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A Global View

As I write this, it is the first day of the first month of a new year.  On this day, I ask an important question:  What will you do to effect change both in your life and in the lives of others in this New Year? 

After September 11, 2001, it is the only question that comes to mind for me.  It is a question I have asked myself over and over.  I had become quite comfortable in my little bed of complacency.  No real heartaches, no immediate wars to wage against overt racism -- I was comfortable until 911.  You see, the question for me was not when and if but who and where the strike will come next. 

As African Americans, we have known terrorism all our lives.  From dogs biting at us, fire hoses spraying on us, our bodies swaying from trees, and our churches fire bombed killing four little girls -- yes, we have known terrorism all our lives and the terrorists wore badges or were members of government.  The new domestic terrorists dwell within our communities and sport funny names, wear identifying colors, and perform drive-bys causing us to be fearful of leaving our homes at night. 

African Americans are not the only ones to suffer from this new form of domestic terrorism.  The country as a whole suffers from this form of terrorism.  In fact, the United States is often touted as No. 1 in Murder, Rape, and Robbery[1][2] with 15,517 reported murders in 2000 according to the 2000 FBI Report.[3]  This figure, however, does not include murders perpetrated by rogue police officers against the citizenry, political killings, or wrongful death claims, which are presented in civil suits, not criminal. 

I would submit that the issue of terrorism needs to be addressed first at home before we drop bombs on people in faraway lands as a means to avert international terrorism.  These acts only further the proposition that if you disagree with someone kill them and please, don’t waste time trying to understand why they committed the act – get rid of them first.  This form of retaliation also perpetuates the existing domestic problem of homicide.  With our President uttering words with regard to Osama Bin Laden as wanting him “dead or alive” only causes others with great bravado and a high level of testosterone to utter the same words in relation to turf, a stereo system, a car, or adultery. 

In the United States, we pride ourselves on being a country built on the words “In God We Trust.”  The actions of some in this country state otherwise.  Do we really trust God?  Those who burn churches, bomb abortion clinics, kill doctors who perform abortions and the like, believe they are doing God’s Will.  Others who kill gays and lesbians because they are different, African Americans, and most recently, Arab Americans, also believe they are committing these acts for God and country.  Where is this trust in God? 

Because of the acts of 9-11, we can no longer afford the luxury of complacency.  We must not only look at what we can do to effect change in our country, our states, our cities, or our communities, we must also take an active role in knowing, understanding, and wherever possible, participating in what is taking place in our world.  We need a global view. 

The egregious acts of September 11, 2001 were horrific, incomprehensible, and my heart still grieves for those innocent people who lost their lives due to an act performed in the name of Allah.  Though the death toll of September 11th has not been formally set, the estimates are between 3,000 to 6,000 deaths. 

Equally egregious, horrific and incomprehensible are the deaths of those 15,000 plus people who lost their lives in the year 2000 at the hands of people who were or are born, raised, and educated citizens of the United States of America.  These acts were committed out of covetous, anger, jealousy, disagreement, hate, misunderstanding, mistaken identity, retaliation, and yes, some murders were committed in the name of God.  

I will end this month’s commentary with an observation about a word that appears and reappears throughout history and is often found somewhere in the middle of a revolution.  The word is king. 

The Birth of a King

The first revolution I will mention using this word is with the birth of a new King – the King of the Jews – His birth was also the birth of a revolution as He opened the era of love – love thy neighbor as you love yourself.  His birth did not bring the end of the law; the law was made perfect through Him – through love.  If you have love in your heart, you will not kill, you will not steal, you will not covet, you will treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated.  Unfortunately, the religious leaders of the time did not believe this man to be the King of the Jews, in fact, they were threatened by his faith, his deeds, and the love many had for Him.  So they plotted his betrayal, turned him over to be executed and persuaded the people to ask for the release a Barabas, a thief, and not Jesus, the King of Kings. 

King Street -- The Boston Massacre

In the United States, On March 5, 1770, on King Street in Boston, Massachusetts, a bloody massacre ensued.  Boston was then an occupied town.  It had been compelled to accept the presence of four regiments of British regulars.  For eighteen months they had treated the inhabitants with insolence, posted sentries in front of public offices, engaged in street fights with the town boys, and used the Boston Common for flogging unruly soldiers and exercising troops (then acting governor, Lt. Governor Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts, refuted these allegations).

The massacre began when a young barber's apprentice by the name of Edward Garrick shouted an insult at Hugh White, a British soldier of the 29th Regiment on sentry duty in front of the Customs House (a symbol of royal authority). White gave the apprentice a knock on the ear with the butt of his rifle. The boy howled for help, and returned with a sizable and unruly crowd, chiefly boys and youths, and, pointing at White, said, "There's the son of a bitch that knocked me down!" Someone rang the bells in a nearby church. This action drew more people into the street. The sentry found himself confronting an angry mob. He stood his ground and called for the main guard. Six men, led by a corporal, responded. They were soon joined by the officer on duty, Captain John Preston of the "29th," with guns unloaded but with fixed bayonets, to White's relief.

The crowd soon swelled to almost 400 men. They began pelting the soldiers with snowballs and chunks of ice. Led by a mulatto, Crispus Attucks, they surged to within inches of the fixed bayonets and dared the soldiers to fire. The soldiers loaded their guns, but the crowd, far from drawing back, came closer and began striking at the soldiers with clubs and a cutlass.

The soldiers then fired, killing three men outright and mortally wounding two others. The mob fled. As the gunsmoke cleared, Crispus Attucks and four others lay dead or dying. Six more men were wounded but survived.

The "Boston Massacre," started on King Street, served as anti-British propaganda for Boston radicals and elsewhere heightened American fears of standing armies and is often referred to as the flashpoint for the American Revolution.

Martin Luther King

A charismatic and passionate leader, Martin Luther King was an effective communicator and motivator, and by 1968, he was winning the hearts and minds of more and more Americans on both sides of the color line.  His efforts successfully merged the anti-Vietnam war movement and the civil rights movement, and the awful reality of the black situation in America could no longer be hidden behind the white curtain.

At 6:01 p.m., on April 4, 1968, King stepped out of his motel room on his way to get dinner.  He leaned over the railing to speak to his chauffeur.  A moment later, a single shot from a high-powered rifle blasted out, and King fell to the concrete balcony, where he lay dying.

The aftermath of King's assassination staggered the country.  Blacks who viewed King as the founder of a freer, more just America, unleashed the country's worst episode of urban rioting.  Within a day, more than 125 cities erupted in flames.

In Washington, the city hardest hit by the chaos, rioting killed 11, injured 1,200, and resulted in 1,200 fires and 7,600 arrests. In Baltimore, six died and 700 more were injured. In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley ordered police to shoot to kill arsonists and shoot to cripple looters. Nationwide, 46 people died, all but five of them black.

Thirty-four thousand National Guardsmen and 20,000 active-duty troops were called in to restore order. Peace didn't return to some cities for up to 10 days. Prosperity proved even more elusive for some cities, such as Detroit and Newark, N.J., where the riots hastened the exodus of middle-class whites to distant suburbs, leaving cities poor, politically weak and more isolated than ever.

Rodney King

On March 3, 1991, Rodney King was the driver of a car in Los Angeles, California, and Bryant Allen was a passenger in the back seat.  The driver didn't stop when signaled by a police car behind him, but increased his speed.  One estimate said that King drove at 100 mile per hour for 7.8 miles.

When police finally stopped the car, they delivered 56 baton blows and six kicks to King, in a period of two minutes, producing 11 skull fractures, brain damage, and kidney damage.

On April 29, four white police officers had been acquitted by a white jury selected from the suburbs of assaulting a black man, Rodney King, in the city.

Thousands of people in South Central Los Angeles responded to the verdict with several days of rioting. The violence spread to other parts of Los Angeles County. Federal troops and the California National Guard were mobilized to quell the riots. In six days of rioting, 54 people were killed, 2,383 were known to have been injured, and 13,212 people were arrested. There was an estimated $700 million in property damage in Los Angeles County.

Usama -- Lion, King of the Jungle

On September 11, 2001, two planes – United Flight 175, the other American Flight 11 – were hijacked and flown into the two towers of the World Trade Center.  American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93, also hijacked, crashes in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh. 

At 6:00 p.m. that evening, explosions were heard in Kabul, Afghanistan, hours after terrorist attacks targeted financial and military centers in the United States. The attacks occurred at 2:30 a.m.  Afghanistan is believed to be where bin Laden, who U.S. officials say is possibly behind the deadly attacks, is located. U.S. officials say later that the United States had no involvement in the incident whatsoever. The attack is credited to the Northern Alliance, a group fighting the Taliban in the country's ongoing civil war.

On September 24, 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell speaking on “Meet the Press” said he is "absolutely convinced" that the al Qaeda terror network headed by Osama bin Laden is responsible for the terror attacks in New York and Washington.  He continues stating the United States will be able to publish a report linking bin Laden to the attacks and that bin Laden and al Qaeda must be targeted in the first phase of the campaign against terror.

Who is Usama Son of Laden?  Usama, in Arabic means, Lion – King of the Jungle.  We now have a new revolution.  What example have we given the world?

[1]  U.S. is No. 1--in Murder, Rape, Robbery -- No other nation comes close, congressional report shows [A good article on high levels of violent crime in the U.S. Note, however, that the only explanation considered is a reduction of law enforcement, as though propensity for criminal behavior is a human constant and the only thing that varies is the level of social control. Clearly, differing levels of violence speak to the social structural causes of violent behavior. U.S. society is organized in a way that produces high levels of violence.]   By Tim Weiner, San Jose Mercury News, 3/13/91
[2]  Looking at the homicide figures, we again wonder about accuracy. Are "political" killings (by the government or rebels) in Northern Ireland, Egypt, Israel, Guatemala, Peru, China, and elsewhere listed as homicides, listed separately, or concealed? We must admit that the U.S. has a higher homicide rate than any Western European nation. Still, 23 nations admit to higher rates: Armenia, Bahamas, Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Russia, Sao Tome, Tajikistan, Trinidad, Ukraine, and Venezuela. Using the 1997 U.S. homicide rate of 7.3, Azerbaijan and Cuba also have higher rates. Nine nations (ten using the 1997 figures) including Russia have both higher suicide and higher homicide rates.  (Source:  America: The Most Violent Nation? By David C. Stolinsky, MD at
[3]  In 2000, 15,517 people were murdered, down less than .1 percent from 1999. But the report pointed out that the murder rate of 5.5 per 100,000 people is a 3-percent decline from the 1999 rate.

2000 FBI Report,2061,546256,00.html


Matthew 5 (Worldwide English (New Testament))

38   `You have heard that the law says, "Take an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth."

39    But I tell you, do not fight with anyone who does wrong to you. But if someone hits you on one side of your face, turn the other side to him also.

40   `If anyone takes you to court to get your shirt, let him have your coat also.

41   If anyone wants you to help carry a load, go with him twice as far.

42   When someone asks you for something, give it to him. When someone wants to borrow something from you, let him have it.'

43   `You have heard that the law says, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy."

44   But I tell you, love your enemies. Ask God to do good to those who trouble you.

45   In that way you will be sons of your Father in heaven. He makes his sun shine on both wrong and good people. He lets the rain fall on people who do right and on people who do wrong.

46   If you love only those who love you, what reward will you get? Even the tax collectors do that.

In God We Trust







by Donna A M Smith (Beyond The Mask - Africa)

Almost two months after returning to Johannesburg from the World Conference Against Racism, Racial  Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) in Durban, my head is still reeling. There are so many images to process - of events, issues, people - that it will be some time before a clear and comprehensive picture of the experience emerges for me.

Opression of the Homosexual Community in Afghanistan
Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations by the Magnus Hirschfeld Institute (ILGA)
On February 24, 1998, three Afghan men convicted of sodomy survived an at- tempted execution in which they were buried alive for 30 minutes
according to reports promulgated by the Afghan government through its official news agency, Afghan Islamic Press (AIP).

Brazil - World Champion In The Murder Of Homosexuals (ILGA)

Every 3 days a gay man, transvestite or lesbian is brutally murdered in Brazil.

Unions present booklet on gay/lesbian rights (Behind The Mask)

At the conference of the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) in Johannesburg, September 1999, Public Services International (PSI) and Education International (EI), presented ‘Working for Lesbian and Gay Members.

The Lesbian Men
A search for lesbian women led Madeleine Maurick to a shebeen and a soccer field in Katatura, Namibia.  (q online)

Southern Africa does not like its gays and lesbians. The homophobic statements by heads of state in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia prove this.

Gay In South Africa
By Rev. Nokuthula Dhladhla
Pastor, Hope and Unity MCC, Johannesburg, South Africa
To be homosexual in South Africa at this point in time is still the same as it was during the time of the old government. Everyone in South Africa has been given rights, but those rights do not exist at all for the LGBT community.


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