January 12, 2011

Remembering Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr. 2011
Ending the Silence

by Region 8 Webmaster and LUPA Advisory Council Chair John Davis

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
- The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday January 17, 2011 is our annual observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This advocate for peaceful resolve was murdered April 4, 1968 while supporting striking garbage workers in Memphis, Tennessee.

Throughout his career as a preacher of the Gospel and activist for Civil Rights, Human Rights and advocacy for the poor, Dr. King emphasized non-violent resistance and Biblical principles of “turning the other cheek.” He was threatened with violence, beaten, jailed, had his home bombed and was the victim of character assassination by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Through it Dr. King stood steadfast in his principals of peaceful protest.

It would be interesting to see what Dr. King would say about the current social climate in the country. The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords has shocked a nation, as a mad gunman wounded fourteen and killed six others including a nine year old girl and a Federal Judge. The gunman pulled the trigger and took these lives, but we have to ask ourselves what does the social and political landscape of American say about this great country? What role did the hate and rhetoric spread by some in the media play in this tragedy?

 Arizona Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (where the shooting occurred) stated it was time for “American to do some soul searching.” Just what would a man known for peace say about a nation where the airwaves are filled with commentators who spread lies and hate, encouraging citizens to take up arms against their country, their countrymen, and their democratically elected officials?

A time for soul searching indeed is at hand; the forces of hate, ignorance and confusion have reigned long enough. Make no mistake, the gunman alone pulled the trigger in Arizona, but the seeds of hate have been sown by people such as Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck. Sarah Palin with her congressional map with targets over representatives and her “don’t retreat, reload” comments encourage this behavior. Also during her failed bid to be Vice-President Palin whipped those at rallies into a frenzy until chants of “kill him” filled the locations where the events were held. Ann Coulter who stated her only regret about Oklahoma Bomber Timothy McVeigh was “that he did not go into the New York Times building” and her compassionate statement "We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too.”

Of course Dr. King was accustom to death threats, lies and accusations. The talking heads of Dr. King’s day wanted him dead as well. They called him a communist, agitator and trouble maker – all lies. Standing up for what is right is not agitating or creating trouble. It is called doing what is right.

On this anniversary of Dr. King’s birth, we should all ask ourselves if “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”. How long will we remain silent to calls from conservative talking heads to take up arms against our government? How long will we remain silent while those in the media encourage Americans to “reload”?  How long will we remain silent while authors and radio talk show host encourage “the execution of individuals to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too?

When you watch and listen to these hate mongers you support the things they say. Buying books that spread this hate encourages it. But, when you sit silently and listen as others repeat this rhetoric you participate as well. The silence of the good people allows the lies of the bad to exist. As an old adage states “you are part of the problem or part of the solution” and we as Americans must ask ourselves which side do we stand on? When you buy that bumper sticker that promotes hate you are part of it. When you listen to that radio program you promote hate. When you watch that TV program you promote hate.

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy who lost two uncles to assassination watched last year as 10,000 people planted signs on the national mall that stated “Bury ObamaCare with Kennedy.”  Did anyone of those 10,000 people stop and think about the implied message in those signs? When Tea Party demonstrators carry signs that say “We Aren’t Armed This Time”, what kind of message does that send? When you turn a blind eye to it, what does it say about you?

This year there is no better way to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. than to begin this soul searching Sheriff Clarence Dupnik suggests. Sheriff Dupnik also stated there are consequences to your actions. Let us hold these talking heads in the media responsible for their actions. No longer can the good people afford to be silent to the hate and lies being spread in the media. Let us honor Dr King’s memory by ending our silence and speaking up peacefully to the lies that breed this hate and discontent.

Peace my brothers and sisters,

John T. Davis


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