After a brief pause in our weekly schedule, WC and I were back in the Que4 studio last Saturday. We hit a lot (I guess we had it all pinned-up inside). Listen in to our conversation about white supremacists, working class history, or lack there of, gender, and polyamory. We also got an update on one of the foreclosure cases we’ve been following throughout the last year from Mike Henderson, a man who is fighting an epic battle with his bank in an attempt to keep his home.
So the Discovery Institute…boy there’s a hell of a seg-way! But there are few examples that illustrates the gullibility of adherents and the manipulative duplicity of Rightwing opportunists and ideologues. This is a group with connections to Scooter Libby, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, ubiquitous of the last Bush Administration, and Alexander Haig of the Rightwing Hudson Institute, which draws its funding, from among others, Monsanto, Exxon-Mobil, DuPont and PhRMA. DI’s founder, Bruce Chapman was a fellow at Hudson. Chapman served in the Reagan Administration. Seeing a pattern emerge yet?
The Discovery Institute, if you aren’t familiar is a nonprofit (Of course it is) public policy think tank headquartered in Seattle. I’ll let their mission statement speak for itself:
The mission of Discovery Institute is to advance a culture of purpose, creativity and innovation…Mind, not matter, is the source and crown of creation, the wellspring of human achievement. Conceived by the ancient Hebrews, Greeks and Christians, and elaborated in the American Founding, Western culture has encouraged creativity, enabled discovery and upheld the uniqueness and dignity of human beings…Linking religious, political, and economic liberty, the Judeo-Christian culture has established the rule of law, codified respect for human rights and conceived constitutional democracy.
Sure. In other words, they are modern day bigots who have just learned how to end run around most skepticism by those not paying close attention. Apart from that, the first sentence means nothing and might have been written by junior high school students. So Western culture encouraged creativity, huh? That will come as news to the Eastern inventors of Algebra and the concept of “Zero,” or to the Chinese who invented gunpowder and conceived of the rocket, Egyptian pyramid builders, or the Africans who discovered fire, or the first farmers in the eastern Mediterranean who invented beer(Thanks, by the way) or the Nubians who may have invented the first true antibiotic 5,000 years ago. I could go on, but then that would be stupid.
Indeed, the Judeo-Christian culture did conceive of the rule of law (which they might have “borrowed” from the Persians and dozens of proto-Mesopotamian cultures), only to violate those laws more times than we can recount here. But for craps and giggles let’s name a couple; Iraq, rendition, Native Americans, smallpox-laced blankets torture, drone strikes on civilians, chemical weapons, landmines, the term “collateral damage, cluster bombs…
But the meat and potatoes behind the Discovery Institute is their whole sneaky propaganda effort is at its very core a fraud. They are fundamentally about forcing creationism into school curricula, and make no mistake there is no difference between “Intelligent Design” and creationism. Inventing, in my rarely humbled opinion, themselves as a non-profit think tank, they should be more accurately described as a non-profit think virus. They are slick and smooth with their positions and strategies, but susceptible to extreme sarcasm and actual knowledge, both of which I will use here to shed a bit more light on DI.
At the heart of discovery Institute is without doubt a cynically bigoted Christian fundamentalism and an effort at control through the political process.
But the anchor of their total argument lies in one simple anti-intellectual belief; when scientists cannot immediately answer a question or riddle in nature, the final answer must then be god. It is a dangerous, undemocratic and fascistic position, because by ending the argument in the cul-de-sac of god it shuts the door to freedom of thought and true religion. It becomes a short step from there that some future Rightwing religionist government could even legislate against arguments which might undermine the prominence and pre-eminence of god.
It happened before in history, just like I never would have believed Obama would commit war crimes or become George W. Bush 2.0 when I voted for him in 2008, but it has happened, Especially a god wearing a stars and stripes team jersey.
But what DI and the Intelligent design/creationists attempt is a failure to grasp the fundamental tenant of all science, and that is observations and understanding must be drawn from nature, not the opposite, in which mankind assigns belief and perspective to nature. In simpler terms, understanding the reason a building doesn’t withstand a tornado is in the measurement of construction, wind speed and pressure rather than the idea that the tornado must have been angry or evil in attacking the building. That foolish and retro-evolutionary attitude is present in the featured book, “No Free Lunch,” by William Demski, a theologian and senior fellow at DI’s Center for Science and Culture-the DI’s pseudo-intellectual Brown Shirts.
Demski and others pretend that because science hasn’t yet “explained” the complex evolution of sight and the human eye that god must be responsible. How else could something as complex as the eye behold the beauty of a butterfly or a sunset unless the all mighty intervened. Of course, those same eyes also invented by god allow us to look the other way to racism, suffering and all sorts of atrocities. Indeed, the violence, lack of compassion, the cruelty and misery that innocent and guilty eyes alike behold makes a better case for the devil than for god.
But think about the titles of books promoted by DI and ask how they contribute to knowledge, science and the progress of humanity. Titles like, “Evolution and Ethics: Human Morality in Biological & Religious Perspective,” “Science and Christianity: Four Views,” or “The God of Miracles: An Exegetical Examination of God’s Action in the World,” which are instead more political polemics and an argument for a single religion’s national hegemony. And this is DI’s tease for “Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology By: Craig, William Lane and Smith, Quentin, Publisher: Oxford University Press:
Contemporary science presents us with the remarkable theory that the universe began billions of years ago with a cataclysmic explosion, the “Big Bang.” But was this explosion created by God? The question of whether Big Bang cosmology supports theism or atheism has long been a matter of discussion among the general public and in popular science books, but has received scant attention from philosophers. This book sets out to fill this gap by means of a sustained debate between two philosophers.
In this volume, William Lane Craig, a Discovery Institute Fellow, and Quentin Smith defend opposing positions…
Remember that argument when you were a kid, if god is all powerful, can he create a rock so heavy he can’t pick it up? In doing so god establishes himself as no longer all powerful, right? It’s a silly exercise, and it is meant to be. Even at 12 I tired quickly of it, but apparently the eternally 12 year old thinkers at DI can’t seem to mature past those abstracts. If there is no god, who created the universe? Sure, but who invented god? Well, god was always there. Well then, why can’t the universe have always been there…?” No substance, just abstract argument based on antagonism not knowledge.
The best way I can describe the Discovery Institute is that it might look like a cancer, with all of these fibers extending in all directions to other social cancers like the rightwing Hudson Institute, and champion of Rightwing Israeli nationalism and talk show host, Michael Medved who frequently has DI or DI’s anti-science/Christian fundamentalist spawn, the Center for Science and Culture, on his syndicated radio program.
E=(GOD)MC2 Talk about political correctness. The insistence that god, religion or religious concepts and arguments must be inserted in all things. For the Right to eschew “communism”…
Currently their Gatling gun efforts at trickery and propaganda deals with the “inexplicable” eruption of diverse life during the Precambrian era, a massively expansive period that extends from the beginning of the planet and ending approximately 540 million years ago, or roughly 90% of the lifespan of the planet. It is a time, which should be evident from the time frame, unless you believe as many fundamentalist Christians do, that people and dinosaurs lived side by side,that the climate of the planet changed from literally barren rock towards something more hospitable to life.
Their focus is on the so-called Precambrian explosion, which witnessed over the course of some seventy million years an unprecedented and exponential diversification in life.
Again, the key here is seventy million years, and while I would get into the smallest of details here, or a biological and evolutionary treatise, an awful lot can happen in 70 million years. They are Illustrating the issue so simply as to make it appear as if this explosion happened over a really busy weekend, but think about what can happen in even a fraction of that time.
65 million years ago there were giant dinosaurs ranging the planet. Africa and South America were separated by a small channel of ocean, there was no Florida, India was separate from Asia and Europe was largely an archipelago. The dinosaurs were gone within a million years, replaced by emerging mammals that clung to trees or scavenged. Only 1.8 million years ago, a mere blink of the eye in geologic terms, as the first humans were still far more ape-like than we appear now(insert political party joke here), a mile thick ice sheet covered Chicago, Moscow and Helsinki. In that time the oceans have risen from a period that once allowed early humans to inhabit islands in the Pacific such as New Guinea and Indonesia with the most primitive of travel.
What this illustrates is that a great deal can change in just a few million years, and to frame the growth in diversification of life over the course of 70 million years upon which would be, by today’s standards, as an explosion is nothing short of a lie at worst or extreme idiocy at best. And for those fans of sarcastic reasoning? If cowboys rode around on dinosaurs, what happened to all the dinosaurs? And mankind 6000 years ago, on the eve of the birth of writing slew freaking dinosaurs and didn’t write about it? Not a cartoon or cave painting? Then again, we might be attempting to conversate with political zombies who believe The Flinstones is a documentary.
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For too many folks the state of Indiana does not necessarily evoke images of great craft beer or micro breweries. There is a tendency for fellow, and sometimes a bit too arrogant, Illinoisans to think of Indiana as that state between Chicago and Ohio, or Chicago and Michigan, or Chicago and most anywhere else east. I’ll confess to that a time or two as well. If pressed it is the land of John Cougar whatshisname, who did that song about a debutante in his backseat or something. But great beer? Not so much.
Brian and I have had beers from all around the world. I have cracked a bottle of Sarajevo Beer on the frontline of a war, argued politics with a drunken Russian at a brew pub in Budapest and imbibed freshly brewed Weiss beer in a Bavarian castle, but ask me to name an Indiana Brewery and I am momentarily stumped.
Three Floyds is a member of both the Brewers of Indiana Guild and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, so it’s easy to make that mistake. Add to my retinue of Indiana beers, Lost River Blonde Ale from Cutters Brewering Company in Avon Indiana. Deep in the heart of Indiana, you’d practically have to be lost to find this place, hidden in the shadow of Indianapolis. But in that shadow someone has learned a thing or two about brewing very pleasing and accessible beers.
Lost River poured golden and clean, with a sturdy snow-white head. The head settled within a few minutes. A really beautiful lacing clung to the sides of the pint glass. I found it nicely balanced with a slight sweetness, contrasting a grapefruity citrus bitterness. There was a breadiness that reminded me of a good pilsner, but it was hardly overwhelming. And finally, this was a really refreshing beer, bearing in mind that drinking beer in the Midwest is different than other places. A beer needs to be refreshing and casual for the average Midwest drinker, but still offer the layers and levels sought after by craft aficionados. It has to work at a ball game, at the barbeque and be conversational at the bar too. So far Lost River Blonde Ale is two for three. I’ll have to try it at a ball game sometime to see if they can go three for three.
For food, the wife and I did something simple and homey; grilled Chicken thighs, roasted potatoes and a tomato, onion and cucumber salad with olive oil and vinegar. I recommend a bit of spice with this beer. The gentle warmth of a bit of hot paprika, pepper, a touch of Giardiniera oil and basil roasted with the chicken was perfect. Keep it simple with this one. In pairing I’d recommend marinades and dry rubs for a light to medium heat rather that heavy sauces or really heavy flavors. BBQ sauce would overwhelm this beer. Brats with a pickle and a rustic stone-ground mustard would also be a fine match.
Cutters Brewing Company’s Lost River Blonde Ale makes my list of the top summer beers in the Midwest. Now, I’m looking for their Monon Wheat. I’m a sucker for a good Belgian Style Wit beer. Anybody?
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It is likely that you missed this story; a gaggle of really conscientious kids sued the teacher’s union in California, because these kids feel really, really, really super strongly about their education. These go-getter kiddos realized that it was that thing called “tenure” that helps all those horribly inept educators keep them from that god-given education they so richly desire. And wouldn’t you know it those kids won, and now tenure is over in California, and all those nasty teachers, paid at the top of the scale, as prescribed by a contract signed by the state, can now be fired. The corporate media heralded the win by these 9 great kids over those evil unions who just want to protect terrible teachers. Oh, wait, not so fast!
Apparently it really isn’t about the kids, and certainly not these 9 little urchins, apparently pulled straight from central casting to divert charges of racism by anti-union, pro-corporate lawyers to cover a high finance, high stakes assault on unions and teachers. Remember how outraged we all were at terrorists reportedly using civilians as human shields? Well, not all terrorists carry a gun, some of them carry a briefcase and a writ.
The case, Vergara v. California, was indeed brought by those 9 school children, but the evidence clearly points to a supreme manipulation by anti-union activists and zealots hoping to inspire a national precedent that would undermine and dismantle seniority, the cornerstone of union organization. A good thing you say, to rid the world of this unfair scourge? Not so fast. The reasons for seniority are many fold, including the achievement of levels of expertise and experience. It is also protection from discrimination, preventing unscrupulous employers from firing workers because of their age, their wage or to rob them of a pension earned over the course of a career.
Behind our 9 blissful angels in California is a veritable who’s who of corporate and white collar attorneys and a couple of billionaires. Heading up the legal team are Theodore B. Olson, co-lead counsel for Plaintiffs in Vergara v. California, and Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., partners in the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Call me cynical that Mr. Olson was Solicitor General of the United States during the Bush Administration 2001-2004, and was part of Reagan’s Justice Department from 1981-84. Why, Mr. Olson just happened to argue both Bush v. Gore cases after the 2000 presidential election, and Citizens United. Now it seems Olson just wants to help out some kids who busted open their piggy banks for a better education.
There is more here, much more, and I am just skimming the surface. The curious thing is whether several of the attorneys on this auspicious dream-team of corporate ambulance tailpipe suckers had trained previously for this very case. Joshua S. Lipshutz and Theane Evangelis-neither of them kids by the way-and both with, you guessed it, Gibson, Dunn & blah, blah, blah both worked for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
That name might not sound familiar to most, although rather comedically Kozinski, appointed to the Ninth Circuit by Ronald Reagan, “maintained,” The Los Angeles Times reported in 2008 “a publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos.” While that isn’t necessarily significant, Kozinski was heavily criticized over Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, another education issue that was to have national implications. What emerges along with a fleet of lawyers known and experienced in championing power establishment and elites, working to protect companies accused of everything from clean water act violations to sexual harassment and discrimination, is an attempt at precedence destined to assail a teacher’s union near you. And they, in my opinion, are loathe to repeat the travails of past cases.
The organizers are doing this nasty work from behind children. On their website this seemingly innocuous group describes “Students Matter’ as a national non-profit organization dedicated to sponsoring impact litigation to promote access to quality public education. With the help of Students Matter, nine California public school children filed the statewide lawsuit Vergara v. California against the State of California in May 2012 to strike down the laws handcuffing schools from doing what’s best for kids when it comes to teachers.” Sounds like something kids would write to me.
But this isn’t about teachers union and tenure. It is about much, much more. If left unchallenged Vergara v. California will resonate far beyond education. This will open the door to challenges that could allow companies to openly and with impunity fire older, senior and mature workers because they are nearing retirement, or because they can be jettisoned in favor of lower earning younger workers. While that may, and likely does happen now in the shadows, this ruling opens the door for a virtual genocide on workers with seniority, driving down wages and increasing the gap between the uber-wealthy and the rest of us.
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A couple ambushed two Las Vegas police officers and then opened fire inside a Walmart yesterday, proclaiming “This is the start of the revolution!” The terrorist attack took place only a month after militias swarmed to Nevada and threatened to murder law enforcement officers at Cliven Bundy’s ranch nearby. It is unclear if the ongoing Bundy case influenced the two who committed suicide after being confronted by police.
The couple, who have not been officially identified yet, reportedly had Tea Party and Rightwing paraphernalia, and quoted rhetoric commonly heard on Rightwing talk radio and FOX news, which regularly courts and incites fringe and rightwing terrorists.
In such cases the media is quick to distance itself from culpability and responsibility for such attacks, despite feeding both this sort of ideology and the proliferation of guns. Rightwing and white supremacists terrorists have murdered hundreds over the last decade in the United States, while so-called Muslim terrorists have killed fewer than 5 in the US over the past 10 years.
More on this from Revolution and Beer as details emerge.
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This is a public proclamation: Political Talk Radio is dead. Good riddance! Strangely for an industry that prides itself on being the absolute forefront of information, and whose personalities regularly eschew so-called low information voters, it couldn’t be convinced of that fact despite that it is literally beating them over the head. By the way, it is beating them over the head. And I don’t say this lightly.
As the manager of a small and new low power AM start up in Chicago, and a current and former host with a sublime gift of B.S. my driving inspiration is not only to entertain and inform, but cut through the clutter of everything else packing the airwaves. The key there is innovation, and I am astounded as we emerge more and more into the market at the fundamental disdain for innovation in this industry. More than that, I am stunned at the absolute disregard and ignorance by programmers of a rapidly changing radio audience. Strangely, this is exactly where the industry began.
And this is where I began with talk radio, decades ago. I grew up on “Super CFL” and John “Records” Landecker’s “Boogie Checks” on WLS. By the Late 1970s I was hooked on Steve Dahl with “Disco Demolition” on FM radio in Chicago, and followed him and sidekick Garry Meir over to WLS again. The hook was a mix of Dahl’s radio soap opera home life and an irreverent take on the news of the day. By the 1980s I discovered a ranting but even keeled Bob Lassiter(copied unabashedly to the hilt by Michael Savage). I even found amusement in newcomer Rush Limbaugh’s anti-establishment “America held hostage,” shtick after the election of Bill Clinton, not yet aware of the political and ideological manufacturing of his emerging brand. Despite his nakedly conservative slant there still seemed balance to talk radio with hosts like Jay Marvin. Balance was quickly forced from the radio lexicon, and even Rush Limbaugh could hardly escape the irony that it was his pretend radio nemesis, Bill Clinton, who was instrumental in turning nearly all of broadcast radio into a propaganda tool for corporate messaging paraded as political discourse.
And so radio devolved from a true public medium into something fundamentally antithetical to real public interest. Worse, it abandoned real entertainment. But this is more about format than content. Content will follow one of two paths; it will be driven in a propagandistic way by entities who wish to manipulate the audience or the audience will support and drive content in a truly empowered consumer market. In a nation that remains politically moderate, socially liberal and financially conservative we have seen an industry move to message decidedly to the Right, so obviously offering true balance and debate has not been an industry standard. The collapse of talk radio’s audience amid a rise of internet radio and social media indicates that traditional grid-like formats is a thing of the past. That programmers and advertisers demand breaks at the :20 and :40 with a yammering talk host filling the entire content is chasing away key demographics.
I had this conversation with my retired neighbor the other day, explaining how audiences are changing. She isn’t comfortable with listening to radio on her phone or computer and prefers the radio. All of my younger activist friends listen exclusively on their iphones, tablets and smartphones. AM radio? And they may listen live, or grab the file/podcast to list or share later. They want texture, energy and something that holds their shorter attention span. My neighbor, who will likely not rush out or await to purchase the newest phone or smartpad, represents the audience talk radio is currently locked to. The audience of tomorrow is tuning out, losing interest and going elsewhere.
A fair amount of that has to do with politics. People over 50 tend to vote in higher numbers. When it is all about the politics, this demographic produces results as in votes. They will sit through hours of Limbaugh or Hannity or Beck, younger audiences, the ones that advertisers covet, will not. I can already hear the shouts and disagreements, but those are the dying cries of an industry trapped by convention. Advertisers pay the bills, right? Especially those of you on the Right or corporate side, suddenly it isn’t about the marketplace? Hmm.
The new audience wants texture, music, movement, a 3 or 5 minute segment with a personality on an issue, and 15 or 20 minutes for a great interview. In short they want a show, which is not what they are getting from blah-blah-blah talk radio currently.
The radio audience of tomorrow is already here, though almost nobody in the industry is listening to them. I have already worked out a sketch of what that landscape will look like. We’ve already begun crafting and instituting it at que4 radio in Chicago. It will revolutionize the industry and remake stations that are willing to evolve to the realities of a marketplace that is changing fundamentally. For those who don’t, we’ll look for your bones in the natural history museum beside the other dinosaurs!
WC Turck is the author of 4 books, including the critically acclaimed Bosnian War Memoir “Everything for Love,” and Broken: One soldier’s unexpected journey home, at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. Turck wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart: A Revolutionary Christmas Carol” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” The most dangerous voice on the Left, he can be heard Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 9-11am in Chicago, and 1-3pm on the Revolution and Beer show with partner and cohost BL Murray on AM1680, www.que4.org.
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Burn it all down. It is the fundamental question to any revolution. When do we burn it all down? If there is a cause or issue you care about, ask yourself where that line is. I don’t care what political or religious or philosophical ideology you subscribe to, ask yourself where is the line beyond which all bets are off and it is time to burn it all down.
I don’t give a damn about convention or the status quo. I am tired of hearing people bitch about injustice. I finished with various factions on the Left squabbling among one another while the right and corporatists keep pushing forward. What I want is justice, and my definition of justice is a simple one; I demand the greatest realization of human rights, equality and justice possible for the broadest possible spectrum of humanity. I reject the idea of class and privilege. I believe that opulent wealth is not benefit of success but a flaw in an inefficient economic notion, and I believe we have abandoned our government to corporate control and that it may require sacrifice unlike anything seen in this nation since the civil war to restore power back to the people.
If it all sounds rather ominous, I am as serious as a heart attack. This nation is in real trouble. And while I am not advocating violence, at least not now, what I am saying is that, well, I better explain.
Look, Americans have been fed this prescription for pacification and control. Everything about this society has become about pacification and control. Make no mistake, the consolidation of 94% our once public media into ownership by 5 major corporations is not an accident. These companies are the messaging body for the corporations assuming more and more control over our nation.
Take, for example, the eternally peaceful and humble little Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian Independence Movement. Most Americans simple assume that Gandhi was the leader of the movement and that the nasty British colonialists beat Gandhi’s ever persistent ranks of peaceniks until they were so exhausted and frustrated that they climbed back onto their sailing vessels with their pith helmets and tea sets and retreated to foggy old England, but the movement to throw off the Brits was almost 60 years old before Gandhi migrated from South Africa.
In fairness to the good Mr Gandhi, the character of the movement became decidedly, but not exclusively nonviolent after his arrival. Most Indians accepted, and the effort gain considerable momentum and credibility adopting his philosophy of nonviolent action and protest. In that shadows and on the fringes, and seething in the ghettos and impoverished villages across India remained those who saw a necessity for violence if pushed or threatened or if nonviolence failed.
The threat and potential for violence had been there from the beginning. Even Gandhi held revolutionaries like Bagha Jatin, a founder of the armed revolutionary organization, Anushilan Samiti, in high regard, calling him a “divine ma.” Anushilan Samiti engaged in political assassinations, terrorist acts and plotting violent revolution against British rule, well into the 1920s and beyond. Yet, all we in the West known of Indian Independence was that it was all because of a quiet little bald guy played in a movie by Ben Kingsley.
The truth is, that there are no peaceful movements for justice. As Fredrick Douglas said, power concedes nothing without demand. I’ll take that a step further, that power takes nothing serious without the threat of violence. In the face of oppression backed by the power of the state, what is left to the oppressed by the specter of violence if the state refuses to concede or abandon its injustice and oppression? Abolition had John Brown.
Among the greatest of these control myths promulgated by the media and state is the characterization of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. While King was decidedly nonviolent, there is growing evidence that King and Malcolm X were growing closer in their views and strategies. But more importantly is how Malcom X and the Black Panthers contribution and necessity to Civil Rights and Black identity has been negated or ignored. In truth Dr king could not have existed in a world without Malcolm X. King’s call for concession by the state over civil rights was bolstered by Malcolm’s demand. While King stood peacefully with his back to the line, Malcolm X defended that line, making it clear that if the state crossed that line it would be met with resistance.
“Kill that dog!” Malcolm X asserted. “If a man uses a dog to keep you from what is rightly yours, kill that dog!”
In his book, “Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s.” author David Howard-Pitney recounts a brief meeting between the two men. Pitney describes a mutual respect often overlooked in historical accounts about the two civil rights leaders and how their positions moderated towards one another’s towards the end of their lives. “In the last years of their lives, they were starting to move toward one another,” he says.”While Malcolm is moderating from his earlier position, King is becoming more militant.”
The lesson here is not simply to burn it all down, but that it is important for the activist to know when to burn it down. The activist must draw that line, and the authorities must know that the line exists, or there is no demand to encourage concession. There has to be a trip wire in every protest in which the cars will overturn, the windows will shatter and mayhem will break out. Otherwise it isn’t a protest with a demand for justice, reform and change. It is merely a parade, and parades are for children and clowns.