Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Bush Library and SMU's Hidden History of Dissent

On the surface, it seems like such a perfect fit.

George W. Bush probably never expected to encounter resistance and protests when his cronies announced that his presidential library and a related “think tank” would open on the Southern Methodist University campus. The “Institute for Democracy” would be funded by an unbelievable proposed half-billion dollar endowment. Corporate CEOs, Arab petro-states and rich, right-wing heirs giving $10 million to $20 million a pop would endow the Institute and its mission to shape how history views Bush 43’s presidency. According to the New York Daily News, the Institute would hire neo-conservative scholars who would be expected to crank out “papers and books favorable to the President's policies."

Bush probably reasoned that SMU represented the reddest of campuses in the heart of that reddest of Republican states, Texas, and that his library and the Institute for Democracy would be warmly greeted. Yet, on April 11, Southern Methodist University's faculty senate passed by a more than two-to-one margin two resolutions calling for the Institute for Democracy to not use the SMU name and to be officially separate from the university. The senate narrowly rejected, by an 18-15 vote with two abstentions, a stronger measure that would have allowed the Bush library and policy institute to have no official relationship with the university.

SMU professors have resisted having their school associated with the Bush administration because of the president’s policies in Iraq, his record on civil liberties, his executive order that severely restricts scholarly access to presidential archives, and the fear that the Bush think tank will simply be a propaganda factory lying about the president’s record and the multiple failures of his domestic and foreign policies.

This reaction caught Dallas and the Bush White House off-guard. SMU lay within a Dallas inburb called Highland Park, generally perceived as a right-wing Republican Bantustan. Landscape architect Wilbur David Cook developed Highland Park in 1907 as a hideaway for the wealthy as Dallas itself increasingly filled with African Americans, Mexican Americans, Jews from Eastern Europe and other so-called “minorities”. Completely surrounded by Dallas, Highland Park incorporated as a separate town in 1913 and bitterly resisted attempts at annexation by its urban neighbor. Highland Park became the residence of company executives and bankers who founded the mini-city as a congenial tax dodge. Residents avoided higher city taxes while Dallas provided them with water at much lower cost even as rates climbed for city residents.

As noted by the Center for Responsive Politics, residents of the university’s 75205 zip code donated more to Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign than from any other zip code in the country. The neighboring zip code located just to the north, 75255, ranked third in Bush campaign donations. Highland Park’s hyper-Republicanism has been defined by elitism and negrophobia. The median family income is about $150,000 a year (about $100,000 higher than the U.S. median.) Whites makes up 97.3 percent of Highland Park’s population. Latinos make up only 2.7 percent of the populace (compared to 12.5 percent for the United States as a whole.) African Americans are as rare as a Highland Park Democrat, making up a mere 0.4 percent of the city’s residents (compared to 12.3 percent in the U.S. population.) As of 2005, only six African Americans attended Highland Park High, along with 65 Mexican Americans (out of about 1,900 students.)

In short, Highland Park resembles one of those whites-only South African resorts in the days of apartheid.

Highland Park’s segregation makes SMU’s black students often feel isolated. “The only blacks that you're going to see here either work here or go to this school,” said 23-year-old Brent Welch, an African American college student who was interviewed for the “Stories in America” blog. “When I first came here, it was culture shock. I hated it. I just felt out of place. During spring break, people would ask, where are you summering? Summering, what is that? I'm going home. I knew it was a rich school, but I didn't realize it was this rich. They have two names for this school: the Harvard of the South and Southern Millionaires University.”

SMU made the national news twice in the years immediately leading up to the Bush library controversy. In 2005, Highland Park students, during an unsanctioned yearly tradition called senior “Thug Day,” turned the campus into a giant minstrel show, in which students wore “Afro wigs, fake gold teeth and baggy jeans. On Fiesta Day, which was to honor Hispanic heritage, one student brought a leaf blower to school,” imitating the Hispanic landscapers and gardeners who toil at Highland Park estates, according to the Dallas Morning News. Students interviewed by the newspaper dismissed the negative reaction of the NAACP and other groups to the racial stereotyping as “overblown.”

Two years earlier, the SMU chapter of the Young Conservatives of America, in an apparent lame attempt to satirize affirmative action, held a bake sale in which cookies were sold at different prices based on the buyer’s race or gender. The YCA charged white men $1 per cookie, white women 75 cents, Hispanics 50 cents and African Americans 25 cents.

The young Bush Republicans belonging to the YCA apparently felt that African Americans and Mexican Americans receive an unfair advantage from affirmative action, oblivious that whites still reap benefits from the affirmative action programs called slavery and segregation. The YCT apparently felt programs increasing minority enrollment in colleges represented an unreasonable policy in a country where blacks, Latinos and women, still get paid less for the same work, still have fewer opportunities for job advancement, have a harder time getting business loans, enjoy fewer job opportunities, suffer from inferior city services in their neighborhoods, receive markedly lower quality health care and live shorter, less healthy lives, than whites.

"The reality is that they're ignorant of the lives of nonwhites – it's like a parallel universe," said Charles Gallagher, a sociology professor at Georgia State University, speaking of the Highland Park students participating in Thug Day. ". . . If they have interactions with blacks or Hispanics, it's typically someone serving them a soft drink or the Mexican who cuts their lawn." As Gallagher told the Dallas Morning News, in Highland Park, “[y]ou have a community of adolescents who live in a complete white bubble.”

Highland Park residents, curiously enough, have nicknamed their community “the Bubble.” President Bush shares the cluelessness of the Highland Park High students when it comes to people who differ from him in color or income. Bush once famously remarked to the Reverend Jim Wallis, leader of anti-poverty group Call to Renewal, that, “"I don't understand how poor people think.” Bush then, in a moment of rare candor, described himself as a "white Republican guy who doesn't get it, but I'd like to." Bush, of course, has isolated himself with sycophantic advisers fearfully echoing the stray thoughts in his head, leading Newsweek in a 2005 cover to photo-shop him into a floating bubble. The president in a bubble thought his library would fit perfectly in the Highland Park bubble.

What Bush didn’t realize is that SMU and Highland Park are not synonymous. The university, though still overwhelmingly white, represents a rainbow coalition compared to its host city. Latinos make up 7.6 percent of the student body, while African Americans make up 6.3 percent. When Asians and other groups are added, people of color comprise 21.6 percent of the student enrollment.

SMU also has a higher percentage of Jews and other religious minorities than Highland Park. Because of diversity programs, low-income SMU students represent a higher proportion of the university’s population than the poor represent in Highland Park. In short, SMU is blacker, browner, more Jewish, and less wealthy than its host city. The same can be said of the SMU faculty. This creates a sometimes subtle, though important, difference in the university’s political atmosphere. Though SMU is highly conservative overall, liberals form a vibrant, activist minority large enough to be heard and even shape campus life.

When the Young Conservatives of Texas held their offensive bake sale, they provoked angry reaction from enough students that the university to shut down the fundraiser after about 45 minutes. In all that time, the Young Conservatives made only $1.50 in sales. Matt Houston, 19, was one of the students who got the university to stop the racist event. "My reaction was disgust because of the ignorance of some SMU students," said Houston, an African American. "They were arguing that affirmative action was solely based on race. It's not based on race. It's based on bringing a diverse community to a certain organization."

Houston does not represent a solitary progressive voice in SMU history. Past moments of dissent, however, have generally been concealed, forgotten or denied. SMU reflects the larger culture of the Dallas area. Dallas enjoys a rich history of political protest, one that has been largely erased by an insecure, paranoid city leadership.

Buried beneath SMU, and the Dallas area’s, apparent monolithic conservatism, however, rests a past in which Socialists and Populists in the early twentieth century won Dallas city council seats, in which the International Lady Garment Workers Union and the United Auto Workers fought bloody battles against hired company goons during the great Depression, and where African Americans and Mexican Americans fought a patient and dignified battle against discrimination during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

SMU also enjoys a rich history of faculty and student protest. While the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, formed specifically in the antebellum years because Southern ministers largely refused to condemn slavery, the Methodist church has a deeper tradition of non-conformity and independence. Methodist circuit riders in the early 19th century were among the first white Christian ministers to evangelize slaves, to baptize African Americans, and to give blacks a forum to preach before white believers. Early Methodists sought not just salvation, but justice. While the Southern Methodist church thoroughly collaborated with the peculiar institution, and for decades stood silent or actively endorsed segregation, many of the Methodist faculty at the Perkins School of Theology have closely adhered to the democratic ideals of the early 19th century church.

Like much of Dallas during the Red Scare decade of the 1950s, the SMU campus knuckled under to right-wing intimidation. In 1951, most of Dallas reacted with indifference upon publication of an ugly anti-Semitic screed, Iron Curtain Over America, written by the chair of the SMU English Department, John Owen Beaty. The SMU faculty, however, became the only voice in the city outside of the Jewish community to loudly object to Beaty’s work and urge his academic censure.

In Iron Curtain, Beaty denied that the Eastern European Jews who represented the bulk of the American Jewish population descended from the Biblical Israelites. Most Jews, he claimed, descended from Khazars, a "belligerent tribe" of "mixed stock, with Mongol and Turkic affinities" that, while living between the Ural Mountains and the Caspian Sea, collectively converted to Judaism in the 8th or 9th century C.E. Khazars eventually provoked the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, he said, while immigrant “Jews” in the United States represented a communist fifth column.

Khazar Jews, Beaty charged, took over the Democratic Party, promoting the crypto-socialism and racial liberalism embodied in the 1930s New Deal. Jews then provoked the United States to enter World War II, Beaty claimed. "Our alien-dominated government fought the war for the annihilation of Germany, the historic bulwark of Christian Europe," he shrieked in italics. Just six years after American troops had liberated concentration camps in western Germany, Beaty denied the Holocaust happened, labeling the claim that Nazis murdered millions of Jews a fraud launched to justify the slaughter of Aryans and, after 1948, to blackmail the West into political and financial support of Israel. Khazars, Beaty claimed, stood on the verge of world domination.

Beaty's message reached a broad audience, going through nine printings by 1953. SMU President Umphrey Lee had ignored letters complaining of Beaty's anti-Semitism dating back to 1947. The Public Affairs Luncheon Club, a Dallas women's organization, adopted a unanimous resolution backing Beaty and requesting that SMU investigate the faculty’s philosophy and values. The SMU faculty proved slow to respond to Beaty’s paranoid anti-Semitism, but the school’s professors provided Dallas’ few voices of conscience during this embarrassing episode.

Assistant Professor Paul Boller, an historian, blasted Beaty’s book in the student newspaper, the SMU Campus, as “full of distortions, omissions, and half truths.” Aware that Time Magazine was about to publish a story on Beaty and his claims, Boller in 1954 successfully persuaded the rest of the faculty to take a stand, asking his peers, “How would it look if there was no comment?” In February of that year, the SMU faculty approved, by a 114-2 vote, a joint statement condemning Iron Curtain Over America.

Even as the Dallas Morning News dismissed the controversy as a trivial ideological battle between professors, the faculty embarrassed the SMU board of trustees into issuing a timid rebuke. As meager as this response was, the actions of the SMU faculty represented the only vocal opposition to Beaty registered in Dallas’ gentile community. Finally, when Beaty’s enabler Umphrey Lee retired the same year, Willis Tate took over the SMU presidency and, in a direct meeting with Beaty, ordered the department chair to end his racist tirades.

SMU students and faculty played a more decisive and heroic role in Dallas’ civil rights movement. Dallas elites tried to carefully stage-manage token desegregation, working through a Committee of 14, that included seven older African Americans acceptable to the white establishment. The group had managed to slowly implement limited desegregation across the city. Younger African Americans and their white supporters, however, refused to accept merely symbolic redress on a fundamental issue of social justice. In the spring of 1960 a group of 58 white and two black SMU theology students sat in at the University Drug Store across the street from the campus. When they refused to leave the lunch counter, owner C.R. Bright hired a fumigation service that pumped insecticide inside the store. Most of the students remained seated, covering their faces with handkerchiefs.

The brave action of the SMU students, though covered up by a Dallas media blackout on civil rights protests, inspired similar acts of direct action across the city and quickened the pace of desegregation. The day after the SMU students were gassed, African American attorney W.J. Durham publicly admitted that negotiations carried on by the Committee of 14 had broken down. Protestors targeted the downtown Titche-Goettinger Department store and 200 angry students returned to the University Drug Store for a five-hour protest.

By May 1961, the spiral of demonstrations threatened Dallas' national image. The general manager of Detroit's Metropolitan Opera Company announced that it would no longer play to segregated audiences, specifically mentioning Dallas and Atlanta as cities notified of the new policy. Facing the threat of business boycotts, the Committee of 14 engineered desegregation in downtown Dallas. On July 26, 1961, the Committee of 14 took 159 black patrons to 49 downtown restaurants and lunch counters where they were served without incident. Jim Crow died a much quicker death at Dallas lunch counters because of SMU activism.

If SMU didn’t compare to Berkeley or Columbia University in terms of student activism in the 1960s, its response to the needs of African American students compares favorably to other Texas colleges and universities. SMU football star Jerry Levias broke the Southwest Conference’s color barrier in the mid-1960s, well before schools such as the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, which fielded all-white gridiron teams until the early to mid-1970s. That SMU represented a relatively progressive campus on racial issues becomes clear when one compares the response of the school’s administration to protests by black students on May 1, 1969 to the reaction to a simultaneous student action by Texas A&M President Earl Rudder.

That day, a group of 34 black SMU students belonging to the Black League of Afro-Americans and African College Students occupied President Willis Tate’s office for five hours. They presented a list of demands, including the hiring of two black staff members to assist prospective African American students, expansion of black study courses, and provision of a building for use as a black social center.

Dr. Tate agreed to all the student demands except one calling for recruitment of 500 additional African American students for the next fall semester. SMU at that time had only 50 African American students, mostly in graduate school, out of a total of 9,500, but Tate insisted that school had the prerogative to set admissions standards. In spite of this temporizing on genuine integration, SMU Vice President Thomas E. Broce praised the students, telling the press, “It was a very constructive and healthy discussion. We feel and the students feel we have a better university for it.”

The SMU meeting stood in stark contrast with the almost simultaneous confrontation that took place at Texas A&M where 15 students identifying themselves as the Afro-American Society presented a list of eight demands to Dick Bernard, special assistant to President Rudder. Expressing anger at the tokenism still prevailing at A&M six years after its supposed integration, the students sought recognition of the Afro-American Society as a campus organization; the immediate hiring of a black counselor to work as liaison between black students and the administration and the right of black students to approve the counselor’s selection; investigation of recruitment policies at the still almost all-white A&M athletic department and the expansion of athletic scholarships to black athletes. “If the demands are not met by the third week of September, 1969, the Afro-American Society will take appropriate action,” the society proclaimed. “We will meet force with force, understanding with understanding, and restraint with restraint.”

Unlike Willis Tate, Rudder and the A&M board later rejected changes “thrust upon this institution under the ugly veil of threat or demand,” including recognition of the Afro-American Society. In a May 27 letter, Rudder turned down black studies courses. “As to the idea of ‘special courses on African history’ and the like, I am against them,” Rudder wrote. “ . . . I just don’t believe that ‘special’ courses in anything which lack either academic value, sufficient demand or a college able to offer them should be included in the curriculum.”

SMU still has far too few African Americans on its faculty and in the student body, but many professors have fought to make the campus and the larger Dallas community more aware of black history and culture. An SMU theology professor and his continuing education students forced the city of Dallas in the early 1990s to confront an ugly chapter of its past. In the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. William Farmer taught a class at SMU that studied a fire that destroyed much of Dallas in 1860 and was blamed on African Americans. The fire resulted in widespread paranoia about a possible slave revolt and resulted in the lynching of three black men.

Farmer, who later converted to Catholicism and taught at the University of Dallas, successfully lobbied the Dallas park board in 1991 to rename a grassy patch of freeway easement "Martyr’s Park" in reluctant tribute not only to President John Kennedy, assassinated near the site, but also in honor of Samuel Smith, Patrick Jennings and Cato, the three slaves blamed for the 1860 fire. The park sits near where railroad workers uncovered the bodies of the hanged slaves.

Dallas doesn’t like to confront its past and so, in the case of Martyr Park, it took away with one hand what it gave with the other. Almost a decade after the park board approved a new name for Dealey Annex, no marker proclaimed the rare undeveloped Dallas turf as Martyr’s Park and no sign explained the significance of the location or the site’s ambiguous name. To reach Martyr’s Park, one had to pass underneath a bridge, following a pathway smelling of urine. Rather than explanatory plaques, a visitor confronted the empty liquor bottles, abandoned shopping carts and unoccupied bedding that marked the spot as a homeless village.

Farmer, a man of quiet dignity who found in his Christian faith the inspiration to participate in Dallas civil rights movement, had evangelical hopes for the park, hoping greater knowledge of the city’s racial past might pave the way to social justice in the future. Before he died of cancer, Farmer found it predictable that the leadership of the city could not face the past squarely. "Dallas is unlike Chicago — it doesn’t know about its fire," Farmer said. " . . . It’s like a family going through a trauma, but suppressing the memory. The past is forgotten, but essential to coming to health is recalling."

Dallas has done all it could to demean Farmer’s accomplishment in getting Dealey Annex renamed Martyr’s Park, but the effort of SMU faculty to resist the creation of an SMU Bush think tank represents a continuation of Farmer’s work. Farmer wanted Dallas to remember a past incident of social oppression in order to build a better tomorrow. Opponents of the Bush library hope that the folly of the Bush years won’t disappear down an Orwellian memory hole created courtesy of the Institute for Democracy. In resisting the library, SMU’s faculty hope to preserve memory and prevent future catastrophes like the Iraq War. In this effort, they stand on the shoulders of too-often forgotten SMU activists of the past.


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hating Muslims

The right wing continues to contort the mass murder at Virginia Tech, committed by a South Korean-born resident who had lived in the United States for almost two-thirds of his life, into a casus belli against the Muslim world.

Since 2001, Ann Coulter has regularly referred to Arabs as "ragheads" in her speeches. Then, as news broke of the Virginia Tech shootings, right-wing columnist and Fox Noise pundit Debbie Schlussel wildly speculated that the West Virginia murders might have been committed by a "Paki" (a racist slur used to describe Pakistanis) and possibly was part of a coordinated attack by Muslim terrorists.

After the West Virginia killer had been identified as a South Korean, Schlussel bizarrely tried to tie him to a picture on a website put up by a Indonesian Muslim woman. Schlussel suggested that Cho Seung-Hu was a closet Muslim and asked how he could have displayed such excellent marksmanship if he had not received professional training. (Ms. Schlussel, meet Oliver Stone.)

Now we have this mind-numbing stretch of an argument made by GOP media shill Charles Krauthammer, on Fox's "Special Report with Brit Hume":

"What you can say, just -- not as a psychiatrist, but as somebody who's lived through the a past seven or eight years, is that if you look at that picture, it draws its inspiration from the manifestos, the iconic photographs of the Islamic suicide bombers over the last half decade in Palestine, in Iraq and elsewhere. That's what they end up leaving behind, either on al Jazeera or Palestinian TV. And he, it seems, as if his inspiration for leaving the message behind in that way, might have been this kind of suicide attack, which, of course, his was. And he did leave the return address return 'Ismail Ax.' 'Ismail Ax.' I suspect it has some more to do with Islamic terror and the inspiration than it does with the opening line of Moby Dick."

Yes, and if you play "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" backwards, it says "turn me on, dead man."

As my friend Mary Shomon suggested, if the right wing ever admits that global warming is happening, they will blame it on "rag heads."


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Paki-Bashing

The saddest thing about the Don Imus caper, other than that large number of politicians, reporters, and media personalities who defended a man who viewed casual racism as a form of entertainment, was that the former CBS radio host represents just the tip of the iceberg. Note the following item from Media Matters regarding Republican activist and occassional Fox Noise Channel guest Debbie Schlussel:

Debbie Schlussel suspected VA Tech shooter might be a "Paki," part of
"terrorist attack"

Responding to the April 16 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, right-wing pundit
Debbie Schlussel "speculat[ed]" in an April 16 weblog post that the shooter,
who had been identified at that point only as a man of Asian descent, might
be a "Paki" Muslim and part of "a coordinated terrorist attack." "Paki" is a
disparaging term for a person of Pakistani descent.

Schlussel wrote, "The murderer has been identified by law enforcement and
media reports as a young Asian male," adding, "The Virginia Tech campus has
a very large Muslim community, many of which are from Pakistan." Schlussel
continued: "Pakis are considered 'Asian,' " and asked, "Were there two
[shooters] and was this a coordinated terrorist attack?" Schlussel asserted
that the reason she was "speculating that the 'Asian' gunman is a Pakistani
Muslim" was "[b]ecause law enforcement and the media strangely won't tell us
more specifically who the gunman is." Schlussel claimed that "[e]ven if it
does not turn out that the shooter is Muslim, this is a demonstration to
Muslim jihadists all over that it is extremely easy to shoot and kill
multiple American college students."

In updates to her posting, after more information became known about the
shooter, Schlussel first claimed that "[t]he shooter has now been identified
as a Chinese national here on a student visa," which she called "[y]et
another reason to stop letting in so many foreign students." Schlussel later
wrote that the killer was a "South Korean national." The killer was later
identified as Cho Seung-Hui, "a South Korean who was a resident alien in the
United States."

As Media Matters for America noted, in a December 18, 2006, online post
headlined "Barack Hussein Obama: Once a Muslim, Always A Muslim," Schlussel
argued that because Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) middle name is Hussein, his
late, estranged father was of Muslim descent, and he has shown interest in
his father's Kenyan heritage, Obama's "loyalties" must be called into
question. As Media Matters also noted, on the June 14 edition of MSNBC's
Scarborough Country, Schlussel falsely claimed that "there wasn't a peep"
from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) when Suha Arafat, wife of former
Palestinian National Authority president Yasir Arafat, stated that Israelis
"poison Palestinian water and air and cause cancer for them." In fact,
according to an October 6, 2000, New York Times article, Clinton disavowed
Arafat's remarks after receiving an official translation "hours later."

Schlussel is still trying to impy that the Virginia Tech tragedy was somehow a Muslim terrorist attack. Try to follow the convoluted case she makes in this April 18 posting:

"Yesterday, I wrote about the many mainstream media reports that Virginia Tech massacre perpetrator Cho Seung-Hui had "Ismail Ax" written in red ink on one of his arms. More on possible meanings of that, later.

All day long, bloggers and e-mailers sent me to the Flickr photo archive site, where an Indonesian Muslim woman, named Eldarossell, kept pics of "Me & My Family." One photo of "Ismail"--uploaded in August 2006--looked very much like Cho Seung-Hui and bore an interesting caption further telling us that it's the same guy. Strangely, since yesterday, that photo has been removed by Miss Eldarossell, though the rest of her photos remain up. Also removed were the many comments posted by visitors to the site noting that her friend (or relative?) "Ismail," sure looked like Cho Seung-Hui, and was probably him, given the caption she posted.

. . . So, the question remains: If Cho Seung-Hui is not "Ismail," then why would she remove the photo? I think we know the answer.

And by the way, if this is just a deranged, crazy kid, how did this immigrant student from S. Korea--with no military training--become such an excellent marksman?

("A doctor at a Blacksburg hospital described the injuries he saw Monday as "amazing" and the shooter as "brutal." . . . "There wasn't a shooting victim that didn't have less than three bullet wounds in them," said Dr. Joseph Cacioppo of Montgomery Regional Hospital.)

So who is Ismail? Is he Cho-Seung Hui? Why did Eldarossell suddenly remove his photo? Just asking."

Just asking. And just engaging in anti-Muslim McCarthyism. How long will it be until Lou Dobbs makes the Viriginia Tech massacre the platform for more anti-immigrant racist rants?


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Proper and Fitting Words

Yesterday was the 39th anniversary of Martin Luther King's murder. The "Huffington Post" posted a link to a speech he delivered one year before his assassination. I reproduce the text here to share words that seem so prescient of our current corporate and political climate and the madness in Iraq:

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
By Rev. Martin Luther King
4 April 1967
Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:


O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission -- a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for "the brotherhood of man." This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the "Vietcong" or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators -- our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change -- especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one "Vietcong"-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them -- mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force -- the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front -- that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the north" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them -- the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:

"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.

Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.
Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.

Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just."

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept -- so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force -- has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word."

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own."


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.