Monday, January 16, 2006

How we honored Martin Luther King, Jr.

President George Bush:
"It seems fitting on Martin Luther King Day that I come and look at the Emancipation Proclamation in its original form," Bush said. "Abraham Lincoln recognized that all men are created equal. Martin Luther King lived on that admonition to call our country to a higher calling, and today we celebrate the life of an American who called Americans to account when we didn't live up to our ideals."

and later in the day:

"We recommit ourselves to working for the dream that Martin Luther King gave his life for an America where the dignity of every person is respected; where people are judged not by the color of their skin - by the content of their character; and where the hope of a better tomorrow is in every neighborhood in this country."
Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez:
Dr. King in particular taught us that stewardship is not static, it is not standing still. We must be bold in tending to this charge. Coretta Scott King said of this celebration of her husband's legacy, "We commemorate on this holiday the man of action, who put his life on the line for freedom and justice every day."
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin:
It is our time to step up to the plate as we have done in the past to lead this country and world by example
Veterans for Peace of Los Angeles,
whose members carried 12 coffins draped in U.S. flags and a sign recording the number casualties in past wars, including Iraq. Some spectators called out to bring the troops back home.

Tim Cleveland, 35 of South Los Angeles, repeatedly shouted : "They're representing our men in the military that died for nothing."
San Antonio anti-war group:
The anti-war group in San Antonio, numbering perhaps two dozen, chanted "Shame" while two Air Force T-1A Jayhawk training jets flew overhead, a first in the event's 20-year history. Later protesters released a pair of white doves.

Members of the group, who were mostly white, also sang protest songs that drowned out speeches from the podium lauding King and his legacy.

Bexar County constables threatened the protesters with eviction from the park for creating a disturbance, while some blacks in the audience shouted them down for intruding on their event.

Dan Alcantara carried a large sign urging people to "Honor the genius of Dr. King, challenge the arrogance of King George."
Democratic National Committee:

McCain had already been scheduled to be in Spartanburg on January 16, 2006 "as the featured speaker at a GOP (fundraising) dinner" before accepting the invitation to speak at the MLK celebration, leading some black residents to be "suspicious of the timing of McCain's appearance" amid "speculation that McCain will become a 2008 Republican presidential candidate."
Harry Belafonte, calypso singer:
Our people called out in their pain and suffering and fear and our government did not respond. When the Venezuelan government stepped into this hollow moment...our president arrogantly dismissed it.

Killing is our easiest tool. When you look at the president who has led us into a dishonorable war that has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people, many our own sons and daughters, I ask myself what Dr. King would have asked...

It is an act that has driven fear and terror into the hearts of the American people. What is the essential difference in quality of our humanity for those who would do the cruel and tragic deed of flying an airplane into a building and killing 3,000 innocent Americans and those who would lie and lead the nation into a war that has killed hundreds of thousands?
Hillary Clinton, Democrat Senator, New York:
When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about. It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard.

We have a culture of corruption, we have cronyism, we have incompetence. I predict to you that this administration will go down in history as one of the worst that has ever governed our country.
Al Sharpton, keynote speaker at New Bern, NC Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration:
(no show)
Rev. Al Sharpton, black person who did show up in Mobile, AL:
We're in a war in Iraq. Don't know how we got there. Don't know why we're there. Don't know how we're going to get out.

I'm not talking about Vietnam in King's day. I'm talking about Iraq in your day. We've got a president that can see weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that weren't there but couldn't see a hurricane in New Orleans that was there.
Rev. Al Sharpton, black person who showed up, again, this time at Dartmouth College:
The irony for me is that George Bush, after spending the week lobbying for Alito, justifying wiretaps and explaining for the thousandth time why he did not respond to Katrina, will stand somewhere on Monday and piously act as though he remembers Dr. King, when in fact, he has stood against everything Dr. King represented and is probably the most renowned Dr. King dream-buster that we've seen in the last 20 years.

Most of you would tell me "Reverend Sharpton, I wasn't around for the civil rights movement -- that was before my time." And you're right. But I would argue there's a civil rights struggle you were around for. It was called Katrina. And nothing happened in the '60s more blatant and more deadly than what happened in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast states since September of last year.

Isn't it amazing, isn't it a blatant disgrace that we have a president that can see weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that are not there but can't see a hurricane in New Orleans that is there?

Here's a guy they say is on dialysis, can't hardly get around, comes out with videos every two or three months. Bin Laden got out more videos than Mary J. Blige. The video man can find him, the dialysis man can find him, but George Bush and the CIA can't find him!
Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director (in full page newspaper ad with photo of Rev. King):
It has never been acceptable for the government to spy on Americans without having to go to court and present evidence as to why the individual is under suspicion. It was unacceptable when they spied on Martin Luther King and it is unacceptable today.

This fundamental tenet of American democracy has been blatantly violated by President Bush and he must be held accountable. No one, most importantly our elected leader, is above the law.

40 years ago, wiretapping innocent American citizens was an abuse of government power. It still is.
Sen. John Kerry, highly decorated Viet Nam veteran, seared again:
I remember well April, 1968 - I was serving in Vietnam—a place of violence -- when the news reports brought home to me and my crewmates the violence back home - and the tragic news that one of the bullets flying that terrible spring took the life of that unabashedly maladjusted citizen.

We must make clear to this Administration—we're going to live up to our own ideals and honor the service of those in uniform by making certain that every vote is counted in every county in every state in every part of our nation in every election bar none.

The question has been asked in the last weeks: “is the Republican Party ashamed of Trent Lott, or just embarrassed by him?” And the answer seems clear - they were just embarrassed.

How else can you explain a decision to make the first act of as new Congress the re-nomination of Charles Pickering? A judge who thinks our hate-crime penalties are too tough. Who tried to cut the sentence of a convicted cross-burner. I would say respectfully Charles Pickering's appointment is a slap in the face to every American who truly cares about civil rights and justice.

And it only added injury to that insult when the White House moved to undermine the University of Michigan's effort to live by the core conviction that diversity is America's strength. What else can you call the decision to describe Michigan's good faith efforts as a “quota system” when it's not? Over and over again, this Administration tries to substitute the rhetoric of diversity for a real civil rights agenda.

I believe we need to reclaim the kind of citizenship. It's a citizenship seared into me 30 years ago when I served with a band of brothers in Vietnam. We were all living together, working together, taking care of each other, kids from Arkansas, Iowa, California, Massachusetts, and a young African American gunner by the name of David Alston, from South Carolina.
Parade marchers, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade, Jackson, MS:
We are the Union, The mighty, mighty union! Power, power, who has the power? The Union Has The Power – Union Power!

No war with Iraq
Albert Gore, sore loser:
In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.

As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.

It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.

It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all our people.

But surprisingly, the President's soothing statements turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but also declared that he has no intention of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end.

When President Bush failed to convince Congress to give him all the power he wanted when they passed the AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother.

The President claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.

At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture in a pattern that has now been documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.

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