MLK and Terror

On this Martin Luther King Jr Day I am reminded of his philosophy, some of it borrowed from the immortal Ghandi, that terror should never be met with terror.  That violence should not be matched by more violence.  Their beliefs in non violent action was successful in overcoming horrible repression. Meeting the terror of the KKK, for example, with sit-ins, prayer and song saved countless lives which would have been cut down by powerful majority forces.  Enough lives were lost practicing non-violence for crying out loud.  

It wasn’t just a strategic tactic however.  It was deeply held belief that violence simply begets more violence and the only way to break the cycle is with love.  I’m reminded of this while reading Jeremy Scahill’s shocking book Dirty Wars:  The World Is A Battlefield.  As I read about American death squads running around Asia, the Middle East and East Africa assassinating Muslims for no reason other than a suspicion that they might know someone else suspected of being a terrorist I’m shocked at what our JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) forces do in our name I can’t help but wonder how many new terrorists are radicalized through our stupid, short term tactics.

We will pay for this dearly down the road.  If only George W. Bush and Barack Obama had used those hundreds of billions of our dollars instead on humanitarian efforts…  Instead of creating blood enemies after blowing up entire villages filled with women and children (and, perhaps one terrorist) maybe we could have created something positive:  a school, a well, a hospital.  What if we’d made friends instead of enemies?

In the spirit of MLK ask yourself if our lust for war has really made us safer and if that was the smart course?

The Most Powerful Weapon Ever Devised: Our Right to Vote

Richard Sestak introduced his brother Tuesday evening for Joe’s victory speech after defeating Arlen Specter and reminded us that our vote remains the most powerful weapon ever devised by man.  He is correct and it shames us when so few of us exercise this fundamental right.  About 23% of eligible Pennsylvanians voted Tuesday and many more never bother even to register to vote.  We fought a revolution to secure this right and fought a civil war to preserve it and eventually extend it to Blacks and women.

Countless brave souls going back as far as the Magna Carta have fought and died for the right to vote.  Some people like to say freedom isn’t free but, yes, it is.  In America the right to vote is free and we have many people for which to thank.  Yes, many gave their lives and their liberty ot establish this right but it IS given freely to every citizen.

In the beginning only male land owners were given the right to vote and today after two centuries of struggle every one of us has the right and this right allows us to turn anyone out of office or into elected office every year (at least in PA it is every year).  When an Arlen Specter becomes too selfish and begins ignoring his constituents needs we go to the polls and elect a good man to replace him as our Senator.  Though exiting a sore loser he exits nonetheless.  This is our system and it works only as well as those who exercise their right to participate.

Why do so few Americans use this most powerful weapon?  Do they take it for granted, do they not appreciate the blood lost to provide it, do they think so little of the most powerful weapon ever devised they determine to allow it to rust from misuse?  Use it or lose it.  People across the globe lose this precious right all the time because those with power seize it away from them.  Many times the people take to the streets as we’ve seen recently in Thailand, Kyrgystan and elsewhere.  Americans simply roll over and ask what’s on TV that night.  As our rights are eroded by Washington and the constitution shredded bit by bit we sit idly by and complain about the scoundrels.  I have news for you:  it is all your fault.  Use it or lose it.