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Martin Luther King

paul wheaton
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Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20535
    ∞

For those of you outside of the US: Today is Martin Luther King, jr. day.

Years ago I typed in the letter from birmingham jail and posted it on a local BBS. I don't seem to have that text file anymore, but thanks to the mighty internet ....

Here is the letter from birmingham jail.

Today I feel like I can work on other stuff after having read it.

Can anybody find the letter to the editor from local clergy that King is responding to in HTML format? How about a description of the events in Birmingham that led to the two letters?


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paul wheaton
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Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20535
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I read the whole thing. I always start off feeling like it is too big to take the time .... and every time I read it I find things that have new meaning to me because of things that I have experienced since the last time I read it.

The messages there go far beyond racism. There is a powerful focus there on doing the right thing. And that doing the right thing is often not the same as doing the easy thing.
Max Habibi
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Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere


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Anand Prabhu
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Posts: 299
Originally posted by Paul Wheaton:


Years ago I typed in the letter from birmingham jail and posted it on a local BBS. I don't seem to have that text file anymore, but thanks to the mighty internet ....


For a minute, I thought you had been to prison till I read the entire post.
Stan James
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Joined: Jan 29, 2003
Posts: 8791
Thanks, Paul, well worth the time to read.


A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of the idea. John Ciardi
Marilyn de Queiroz
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Thanks for the link, Paul.


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"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that's why they call it the present." Eleanor Roosevelt
Michael Ernest
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Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

I count MLK and his words, as many people do, as national treasures. I still get chills watching him deliver his 'I Have a Dream' speech. It is the most profound, most utterly American speech I have ever heard.

It'sc over 10 minutes long and you probably won't want to try getting it today, but when you're ready, here's the full speech.


Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.
- Robert Bresson
John Dunn
slicker
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Joined: Jan 30, 2003
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In his honor, another awesome example of defiance...

de�fi�ance ( P ) Pronunciation Key (d-fns)
n.
1. The act or an example of defying; bold resistance to an opposing force or authority.
2. Intentionally contemptuous behavior or attitude; readiness to contend or resist.


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Ben Souther
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Joined: Dec 11, 2004
Posts: 13410

If you're in the Boston area and a Jazz fan, then you probably listen to WGBH in the evening. The host of the show always plays MLK's speeches and sermons on this night each year.

After listening for an hour or so it becomes very easy to see why his adversaries were so threatened by him.

"Nationl Treasure" indeed.


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Gerald Davis
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Joined: May 15, 2002
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I am dying to know how he got himself into a Birmingham Jail, I could not remember him coming to Blity
john wesley
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Joined: Feb 14, 2005
Posts: 47
I was just wondering why did it take so long for US of A to realize that racial segregation was unethical, I mean when you are talking about MLK and Civil Rights Movement in its full swing then its some were in 1963 ..right ? were as in India, we too had a sort of Civil Rights Movement lead by Ambedkar but that was right at the birth of the nation, ie 1947.

however, I think MKL was more successful � here in India, specially in rural India segregation still persist, probably because its so deeply rooted in the religion and Ambedkar /his legacy has been reduced to garlanding of statues


"Let the one among you who has never sinned throw the first stone.." -A Hero
Frank Silbermann
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Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1387
Originally posted by john wesley:
I was just wondering why did it take so long for US of A to realize that racial segregation was unethical, I mean when you are talking about MLK and Civil Rights Movement in its full swing then its some were in 1963 ..right ? were as in India, we too had a sort of Civil Rights Movement lead by Ambedkar but that was right at the birth of the nation, ie 1947.

however, I think MKL was more successful � here in India, specially in rural India segregation still persist, probably because its so deeply rooted in the religion and Ambedkar /his legacy has been reduced to garlanding of statues
Until about fifty years ago, the United States was a single country mainly just for the purposes of foreign policy and coinage. With respect to domestic policy, each state was like an independent country. Most states neither mandated segregation nor disenfranchised blacks.

Those that did oppress blacks were taking their anger out on them over their Civil War defeat. Also, these states tended to have the greatest percentages of blacks, and therefore, the greatest potential for social disruption upon change. The Civil Rights legislation was necessary, right and just -- but it did not come without significant negative repurcussions that Americans have had to bear since then.
[ January 17, 2006: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by john wesley:
I was just wondering why did it take so long for US of A to realize that racial segregation was unethical, I mean when you are talking about MLK and Civil Rights Movement in its full swing then its some were in 1963 ..right ?

There are all sorts of causes and factors one can point to. As a kid in history classes, the one event that really struck me was the so-called Three-Fifths Compromise. This event, to me, still represents the day the founders blinked, and surrendered the political convenience the same principles of liberty they fought to gain for themselves.
Dave Lenton
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Posts: 1241
Originally posted by john wesley:
I was just wondering why did it take so long for US of A to realize that racial segregation was unethical
The trouble is that despite our feelings that some things are obviously "wrong", previously people didn't think so. I guess it just goes to show what a massive influence cultural habits can be on influencing people's views on something.

Personally I feel ashamed that my country played such a big part in the slave trade, and that it took until the 18th centaury until the UK stopped the practice (more ashamedly, at this point it was the only European power to have done so). This slave trade was bad enough in itself, but was also a direct contributor to the build up of racist view points in the Americas.

The point is that at the time when slavery was at its peak, there were a great deal of people who considered it perfectly legitimate, while still at the same time supporting freedom loving liberal and libertarian politics back at home.

Certainly much of the world has improved (although just yesterday I read an article about slavery happening now in Brazil), but there is a long way to go. In much of the world racist views are still present. But why?

I suspect that it may be down to some of our primitive instincts. Back in pre-human and early-human times, we lived in small tribal groups. Each group would have to compete for territory and resources with other groups, and would probably have derived evolutionary advantage from developing an instinctive suspicion of competitor tribes. I wonder if this has lead to the instinctive distrust that many people have of anyone who is "different". Skin colour is an obvious difference, and perhaps triggers this primitive instinct in some.

Most people can put mankind's greatest advantage over other animals to use and use their intelligence to rise above these outdated instincts, but unfortunately there are some who do not.


There will be glitches in my transition from being a saloon bar sage to a world statesman. - Tony Banks
john wesley
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Joined: Feb 14, 2005
Posts: 47
Very true, sitting in 2006 it is very easy to point fingers at history and say �hey! That was so obviously wrong�. I guess USA has been very lucky that it had the men and the passion to correct its wrongs. however, here in the third word we need an external enemy to arouse the passions, correcting our wrongs rarely attracts masses.

Three-Fifths Compromise : could never believe that it was once in US constitution !!! Anyways, thanks for the info and thank god for wikipedia.
Frank Silbermann
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Posts: 1387
Originally posted by Michael Ernest:
There are all sorts of causes and factors one can point to. As a kid in history classes, the one event that really struck me was the so-called Three-Fifths Compromise. This event, to me, still represents the day the founders blinked, and surrendered the political convenience the same principles of liberty they fought to gain for themselves.
I think you misunderstand the issue. States determined which of their own people could vote (typically only landowners back then, and certainly not slaves), but their share of representatives in the Lower House was based on overall (and mostly non-voting) population. To increase their relative influence, the southern states wanted slaves to count when apportioning the number of congressmen to each state. (Slaves were much less numerous in the northern states.)

It was the _ANTI_-slavery factions who didn't want to count the slaves as people for this purpose!

As for the question of slavery itself, this was not even on the agenda. Remember, the Founders were not so much forming a new nation as creating a tight alliance between 13 pre-existing and largely self-governing nations.
[ January 18, 2006: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
Frank Silbermann
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Posts: 1387
Originally posted by Dave Lenton:
Personally I feel ashamed that my country played such a big part in the slave trade, and that it took until the 18th centaury until the UK stopped the practice (more ashamedly, at this point it was the only European power to have done so).
Your thinking of it the wrong way. Until the early 19th century slavery was accepted worldwide, and had been accepted since antiquity. You should take pride in the fact that English Puritans _originated_ the idea that slavery was wrong.


This slave trade was bad enough in itself, but was also a direct contributor to the build up of racist view points in the Americas.
American racism resulted from the clash between slavery and the new liberal egalitarianism. The only way to justify slavery under the new ideas was to convince oneself that the blacks were not merely people who had been militarily defeated, but a different species almost.

The point is that at the time when slavery was at its peak, there were a great deal of people who considered it perfectly legitimate, while still at the same time supporting freedom loving liberal and libertarian politics back at home.
The Romans and Greeks celebrated freedom as the reward for virtue (manhood); this virtue included the preference for death over slavery. Those who preferred slavery to death were deemed unworthy, and hence, deserving of their degraded condition.

The 17th century English and Scottish liberal philosophers believed that their nations would be uplifted by the promotion of freedom-and-virtue. Eventually some, perhaps under the Puritan influence, decided that slavery was wrong for everyone. This led to the American dispute over whether the Africans could be virtuous enough to be worthy of freedom. (E.g., whether they had enough intelligence and emotional maturity to keep and bear arms -- the most obvious distinction between free men and slaves. And whether their men would voluntarily bear the burden of providing for their children.)

These questions are still debated today.

[ January 18, 2006: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
[ January 18, 2006: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Donald R. Cossitt
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Joined: Jan 31, 2003
Posts: 401

The Romans and Greeks celebrated freedom as the reward for virtue (manhood); this virtue included the preference for death over slavery. Those who preferred slavery to death were deemed unworthy, and hence, deserving of their degraded condition.

The 17th century English and Scottish liberal philosophers believed that their nations would be uplifted by the promotion of freedom-and-virtue. Eventually some, perhaps under the Puritan influence, decided that slavery was wrong for everyone. This led to the American dispute over whether the Africans could be virtuous enough to be worthy of freedom. (E.g., whether they had enough intelligence and emotional maturity to keep and bear arms -- the most obvious distinction between free men and slaves. And whether their men would voluntarily bear the burden of providing for their children.)

These questions are still debated today.


Yet the liberals among us today, who are presupposed to freedoms and human rights et al, have hoist upon the masses another more subtle form of slavery yet as profound: dependence upon government. As far as "bear arms" is concerned: those who refuse to do so are condemned to perish by those who do! And no, it is not the responsiblility of government to protect me and mine - they are merely an add-on; the chief responsibility is the individual!

Governments' purpose is to do for people that which they cannot do for themselves; which is not much!
[ January 22, 2006: Message edited by: Donald R. Cossitt ]

doco
Michael Ernest
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
[QB] I think you misunderstand the issue. States determined which of their own people could vote (typically only landowners back then, and certainly not slaves), but their share of representatives in the Lower House was based on overall (and mostly non-voting) population...

It was the _ANTI_-slavery factions who didn't want to count the slaves as people for this purpose!
[QB]

That has nothing to do with what I said, but I gather you're eager to recite a history lesson. Enjoy.
 
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