“Charity functions to keep the wealthy sane. Tithes, tax-exempt donations, and short-term mission trips, while they accomplish some good, also function as outlets that allow wealthy Christians to pay off their consciences while avoiding a revolution of lifestyle. People do their time in a social program or distribute food and clothes through organizations which take their excess. That way, they never actually have to face the poor and give their clothes, their food, their beds. Wealthy Christians never actually have to be with poor people, with Christ in disguise.” (>>)
“Without that intent, those same prayers become a shameful abomination, a petty and callous attempt to shrug off responsibility in the face of real human suffering.” (>>)
“…as much as I would like to have thought that I was the compassionate never-ending reservoir of love and goodwill, it hit a block about 4 or 5 months into it.” (>>)
“We are the richest people ever to walk the face of the earth. Period. Yet, most of us live as though there is nothing terribly wrong in the world. We attend our kids’ soccer games, pursue our careers, and take beach vacations while 40 percent of the world’s inhabitants struggle just to eat every day. And in our own backyards, the homeless, those residing in ghettos, and a wave of immigrants live in a world outside the economic and social mainstream of North America.” (>>)
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.” (>>)
“But when I hear about a church spending $130 Million on a building campaign, I get pissed off. That is money stolen from poor and homeless people, from hungry children unable to eat day-to-day, from programs that would have helped people survive. […]
“And for what? Leather seats for the large dollar contributors while many families within the community have no furniture at all to sit or sleep on? […] Numerous wide-screen TVs to read the songs lauding how much you love the Jesus who told you to give it all up and take care of the poor, the widows, the sick, and the imprisoned? A large fountain that pumps a massive number of gallons of water when people have no clean water to drink?” (>>)
“That’s the ironic gesture, right? We’re absolutely concerned — “Oh, we’ve got to do something,” Right? And then, actually, […] it’s what you’re doing that’s creating the problem in the first place, and yet your concern, it masks that.
“How many of us sit in Starbucks and talk about the evils of corporations? How many of us drive fuel-consuming cars while listening to radio programs about the environment? We engage in this ironic gesture all the time, and we don’t experience it.
“Batman’s a perfect example. What does he do at night? He puts on this crazy rubber suit, and he goes out and he beats up criminals, right? Then, after he’s beaten up the criminals, the next day, he gets in his suit, and he goes and he works in Wayne Industries as Bruce Wayne. Now, what’s really interesting, is he’s doing this big stuff on Saturday night, you know, beating up on the bad guys, trying to to make Gothem City a better place. And yet during the day he’s working in an industry which makes so much money that he can fund a high-tech military campaign and nobody even notices.
“How much money is Wayne Industries making? Wayne Industries is making phenomenal amounts of money. And one has to ask, is it not industries like Wayne Industries, who are making such vast amounts of money without any social regard; is that not the reason that there are criminals that he has to beat up? He’s not made the connection that the very thing he’s doing on Monday to Friday is the very thing he’s fighting on Saturday night.
“He thinks the site of resistance is going out and beating up criminals, but he doesn’t realize that what’s he’s doing in his grounded daily activity is creating and generating the very conditions that means he has to do that.
“The very thing he thinks is the site of Resistance is the thing he has to do to in order to feel good about himself so he can get the suit on and go into work the next day.
“What you find out is that the very place you thought was the site of resistance […] is the very thing the system requires in order to continue to run smoothly.” (>>)
“They follow the news; they’re aware of what’s going on around the world- and of how terrible much of it is. But they’re also unwilling to stop working for these corporations, to give up their elitism and sports cars and fancy houses and $500 shoes. They are aware of their hypocrisy- painfully aware- and so they take small, baby steps to make up for the atrocities they are complicit in […]. They are aware, mindful, maybe, but ultimately will not radically change their way of living. They might even look down on the people who are eating fast food/processed food for not ‘being healthier,’ while deep down knowing these people cannot afford organic tomatoes and coconut water and fair-trade dark chocolate imported from some faraway place.” (>>)
” ‘You can set all the rules you want, but they’re meaningless if you don’t give suppliers enough profit to treat workers well,” said one former Apple executive with firsthand knowledge of the supplier responsibility group. ‘If you squeeze margins, you’re forcing them to cut safety.’
” ‘We’ve had this conversation hundreds of times,’ said a former executive in Apple’s supplier responsibility group. ‘There is a genuine, companywide commitment to the code of conduct. But taking it to the next level and creating real change conflicts with secrecy and business goals, and so there’s only so far we can go.’
” ‘You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories, or you can reinvent the product every year, and make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards,’ said a current Apple executive. ‘And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China.’ ” (>>)
“The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history). It also would stand a core principle of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission’s report on its head — that policymakers should reduce the deficit in a way that does not increase poverty or widen inequality.” (>>)
“For those who do not have reliable access to basic social goods, the primary enemy of freedom is not government interference but, rather, the lack of resources that are necessary conditions of valuable choice.” (>>)
“My experience with the mentally ill on the streets is that there is a place in them that is sacred, and they can touch it in the presence of one whom they can trust, a person committed to walking with them through the minefields.
“I went out for fresh air one recent evening and walked past a young man who was engaged in a conversation with a mannequin in the display window of a large department store. It was as though he and the mannequin were having coffee together: the disturbed guy making his points, his fingers jabbing holes in the air, and the enigmatic, gazing mannequin, its slight come-hither smile egging him on.
“People are talking to themselves all over the Burnside area – indeed, in every city I have ever been in. How does one wind up talking to oneself or to an inanimate object? What is the breaking point, how much illness must exist, how much pain and suffering must be endured before the intimate and precious part of ourselves becomes unmoored and floats away, making us incapable of normal human intercourse?
“The anatomy of loneliness is a very visible one in the city. It’s true, there are many mentally ill people whose inner processes drive them to a disconnection with the world around them, and one can only hope that medication and proper mental health facilities will assist them in their search for human connection. On the other hand, many individuals, I think, are driven to talking to themselves and to the mannequins of their lives because there is no one around to listen to them or care about them. They aren’t mentally ill; they’re just lonely. Some folks connect more with the cockroaches, mice, cats, dogs, birds, and plants in their single resident occupancy rooms than they do with other human beings. This is not so much by choice as it is a result of the poison of human disregard.” (>>)
“Pardon me, I’m just gonna use your poor kid to teach my rich kid a lesson for a minute. I’ll be out of the way in no time — Oh, and I’ll leave you some shoes… and a toothbrush.” (>>)
“The question boils down to whether we are willing to pay a price for our clothing that ensures that workers were treated well.” (>>)
“When you take into consideration all the theft and fraud and market manipulation and other evil shit Wall Street bankers have been guilty of in the last ten-fifteen years, you have to have balls like church bells to trot out a propaganda line that says the protesters are just jealous of their hard-earned money.
“And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that’s just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning — they’re cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.” (>>)
“I’ll admit that I find plenty to wince at when I’m at Westlake, but show me another large, vibrant movement without these problems and embarrassments that addresses social and economic inequity and the erosion of our democracy, and I’ll be the first to sign up, but until then, the Occupations will have to suffice.” (>>)
“In the space of a few verses, in a song so spare it could almost be missed as a throw-away, Dylan […] identifies the primary issue of our time as one of values. […] In earlier songs [he] talked tirelessly of modern figures misunderstanding the significance of issues such as war, freedom and poverty. Here Dylan stands back from these specific issues and reduces the confrontation to its essential element: human values against the established order.” (>>)
“I don’t condone violent demonstrations and I think [the] looting of small businesses is sad and immoral. But you should understand that sometimes when people hit the streets en masse and make some noise, it has a purpose. It can’t be explained away by labeling them ‘rioters’.” (>>)
“I have also learned that my social location — that is, my place in this world as a privileged Anglo North American male, can actually hinder my ability to see and serve. Power, privilege, and resources can actually impeded my service because they limit my ability to learn and listen. Those of us born into privilege tend to think we have the answers because we have all the resources. We cannot minister effectively with this attitude. We must pour ourselves into service even as we pour out our preconceived notions of the people we serve.” (>>)
“It has become fashionable to wither with irony and cynicism in the face of so many daunting and troubling plots that overwhelm the current human story. It has become an epidemic of sorts to put idealism in the cross-hairs and piss all over it. I say fuck that. No matter how challenging or oppressive our or your circumstances are, it is always best to fight for what you believe to be the better world.” (>>)
“While it is important that a law clearly calls this crime what it is, it is not critical to protecting victims. We will continue to work towards the goal of having specific sections of the code renamed in accordance with the severity of the crime of human trafficking, however, it is important to maintain humility and understand that progress often comes with small steps, not large leaps. For it is better to protect victims through substantive changes in the law, than to protect no victims through empty changes in titles. Accepting this truth was one of the key differences in this legislative session.” (>>)
“On this day celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, letâ€™s honor his memory by taking time to remember why so many people didnâ€™t like him. Now that Dr. King is dead and gone, leaders of all stripes purr their respect. But back in the day many of these same people didnâ€™t like what he said nor what he did, nor what he stood for.
“Itâ€™s easy to remember the easy parts of Martin Luther Kingâ€™s legacy. Who today could object to his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech? Itâ€™s a lot harder to act on the tough parts, the parts that riled up his political base, even though they were the right and moral things to do. Letâ€™s honor Dr. Kingâ€™s memory today by remembering the tough parts, the parts that challenge the conventional political wisdom. We can honor him even more by having the courage to act on these convictions.” (>>)
“64% of jobs in King County do not pay a wage that will provide for the basic necessities for a family consisting of two adults and two children with one wage earner.” (>>)
“Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny.” (>>)
“Rape culture is…” (>>)
“…slavery exists in such ‘civilized’ countries as England, France, Spain, Italy, Israel, Ireland, Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Chinaâ€¦and the United States. Most Americans are clueless that slavery is alive and flourishing right here, thriving in the dark, and practiced in many forms in places youâ€™d least expect.” (>>)
“There are plenty of liberals who talk about poverty and injustice but rarely encounter the poor, living detached lives of socially responsible but comfortable consumption. And there are plenty of Christians who talk about how much God loves the poor, but don’t know any poor folks. There is nothing more sickening than talking about poverty over a fancy dinner.” (>>)
“…or as Dr. Jonathan Edwards once put it, ‘When people say, “I can’t afford to give,” what they’re really saying is, “I can’t afford to give without burdening myself.” But the Bible says, ‘Bear one another’s burdens.’ And if you say, ‘I’m not going to help bear your burden without burdening myself’… How do you bear someone else’s burden’s without burdening yourself? You have to burden yourself to bear another burden. Look at the needs of the world, look at the needs of the church, look at the needs out there. You need to give until some of the burden other people are experiencing is falling on you, then there’ll be peace and justice in the world.” (>>) [MP3]
“This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves. Finally just lay back and say, that we are really just a nation of two-hundred and twenty million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.” (>>)
“And that’s when things get messy. When people begin moving beyond charity and towards justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, as Jesus did, they get in trouble. Once we are actually friends with folks in struggle, we start to ask why people are poor, which is never as popular as giving to charity. One of my friends has a shirt marked with the words of late Catholic bishop Dom Helder Camara: ‘When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist.’ Charity wins awards and applause, but joining the poor gets you killed. People do not get cruicfied for charity. People get crucified for living out a love that disrupts the social order, that calls forth a new world. People are not crucified for helping the poor. People are crucified for joining them.” (>>)
“Whereas before, torture was the ‘tool of the enemy,’ now torture is the tool of Jack Bauer. Its use is a heroic act of defiance, often of petty bureaucratic limitations, or of conceited liberals whose personal conscience means more to them than the safety of their fellow citizens. While Bauer is presented as an ultimate heroic figure (and also a figure with some heroic flaws), those who challenge use of the rough stuff are naÃ¯ve, and their presence and involvement in the national security process is threatening.
“The myth of the ticking bomb is the core of the program. Torture always works. Torture always saves the day. Torture is the ultimate act of heroism, of defiance of pointy-headed liberal morality in favor of service to the greater good, to society.
“[Camus said,] ‘We must fight for the truth and we must take care not to kill it with the very weapons we use in its defense…’ This is the fundamental dilemma that ’24’ dodges. What are the values for which Jack Bauer is fighting? Is he not abdicating them by his conduct?” (>>)
” ‘no one is above the law’ ” (>>)
“In a January 2006 debate, Yoo was asked if any law could stop the president, if he ‘deems that he’s got to torture somebody,’ from, say, ‘crushing the testicles of the person’s child.’ Yoo’s response: ‘I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that.’
“In 2006, for instance, U.S. District Judge David Trager dismissed a suit by a thirty-five-year-old Canadian citizen, Maher Arar, who in 2002 was seized by U.S. government agents at John F. Kennedy Airport and delivered to Syria, where he was tortured for ten months before being released. No charges were filed against Arar, and his torturers eventually admitted he had no links to any crime. In explaining his dismissal, Trager noted with approval an earlier Supreme Court finding that such judgment would ‘threaten “our customary policy of deference to the President in matters of foreign affairs.” ‘
“It appears for the moment, however, that the people of the United States prefer the Roman approach and so will abet their government in maintaining a facade of constitutional democracy until the nation drifts into bankruptcy. … The American people will be forced to learn what it means to be a far poorer nation and the attitudes and manners that go with it.” (>>)
“Today, in the United States, we have a foreign policy based primarily on fear. We move back and forth between new national color codes indicating the level of danger from terrorist attack. The Office of Homeland Security regularly moves the nation to Orange Alert — the second-highest state of risk from terrorist attack.
“September 11, 2001, changed our lives, and since then, we have become a nation always living in fear. We were terrified by the murderous attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, and even after dramatic war victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, America is still afraid. Indeed, the war in Iraq was argued and justified, almost entirely, on the basis of fear. It was Trappist monk Thomas Merton who said many years ago, ‘The root of war is fear.’
“There are indeed real dangers prowling about our world. Prudence and strategic action are called for, as is much deeper reflection on the causes of these dangers. But fear can cause us to give up important things, to accept other things that violate our own best values, and even to do terrible things to other people. Fear has led us into a new foreign policy based on preemptive and potentially endless wars — which are not likely to remove our fears, and could make the dangers we face even worse.
“September 11 shattered the American sense of invulnerability. But instead of accepting the vulnerability that most of the rest of the world already lives with, and even learning from it, we seem to want something nobody can give us — to erase our vulnerability. We want it to just go away. If the government says more wars can do that, many people will say fine. If they say suspending civil liberties can do that, many will say fine. If they claim that spending more and more of our tax dollars on the military and homeland security will do it — at the expense of everything else — many will say fine. But we simply can’t erase our vulnerability, not in this world and not with the human condition being as it is. To be prudent and vigilant in the face of danger is good. But when a government offers to take away our vulnerability, it borders on idolatry.
“Bombing the children of Kabul and Baghdad created utter glee among the Osama Bin Ladens of the world, who are finally able to raise the armies of terror they’ve always dreamed of. It also deprived us of the moral high ground that the United States held in world opinion immediately after September 11 — for the first time in many years.
“In bringing to justice the few thousand estimated to be involved in murderous terrorism, our response must not inflame and infuriate the tens of millions more in the Arab world (and elsewhere) who, to use even former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s words, ‘hate our presence in parts of the world that they think we should not be in.’ That sentence must be explained for the American people. It means that many people in the world may not be mad at us for ‘our values,’ as the Bush White House continues to say, but for ‘our policies.’ But the U.S. policies that most anger people around the world are generally unknown to most Americans — and therein lies the problem with talking about this issue.
“Perhaps the religious community can play a crucial role here because it is itself an international community and not just an American one. We also should have the capacity for self-criticism and even repentance, while national governments are seldom good at either. The truth that most of the world knows is that the U.S. government has far too often supported military dictators in Latin and Central America, Asia and Africa who have murdered as many or more innocent people as Saddam Hussein. The truth is that the United States has not been an honest broker for Middle East peace and has not sought the proper balance between Israeli security and Palestinian human rights. The truth is that American and Western appetites for oil have led to a corrupt and corrupting relationship with despicable Arab regimes. The truth is that the United States sits atop and is the leader of a global economy in which half of God’s children still live on less than two dollars a day, and the United States will be blamed around the world for the structures of injustice that such a global economy daily enforces. To speak these truths is very hard, sometimes especially in American middle-class congregations, but speaking hard truths is part of the prophetic religious vocation.” (>>)
“I just find it frustrating and am pissed off at the latent injustices in our socioeconomic system. And stressed at how much more difficult house hunting is when not just economics and aesthetics but personal values are involved. Knowing that where we live reflect who we are and what we value – and that many of those values will have to be compromised – makes it all that more complicated.” (>>)
“The war that has plagued Congo for much of the last 10 years has been largely ignored by the rest of the world. It’s actually the deadliest conflict since World War Two. More than 4 million people have died, and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped.
“Most of the rapes are gang rapes, and they are extraordinarily brutal. Many women have had objects inserted into their vaginas — broken bottles, bayonets, some women have even been shot between the legs.” (>>)
“Khartoum didn’t think we’d care if they slaughtered Muslims. It is a good and hopeful thing that they were wrong.” (>>)
“[T]he great privilege of habeas corpus, and of trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the English people for ordinary individuals against the State… -The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers-is, in the highest degree, odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian governments… Extraordinary powers assumed by the Executive with the consent of Parliament in emergencies should be yielded up, when and as, the emergency declines… This is really the test of civilization. (>>)
“You can make your own definition of human rights and say, ‘We don’t violate them’ and you can make you own definition of torture and say, ‘We don’t…’ “
“So, is the President lying?”
“[…] Yes.” (>>)
“China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission.” (>>)
“The [United States Holocaust Memorial] museum was just a year old; at its inaugural ceremony, President Clinton had described it as ‘an investment in a secure future against whatever insanity lurks ahead.’ Apparently, all he meant was that the victims of future exterminations could now die knowing that a shrine already existed in Washington where their suffering might be commemorated, but at the time, his meaning seemed to carry a bolder promise.
“The West’s post-Holocaust pledge that genocide would never again be tolerated proved to be hollow, and for all the fine sentiments inspired by the memory of Auschwitz, the problem remains that denouncing evil is a far cry from doing good.” (>>)
I got this in the mail yesterday.
And it royally pissed me off.
It’s like one of those juvenile liberal satires of conservatism, only it’s actually coming from the conservatives. So, the party of illegal wiretapping, torture and secret trials wants to inform me that our freedom is at stake? Well no fucking shit, Sherlock. Oh my, terrorists are “plotting their next step,” “the liberal left is attacking the foundation of family” and “the tax-and-spend Democrats are coming for more of our paychecks.” Yeah, it’s 1775 and the Republicans are our revolutionary heroes, riding through the night to warn us of impending attack.
And even more sleazy and base than the melodramatic demonizing of liberals is the way they’re cynically exploiting religion to serve their lust for power. For fuck’s sake, you can’t claim to be supporting religious values while you lie and manipulate.
(And please, before you go off about how the Democrats are just as bad (or, almost just as bad), I know that. But they aren’t the ones who sent this to me; the Republicans are and I wanted to hold them specifically responsible for it.)
This is cool. I’m going to try it.
“The news reports have said the men will stand ‘trial.’ But the administration does not plan ‘trials’ in any American sense of the word, whether we’re talking about civilian trials or military courts-martial. At trials and courts-martial, we don’t use secret evidence. We don’t use coerced evidence. We have due process. This is the rule of law. It makes our country a beacon of freedom and justice the world over. People from the Founders to the men and women who fought (and fight) for civil rights thought hard, sweated, and bled so that we would live by the rule of law, established by the people, and not by the rule of force or kings. It’s not just an abstract principle, it’s the foundation of the house we live in.” (>>)
“torture porn” (>>)
” ‘They see neighbors and friends being fired for no reason by profitable companies, executives making off like bandits while thousands of their own workers are being laid off… They see health insurance drying up, employer pensions shrinking. Promises to retirees of health benefits are simply thrown overboard. The whole system has aspects that seem grossly immoral to average working people.’ “
” ‘You know, I am not by nature a political person. I have gotten a lot of grief from some people, business owners, who say, ‘Father, why don’t you stick to religion?’ Well, pardon me – this is religion. The scripture is full of matters of justice. How can you worship a God that you do not see and then oppress the workers that you do see?’ “
” ‘…what kind of world do you want to live in?’ ” (>>)
“Back in room 306, King and Abernathy ordered a lunch of catfish and salads brought up from the dining room. Alas, the waitress arrived with the catfish all on one plate. Irritated, Abernathy started to send her back for another plate, but King intervened. ‘It doesn’t matter,’ he told Abernathy. ‘You and me can eat from the same plate.’ The catfish was delicious–one of their favorite dishes. As they shared their platter, King sampled both bowls of salad, eating out of Abernathy’s too…
“It was now six and time to go. As Kyles headed down to the parking lot, King stood at the iron railing by himself, facing a row of rundown buildings in some trees beyond Mulberry street. At that second, there was a report of a highpowered rifle, and a bullet tore into the right side of King’s face with such force that it drove him violently backward. He grasped for his throat, crumpling to the balcony floor with his feet prodruding through the bottom rail…
“With the organ groaning in the background, Abernathy intoned, ‘We gather here this morning in one of the darkest hours in the history of black people of this nation, in one of the darkest hours in the history of all mankind.’ The choir sang some of King’s favorite hymns–‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’ and ‘In Christ There Is No East Nor West’–and Harold DeWolf gave the tribute. At Coretta’s request, Abernathy had a tape played of King’s own eulogy, ‘A Drum Major for Justice,’ given at Ebenezer the past February. Once again that mellifluous voice swept through the church, the church he had joined on another spring day thirty-four years before, the church in which he had been baptized and ordained to spread the gospel of his Christ. ‘But I just wanted to leave a committed life behind,’ his voice cried in the hushed sanctuary. ‘Then my living will not be in vain.’
“The pallbearers carried him out to a special hearse–a farm cart drawn by two mules, which symbolized his poor people’s campaign, his own last and greatest dream. Then with bells shattering the humid day and 120 million Americans watching on television, the cart started forward to the clop, clop of the mules, carrying Martin Luther King on his last freedom march, with Abernathy and his young aides–many of them dressed in the poor people’s uniform of faded jeans and overall jackets–moving beside and behind their fallen leader. Some 50,000 people toiled along behind the cart, suffering from the muggy heat as they passed thousands of muted onlookers, most of them black. The line of march led past the domed Georgia capital, where Lester Maddox was sitting in his office under a heavy guard. At last the great cortage reached the tree-shaded campus of Morehouse college, where King had discovered Thoreau and found his calling under the guidance and inspiration of Benjamin Mays. Now, at the portico in Harkness Hall, Mays gave the eulogy to King, to a man who had come preaching love and compassion and brotherhood rather than cynicism and violence; a man who, as a Negro, had had every reason to hate America but who had loved her passionatly instead and had sung of her glory and promise more eloquently than anyone of his generation, maybe of any generation.
” ‘We have assembled here from every section of this great nation and from other parts of the world to give thanks to God that He gave to America, at this moment in history, Martin Luther King, Jr.,’ Mays said. ‘Truly God is no respector of persons. How strange! God called the grandson of a slave on his father’s side and said to him: Martin Luther, speak to America about war and peace; about social justice and racial discrimination; about its obligation to the poor; and about nonviolence as a way of perfecting social change in a world of brutality and war.’
“But that world was behind him now, life’s restless sea was over. His anguished staff gathered round the coffin and prayed together for guidance and strength, their hearts breaking in this, their final farewell. Then his family, friends, and followers escorted him to South View Cemetary, blooming with fresh green boughs of spring, and buried him near his grandparents, near his Grandmother Williams who he loved so as a boy. On his crypt, hewn into the marble, were the words of the old slave spiritual he had quoted so often:
Free at last, free at last
Thank God Almighty
I’m free at last” (>>)
“Indeed, the very concept of Western liberty sprung in part from an understanding that, if the state has the power to reach that deep into a person’s soul and can do that much damage to a human being’s person, then the state has extinguished all oxygen necessary for freedom to survive. That is why, in George Orwell’s totalitarian nightmare, the final ordeal is, of course, torture. Any polity that endorses torture has incorporated into its own DNA a totalitarian mutation. If the point of the U.S. Constitution is the preservation of liberty, the formal incorporation into U.S. law of the state’s right to torture–by legally codifying physical coercion, abuse, and even, in Krauthammer’s case, full-fledged torture of detainees by the CIA–would effectively end the American experiment of a political society based on inalienable human freedom protected not by the good graces of the executive, but by the rule of law. […]
“Let me state for the record that I am second to none in decrying, loathing, and desiring to defeat those who wish to replace freedom with religious tyranny of the most brutal kind–and who have murdered countless innocent civilians in cold blood. Their acts are monstrous and barbaric. But I differ from Krauthammer by believing that monsters remain human beings. In fact, to reduce them to a subhuman level is to exonerate them of their acts of terrorism and mass murder–just as animals are not deemed morally responsible for killing. Insisting on the humanity of terrorists is, in fact, critical to maintaining their profound responsibility for the evil they commit. […]
“What our practical endorsement of torture has done is to remove that clear boundary between the Islamists and the West and make the two equivalent in the Muslim mind. Saddam Hussein used Abu Ghraib to torture innocents; so did the Americans. Yes, what Saddam did was exponentially worse. But, in doing what we did, we blurred the critical, bright line between the Arab past and what we are proposing as the Arab future. We gave Al Qaeda an enormous propaganda coup, as we have done with Guantanamo and Bagram, the ‘Salt Pit’ torture chambers in Afghanistan, and the secret torture sites in Eastern Europe. In World War II, American soldiers were often tortured by the Japanese when captured. But FDR refused to reciprocate. Why? Because he knew that the goal of the war was not just Japan’s defeat but Japan’s transformation into a democracy. He knew that, if the beacon of democracy–the United States of America–had succumbed to the hallmark of totalitarianism, then the chance for democratization would be deeply compromised in the wake of victory.” (>>)
“It is the very nature of a democracy that it not only does, but should, fight with one hand tied behind its back. It is also in the nature of democracy that it prevails against its enemies precisely because it does.” (>>)
“The Walton family believes that they’re a good, Christian family. Not if they’re gonna make billions at the expense of poor workers. Not if they’re gonna make money off the backs of people who are suffering.” (>>)
“It’s not that he favors children being tossed onto bonfires or teenage girls being gang-raped and mutilated, but he can’t bother himself to try very hard to stop these horrors, either. […] I can’t understand why Mr. Bush is soft on genocide, particularly because his political base – the religious right – has been one of the groups leading the campaign against genocide in Darfur. As the National Association of Evangelicals noted in a reproachful statement about Darfur a few days ago, the Bush administration ‘has made minimal progress protecting millions of victims of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.’ ” (>>)
“And I tell you that any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them is a dry-as-dust religion. Religion deals with both heaven and earth, time and eternity, seeking not only to integrate man with God, but man with man.” (>>)
“…this great evil is one of the foulest malignancies ever to worm its way through the stinking flesh of humanity.” (>>)
“During June 2005, CNN, FOXNews, NBC/MSNBC, ABC, and CBS ran 50 times as many stories about Michael Jackson and 12 times as many stories about Tom Cruise as they did about the genocide in Darfur.” (>>)
“I started The Snowsuit Effort because I was struck with the desire to investigate the people behind the neighborhoods of metropolitan Detroit — to learn the stories of those who not only live in metro Detroit, but rely on metro Detroit: shopkeepers, the working poor, homeless, panhandlers, etc. On a personal level, I wanted to force myself out of my comfort zone — to push myself in creative directions that I had purposely avoided. The whole ‘effort’ of The Snowsuit Effort is to challenge myself, to fight the nervousness, trepidation and fear generally associated with photographing strangers.” (>>)
“The ONE Campaign seeks to give Americans a voice, to ring church bells and cell phones, on campuses and in coffee shops, for an historic pact to fight the global AIDS emergency and end extreme poverty. We believe that allocating an additional ONE percent of the U.S. budget toward providing basic needs like health, education, clean water and food, would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation of the poorest countries. ” (>>)
“Slavery…I didn’t know about all these forms that existed. I think it’s largely because we aren’t expecting it. It is hidden. Generally people would not believe that it is possible under modern conditions. They would say ‘No, I think you are making it all up’, because it’s just too incredible…” (>>)
“There were at least 11 million Africans sold into slavery and exported to the Americas. Today, 200 years later, there are more than 20 million slaves across the world.” (>>)
“A brutal campaign of state-sponsored violence in Darfur has led to the deaths of up to 300,000 people, and the lives of about 2 million displaced people hang in the balance.” (>>)
“Proposals for shelters are contentious everywhere, but the sheer animus since the tent city arrived in the suburbs last summer has been shocking. Five lawsuits have been filed to try to stop it. The city of Bothell even sued a Catholic church to keep it from hosting the camp…” (>>)
“So we were essentially dilettantes, I and the other students who worked part-time in the East Harlem Protestant Parish, up and coming dabblers in the down-and-out. We came, and we left, and in the end we left for good and were glad to. But there were others, the regular parish staff, who gave their lives to it. They didn’t just work with the poor. They lived with them. They made their homes in the same kind of tenements. They ate the same kind of food. They raised their children there and sent them to the same schools. Their backgrounds were more or less what mine had been. They were educated, resourcesful, attractive people, who, you felt, if success had been what they were after, could have been successful virtually anywhere. But they had put this all behind them for a life whose rewards seemed to me as inward and obscure as its penalties seemed blatant and grim. I am sure that their motives were as mixed as everbody else’s and that they were as full of shadows as the rest of us. There were times when you couldn’t escape the feeling that, no matter how hard they fought against it, they thought of themselves as a kind of spiritual elite and of all other types of Christian service as comparatively irrelevant. There were times when their lightness of heart seemed forced and artificial and when their total immersion in the life of the ghetto seemed to border on the perverse. There were occasional glimpses of bitterness, envy, dissemblance among them, and some of them obviously rang truer than others. But be that all as it may, they neverlessess seemsed, at their best, closer to being saints than any other people I had ever come across; and the quality of their saintness, the face it wore, the effect it produced, struck me as revealing something not only about themselves but about Christ, whose saints they were.” (>>)
“For the children of the working poor, getting an education has become not so much a test of intelligence as one of endurance.” (>>)
Alex has written a good entry on legalizing gay marriage. He concentrates mostly on the legal aspect of denying a certain group of people rights based on their sexuality.