Our New Reality

I first read the following OpEd by Dana Milbank in The Washington Post last week, and didn’t give any thought to posting it here.  There were other fish to fry, and I really don’t like raising red flags any more than is necessary.  But, for nearly a week now, the article has stuck with me, pops into my mind at odd times, so this morning I re-visited it.  One big thing has happened since the article was first published that has given it even more perspective than it originally had:  the debate on Tuesday night.  And so, today I am sharing Mr. Milbank’s column for your perusal.


This is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning.

Dana-MilbankOpinion by

Dana Milbank

Columnist

September 25, 2020 at 2:14 p.m. EDT

America, this is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning.

For five years, my colleagues and I have taken pains to avoid Nazi comparisons. It is usually hyperbolic, and counterproductive, to label the right “fascists” in the way those on the right reflexively label the left “socialists.” But this is no longer a matter of name-calling.

With his repeated refusals this week to accept the peaceful transfer of power — the bedrock principle that has sustained American democracy for 228 years — President Trump has put the United States, in some ways, where Germany was in 1933, when Adolf Hitler used the suspicious burning of the German parliament to turn a democracy into a totalitarian state.

Overwrought, you say? Then ask Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a top authority on Nazism and Stalinism. “The Reichstag has been on a slow burn since June,” he told me. “The language Trump uses to talk about Black Lives Matter and the protests is very similar to the language Hitler used — that there’s some vague left-wing conspiracy based in the cities that is destroying the country.”

Trump, as he has done before, has made the villain a minority group. He has sought, once again, to fabricate emergencies to justify greater powers for himself. He has proposed postponing elections. He has refused to commit to honoring the results of the election. And now, he proposes to embrace violence if he doesn’t win.

“It’s important not to talk about this as just an election,” Snyder said. “It’s an election surrounded by the authoritarian language of a coup d’etat. The opposition has to win the election and it has to win the aftermath of the election.”

If not? There won’t be another “normal” election for some time, he said. But that doesn’t have to happen, and Snyder is optimistic it won’t. To avoid it, we voters must turn out in overwhelming numbers to deal Trump a lopsided defeat. The military must hold to its oath. Homeland Security police must not serve as Trump’s brownshirts. And we citizens must take to the streets, peacefully but indefinitely, until the will of the people prevails.

“It’s going to be messy,” Snyder said. “He seems pretty sure he won’t win the election, he doesn’t want to leave office,” and he appears to Snyder to have “an authoritarian’s instinct” that he must stay in power or go to prison.

It’s abundantly clear that Trump plans to fabricate an election “emergency.” First, he claimed mail-in balloting, a tried-and-true system, is fraudulent. Now his supporters are trying to harass in-person voters.

When Virginia’s early voting opened this week, Trump supporters descended on a polling station, waving Trump signs and flags, chanting and forming a gantlet through which voters had to walk. When the New York Times reported that this voter intimidation campaign began at a nearby rally featuring the Republican National Committee co-chairman, the Virginia GOP responded mockingly from its official Twitter account: “Quick! Someone call the waaaambulance!”

Let’s be clear. There is only one political party in American politics embracing violence. There is only one side refusing to denounce all political violence. There is only one side talking about bringing guns to the polls; one side attempting to turn federal law-enforcement officials into an arm of a political party. And Trump is trying to use law enforcement to revive tactics historically used to bully voters of color from voting — tactics not seen in 40 years.

Some of what Trump and his lieutenants have been doing is merely unseemly: using the machinery of government to attack previous and current political opponents, likening pandemic public health restrictions to slavery, or threatening to overrule regulators if they question the safety of vaccines.

But embracing violence to resolve democratic disagreement is another matter. Trump embraced the “very fine people” among the homicidal neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. He embraced as “very good people” armed protesters who stormed the Michigan Capitol to intimidate lawmakers. He embraced his supporter who allegedly shot and killed two people at a protest in Wisconsin. He embraced the “GREAT PATRIOTS” who drove into Portland, Ore., hurling paintballs and pepper spray at demonstrators. He embraced officers who kill unarmed African Americans, saying they simply “choke” under pressure.

Now he’s rejecting the peaceful transfer of power. Worse: Most Republican officeholders dare not contradict him. The Times reported that of all 168 Republican National Committee members and 26 Republican governors it asked to comment on Trump’s outrage, only four RNC members and one governor responded.

In Federalist 48, James Madison prophetically warned that tyranny could triumph under “some favorable emergency.” In 1933, Hitler used the burning of the Reichstag to do just that. Trump now, it appears, is aiming to do likewise.

America, this is our Reichstag moment. We have the power to stop it. Don’t let democracy burn to the ground.

No Justice for Breonna Taylor

March 13th in Louisville, Kentucky.  Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were sound asleep when they woke to the sound of their door being broken down and in the dark, they saw three men with guns pointed at them.  Mr. Walker grabbed his own gun from the nightstand and fired a single shot, hitting one of the men in the leg.  The three men then proceeded to fire no less than 22 shots at Breonna and Kenneth, 8 of which found their target in Ms. Taylor’s body, killing her.

The three men were police officers, men hired to protect the public, but instead they killed a valuable member of the public.

Breonna Taylor was an EMT for the city of Louisville, and she also worked at two local hospitals. Taylor was a full-time ER technician for the University of Louisville Jewish Hospital and she worked as needed for Norton Healthcare.  On her Facebook page, Taylor described her love for helping others …

“Working in health care is so rewarding! It makes me so happy when I know I’ve made a difference in someone else’s life!”

So, why did police murder Ms. Taylor?  They were seeking a man they believed was selling drugs, and who, as it turns out, was already in police custody, who did not even live near Ms. Taylor, and they had no reason to believe they would find him in her apartment.  They had obtained what’s called a “no-knock warrant”, yet later they falsely claimed they had knocked several times, identifying themselves as police, and received no answer.  Breonna Taylor, by the way, was Black.  Take a look at the three officers involved …breonna-officersNotice anything?  Three lily-white officers.  None of the officers were wearing body cams, so there is no video footage to clarify.  Ms. Taylor lived for several minutes after the shooting, but the officers waited five minutes before calling an ambulance and in the interim offered no assistance.

Fast forward to yesterday, September 23rd, when only one of the three officers, Brett Hankison, was indicted on three counts of “wanton endangerment” for firing shots that went into another apartment near Ms. Taylor’s, where a pregnant woman, her husband and their five-year-old child were sleeping. Hankison’s bond was set at a measly $15,000, for which he will only need to cough up $1,500. Not a single one of the officers is to be held accountable for murdering an innocent young woman.  No charges were announced against the other two officers who fired shots, and no one was charged for causing Ms. Taylor’s death.  To add insult to injury, one of the officers, Jonathan Mattingly, stated …

“I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night.”

Say WHAT???  How the Sam Hell does he figure it was “legal, moral and ethical” to murder an innocent young woman? This isn’t the wild west where the motto was “shoot first and ask questions later.”  How different do you think it might have gone if the officers had been Black and the victim a young, white woman?

We the People are sick and tired of this bullshit!  Last night in Louisville, some 100 miles south of my home, there were protests calling for justice for Breonna Taylor.  Unfortunately, two police officers were shot in the melee, and while I am sorry there was violence, sorry the officers were shot, I am not surprised.  Both officers are reported to be in stable condition.

We the People have had just about as much of racist police brutality as we’re going to take without fighting back.  We the People want to see these smug white arseholes held accountable for their actions.  We want to see justice; we want police to be trained in matters of racial tolerance.  Until we make genuine progress, until we can go a year without white cops murdering unarmed, innocent Black people, the protests are going to continue, and some will turn violent no matter how many armed goons Donald Trump sends into a city!

Yesterday, there was no justice for Breonna Taylor, there was only a mockery of justice.  Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder says he fears for the safety of his officers.  If the three officers who murdered Breonna Taylor had been arrested and charged as they should have been, there would be no protests, no violence, and he would not need to fear for the safety of his officers.  Actions have consequences, as we all learned around the age of three when we put our hand on that hot stove.  But for officers Mattingly, Hankison and Cosgrove, the consequences for murder were nil.  Meanwhile, Breonna Taylor is still dead and the world lost a kind, caring human being.breonna-taylor

Words To Ponder …

Ibram-X-KendiMost every one of us would say, if asked, that we are not racist.  We don’t think of Black people as intellectually inferior as our ancestors did, we don’t see them as someone to be feared or hated simply based on skin colour.  We have spoken out for equal rights for Blacks and other minorities, defend equal voting rights, housing rights, and employment rights for all.  But, is there a difference between being ‘not racist’ and being ‘antiracist’?  Dr. Ibram X. Kendi thinks there is, and after listening to him explain last night, I’m inclined to agree.

Dr. Kendi is an author, historian, and scholar of race and discriminatory policy in the U.S.  He currently serves as director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, and previously held the same position at the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at the American University.  I have read one of his books, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and am hoping to read his next to latest, How to be an Antiracist, for which he won the 2016 National Book Award for Non-Fiction.  He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019, as well as numerous other awards and honours.

In the U.S. today, in light of the recent killings of innocent, unarmed black people by police, the Black Lives Matter movement is more widespread than at any other time.  Unfortunately, it has taken a back seat to such matters as the upcoming election and the coronavirus pandemic, but still, many more people are, it seems, becoming aware of the systemic racism that never went away in this country.  And now, we have a president who would re-write the history of our nation to eliminate such dark eras as slavery, making it more important than ever that we stand up, that we do not allow the darkest days of our history to be whitewashed, but that we own them and learn from them.

I’d like to direct you to the clip my friend Herb sent me last night that I found thought-provoking, and that made me take a closer look within my own self.  This is a 12-minute clip from a June interview of Dr. Kendi with Stephen Colbert, where Colbert steps outside his jokester persona and asks serious, intelligent questions of Dr. Kendi.  Please take the time to watch, listen, and think about Dr. Kendi’s words.

What did you think?  Did it make you stop and ponder a bit?  If you’re interested in Dr. Kendi and his work, please check out his website.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 9/5

I always look forward to TokyoSand’s Saturday cartoonfest. A truly great editorial cartoon should be the “knife-twist of accountability.” While reported articles keep the powers-that-be in check, and opinion and editorial sections help readers make sense of that reporting, editorial cartoons are the jolt that shocks you into caring. These days, there is ample material to keep the cartoonists working overtime, and they have become even more relevant in this age of social media where people’s attention is pulled in so many directions. Thank you for once again giving us a few chuckles on a Saturday afternoon, T.S.!

Political⚡Charge

ByLalo Alcaraz

As a lifelong admirer of editorial cartoonists, I love looking for the cartoons that grab my attention throughout the week and compiling my favorites for all of you. This week, the cartoonists covered the reporting about Trump disrespecting fallen soldiers when he was overseas, the Black Lives Matter movement, the latest with COVID and schools opening, as well as Election 2020.

Trump Disrespects Fallen Soldiers

ByBill Bramhall, New York Daily News

ByClay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

ByMichael de Adder

ByMike Peters, Mother Goose and Grimm

Black Lives Matter

ByMatt Davies, Newsday

ByClay Jones

ByPat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

ByMarc Murphy, Louisville Courier-Journal

ByClay Jones

ByMike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ByMichael de Adder

ByMatt Wuerker, Politico

COVID

ByMatt Davies, Newsday

ByMike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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“Un-American Propaganda”??? Seriously???

Just a few short years ago, this nation seemed like a sane place.  Sure, we had problems … plenty of them.  But we always thought there were systems and safeguards in place to keep any single person or any branch of government from overstepping their bounds.  Never did we dream, say back in 2010, ten years ago, that one person could make such a power grab that the norms would all be shattered within a single administration.

Today, we realize what fools we were … or at least the majority of us realize it.  A madman was elected with a minority of the vote, and nothing has been right ever since.  The Constitution that every president and member of Congress takes an oath to uphold has been shredded by a president who knows no boundaries, who has been enabled by his sycophants in Congress, in his administration, and yes, even in the Courts.  Where are those ‘checks and balances’?  They are only as good as the people who are tasked with enforcing them.

The latest thing to send me into a fit of temper is Trump’s order to Russell Vought, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, to cease the government’s racial sensitivity training.  Trump calls such training “un-American propaganda”.  That’s right, folks … it is un-American to try to teach people not to discriminate, to try to remove the systemic racism that exists within our government and law enforcement community.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  🤬

Does this man understand that Black people are citizens of this nation with the same rights accorded to white people???  Does he understand that we have a huge problem in this nation with racism running rampant throughout our police departments?  Does he realize that we are on the brink of a race war that he will have been responsible for starting?

Trump’s former attorney and ‘fixer’, the man who, for a price, made Trump’s problems such as sexual liaisons just disappear, testified under oath to Congress in February 2019 …

“I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.”

gettyimages-1127745618

He is a racist.  Was there ever any doubt?  Cohen went on to cite some examples …

“He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’ This was when Barack Obama was president of the United States. While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way. He told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”

Four decades ago, Trump and his father were sued by the federal government, which accused the Trumps of discriminating against people of colour trying to rent the Trump company’s apartments. Donald Trump was also sued for his mistreatment of black workers in his casinos and, according to a former hotel executive, once said “laziness is a trait in blacks.”

Then there was the Central Park Five case.  A group of African American and Hispanic teens named Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Kharey Wise happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time back in 1989 when a white female jogger was attacked and raped.  The five teens were arrested, tried and convicted on false evidence and coerced confessions, and they served prison sentences until 2002 when the real assailant confessed to the crime.  Donald Trump spent $85,000 placing the ads in local papers calling for the five teens to be executed.  Even though the five young men were exonerated, Trump has since repeatedly reiterated the guilty verdict of the men and has refused to back down or admit his mistake.  What if the teens had been white and the victim Black?  I don’t think Trump would have had a word to say about it.

Yes, Donald Trump is a racist, but are we going to allow him to make this nation even more racist than it already is???  How many more George Floyds, Breonna Taylors, Botham Jeans, Atatiana Jeffersons, and Jacob Blakes do we want?  How many more will it take until the thus-far peaceful Black Lives Matter protests turn into an all-out race war?  We have a serious problem with all forms of bigotry in this nation, but particularly racism, and the very person who should be dealing with it, trying to find solutions for the problem and bring the people of this nation together,  is instead pouring fuel on the fire.  It should NOT be his decision to cancel the training that might … just might be a start toward a better understanding between the people of this nation.

Trump has assembled a long record of comment on issues involving African Americans as well as Mexicans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, women, and people with disabilities.  He is not only a racist, but a misogynist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, and more.  This is a diverse nation with people of every nationality, religion, and ethnicity.  That the nation is led by a person who cannot tolerate any who aren’t white, Christian and male is the ultimate hypocrisy.  Will the people of this nation give him another four years to further our global reputation as a racist nation?  Remember, my friends, we will all carry the stigma of that label, not just those who voted for Trump.  Is this really how we want to be viewed?  Is this really a nation we even want to live in?

Tuesday’s Gone with the Wind – a few thoughts

Our friend Keith, as always, has a clear vision of the chaos in the U.S. today and who is fanning the flames. Thank you, Keith, for summing it up so nicely, as you always do!

musingsofanoldfart

With all due respect to “Ruby Tuesday” and “Tuesday Afternoon,” I chose this song title for my random Tuesday thoughts. “Tuesday’s Gone with the Wind” has the right melancholy feel.

Starting with the last part of the title “Gone with the Wind,” it reminds me that the entertainment world has finally figured out the famous movie and book are racist and poor renditions of the events surrounding the Civil War. We actually discussed this misrepresentation by the movie and book in my World Literature class in 1977. But, propaganda about the war has been around since white slaveowners got poor whites to fight for a more righteous cause of states’ rights than the real one to let them keep slaves.

Remember how states’ rights were cited by the president for delegating his responsibility to fight COVID-19. Yet, states’ rights are less important if he must flex his law and order…

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The Week’s Best Cartoons 8/29

As always on Saturday, our friend TokyoSand has picked the cream of the crop in this week’s political cartoons. She also shares a story of one of those cartoons that appalls me and I think it will you, too. Thank you, TS, for all your work on this. By the way … I did go follow Luckovich on Twitter and re-tweeted this important cartoon!

Political⚡Charge

ByMike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

As a lifelong admirer of editorial cartoonists, I love looking for the cartoons that grab my attention throughout the week and compiling my favorites for all of you. This week, the cartoonists were primarily focused on the GOP convention and the ongoing fallout from the police violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In a slight departure from what I normally do on Saturdays, which is to let the cartoons speak for themselves, I do want to point out that I picked Mike Luckovich’s “Active Shooter Drill” cartoon as the header for a very specific reason. That story is at the end of today’s roundup.

GOP Convention

ByMatt Davies, Newsday

ByClay Jones

By David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Daily Star

ByAnn Telnaes, Washington Post

ByPat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

ByMichael de Adder

ByMatt Wuerker, Politico

ByTom…

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The Violence Must Stop

Our friend Jeff has written a thoughtful post about the violence happening in Kenosha (and other places) Violence that is largely a result of Donald Trump pouring fuel on a smoldering fire. There is so much anger in this nation, that I don’t know how we stop the violence, but it plays right into Trump’s rhetoric, and if it isn’t stopped, it may be the thing that turns the upcoming election in Trump’s favour. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

I’m fearful of November 3, 2020. The polls are starting to tighten, as expected. And they’re going to tighten even more. While things still look good for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, what’s unfolding on America’s streets as we speak, cannot continue.

Folks, it’s playing right into the current president’s playbook. He has no desire to bring this country together. The violence over the past 48 hours in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after another senseless shooting of an unarmed black man, threatens to hand this election again to the most dangerous president in American history. We cannot let that happen.

The violence has to stop. And while I wish I had a bigger platform to shout from, I’m going to say it as loud as I can. The looting, arson, assaults, and overall anarchy and mayhem are playing across American television screens and social media 24/7. And the current president is exploiting…

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Jacob Blake … SAY HIS NAME, DAMMIT!

A man named Jacob Blake was trying to break up an argument between two women on Sunday.  Someone had called the police, and when they arrived, Blake left the women to the police to sort out and headed back to his vehicle where his three young sons awaited patiently in the back seat.  But, instead of breaking up the fight between the women, police zeroed in on Mr. Blake … and as he opened the door to his SUV and started to get in, they shot him in the back … seven times!!!

Seven times they shot a man … an unarmed man … in front of his children!!!  A man who had committed no crime, had no weapon, wasn’t even acting in any suspicious manner! Jacob-BlakeAsk not why there are protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the shooting took place!  The only reason I’m not calling it a murder is that by some miracle, Mr. Blake survived and is currently in serious condition at a Milwaukee hospital.  If he dies, this will have been a murder … in cold blood.  If he dies, the Kenosha police department will owe those three little boys a debt that they can never repay.  And whether he lives or dies, this is but the latest in a string of unarmed black people being shot by police in just the past few months … just one more incidence of the systemic racism that is rampant in police departments across the U.S.

  • Breonna Taylor – March 13th – murdered by police in her own bed after police used a battering ram to break down the door.  They had a warrant … for someone else who was not, and had never been, in Ms. Taylor’s apartment in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • George Floyd – May 25th – murdered in cold blood by one police officer, while three others looked on in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Rayshard Brooks – June 12th – murdered by police for the crime of having a bit too much to drink and falling asleep in his car at the Wendy’s drive-thru lane in Atlanta, Georgia.

And these are only the high-profile ones, the ones we’ve heard about in the last five months.  So no, don’t you dare respond to someone saying that Black Lives Matter with your pathetic “All lives matter”, for that is a slap in the face to Ms. Taylor, Mr. Floyd, Mr. Brooks, and Mr. Blake, their families, and every one of us who care about these people.  Don’t you dare make excuses for police departments that tolerate racism among their ranks.  Don’t you dare support people who come out of their homes pointing guns at peaceful protestors who are trying to make their voices heard.  And if you support the racist, race-baiting white supremacist who sits in the Oval Office, then don’t you dare speak to me!

Angry???  Hell yes, I’m angry!  I’ve been in tears all evening, I want to tear someone’s head off!  I hate the racism, the bigotry in all forms, that has become the very definition of the United States.

The officers who shot Mr. Blake, by the way, have been placed on “administrative leave” … why were they not fired?  Why are they on “administrative leave”, still receiving their salary, when they are guilty of nothing less than attempted murder?  These officers were not wearing body cameras, however there was a bystander filming the attempted murder with his cell phone, and that video went viral.  If it hadn’t, would we have even heard of the attempted murder of Jacob Blake?  I wonder.  As Eugene Robinson wrote in The Washington Post  …

“The video doesn’t show all of what happened before Blake headed for the car, and it’s shot from a distance. But what it reveals is enough. Without this cellphone clip, I’m guessing the police report would have spoken of “noncompliance” and “resisting arrest” and some sort of “threatening move” — and that, without evidence to the contrary, Blake might have been filed away as just another Black man who got what he undoubtedly deserved.

There’s a pattern here: Floyd was suspected of passing a fake $20 bill, and he paid with his life. Brooks fell asleep in a Wendy’s drive-through, and he paid with his life. Taylor was just sleeping in her own home, and she paid with her life.

Officials in Kenosha County declared a state of emergency Sunday night. But for African Americans, the emergency is permanent — and it threatens our lives.”

My friends … our country is no longer one in which we can or should take pride.  It is a broken country, one that only works for the wealthy and those with white skin.  The rest of us … are expendable.  Tonight at the Republican National Convention, Mike Pence told cheering supporters, “We will always stand with the men and women who serve on the thin blue line of law enforcement. We’re going to back the blue.”  And reading in between the lines … “To hell with the Blacks, the Hispanics, the Native Americans, the Middle-Easterners …”  The biggest crime in our nation, it would seem, is not colluding with a foreign power, is not shooting someone with an AR-15, is not robbing a bank, is not lying to the American people … the biggest crime is simply being Black.

Tonight, I debate whether it is worth staying here and fighting this fight.  I suppose November 3rd will answer that question, but frankly, if I had the chance to put the United States behind me tomorrow and never return, I would gladly say “goodbye”.

John Lewis’ Final Words …

John Lewis knew he had few days left on this earth, and he left a powerful message to us all to be published on the day of his funeral, today.  I let his words speak for themselves …


John-Lewis

While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, though decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.