John Lewis: “Peaceful Ends Require Peaceful Means”

JohnLewis(Congress member John Lewis issued this press release Friday through his office, to answer speculative assertions about gun possession and civil rights violence. One talk show host said possessing a gun may have prevented the severe injuries Congress member Lewis sustained during the Freedom Rides and other demonstrations.  It is also instructive to recall the reaction of authorities to the possession of guns for defense by Black Panthers. A number of Panthers were shot to death. Further back, a number of lynchings and deaths are directly connected to social conservatives and white supremacists using guns.)

In an effort to encourage people to resist new gun control legislation, a statement was made on The Rush Limbaugh Show today which misrepresents Civil Rights Movement history.  In the shadow of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, in the year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in August, and a little more than a month before the annual celebration of the events in Selma, Rep. John Lewis was glad to address this inaccuracy.

Our goal in the Civil Rights Movement was not to injure or destroy but to build a sense of community, to reconcile people to the true oneness of all humanity,” said Rep. John Lewis.  “African Americans in the 60s could have chosen to arm themselves, but we made a conscious decision not to.  We were convinced that peace could not be achieved through violence.  Violence begets violence, and we believed the only way to achieve peaceful ends was through peaceful means.  We took a stand against an unjust system, and we decided to use this faith as our shield and the power of compassion as our defense.

“And that is why this nation celebrates the genius and the elegance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s work and philosophy.  Through the power of non-violent action, Dr. King accomplished something that no movement, no action of government, no war, no legislation, or strategy of politics had ever achieved in this nation’s history.  It was non-violence that not only brought an end to legalized segregation and racial discrimination, but Dr. King’s peaceful work changed the hearts of millions of Americans who stood up for justice and rejected the injury of violence forever.”


On March 7, 1965, 600 peaceful nonviolent Civil Rights workers attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in Alabama.  The march was led by John Lewis and Hosea Williams.  They were met on the Edmund Pettus Bridge by Alabama state troopers who beat the unarmed marchers.  Lewis suffered a concussion on the bridge.  A few days after the march President Lyndon Johnson introduced a bill to the Congress which became the Voting Rights Act of 1965, described as one of the most effective pieces of legislation Congress has issued in the past 50 years.  An important section of the Voting Rights Act is currently in jeopardy and will be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court in February.  


An Impulse To Kill

All the denials of the gun as a danger deny that a gun in human hands (except hunting) involves an impulse to kill. Whether the result of mental health issues, or a list of social causes, from media to video games, they converge at the use of a gun to act upon the impulse to kill. If we can not diagnose or predict the mental triggers, the dark voices that reel away morality, we can agree that the trigger of a gun, esp. assault weapons, is where impulse meets opportunity. The gun becomes the instrument for many who harbor the unpredictable, unseen urge to ignore the cost of their actions and play judge and jury.

If we can not deal with what we cannot predict, we can deal with what we can. The common factor is the gun. Over and over, it is what we know, the one point we can control.

A large, undefined gray area remains whether it is not illegal to possess guns. This area should be addressed by legislation.

Those who cite stats about car deaths, accidents, and other deadly forms, ignore the common use of the gun. Few die from the deliberate use of the car as an object to kill. The same with accidents and other causes. While not all guns are deliberately used to kill, the latent use is implied. More than not, it is the object of choice.

We mark dangerous curves, stop intoxicated drivers, childproof medicines, install smoke alarms to save lives. So should we prevent gun violence.

Lastly one of the leading proponents of gun ownership, died Friday, murdered in his office, surrounded by his gun collection. They didn’t save him. Revolution? The dead have no rights or freedom. 

A short look at a longstanding problem, by an honest assessor who supports public schools.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Recently I wrote a post maintaining that choice had failed in Milwaukee, and that the city would be better off if it had a single public school system, doors open to all, receiving public support and public funding and civic energy. Uniting behind public education makes more sense than supporting three separate systems, none of which do well for studnts.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel published my post as an opinion piece. So far, my views have been critiqued by two other opinion pieces. One is by the research director of a free-market organization that advocates for vouchers, who says (ironically) that my call for unity around public schooling is “divisive.” This article gave me a hearty laugh.

The other article, by Patrick Wolf and John Witte also took exception to my blog post. They responded in an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and maintained that choice was a great success in…

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The Obama Agenda

“Obama wants an immigration law that would deal firmly but compassionately with millions of illegal residents; an economic model that demands more money from the rich to shrink the debt; a tax system that is fairer and simpler for families; and a bigger emphasis on education and made-in-America energy.”