With the 25th anniversary of the Tinanmen Square uprising less than a month away (June 3-4 1989) the Chinese authorities are rounding up activists, human rights lawyers, agitators, bloggers, and detaining them, either with house arrest or in jail with no charges pending and no right to redress their custodial status. The NY Times article on the round-up is here.
How great is it to live in a country where personal freedom is cherished and people are not held indefinitely on secret charges based on their political views? Isn't it (Guantanamo Bay) a wonderful thing (Martin Luther King 's Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963) not to have indefinite detentions (Jimmy Ryce Act) in this country where people aren't crushed by the government for their personal views?
Just to refresh your knowledge of history, Dr. King was arrested after he defied the order of Circuit Court Judge W. A. Jenkins, that prohibited people from "parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing." Of course, we're different from China. Right?
From the Letter from Birmingham Jail:
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds. ...
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed...
But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you go forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
Yes dear readers, we have a lot to be proud of in this country.
See You In Court.
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