Lord of the Blogosphere: A Struggle for Power, Liberty and/or Security

graphic: Debbie Menon 9.16.2010

This is a book review from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal which focuses at the heart of the online-freedom issue.  Who has a right to tell us what we can blog, when we can blog or if we can blog at all?  The government?  The private owners of corporate giants such as Facebook or Apple?  Do we have a right to blog free of any censorship, fears or threats?  Did the Egyptian government, in January 2011, have the right to order internet providers to “pull the plug” on net communications for five days?  Do Facebook and Google have the right to sell for profit our personal and private information, as they now do, for use by advertisers, law enforcement and artificial-intelligence techs who need the info for human behavioral studies?  These are questions that can and should be asked.

I’ve interspersed my own comments (bracketed and in italics) between the article’s paragraphs.  —SB

The Wall Street Journal    BOOKSHELF

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204369404577207363346183978.html?mod=ITP_opinion_0

FEBRUARY 15, 2012

Handmaidens to Censorship:

The threat to online freedom may come from governments, of course, but also from private companies doing the state’s dirty work.  Luke Allnutt reviews “Consent of the Networked.”

By LUKE ALLNUTT

With mounting street protests calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian government, in January 2011, decided to pull the plug on the Internet and mobile telecommunications *.  It wasn’t difficult.  The authorities reportedly asked the country’s Internet providers, including a joint venture with the U.K.-based Vodafone, to turn off their services.  If the companies didn’t want to break Egyptian law, they had no choice but to comply.  For five days, the Egyptian Internet was virtually blacked out.

[* Here, there was implicit governmental intimidation to shut down freedom of speech.  There has been much talk since the Egyptian riots of the power that technology now wields toward allowing instantaneous organizing of dissenters.  Who should own that power to cut off free speech to both consenters and dissenters alike?  —SB]

In “Consent of the Networked,” Rebecca MacKinnon, a fellow at the New America Foundation, argues that it is governments working in collaboration with corporations that represent the greatest threat to Internet freedom.  Internet control, she makes clear, is about more than censorship and filtering.  It is also about shaping narratives and getting private companies to do the state’s dirty work.

Ms. MacKinnon deploys the phrase “digital bonapartism” to describe the policy of strong-arm leaders who use the Internet to seek legitimacy, for instance by crowdsourcing input on new laws or using pro-government bloggers to slur out-of-favor officials.  Such leaders may not block Internet sites outright, but they may well intimidate or threaten bloggers and Internet journalists * “if they push the envelope too far.”  Ms. MacKinnon sees this tendency in Russia and China, although she shows that the Internet in China is more varied and less well policed than is often portrayed.

[* Note that just three months ago, our Department of Homeland Security obtained the right to “monitor” all data that comes from journalists, writers or bloggers.   “Previously established guidelines within the administration say that data could only be collected under authorization set forth by written code, but the new provisions in the NOC’s [National Operations Center] write-up means that any reporter, whether someone along the lines of Walter Cronkite or a budding blogger, can be victimized by the agency.” ( http://rt.com/usa/news/homeland-security-journalists-monitoring-321/ ).  —SB]

Ms. MacKinnon worries about Internet freedom in Western democracies as well.  She cites Sen. Joe Lieberman’s introduction, with Sen. Susan Collins, of a cybersecurity bill in the Senate in 2010 that critics complained would have granted the federal government an emergency Internet “kill switch.”  Sen. Lieberman also drew flak in 2010 for allegedly complaining to Amazon.com when a service run by the company was used by WikiLeaks for its online publication of U.S. diplomatic cables.  Amazon cut off WikiLeaks, * but the company denied that it was influenced by Sen. Lieberman.  Around the same time, PayPal and MasterCard ended relationships with WikiLeaks, and Twitter data related to the group was subpoenaed.  Ms. MacKinnon says that the response to WikiLeaks “highlights a troubling murkiness, opacity, and lack of public accountability in the power relationships between government and Internet-related companies.”

[* Whatever one may believe about WikiLeaks, this would be akin to me self-publishing a book through Amazon.com that the government felt was contrary to their partisan ideology.  The government then would make their displeasure with me known to Amazon.com, PayPal and MasterCard.  Those three private, non-governmental companies would then cut me off.  If they can do it to WikiLeaks, they can do it to anyone.  —SB]

bkrvconsent

Consent of the Networked

By Rebecca MacKinnon
(Basic, 294 pages, $26.99)

If governments are the malevolent sovereigns seeking to enclose the digital commons, then big tech companies are sometimes the obedient vassals keeping the peasants in line.  Businesses can be roped into doing the censorship work for governments—and supplying states with sophisticated surveillance equipment as well.  Internet companies can use our data in ways beyond our control and without our knowledge * and give up that data to prying government agencies.  Big tech companies—e.g., Internet service providers or social networks—are what Ms. MacKinnon calls the “stewards and handmaidens” of Internet censorship.

[Recently, Yuri Milner, the CEO of Digital Sky Technologies made public his belief that Facebook will eventually become a “basis for artificial intelligence.”  This is due to the fact that “Facebook is the central nexus of social data and the social graph; it is the online personification of personalities, interests, friendships and more.” [ http://mashable.com/2010/11/16/could-facebook-become-the-basis-for-artificial-intelligence/ ]  What better way to mimic or create artificial behavior than to monitor the behavior of humans through their online social actions (what we “like,” what we buy, what we listen to or watch or read, our educational levels, how we speak to each other, how open we are, how private we try to be, how radical we are . . .  For a concise and readable history of artificial intelligence, see:  http://library.thinkquest.org/2705/history.html .  —SB]

But what happens when those stewards and handmaidens become sovereigns in their own right, the curators of what news we read, what movies we see and what protests we attend?  Ms. MacKinnon is concerned that when closed proprietary systems—such as Facebook or Apple’s App Store—dominate the Web, free speech will suffer.  She highlights Apple, which has been criticized for banning apps it finds objectionable, including a cartoon version of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (featuring some nudity) and an app ridiculing public figures.  There is a danger, Ms. MacKinnon says, that political activists will become “hostage to the arbitrary whims of corporate self-governance.”

This claim cuts to the heart of the debate about the future of the Internet.  Private services like YouTube have every right to choose what content they carry, just as Wal-Mart or an organic knitwear store has every right to be selective about what products it sells.  What concerns advocates of the open Web is that tech giants like Facebook or Google are so colossal that they are more like public utilities; when it comes to the freedom of speech and assembly, they function as town squares * instead of privately owned shopping malls.

[* Recent American elections have utilized to great effect the concept of online town halls, where voters from every nook and cranny of the country can listen in and join in, as long as they have an internet connection.  Here, it’s a tool to be used to any politician’s benefit.  The broader discussion, though, is whether the same politician, once elected, can shut down the town hall discussion if it begins to smell of “those nasty far-right tea partiers,” or likewise, “those nasty far-left socialists,” depending, of course, on what political ideology the winning politician gives allegiance to. SB]

Ms. MacKinnon says that leaders such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has described regulation of the Internet is a moral imperative, “offer a false binary choice between their preferred solutions on the one hand and an anarchic state of nature in cyberspace on the other.”  She’s right.  The problem is that many thinkers on the information-wants-to-be-free side of the debate present the same binary choice, seeing almost any state control of the Internet, or any government attempt to protect intellectual property, or even the attempts of private social networks to get people to log in with their real names, * as affronts to democracy comparable with the worst excesses of repressive regimes.

[* Here is a great example of the needed balance between privacy and security.  On one hand, the idea of logging in with an alias name, address and all other personal info sounds not bad at all.  On the other hand, there are more than a handful of characters out there who would love anonymous online access for evil intent.  The farther right you go politically, the more liberty you find at the expense of security.  The farther left you go, the more control you get at the expense of liberty.  A Barack Obama would seek the most governmental control.  A Romney, Santorum or Gingrich would seek the most corporate, private-interests control.  A Ron Paul would seek the least governmental or corporate control and the most personal liberty.  —SB]

Luckily, Ms. MacKinnon’s analysis is more nuanced and balanced than that, and “Consent of the Networked” is an excellent survey of the Internet’s major fault lines.  To protect online freedom, she favors grass-roots movements of empowered users pushing back against corporations.  She argues that companies must be convinced, through multi-stakeholder efforts like the Global Network Initiative, “that respecting and protecting their users’ universally recognized human rights is in their long-term commercial self-interest.”

Advocating more activism and more pressure on companies might not sound particularly startling, but already such tactics seem to be bearing fruit.  A couple of months ago, after pressure from nongovernmental agencies, Western companies stopped building a surveillance system for the Syrian regime *.  In the tech industry, the idea of corporate social responsibility is still fairly new.  But a look at the successes achieved by the environmental movement shows that pressuring companies and raising consumer awareness make a lot of sense.

* [2.16.2012 UPDATE: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been responsible, under his rule, for the deaths of more than 7,400 of his people.  The United Nations (UN), just hours ago, condemned Assad for human rights violations and called for him to step down.  And here are “Western companies” having to be pressured to stop “building a surveillance system for the Syrian regime.”  Not exactly social responsibility.  —SB]

Mr. Allnutt writes about digital topics for the Tangled Web blog of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

[For two recent and outstanding books on the myriad of relevant issues revolving around the internet, see:  Brockman, John, ed.  Is The Internet Changing The Way You Think?:  The Net’s Impact on our Minds and Future.  Harper/Perennial, 2011, and:  Levy, Steven.  In The Plex:  How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives.  Simon & Schuster, 2011.  For insight into the present and future of artificial intelligence, see:  Kurzweil, Ray.  The Age Of Spiritual Machines:  When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence.  1999.  Penguin, 2000.  —SB]

Nouveau Hollywood and Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino

This is great.  I saw the TV commercial yesterday during halftime, and how can one not love anything with Clint Eastwood in it?  I met him once, briefly, while he graciously signed an autograph for me in Telluride, Colorado.  Looking into his 60-year-old face was like looking into the face of Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and a select group of “faces” that transcend reality.  They’re faces that fuse fiction with non-fiction, reality with fantasy.

Woody Allen played out this phenomenon with his 1985 fantasy, The Purple Rose of Cairo.  Seeing a symbol of art just step out of the screen (as in Allen’s film) and then stand two-three feet from your face is a jolt.  I saw James Stewart and June Allyson closeup once at a revival viewing of the “old Hollywood,” 1954 entertainment The Glenn Miller Story, but for me, even seeing both of them together at the same time did not create the odd rush that I felt when looking into the face of “the man with no name.” 

Ford Motor Company taking on Chevy is humorous.  Eastwood and Chrysler (now owned by the Italian company, Fiat) taking on the partisanship bickering and disunity in America that has hindered manufacturing growth has more sincerity to it (partisanship and disunity has encouraged a post-apocalyptic feel to America), although the fact that the Italian company Fiat received the previous American taxpayer bailout money for Chrysler has a curious odor to it.

One of my favorite Eastwood films in which he acted was his most recent (and reportedly his last as an actor), from 2008, Gran Torino.  Eastwood portrayed a retired auto worker from Detroit.  His mint condition Gran Torino in the film was a Ford.  The movie is arguably the most mesmerizing, honest, raw to the bone and heartbreaking of all his films, perhaps even a synthesis of all the characters he ever portrayed over his almost sixty-year career.  It was snubbed at that year’s Oscars for being blatantly politically-incorrect.  It just shows how incredibly more political the “new Hollywood” has become when Clint Eastwood, of all iconic actor-directors, is flipped the “old familiar gesture.” 

Anymore, they rarely make an entertainment for the sake of entertainment.  They make entertainments with agendas.  Film stars, in too many cases, become not just what I would call “ambassadors of distraction” but moreso “ambassors of partisan agendas.”  This is not to say that films in the past did not have agendas nor that films today are not entertaining.  In the past, Hollywood consisted of large studios with studio moguls.  Individuals had agendas but not the industry as a whole.  Following the death of the studio era, Hollywood, in my view, began to function more like a unified political action group (pac).  Industry money, I believe, now dictates what films are made or not made.  Actors and directors are expected to either support those agendas, keep their mouths shut if they don’t or not receive union work from their agents.  Hollywood films have become, in this sense, swords instead of plowshares.  Independent filmmaking, which secures much of its funding through the festival circuit (Cannes, Sundance, . . .), is just as much if not more politically motivated.

Filmmaking has come a long way from the days when people paid a dime not so much to see a movie as to escape the outdoor heat and sit inside an air-conditioned theatre.  Film has become an art form.  It allows moviegoers to enter into archetypal stories that mirror dramas and sadnesses in their own lives, coming out of the chaos in the end having purged their emotions–catharsis.  Films have become psychologically valuable.  This is aside from the fact that great filmmakers are just as valuable to society as are sculptors, painters, authors, architects…  They take the “clay” of chaos and create order, which is there always afterward to inspire us in our own steps toward order.  Shakespeare’s plots, which have served Hollywood well, relied largely on the process of untangling the characters from the chaos of life.  Humanity is order in the midst of chaos.  Society is order in the midst of chaos.  Shakespeare understood.

This was exactly the message of Eastwood’s Gran Torino.  America once produced awesome technology, like the Gran Torino.  Now, Detroit (and America increasingly as a whole) appears to have decayed, to have ceased to progress from partisan bickering, to have lost hope for a future.  Now, “artists” of order, like the aging builder (from Polish ancestry) of magnificent American machines that Eastwood portrayed in the film, are being muscled out of neighborhoods as “men with no names.”  In the end, order comes from the grassroots up as Eastwood’s character (who fought for America in the Korean War) ultimately showed us by getting the job done on his own and outside of a rotting, top-down bureaucratic system (like that which has in real life allowed Detroit to decompose)–or of a political action group.  A wisened Eastwood, who over his career has used more than a fair share of “swords” (guns of every caliber in his case), chooses instead the concept of the “plowshare” at the conclusion of this film, planting himself, in a sense, to grow within the lives of the other characters–a “gran finale” as well to his amazing acting career.  –SB

Real News From The Blaze

US Ford Tells Chevy to Pull This Apocalyptic Super Bowl Ad

Posted on February 6, 2012 at 10:45am by Christopher Santarelli

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ford-tells-chevy-to-pull-this-apocalyptic-super-bowl-ad/

Ford Asks Chevy to Take Down Super Bowl Ad

While Clint Eastwood‘s halftime speech seems to be the Super Bowl ad that everyone’s talking about,  [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_PE5V4Uzobc ] Chevy’s end of the world commercial has been getting good feedback as well.

From everyone except Ford that is, who seems to be the odd man out in this year’s Super Bowl commercial wars.

If you haven’t seen it yet, Chevy’s ad plays on the Mayan-predicted apocalypse that many fear will occur this year.  Over the smooth voice of Barry Manilow singing “Looks Like We Made It,” the ad shows a Chevy Silverado driven by a man with dog emerging from the rubble of a post-apocalyptic city.  At the commercial’s climax, the man greets other chevy drivers eating Twinkies at a meet-up where he asks “Where’s Dave?”

“Dave drove a Ford,” says a saddened fellow Chevy driver:

Ford did not find the ad funny, and is voicing their opinion on the matter.

Jalopnik reports that Ford had sent letters to NBC and Chevy parent company GM after seeing the ad before last night’s game, asking them to pull the commercial from the broadcast.

No dice.

“We stand by our claims in the commercial, that the Silverado is the most dependable, longest-lasting full-size pickup on the road,” GM Global Chief Marketing Officer Joel Ewanick said in a press release.  “We can wait until the world ends, and if we need to, we will apologize.  In the meantime, people who are really worried about the Mayan calendar coming true should buy a Silverado right away.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxFYYP8040A&feature=player_embedded

Ford Trucks head Spokesperson responded in a statement to Jalopnik:

“The issue with the ad is that ‘Dave’ doesn‘t survive because he’s driving a Ford. They cite R.L. Polk data on longevity — not durability. If you look at R.L. Polk’s data on durability — the same data I just gave you — there are more Ford trucks on the road with more than 250,000 miles.”

“We‘ve made our point and we’ll always defend our products.”

“But this type of a request happens from time-to-time, and now we’ll just let our legal team handle it.”

It will be interesting to see how much the Super Bowl commercial costs Chevy if Ford carries through with a successful lawsuit.

Living Cheaply with Style

 

SB

The following excerpts from [Callenbach, Ernest.  Living Cheaply With Style.  Ronin Publishing, 1993.] resonate with my own attempts at expressing who I am.  One of my favorite words has become enough:  “sufficient to meet a need or satisfy a desire; adequate.”  Callenbach is definitely writing from within a specific political “box” (which is more than evident in later passages of his book), and I like to keep as far away as possible from partisanship, but much of his voice rings true for me.  –SB

 from: Living Cheaply With Style:
 
Dedication
 
To all who think for themselves and stay conscious of the choices that shape their lives . . .
 
To all who know in their bones that enough is enough, and want to figure out how much that is . . .
 
To all who understand that thrift, ingenuity, and resourcefulness mimic nature and help preserve the Earth . . .
 
To all who wish to survive with grace, humor, imagination, and a little help from their friends . . .
 
Introduction
 
The aim of the book is to equip you to live a better life–more relaxed, more confident, more resilient, more loving, more thoughtful, more satisfying, more genuinely stylish–than you could possibly have with a lot more money.  It’s not easy to live in America today, and for many of us it’s getting steadily harder.  But if we learn to live smarter and with less dependence on the money economy, we can tap a rich potential for sustaining healthy, productive, and happy lives–lives with real personal style.  This book will both provide you with the knowledge and suggest the change in attitudes that can enable you to escape from the mental oppression of our commodity-crazed society, and to focus on what’s really important in life:  our human relationships both inside and outside the family, our communities, our physical and mental health, our contributions to the world, and the infinite pleasures and delights life can offer that are not dependent on cash.
 
Style.
 
You live with style when you live in a self-determined and original way that is authentic for you, when you do things you enjoy because you enjoy them and not because you read about them somewhere or heard that somebody famous and rich enjoys them.  You live with style when you keep your mind free to invent ways of thinking, feeling, and doing that suit you, rather than some corporate marketing department.  You live with style when you rely on your own practiced judgment rather than somebody else’s pronouncements.
 
Thus style is a matter of independence, even rebellion; we’re not talking here about fashion, which is a matter of commercially fostered fads.  America offers a paradoxical living environment, because on the one hand we praise independence of spirit, but on the other hand we are a nation of sheep in our consumer behavior, regularly duped by advertisers.  In our commercial life and in our political life, we have become a nation of chronic liars.  Living with style means turning away from lies, being your own person–though also realizing that as human beings we are social and sociable animals whose safety and serenity inevitably depend heavily on others.  Part of the pleasure of living cheaply with style is to share your tricks and achievements with others, to build a counter-culture in which human beings can live more comfortably and satisfyingly, and to help make American life saner and more humane.

Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet”

Malcolm X on journey to Mecca

Malcolm X on journey to Mecca

In honor of today’s birthday of MLK, Jr., who delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech on August 28, 1963 in Washington D. C., I thought I would revisit one of my favorite Malcolm X speeches, The Ballot or the Bullet, which was delivered on April 3, 1964 at the Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, less than eight months after MLK, Jr.’s famous “March On Washington” speech, and less than five months after the decade’s archetypical assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Malcolm X believed that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been bought and paid for by the white people, specifically by the white liberals, who then used Dr. King to harness in the black vote toward their social reform policies.

Charlton Heston & Marlon Brando at 1963 MLK Jr. March On Washiington

Charlton Heston & Marlon Brando at 1963 MLK Jr. March On Washiington

In the following speech, Malcolm X refers back, unkindly, to King’s march on Washington, when the I Have a Dream speech was delivered and when We Shall Overcome was sung by white musicians, Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan at the 1963 MLK Jr. March On Washington

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan at the 1963 MLK Jr. March On Washington

Peter, Paul & Mary at 1963 MLK Jr. March On Washington

Peter, Paul & Mary at 1963 MLK Jr. March On Washington

Malcolm X, for all his un-whitewashed candor, was ultimately shot in the chest by a black man with a sawed-off shotgun while addressing the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan, on February 21, 1965, not even a year after he had delivered his The Ballot or the Bullet speech.  His autopsy reported 21 bullet wounds, ten of which were from the initial shotgun blast, and the remaining wounds from two handguns fired by two other Black men.

The men were identified as Thomas Hagan, who was later released from prison in 2010; and Thomas Johnson and Norman Butler, both of whom were paroled in the 1980’s.

I would highly recommend viewing Spike Lee’s 1992 film, Malcolm X, with Denzel Washington portraying with full justice the black leader.

I had just turned ten years old the month before Malcolm X’s killing, and I remember hearing of his death, though a long, drawn-out deal was not made of it on the news.  MLK, Jr.’s assassination from a white sniper’s bullet in 1968, however, was clearly front-page material for years to come, as were the assassinations of JFK in 1963 and his brother RFK in 1968.

The times were not only “a-changin’,” but they were times when the all-too-fragile balance between heated rhetoric and heated gun barrels tipped madly in the wrong direction.  In a troublesome way, those times now seem to be mirrored within our own.

For example, many of the very same leaders from the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Weather Underground, along with many of their ideological mentors, people who were responsible at that time for choosing “the bullet” instead of “the ballot” through their bombings of military and capitalist buildings, are now, in fact, either members of the Obama Administration or serving as advisors to him and his administration.

Those of us in our Liberty Groups, in a sense, are now faced with the same choices that the SDS, the Weather Underground, Malcolm X and MLK, Jr. faced–essentially, the ballot or the bullet.  Malcolm X and MLK, Jr. both chose the ballot, and both died by the bullet for that choice.

The Marxist-influenced, student radicals of the Sixties chose the bullet and now, ironically, are prospering from that choice as representatives of the same constitutional government that gives us all the right to the ballot.

As members of our Liberty Groups, we’re not fighting a racial battle, as Dr. King, Malcolm X and so many others were in the sixties, but we are fighting a similar battle, one of constitutional civil rights.

In the case of MLK, Jr., the power of the white liberals was with him solidly.  Not so in Malcolm X’s case.  Power was being fought over by the Democrats who wanted it with the government and the Republicans who wanted it with the military and the capitalist machine.

There were no Liberty Groups, as we have now, to represent power with the people—except, in a sense, from Malcolm X.  If you listen closely to his voice, he didn’t want power with the whites on the left or on the right.  He didn’t want blacks like MLK, Jr. supporting power in the hands of the white left.  He didn’t want power only in the hands of his Nation of Islam black people.  He wanted power out of partisan hands regardless of left, right, color or religion.

Then, there were the liberal, Marxist-influenced, student and faculty fueled radicals tossing stones at the Goliath of a capitalist war machine, who ultimately learned the grassroots method of “becoming their enemy” by working their way up through the government’s ranks until, more than forty long years later, finally reaching the summit—the Obama Administration.

Who stands for Malcolm X today, in the sense of his crying out for taking absolute power out of the hands of the party elitists and the military and capitalist machines, and for placing power into the hands of all voting Americans?  Who stands for the ballot?  It’s certainly not Romney, Gingrich or Santorum.  It’s not FOX News Channel.  And, it’s definitely not President Obama.

“Take a moral stand—right now, not later,” Malcolm X shouted, or we risk responsibility “for letting a condition develop in this country which will create a climate that will bring seeds up out of the ground with vegetation on the end of them looking like something these people never dreamed of.”  –SB

Malcolm X at Mecca

Malcolm X at Mecca

The following excerpted speech is from:  [Hogins, James Burl and Robert E. Yarber, ed.  Reading Writing And Rhetoric.  1967.  Malcolm X.  “The Ballot or the Bullet.”  Science Research Associates, Inc., 1972.]

. . . No, if you never see me another time in your life, if I die in the morning, I’ll die saying one thing:  the ballot or the bullet, the ballot or the bullet.

If a Negro in 1964 has to sit around and wait for some cracker senator to filibuster when it comes to the rights of black people, why, you and I should hang our heads in shame.  You talk about a march on Washington in 1963, you haven’t seen anything.  There’s some more going down in ’64.  And this time they’re not going like they went last year.  They’re not going singing “We Shall Overcome.”  They’re not going with white friends.  They’re not going with placards already painted for them.  They’re not going with round-trip tickets.  They’re going with one-way tickets.

And if they don’t want that non-violent army going down there, tell them to bring the filibuster to a halt.  The black nationalists aren’t going to wait.  Lyndon B. Johnson is the head of the Democratic Party.  If he’s for civil rights, let him go into the Senate next week and declare himself.  Let him go in there right now and declare himself.  Let him go in there and denounce the Southern branch of his party.  Let him go in there right now and take a moral stand–right now, not later.  Tell him, don’t wait until election time.  If he waits too long, brothers and sisters, he will be responsible for letting a condition develop in this country which will create a climate that will bring seeds up out of the ground with vegetation on the end of them looking like something these people never dreamed of.  In 1964, it’s the ballot or the bullet.  Thank you.

[Please see my more recent post:  Malcolm X’s Homemade Education for more on his background.

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