Sunday, January 26, 2014
If Jesus wrote a memo to the modern church, what would He say? If you think it's really bad, you're absolutely right.
A Memo From Jesus to 'Christian' America
Woe to you American Christians! You call yourselves “saved” when in fact you are lost. You say I'm the "Son of God" and yet you bully and slaughter the defenseless in my name. You launch religious wars in the Middle East against Islam while ignoring my teachings at home. You use legal trickery like the Patriot Act to subjugate your entire nation and revoke the fundamental human rights that my Father handed down to you through His servants. All you pastors and evangelists hoard money from your Sunday offerings to enrich yourselves with fine houses, expensive clothing, and luxury cars and trucks. Do you not see the wrongs you commit when you do these things? Do you even understand the parable of the Good Samaritan? Allow me to refresh your memory.
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: "Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replied, "What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?" The man answered, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you will live!" The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus then replied with a story which I will paraphrase for you all:
"A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a priest came along, but when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A church deacon walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also continued on. Then a despised Samaritan (the “people of color”in Jesus' time) came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, 'Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I'll pay you the next time I'm here.' "Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by those bandits", Jesus asked. The man replied, "The one who showed him mercy." Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same."
In case anyone missed the point of that parable, it was that the “theologically correct”, evangelical/Catholic/orthodox super-conservative born-again "saved" person passed by on the other side of the road when confronted with a human being in need. It was the "unsaved" theologically incorrect foreigner, today's equivalent of people of color, atheists, Muslims or gay men and women, the unloved and the outcast, who stopped and did my Father's will and took care of the injured man. Let me put it another way in case you've missed the point: When I said that those who come to me saying "Lord, Lord, we followed you and believed correctly, we performed miracles and cast out demons in your name", it is they who will be the first ones that I will cast out of the Kingdom of Heaven, since they did not care for the least of these such as orphans, widows, the downtrodden, the poor, the sick and the oppressed.
Didn't you get it when I said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the humble, the outcasts, those who mourn, to the incarcerated and to the dispirited? People of color, gay couples and other minorities, as well as non-Christians who are being denied their civil rights are included here. What are you doing to defend them? Who do you think will inherit the earth – the wealthy leaders of your giant churches or the homeless who are scorned and mocked by society? Who's side do you think God is on – the bullied and outcast and other “disposable workers”, or the powerful religious leaders and other Wall Street 1% 'ers with their phony smiles? Who will qualify for calling themselves my sons and daughters – the weak, the long-term unemployed, and those who worship me whether they go to church every Sunday or not, and the poor or those who mourn? Or will you be like the proud who say: "Lord, I thank you that I'm not like these “unsaved” single mothers, or like prisoners and illegal immigrants, and all those lazy poor people who deserve no shelter, access to food or health care (and let's not forget those vilified Muslims)?" You hypocrites! Don't you get it? You have lost touch with reality, the reality that my Father created!
You say you take everything in the Bible seriously and yet you ignore all the many verses about divorce and adultery. But you pastors conveniently cover that up because a majority of America has no problem with divorce, and because you don't want to lose your congregations and the tax-free money that they bring in to your churches. And half your pastors and religious leaders are divorced and remarried. But you stick it to gay men and women because they are a minority and easy to pick on! Why wax moralistic about one thing you call sin and yet stick it to a minority? For instance, I broke the biblical law when I said that the people who brought me the adulterous woman should not stone her to death. In other words I said: "Let he/she who is without sin throw the first stone." Well, no one was qualified so they quit picking on her and left her alone. Here's another example – abortion, which you are vehemently against. You will go to any extreme to protect the unborn, yet you have no problem sending our young men and women overseas to fight illegal and undeclared wars against countries that – by and large – pose no threat to America. You see no problem at all with waging war in the Middle East, Asia and Africa – provided, of course, that it's someone else's sons and daughters getting killed in battle and not your own. Who do you think you are? Does any of you seriously believe that I will not count that against you on the day of Judgment?
Did you get it when I said that if you lust in your heart it's the same as committing adultery? What I meant was that since everyone lusts, the difference between how we think and feel and what we do with our thoughts and feelings is a matter of having sufficient integrity to be able to stand up to all kinds of temptations. The whole point was that we're not to judge other people because we ourselves think the same thoughts. So no one is better than anyone else. You judgmental holy rollers are like banks always making a mistake in their own favor! Why do so-called religious conservative Americans always pick on the little guy, the disenfranchised, people of color, so-called “illegal immigrants”, women, gay people and the mentally ill? I'll tell you why! Because you are bullies looking for an easy target, and because you hoard 99% of our nation's wealth! You are the Pharisees passing by on the other side of the road, those who are so sure they're saved because of some manufactured nonsense that you believe in my name. Wrong again!
You American Christians utterly defaced the name of Christianity with your racism, your slavery and your bigotry, and all your foreign wars while hiding behind the facade of legitimacy. And now you're doing it again in your war against gay people, and in your “drug war” against the poor, the homeless, minorities and the mentally ill who have little or no access to affordable health care. Well, as you judge so you will be judged. Good luck with that! Do you think the Kingdom of God is more likely to belong to a wealthy "Christian" leader who preaches hate and exclusion (even while saying "I love everyone and only hate the sin") or to the least of these, the disenfranchised who want nothing more than to enjoy the same rights of other citizens, like access to higher education and health care without charge, not to mention basics like food and shelter? Do you think I don't see that the poor who have no health care die because your greedy (lying) insurance lobby that has your so-called Congress in their pockets?
You hypocrites and liars! You say you're preaching my gospel when my Gospel never was about political correctness or conservative beliefs. My Gospel was about not judging others, it was about making room for everyone at the table, with unconditional equality, and loving your neighbor as you love yourself. If you display contempt for poor people and minorities, you know that I already commanded you to love them! And if they are asking to be allowed to marry, I commanded you to give to him who asks of you! Besides, you don't own America. This is a democracy and yours is just one opinion. Your own Constitution says that your government has been put into place to serve the people rather than the other way around. How did it come to this? How do those who claim that they serve and represent me in church and in government misuse the Bible to the extent that they make bumper stickers and coffee mugs calling for the assassination of your President Obama by misquoting Psalm 109 verses 8 and 9 completely out of context (“May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow”)? Do you think I am on the side of those who want to make the First Lady of the United States (who happens to be a favorite daughter of mine!) a widow and the daughters of the President (very lovely children of mine!) orphans as this Psalm is misconstrued to "call for”? You American Christians utterly deface my name with your racism, financial slavery and your bigotry against women and minorities. And now you're doing it again in your war against gay people – who my Father also made just as he did for you – and in your war against the poor, the homeless and mentally ill and the elderly who have no access to health care.
I'm tempted to ask my Father to condemn to hell every last one of you damnable hate mongers! You are like the Pharisees I used to know, who strained out the tiniest speck of others' misdeeds while turning a blind eye to their own wickedness, hypocrisy and lies. Remember my sayings about taking the block of wood out of your own eye before removing the splinter from your brother's eye? Quit worrying about people's skin color, gender, age, sexual orientation – and especially about their financial status or the lack thereof – and start to worry about your so-called churches, those ash heaps of stinking bigotry and hate. The way you hate your first black president is all I need to know about you. So stop worrying about other people's "sins" and start worrying about all the lies you are telling your children in my name! Stop passing judgment on others. That's my heavenly Father's job, not yours! Stop condemning the sexual behavior of others when you yourselves marry, divorce and remarry as if you were changing clothes. Who do you people think you're kidding?
Oh, and one last thing before I go. All your talk about patriotism and “God Bless America” will do you no good unless you love every American within it just as you love yourself – including gay Americans, poor people, the disenfranchised, the sick, widows and orphans and yes, women who have abortions and the “illegal immigrants”. My Father made them too. So who are you to question the handiwork of my Father? There is no such thing as an illegal person. All these various peoples want from you is to ask mercy of you, and to get a fair shot at improving themselves! Give it to them! Give them a chance to reboot their lives. Or did you miss that part of my teaching too? Do you really think I'm on the side of those who hate the "other"? You are killing me all over again!
The point is to have a chance to sanctify love in every generation. If I walked here on Earth again with you, you'd kill me again, just as you are going to kill all that is good in my name, just as some of you are praying for the death of your president who you even call "Antichrist." Let me tell you who is Anti-Christ: Christian "saved" America. Depart from me, you evildoers! Please come up with a new name for whatever you think you are. Drop the word "Christ" out of your name. You've destroyed my reputation.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
The Hijacking of a Dream:
Reclaiming Dr. King’s Legacy
As we approach the Martin Luther King holiday, America needs to perform a re-assessment of what this memorial holiday means to all of us. On August 28, 2011, the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial took place on the National Mall in Washington DC. Having the dedication of this memorial on the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington, was clearly a symbolic gesture — paying homage to one of the many defining moments in the great civil rights leader’s life. However, the corporate contributors of this event, along with many of the politicians that were in attendance, were and are symbolic themselves. They are symbols of everything Dr. King was, and would be opposed to, if he were alive today. These charlatans and hucksters know very well of this fact, which is exactly why they, the mainstream media in America, and an ever-shrinking segment of prejudiced Americans of all colors and races continue to desperately try to reshape the image of Dr. King. If these people have their way, Dr. King and his legacy will stand for nothing more than what I regard as a superficial image. They fervently wish to recreate him into someone they can feel more comfortable with. This is why most children, and adults, can only recite one quote in relationship to Dr. King —“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for much more than what mainstream America has methodically reduced him to. In fact, if he were alive today, many of the corporate war mongering politicians, including President Obama, would be vilifying Dr. King as if he were some crazed angry black man. This is why we will never hear the likes of Barack Obama quote Dr. King when he referred to the US government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”. Dr. King said those powerful and honest words on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York City (exactly a year before he was assassinated). Over four decades later—the US government is still the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. You can bet that the following quote with not be read at the dedication of the King memorial:
“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 ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask 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 the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”
After reading Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence” speech, anyone still thinking that he would be in approval of what this current administration is doing in places like Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, need to have their heads examined. Dr. King was much more than simply a man who was anti-war; he was a man who stood for peace and social justice. He was truly a man of principles and convictions, which is why he was unafraid of speaking truth to so-called power. Remaining silent, as so many gutless politicians and celebrities do today, was not an option within Dr. King’s conscience. And because of this, he was routinely targeted by the US government, by way of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and devils minions such as FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover.
The American empire’s military-industrial complex has been a prominent issue dating back decades. The military industrial complex is a vastly profitable behemoth that must be fed a steady diet of wars in order to maintain its existence. Those who threaten the existence of this killing machine become expendable. Dr. King’s outspokenness against not only the Vietnam War, but also the military industrial complex, secured his status as a target. Dr. King’s “crime” was that he dared to challenge the conscience of a nation entangled within the web of an imperialist war throughout Southeast Asia. Among other things he said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Which one of the political frauds, or entertainers, in attendance at the dedication to Dr. King’s memorial took such a courageous stance in solidarity with Martin Luther King, Jr.? None, that's how many. Zero, nada, zip, or zilch, take your pick.
In 2013 the US government has methodically found a way to direct itself into multiple military campaigns of aggression, including dropping missiles indiscriminately upon Libya and arbitrarily using drones to bomb villages in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over a trillion dollars have been used on these campaigns, including Iraq, since 2001—- while people in the US are all losing their homes to foreclosures, school systems are being defunded, and 40,000 Americans die each year due to a lack health insurance. That's more people than all who died in auto accidents last year. If Dr. King’s statement is true then America’s spirit must be on life support — needing an end to its defense spending as part of a multi-tiered remedy for rehabilitation.
Dr. King knew very well about the US government’s record of going into countries, whose governments refused to be obsequious to their addiction to other nation’s resources, and then destabilizing them by waging war, by assassination of leaders, or both. Dr. King knew that the US played a role in the removal and murder of people like Congo’s Patrice Lumumba in 1961. Today in 2013, very little has changed at all. The US and its gang of European minions (NATO) are currently bombing Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia into the stone age. This is, in fact, the kind of immoral act of war that Martin Luther King, Jr. would be completely opposed to, along with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq before that. His life should give us ample reason to come to this conclusion, and only this conclusion. However, how many children in America know this? Dr. King’s image has been reshaped by some amoral adults as well as by adults who have been purposely mis-educated. When we see ridiculous T-shirts with the face of Dr. King juxtaposed next to that of President Obama we should see this as a blatant assault on the civil rights leader’s work, as well as on his character. These kinds of comparisons further confuse the masses, and not by accident, especially those who have purposely been given little to no historical point of reference in regard to Dr. King and his complete body of work.
The night before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated he was giving a speech in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. He understood the need for unions and supported their struggle. He passionately supported the economically disenfranchised as evidenced with his organizational work around the Poor People’s Campaign. When we study his work on these issues it should be clearly evident that this man would be completely opposed to the current vicious attacks on labor unions and the poor. The fork tongued Barack Obama campaigned in support of labor unions, saying whatever he needed to, in order to curry favor from them — as a means of gobbling up their valuable votes. However now that he won his second term, he has deliberately distanced himself far away from their struggle, all the while bending over backwards for their nemesis — Wall Street and the gangs of mega-corporations that lurk there. Are we really that foolish to believe that Dr. King would have been in favor of Barack Obama’s multi-trillion dollar bailout for the same “banksters” that are largely responsible for the current economic crisis plaguing the US, and the world?
Dr. King made it quite obvious which side of history he stood on with his actions. He made it even clearer that he stood with the masses of oppressed and poor people riddled throughout the unequal social fabric sewn throughout America, exactly what my own ministry stands for. Serving as the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Dr. King supported SCLC initiated programs like Operation Breadbasket which was aimed at economically empowering black communities. In 1967 Dr. King said, ‘‘Many retail businesses and consumer-goods industries deplete the ghetto by selling to Negroes without returning to the community any of the profits through fair hiring practices.’’ Today numerous members of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as President Barack Obama, appear to have no problem selling out the interests of black communities to the benefit of vulture-like corporations. Whether it is the privatization of public schools, gentrification, or the growing economic disparity between whites and blacks; politicians like Barack Obama could care less about their policies overall negative impact on the very African-Americans who helped vote him into office. It remains perplexing as to why so many black people remain in support of Barack Obama — the absence of historical perspective and critical analysis can have this effect on people. Obama’s actions regarding Black America, including the rapidly vanishing US middle class, are antithetical to those of the late great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Obama has become rather skilled at blaming black people for their plight, whenever he decides to acknowledge their existence at all. He even had the audacity to do this at the NAACP’s 100th anniversary meeting when he said, “We’ve got to say to our children, yes, if you’re African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that somebody in a wealthy suburb does not have to face. But that’s not a reason to get bad grades — that’s not a reason to cut class — that’s not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands — never forget that! That’s what we have to teach all of our children. No excuses. No excuses. You get that education; all those hardships will just make you stronger, better able to compete. Yes we can.”
Obama would never have gone into a poor white community and told the parents of a vastly underfunded school system and marginalized community that they should, in essence, accept those conditions without protesting or fighting to hold the government accountable. However, Obama knows he can slap around the black community in that manner because far too many African-Americans continue to pledge blind obedience him in what I see as a most pathetic manner. Unfortunately, Obama, like many other Democrats, will continue to disrespect the black community until they completely divorce themselves from that party and form/support a truly independent party that actually advocates for their collective interests. In my view as a Caucasian American, it underscores the urgent need for a viable third political party in America that speaks for and addresses the needs of all Americans regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, economic status and sexual orientation. On further thought, I could end this week's commentary right here and still have a pretty good article, but I want to go deeper so everyone please stay with me on this, okay?
In regards to people of color, especially poor people, Dr. King had a knack for placing their living conditions within the context of institutional racism and its impact on their communities. In 1968, just months before his assassination, Dr. King said, “It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.” The great civil rights leader said those words within a speech he gave to his staff at a SCLC meeting in Frogmore, South Carolina as he was preparing them for the Poor People’s Campaign. His commitment to black people, and poor people in general, was the polar opposite of a man like Barack Obama who seems to thrive at marginalizing those demographics while catering to his corporate and military bosses.
In the same Beyond Vietnam speech, Dr. King gave a prescient warning when he said, “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” Today in 2013 much of the world is suffering from the impact of America’s insatiable hunger for global domination. The US’s runaway military industrial complex continues to take lives away from innocent civilians in places like Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, to name just a few. The American military industrial complex creates carnage abroad while preventing Americans from having things like a world-class single-payer health care system. In 2014 institutional racism remains a disease that destroys the lives of people of color in America by way of ruthless police brutality, enforced economic inequality and intentionally unequal school systems — to name a few. Also in 2014, runaway capitalism is imposing economic terrorism on countless people and their rapidly disintegrating communities. Dr. King’s words are surely more relevant now than ever before.
The dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was assured to be a most superficial event replete with superficial politicians and luminaries when it was held over 2 years ago. The organizers of this event and their corporate cronies were promoting and selling everything from expensive hotel rooms, sponsorship opportunities, to high priced exhibitor space. In essence, they will be “honoring” Dr. King by not embracing his legacy of social justice, but by financially capitalizing on his name. There will be no speeches of ending America’s imperialist wars, like Dr. King did. Anyone with that message trying to get on stage will be swiftly removed by security. There will be no speeches about destroying institutional racism in America. Instead, the lie of America being a post racist country will be bandied about. Don’t expect any talk about waging a war on poverty — after all, some of the sponsors of this event are in fact large multinational corporations (such as Wal-Mart and numerous others) that benefit from destroying local businesses while dissuading their workers from unionizing.
However, what you are sure to see is cameras on disingenuous politicians crying crocodile tears, as if they give a damn about Dr. King’s legacy. Many of these political actors will be men and women who have, at one time or another, voted to finance one or more of America’s current military campaigns. Unfortunately, a few of these frauds will even be members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but I will decline to name names for now. Far too many members of the CBC have become quite comfortable with taking the easy way out and remaining silent about things that matter. The same goes for countless black entertainers riddled throughout Hollywood. They have lost their spine and made the conscious decision to protect their political interests and/or their potential sponsorship from white corporations that could not give a damn about social justice or the well-being of the communities from which many of these black politicians and entertainers come from.
Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” He also famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Ending institutional racism in America, eradicating poverty and homelessness, tearing down the US prison-industrial complex by ending the drug wars, and stopping the US’s destructive wars – these are the things that really matter. They matter so much that life and death hinge upon each injustice. It is obvious that we cannot expect Democrats or Republicans to vociferously break their collective silence about the cauldron of social injustices that have been brewing in America for quite some time — that job must be ours, starting with the clergy like myself, since Congress and the President refuse to do any such thing. We must raise our collective voices and speak out against them and stand up for justice. As the 2014 King Holiday comes upon us, this is the greatest way we can honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Lessons From the Ongoing Fukushima Disaster
On How Not To Take Care of the Earth
The worst nuclear disaster to strike Japan since a single bomb fell over Nagasaki in 1945 occurred in the spring of 2011 at the Fukushima nuclear power plant following the epic tsunami. Earlier this week the New York Times reported the disturbing news that a wide area around the Fukushima plant "could soon be declared uninhabitable, perhaps for decades, after a government survey found radioactive contamination that far exceeded safe levels. The formal announcement, expected from the government in coming days, would be the first official recognition that the March accident could force the long-term depopulation of communities near the plant, an eventuality that scientists and some officials have been warning about for months." Just two weeks ago, it was reported that radiation readings at the site had reached their highest points to date. The wide release of radiation, and fear of same, has forced the Japanese and others all over the world to reflect on what happened to the country in 1945, and the continuing (but usually submerged) threat of nuclear weapons and energy today.
In its main story marking the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombings, the Times highlighted the new activism of survivors of the bombing (the “hibakusha”) this year; campaigning against nuclear power, which has provided most of their country's energy needs. No one in the world can relate to the fears of a wide populace terrified that they (and perhaps the unborn) may be tainted forever by exposure to airborne radiation. One may ask how it is possible that Japan, after its experience with the atomic bombings, could allow itself to draw so heavily on the same nuclear technology for the manufacture of about a third of its energy. There was resistance, much of it from Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors. But there was also a pattern of denial, cover-up and cozy bureaucratic collusion between industry and government, the last especially notorious in Japan but by no means limited to that country."
Sumiteru Taniguchi, now 82 and currently director of the Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors Council, recently commented, "when the conversation turns to the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant it is as if the floodgates open," Taniguchi said. "Nuclear power and mankind cannot coexist. We survivors of the atomic bomb have said this all along. And yet, the use of nuclear power was camouflaged as 'peaceful' and continued to progress. You never know when there's going to be a natural disaster. You can never say that there will never be a nuclear accident." Taniguchi is perhaps the main iconic symbol of the “hibakusha” today, thanks to footage of him taken after the bombing, showing him, months after the attack, still on a floor, spread-eagled, his entire back an open wound, flaming red. It was part of footage shot by a US film crew, and suppressed for decades.
In April, 2011, five survivors' organizations including Taniguchi's Nagasaki group submitted a statement to the Japanese government declaring the collapse of the "safety myth" around nuclear power and demanding a change in the government's energy policy to prevent creating any more “hibakusha”. Their statement further demanded that it distribute health record booklets — similar to the ones that are distributed to atomic bomb victims and can be used as proof of radiation exposure — to nuclear power plant workers and residents living close to them, and also provide periodic health examinations to those populations. It is a well-hidden fact (thanks to the lame stream media) that numerous A-bomb survivors over the decades sought help from the government after falling ill or suffering cancer and other diseases, allegedly from radiation exposure, but by many accounts had been abandoned. Will the people who are suffering from invisible dangers in Fukushima be subjected to the same treatment?
As I write this, Japan and TEPCO, the Japanese utility company that has been in charge oft this ever-widening disaster, are making futile attempts to stop the gushing leakage of many tons of radioactive seawater that is coming from the three melted-down reactors. The entire northern Pacific ocean is now contaminated by this radioactive seawater. It will remain this way for a very long time afterward – decades at the very least. Contrast this to God's original instructions that he gave to us at the creation of the earth. “Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground'.” Genesis chapter one, verses 26-28 NIV)
The book of Revelation states quite clearly what will ultimately happen to those who pollute the earth, such as what happened at Chernobyl in the 1980's and in 2011 at Fukushima. “And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth” (Rev. chapter 11, verses 16-18 NIV)
When it comes to nuclear issues — from atomic weapons to nuclear power — no two nations could be more irredeemably intertwined than Japan and the US. After the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, despite dissenting voices of some of its own citizens, America drew mostly wrong conclusions as it plunged into nuclear expansion. There was a relentless public relations campaign — unleashed by the Truman administration almost within hours of the Hiroshima bombing — that led to the erroneous conclusion that blinded the Americans (and later the Japanese) to the insidious, long-term damage of radiation. Prominent journalists and media outlets of the time embraced, with enthusiasm, the so-called “Dawn of the Atomic Age” and America fell into a kind of nuclear entrapment that is with us to this day.
Monday, January 6, 2014
The legalization of pot in Colorado persuades me to re-post a book excerpt of mine about the Drug War's futility
The Doomed War On Drugs
(excerpt from “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto”(2nd edition), by Rev. Paul J. Bern)
Of all the people throughout the world who are incarcerated, fully 25% of them are locked up right here in the US. The United States has more people locked up in state and federal prisons than all the rest of the countries of the world combined. Of all the US prisoners currently serving sentences in state and federal prison, nearly 55% of them are locked up for nonviolent drug offenses such as simple pot or crack possession. When I looked at whether fewer people use drugs in countries like ours with stricter drug laws, I find that the World Health Organization looked at 17 countries in a 2008 study and found no such correlation. The US, despite its punitive – to the point of being Draconian – drug policies, has one of the highest levels of drug use in the world. By any measure, making drugs illegal fails to achieve one of its primary objectives. But it is the unintended consequences of prohibition that make the most compelling case against it.
Prohibition fuels crime in many ways: without state aid, addicts may be forced to fund their habit through robbery, for instance, while youngsters can be drawn into the drugs trade as a way to earn money and status. In countries such as Colombia and Mexico, the profits from illegal drugs have spawned armed criminal organizations whose resources rival those of the state. So what's the alternative? There are several models for the legal provision of “recreational” drugs. They include prescriptions for medical marijuana by doctors, consumption at licensed premises such as bars and smoking lounges, and particularly sale on a similar basis to alcohol and tobacco, with its own taxation rates, health warnings, and age limitations to only those age 21 or older. If this prospect appalls you, consider the fact that in the US today, many teenagers say they not only find it easier to buy cannabis than beer. According to sources in law enforcement as well as licensed therapists, close to of 40% of teens say pot is safer than alcohol. Based on my own experiences I would agree completely even though my government is opposed to it. This opposition resulted in the so-called War On Drugs that was declared by President Nixon back in 1971. What has this 43-year-long war on drugs gotten us? In 43 years, taxpayers spent more than:
• $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico — and the violence along with it.
• $33 billion in marketing "Just Say No"-style messages to America's youth and other “prevention” programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have "risen steadily" since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.
• $49 billion for law enforcement along America's borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.
• $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.
• $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.
The $320 billion annual global drug industry now accounts for over 1 percent of all commerce on the planet. A full 10 percent of Mexico's economy is built on drug proceeds. For every drug dealer you put in jail or kill, a line forms to replace him/her because the money is just that good. Today it is clearer than ever that criminalization not only does not work when it comes to drug law enforcement, it actually exacerbates the drug “problem” overall. The February 12, 1996 issue of the National Review had the headline in bold letters, “THE WAR ON DRUGS IS LOST”. Consider a few facts about America's weed war:
- It diverts hundreds of thousands of police agents from serious crimes to the pursuit of harmless tokers, including agents from the local and state police, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and U.S. Marshals, Secret Service, Border Patrol, Customs, and Postal Service.
- By even the most conservative estimate, the outlay from US taxpayers now tops $10 billion a year in direct spending just to catch, prosecute, and incarcerate marijuana users and sellers, not counting other illegal drugs and such indirect costs as militarizing our border with Mexico in a hopeless effort to stop marijuana imports.
- Police agents at all levels trample our Bill of Rights in their eagerness to nab pot consumers by conducting illegal car searches, phone and email taps, garbage scrounging, and door-busting night raids.
- Even people who are merely suspected of marijuana violations and have had no charges filed against them can (and regularly do) have their cars, money, computers, and other property confiscated by police. In a reversal of America's fundamental legal principles, it is up to these suspects to prove that their property is "innocent" of any crime.
- People convicted of possessing even one ounce of marijuana can face mandatory minimum sentences of a year in jail, and having even one plant in your yard is a federal felony.
- 49,000 Americans are in federal or state prisons right now on marijuana charges, not counting people in city and county jails.
- 89% of all marijuana arrests are for simple possession of the weed, not for producing or selling it. In short, marijuana prohibition is not, and will not, reduce demand. So then it’s time to regulate the supply. It is time to remove the production and distribution of marijuana out of the hands of violent criminals and into the hands of licensed businesses, and the only way to do that is through legalization, regulation and taxation.
Another thing about the drug war is that we are forced to draw connections between the war on drugs and the disintegration of low-income and black communities in America. As Dr. King so poignantly reminded us in his critique of the Vietnam War, "a time comes when silence is betrayal." With many communities disparately impacted by the drug war, many of us working for justice have come to the realization that America's war on drugs is really a war on families and communities. In the spirit of Rev. Dr. King, we must now ask: Has this drug war assault on the poor and the marginalized become the next big civil rights struggle? Civil rights advocates are honoring Dr. King's legacy by standing up against the "new Jim Crow" – mass incarceration through the racially disproportionate war on drugs. It is impossible to talk frankly and honestly about racism without talking about the drug war. Few U.S. policies have had such a devastating effect on Blacks, Latinos and other racial minorities than the drug war. Every aspect of the war on drugs – from arrests to prosecutions to sentencing – is disproportionately carried out against minorities. In an allegedly Christian country like the US, this is inexcusable.
100,000 Americans die each year from prescription drugs — that’s 270 per day or more than twice as many as there are killed in car accidents each day. This shows you how dangerous prescription medications truly are. To make matters worse, we are the only developed country that doesn't control prescription drug prices, meaning that the drug companies can charge whatever they want to – even for drugs that don’t work very well. The industry’s unlimited hikes in prices have helped make health insurance unaffordable for most Americans. This is also why wages of American workers have stagnated. When health premiums rise, employers must get the extra money from somewhere, and employee raises are one of the first things to go.
But what if some of that money that we are spending on apparently dangerous but legal prescription drugs was redirected towards medical marijuana? Has modern medicine been able to document the positive effects of cannabis medication? Research into possible medical uses of Cannabis is enjoying a renaissance. In recent years, studies have shown potential for treating nausea, vomiting, premenstrual syndrome, insomnia, migraines, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, alcohol abuse, collagen-induced arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, bipolar disorder, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, sickle-cell disease, sleep apnea, Alzheimer's disease, glaucoma and anorexia nervosa. It is also documented to be very effective for patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in a groundbreaking law passed in 2000. Just last year, Uruguay in South America did the same. Now, the United States, which has waged a 40-year, $1 trillion war on drugs, is looking for answers in both countries, which is reaping the benefits of what once looked like a dangerous gamble. White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske visited Portugal in September 2010 to learn about its drug reforms, and other countries — including Norway, Denmark, Australia and Peru — have taken interest, too. The disasters that were predicted by critics didn't happen. The answer was simple: Provide treatment. Here's what happened in Portugal between 2000 and 2010 as a result of decriminalization of formerly illegal drugs:
• There were small increases in illicit drug use among adults, but decreases for adolescents and problem users, such as drug addicts and prisoners.
• Drug-related court cases dropped 66 percent.
• Drug-related HIV cases dropped 75 percent. In 2002, 49 percent of people with AIDS were addicts; by 2010 that number fell to 27 percent.
• The number of regular users held steady at less than 3 percent of the population for marijuana and less than 0.3 percent for heroin and cocaine — figures which show decriminalization brought no surge in drug use.
• The number of people treated for drug addiction rose 20 percent from 2001 to 2008.
Officials have not yet worked out the cost of the program, but they expect no increase in spending, since most of the money was diverted from the justice system to the public health service. The U.S. is spending $74 billion this year on criminal and court proceedings for drug offenders, compared with $3.6 billion for treatment. The result of the criminalization of alcohol sales and consumption during the 1920's was the gangster era of Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde and scores of other lesser-known hoodlums and gangs that profited from the violent underground economy that Prohibition created. Today we have an identical situation since the drug trade is mostly in the hands of gangsters and thugs, with the criminals killing innocent bystanders and each other in fights over turf and cash flow. The fact that more people are being locked up while crime has decreased and our prisons are already bursting at the seams, particularly in minority communities, constitutes a 21st century civil rights issue of the highest order. It is time for the US government and law enforcement to “stand down red alert” in the war on drugs. It's time to end this madness and this stupidity.
The fact of the matter is that if cannabis was legalized and regulated, the medical profession would have a new and completely natural weapon to use against chronic pain, the side effects of chemotherapy, glaucoma and a veritable laundry list of other ailments. All the claims about cannabis being harmful and addictive have long since been disproved by reputable scientific researchers.
If cannabis was legalized and taxed at the state and federal levels, American taxpayers and lawmakers alike would be looking at a new revenue stream well in excess of $400 billion dollars annually at the federal level alone. This is not counting fresh revenues in the amount of tens of billions annually that each state would collect as a result of legalization, times all 50 states and US territories. And let's not forget that cannabis legalization across the country has already been estimated to create any where from several hundred thousand to well in excess of one million new jobs. That's the part the elite can't stand; the idea that multitudes of long-time unemployed US workers could get back on their feet financially if pot were the only currently illegal drug to be decriminalized (with certain limitations such as age) along with its sister plant hemp (search that) and the additional hundreds of thousands of jobs hemp legalization would create. That should be the first step for the American people to take back their country from the Globalist Elite. The more jobs we create, the more money gets taken away from Wall Street, Washington and the Federal Reserve.
Finally, if cannabis is decriminalized, all the combined resources of law enforcement at all levels could redirect their time and effort to the main things that they do best, which is to stop violent crime in its tracks, and to detect and expose those who are involved with terrorism and human smuggling or trafficking across or within our borders. It is much easier for law enforcement at all levels to protect the public when they do not have to waste time prosecuting certain persons for smoking a harmless plant. Cigarettes are legal; when someone lights one up they are also smoking a plant, so (speaking as a minister who has no problem with taking a stand against bad laws that are civil rights violations at best and Constitutional breaches at worst) morally there is no difference. It is a documented fact that cigarette smoking kills between 40 and 50 thousand people per year in the US alone. By the same token, nobody ever died from smoking cannabis. Absolutely nobody. Ever.
If “we the people”, America's 99%, want an effective way to to take away what I regard as excess authority that is being abused by the minions and henchmen of the 1%, then ending the war on drugs would be one very good place to start. The war on drugs, like the ticking time bomb of economic inequality and the resulting class warfare that is ongoing in America, is the new civil rights battle cry of the 21st century. As a watchman on the wall protecting a boundary that shields the human rights of mankind, it is my job to sound this warning, and I am not alone in doing so. All one has to do is listen and you will hear their voices, that it time to take back our country from the unscrupulous minions of Wall St., starting with the big banks, and their armies of Washington lobbyists who have seized control of our country in a (nearly) bloodless coup de etat on November 22nd, 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated, and the Federal Reserve who financed the whole debacle of the 2008 financial crash. Worst of all, stories are beginning to circulate about a probable collapse of the US dollar. In that event, having enough food and water to last for at least a week up to a month would be prudent.
As the year 2014 gets started in earnest, a resounding crescendo of voices of the multitudes who are completely fed up with an existence of bare bones survival will rise up and speak the truth to the power of big corporate money. We who are rising up will say with one voice, “Enough is enough!”, and by the force of sheer numbers we will overwhelm those who hoard wealth, assets and possessions at the expense of everyone else. If we are denied a hearing for our “redress of grievances” as guaranteed by the US Constitution, then we will take to the streets in protest. “We the people” can shut down the whole damn country if we want, even if only for a day. Then the top 1%-'ers will see that resisting us will only turn America into another Tunisia, another Egypt, another Yemen, another Spain, (God forbid) another Syria, or another Greece. It is time for everyone to make a choice. If we do not make ourselves part of the solution, then we default to being part of the problem. Become part of the solution. Occupy America in 2014 and beyond!