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
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
with 15,517 reported murders in 2000 according to the 2000 FBI
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,
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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?
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
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
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
|Matthew 5 (Worldwide
English (New Testament))
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