her house-cleaning job in the nearby high-rise apartments, and 16-year-old Amolika goes out to spend 10 hours at a garment factory. Their brother, Sumon, 17, has a far less rewarding job unloading trucks and carrying heavy objects on bamboo poles, as does his father.

Together, the two teenage girls earn about three-quarters of the family’s income. That’s not unusual here, or in any of the fast-growing cities of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America: These places are the domain of the adolescent girl.

What you see in the streets and workshops and houses of the fast-growing parts of the world are young women, generally under 21, working hard. What you see aboard the trains and minivan-buses and horse-carts of the world are teenage girls, moving to the city.

As in Europe in the 19th century, young women often make up the largest group of people leaving villages for the city, sent to work alone, often in domestic service or garment piecework, and save their families. Half the world’s urban population is under 25, and considerably more than half of these are young women, because the men so often stay behind.

The girls tend to have more job opportunities in the informal, hustle-based economies of modern cities; they also tend to be treated far, far worse than anyone else, abused sexually, mutilated, impregnated, forced into prostitution, married to strangers. They are both the main agents of change and its predominant victim.

The opportunity and the danger tend to amplify each other. Fear of such fates, and other mythic images of debased innocence stoked by the terrifying shock of sudden change, leads the fathers and brothers of newly urbanized daughters into the hysterical comfort of extreme religious and political beliefs. The cruel ascetic offshoots of Islam in much of the Arab world, the violent political perversions of Hinduism in India and the waves of fundamentalist Christianity across the Southern Hemisphere, are in large part responses to, or manipulations of, anxieties over the idealized images of one’s daughter.

In fact, you could say that the most potent forces in the world right now – both the most promising opportunities for improvement and the most menacing and destabilizing movements and ideologies – are all centred around the mythic figure of the teenage girl.

This dual role will be brought into stark contrast next week with the release of a major study, by the charity Plan, of the situation of adolescent girls in the world’s cities. Titled “Because I Am a Girl,” it rightly recognizes that the fate of these girls and young women is precisely the fate of their countries and communities.

In many ways, the flight into urban work is turning girls into powerful figures – in large part by letting them escape marriage. In Bangladesh, the study notes, 31 per cent of adolescent girls who had migrated from rural to urban areas for work were married by the age of 18, compared to 71 per cent in rural areas, and “adolescent girls in cities are more likely than their rural cousins to go to school, marry later, give birth more safely and have more of a say in their own lives.”

And this flight often allows them to escape a fate that would turn them into baby-making machines: In Addis Ababa, a quarter of all women in the city between 10 and 19 had moved there from the village in order to escape early marriage.

That can change the world: Over and over, studies have found that the level of poverty reduction and economic growth in a country is directly correlated to the levels of education attained by women – more so than any other factor.

But the risks are real. Sexual predation is an ever-present concern in societies that still treat women little better than livestock. A study in Lima found that 41 per cent of girls between 10 and 24 had “experienced coerced sex.” Similar figures, or worse, were found around the world.

The flip side of this risk is the ideological defensiveness that leads fathers to marry off daughters earlier, cover their heads (even in countries, such as Bangladesh and Turkey, where this isn’t traditional), mutilate their genitals and throw them into the hands of religion. Of course, this is the same thinking that leads men to rape teenage girls – thus creating a self-sustaining cycle of backwardness.

Beyond this idealization and victimization are the actual lives of hundreds of millions of real girls, on the streets of the world’s major cities, avoiding dark corners and doing most of the hard work.

Groups call on the federal cabinet to save Fish Lake, News Fish Lake, September 3 2010.

Ottawa - The Council of Canadians and MiningWatch Canada are calling on the federal cabinet to reject a proposed open-pit gold and copper mine which would destroy a pristine lake and contaminate nearby bodies of water.

The Harper government is expected to decide on the fate of Fish Lake in British Columbia as soon as next Friday.

On Tuesday September 7 at 11 am, the groups will deliver a petition with more than 10,000 signatures from across the country to the federal government in Ottawa.

"Lakes and rivers should not be used as private garbage dumps for mining companies," says Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

The Tsilhqot'in National Government, backed by the Assembly of First Nations, opposes the destruction of Fish Lake, which is of profound cultural and spiritual significance to its people. It has said that if the federal cabinet does not listen to its own federal review panel which found that the mine would have 'significant adverse environmental effects', it will continue to take action to protect the lake, including blocking the access roads to the lake.

"We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tsilhqot'in to protect this lake," vows Barlow. "The federal government would be wise to heed the federal review panel findings and shut down this mine proposal entirely or it will face huge resistance in British Columbia and across Canada."

"Taseko's proposal to use natural bodies of water as tailings ponds is permitted by a loophole in the Fisheries Act called Schedule 2," says Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch. "Once placed on Schedule 2, lakes and rivers lose the protections normally required under federal law."

The federal review panel's recommendations serve to strengthen a legal challenge against Schedule 2, which argues that it is illegal for the federal government to allow the dumping of mining waste into Canadian lakes and rivers. The case is expected to be heard by the Federal Court this fall.

"Canada is one of the few countries in the world where mining companies are allowed to dump their tailings directly into lakes and rivers," says Meera Karunananthan, water campaigner for the Council of Canadians. "Schedule 2 remains a threat to all lakes in Canada and must be eliminated. In the meantime, the cabinet must do the right thing and save Fish Lake from destruction."

Vale targets pristine lake for tailings, Linda Diebel, September 10 2010.

A coalition of environmental groups is fighting to set a national precedent by stopping Brazilian mining giant Vale from dumping 400,000 tonnes a year of toxic tailings into a Newfoundland lake known for its prize-winning trout.

“Sandy Pond is a wonderful, beautiful lake and all aquatic life is going to be annihilated,” said Meera Karunananthan, national water campaigner for the Council of Canadians and a member of the newly-created Sandy Pond Alliance.

“The authorities are allowing the company to use our pristine water as one big garbage dump.”

Vale plans to use the lake for waste from a nickel processing plant, set to open in 2013. It’s located near Long Harbour on the Avalon Peninsula in southeastern Newfoundland, about an hour’s drive from St. John’s.

The environmental alliance recently filed a legal challenge in federal court to what they see as a loophole in the Fisheries Act. It allows Canadian lakes to be reclassified as “tailings impoundment areas.”

Once a body of water is reclassified, a company can’t be sued for dumping.

The court challenge, which is being heard in St. John’s, says: “The purpose of the Fisheries Act is to conserve and protect fish habitat. The (government) has enacted regulatory provisions which purport to allow the total annihilation of aquatic life in natural water bodies.”

A win by the Sandy Pond citizens’ coalition would set a legal precedent to stop a practice that’s been used by six companies, including Vale, since a former Liberal government changed the Fisheries Act in 2002. It’s estimated at least 11 more lakes are on the list for reclassification as dump sites.

Activists did not challenge the amendment in 2002 because they thought it would be used only to protect companies from being sued for past practices—not to allow the future destruction of pristine waters.

Yesterday, Vale appealed to the federal court in St. John’s to allow the company intervener status in the challenge. A ruling is expected later this month.

“We don’t consider it a loophole. That’s the law that exists,” said Toronto-based Cory McPhee, Vale’s vice-president of corporate affairs.

He said the company has complied with all federal and provincial regulations, “technical, environmental and social,” in the application process for the plant, which will refine nickel from its mine in Voisey’s Bay, Labrador.

Newfoundland activist Ken Kavanagh, a retired teacher who attended yesterday’s court proceedings in St. John’s, said all Canadians should be concerned about the potential loss of their natural water resources.

“It’s symbolic,” he told the Star. “You might say it’s just Sandy Pond in Newfoundland and Labrador today, but there are many lakes on lists (to allow dumping) in future. It could go on forever . . . what’s to protect any body of water in Canada?”

Added Kavanagh: “The premier (Danny Williams) says no more giveaways for Newfoundland and Labrador, and here they are giving a lake free to a mining company to destroy.”

Liberal water critic Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis) recently introduced legislation in the Commons to prohibit Canada’s lakes from being used as “low-cost disposal sites” for tailings from mining operations.

Increasingly, said Scarpaleggia, federal Fisheries Act provisions “are being used as an easy loophole for allowing mining companies to avoid the costs of building safe impoundments areas for their mining waste.”

The Quebec MP says the practice abrogates the original intention of the act, and should be closed.

Sandy Pond—a deep 28-hectare freshwater lake—is renowned for the size of its trout, as well as the American eel, a species revered in Mi’kmaq legend, according to environmentalists. It has its own special ecosystem because it’s not connected to other waterways.

Among regulations Vale has met, according to McPhee, is one that says there must be “no net loss” to Newfoundland’s environmental habitat. He said the company’s environmental team will meet that requirement.

The plant will employ about 475 people and McPhee said the “hiring process, of course, is local.”

“There is no way to compensate for the destruction of a natural fish habitat,” countered Karunananthan. She added that the coalition wouldn’t have opposed the project had Vale included a strategy to contain its waste without destroying the natural habitat: “We’re not just against mining.”

Kavanagh said the Sandy Pond Alliance sent out a recent newsletter to “make it clear we’re not against economic development or against jobs. We’re against one aspect of the development that will destroy the lake.”

He argues the company chose to dump waste in Sandy Pond over such options as an artificial, lined containment pond, because it’s cheaper.

McPhee denies the claim, arguing Vale studied several alternative waste storage plans and determining Sandy Pond would be the best solution for the environment.

According to Karunananthan, “the mentality of the federal government is that we have so much water in Canada that we can give it up as a subsidy to mining companies.

“But it is the height of privatization to allow a public freshwater resource to be used as a private dump.”

She said environmentalists fear nickel tailings will leech into the groundwater at the contested Newfoundland site (and elsewhere), leaving behind contamination “for local communities to deal with, long after the large company is gone.”

Take Athabasca science seriously, Editorial, September 7 2010.

Dr. David Schindler found elevated levels of mercury, lead and other toxic elements in the Athabasca River, concluding that the “oil sands industry substantially increases loadings” of toxins into the river.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach's call for scientists to “sit down and compare data” involving toxins in the Athabasca River is welcome, as is his profession of “great respect” for University of Alberta biological scientist David Schindler. Welcome, but inadequate. It is unlikely that such informal meetings will succeed in resolving the serious issues raised by Dr. Schindler's research.

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Schindler found elevated levels of cadmium, mercury, lead and other toxic elements in the Athabasca River. Some levels exceeded those recommended by Alberta or Canada for the protection of aquatic life, the study found, concluding the “oil sands industry substantially increases loadings” of toxins into the river.

These peer-reviewed findings contradict government and industry claims that the toxins are naturally occurring and water quality has not been affected by oil sands development. An Alberta government fact sheet is adamant on this point: “Data indicates no increased concentration of contaminants in surface water in the oil sands area.”

News of Dr. Schindler's new study evoked predictable responses from some in Mr. Stelmach's government. For his part, Energy Minister Ron Liepert offered up, “If you look back at the work that [Dr. Schindler] has done in the past, I'm not surprised that this was the result.”

Albertans and Canadians deserve more than innuendo directed at a distinguished scholar who has 10 honorary degrees to his name, is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Alberta Order of Excellence, that province's highest honour. The citation for the latter described Dr. Schindler as “an internationally celebrated scientist” whose “groundbreaking research has served as a clarion call alerting authorities and the public to the effects of pollutants.” Rather than imply some sort of sinister agenda, Alberta needs to know the facts.

The Alberta government needs to respond credibly. If it can be shown there are scientific reasons to doubt the veracity of Dr. Schindler's study, then further independent investigation of the contaminants and their source is required. If there are not, then the provincial and federal governments have failed in their duty to protect the environment and in the process have harmed the interests of the oil sands industry.

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