Dr. King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail

[Content Note: Descriptions of racism.]

My Dear Fellow Clergymen:

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

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.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants--for example, to remove the stores' humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." 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 county 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 are 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. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies--a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle--have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger-lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luther King, Jr.
16 April 1963

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Open Thread

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Hosted by a purple sofa. Have a seat and chat.

Note: It will be a light content day today, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We'll return to a full schedule tomorrow.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of the exterior of a pub which has been photoshopped to be named 'The Beloved Community Pub'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

Belly up to the bar,
and be in this space together.

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Friday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by sassy vanity plates.

Recommended Reading:

Peter Hess at Inverse: World Bee Collapse May Boil Down to a Vicious Mite and an Overlooked Idea

Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute: The Number of Unionized U.S. Workers Edged Lower to 16.4 Million in 2018

Admin at Transgender Law Center: Celebrating Isa Noyola as She Shifts into New Movement Role

Meaghan O'Connell at the Cut: To All the Moms I've Ignored Before

Hunter Harris at Vulture: Ethan Hawke on the 'Dark and Incendiary' First Reformed — and His Own Stolen Journals

Angry Asian Man at AAM: Ali Wong's Tribute to Gymnast Katelyn Ohashi Is a Perfect 10

Marija Bern at Bored Panda: 50 Times People Asked to Cover Up or Complement Their Scars and Birthmarks, and Tattoo Artists Nailed It (Content Note: Some of the scars may have been caused by self-harm.)

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

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It's Not Just You

Disqus is being glitchy and it's logging out some users and giving error messages to some folks when they try to comment. If you get a message saying you've already left the comment you're trying to leave, it's been registered and will eventually post, even if it doesn't yet appear on the page. If you try again, with a slight variation, it will just leave a duplicate comment.

Right now, their status page says "All Systems Operational," so I've tweeted at them but have not yet received a reply.

I'm sorry for the inconvenience, and I hope the issues will be resolved swiftly.

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Discussion Thread: How Are You?

I am feeling as anxious about the state of the nation, and the world, as I ever have since the day after the 2016 election, which is to say extremely fucking anxious.

I am fearful that if Trump is separated from the presidency, by forcible removal or resignation, that a Pence presidency would continue the worst of this administration with far less scrutiny from both the public and the press, simply because Pence is less vulgar and more inclined to conceal his malice.

I am worried that if Trump is removed, or even fears that he imminently will be, he's going to continue the lurching escalation of his abuse, and whatever will "top" the shutdown will be unfathomable in the scope of its harm.

I am still hopeful, waningly but yet persistently, that we'll find a way through this as safely as possible.

I am very stressed out about a personal issue that could have major effects on my future, over which I have no control.

I am grateful for my lovely husband, for our home, for my friends, for all the times they make me laugh, and for Sophie, Dudley, and Zelda.

I am also, as always, glad for this community. Anyone who wants to join me in another enormous virtual group hug is welcome.

How are you?

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt and Dudley the Greyhound lying on the couch, each facing a different direction, taking up virtually the whole couch, and sound asleep
The cutest — and largest — nappers, lol. ♥

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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We Resist: Day 729

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Earlier today by me: Trump Committed Obstruction Another Time and Must Be Removed Immediately and Trump Regime Contemplated Denying Refugee Children Their Right to Asylum Hearings and Get. Him. Out. Of. Office. And ICYMI late yesterday: An Observation About Toxic Masculinity.

Here are some more things in the news today...

I don't know what it's going to take to wake people up to the gravity of the situation in which we find ourselves, but maybe this will do it.

American Exceptionalism is making far too many people complacent about what is already happening here. Don't believe it couldn't happen here. It's happening.

* * *

After Speaker Nancy Pelosi was not allowed to go on her diplomatic mission to see NATO leaders and visit the troops, Donald Trump has now decided that no one in Congress will be allowed to go anywhere without his approval:

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting with North Korea and Senator Lindsey Graham is in Turkey meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

And the United States is doing nothing as Russia deploys nuclear-capable ballistic missile launchers near Ukraine's border.

Everything is fine. (Everything is not fine.)

* * *

[Content Note: Nativism; Islamophobia] Caitlin Oprysko at Politico: Trump Touts Story About Finding 'Prayer Rugs' Along Border. "Donald Trump on Friday sought to prop up his administration's claims that migrants who enter the U.S. illegally at the southern border don't come from only Mexico and Central America, in an attempt to justify his demands for a border wall. Trump cited a story from conservative news outlet the Washington Examiner in which an unnamed rancher living in New Mexico claimed to have found 'prayer rugs,' or pieces of carpet used by Muslims for prayer, near her property. The story does not include any first-person accounts of seeing such migrants, however. U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Arizona said recently that it had arrested migrants from seven countries trying to enter the U.S. illegally there, but none of the countries it named were majority Muslim."

In other words, that rancher is lying, and Trump is repeating the lie.

[CN: LGBTQ hatred] Carla Herreria at the Huffington Post: Vice President Says Outrage over Wife Karen Pence's Discriminatory School Is 'Offensive'. "Vice President Mike Pence defended second lady Karen Pence's decision to take a teaching job at a school that discriminates against LGBTQ individuals and families, suggesting that the uproar over it is an attack on Christianity. During an interview with the Catholicism-focused Eternal World Television Network on Thursday, Pence said that the attacks on the Immanuel Christian School, which bans LGBTQ employees, students, and families, were offensive to his family. 'To see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us,' Pence said. 'We'll let the critics roll off our backs,' the vice president continued. 'But this criticism of Christian education should stop.'"

1. Fuck you. 2. It's not an attack on Christianity; it's a condemnation of bigotry. 3. Not all Christian denominations are homophobic and transphobic, so it can't possibly be an attack on Christianity. 4. Running to the media and demanding that criticism stop is the polar opposite of letting the criticism roll off your backs. 5. Fuck you.

[CN: Anti-choicery] Ally Boguhn at Rewire.News: Senate GOP Prioritizes Abortion Funding Restrictions over Ending Shutdown. "U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) advanced legislation that would codify a ban on federal abortion funding in a nod to anti-choice activists rallying this week in Washington, D.C. But the bill's progress was halted Thursday afternoon when it failed to pass the 60-vote threshold needed to proceed. Meanwhile, McConnell continues to block legislation to end the partial government shutdown." PRIORITIES.

[CN: Anti-choicery; class warfare] Emma Platoff at the Texas Tribune: Federal Appeals Court Lifts Order Blocking Texas from Kicking Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid. "A federal appeals court has lifted a lower court order that blocked Texas from booting Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid, potentially imperiling the health care provider's participation in the federal-state health insurance program. A three-judge panel on the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Sam Sparks, the federal district judge who preserved Planned Parenthood's status in the program in February 2017, had used the wrong standard in his ruling. The appeals court sent the case back to him for further consideration." JFC.

[CN: Homophobia] Tim Fitzsimons at NBC News: Judge Rules Against Elderly Lesbians Rejected from Retirement Home.
A federal court on Wednesday ruled against a lesbian couple who brought a lawsuit against a Missouri retirement home that rejected the women's apartment application because their marriage is not "understood in the Bible.”

Bev Nance, 68, and Mary Walsh, 72, married a decade ago in Massachusetts and have been in a committed relationship for roughly 40 years.

When they applied to move into the Friendship Village senior living facility, they did so "because it is in their community, they have friends there, and it offers services that would allow them to stay together there for the rest of their lives," said Julie Wilensky, an attorney representing the couple.

But once Friendship Village staff found that Nance and Walsh are married, they told the couple that they were not allowed to move in, because the home did not condone homosexuality. The letter they received said that the only married couples they accepted were those in unions between "one man and one woman."

The couple sued, alleging "discrimination on the basis of sex," and their case was finally decided this week by a federal court in Missouri, which found "sexual orientation rather than sex lies at the heart of Plaintiffs' claims."

LGBTQ groups decried the outcome, and the couple's lawyers said "we disagree with the court's decision, and our clients are considering next steps."
Goddammit. Rage seethe boil.

* * *

Staff at the Daily Beast: DNC Says It Was Hit by a Russian Cyberattack Days After the Midterms. "The Democratic National Committee claims it was hit by a Russian cyberattack in the days after the 2018 midterm elections. According to court documents filed late Thursday, the DNC says 'dozens of DNC email addresses were targeted in a spear-phishing campaign' on Nov. 14, but that the attack appears to have failed to gain access to any information. The committee believes the attack was part of a phishing campaign that cybersecurity firms previously linked to a Russian hacking group known as Cozy Bear. Cozy Bear is linked to Russian intelligence and is said to have broken into the DNC's systems ahead of the 2016 presidential election." Fucking hell.

Erin McCormick at the Guardian: Recalls of 'Potentially Lethal' U.S. Meat and Poultry Nearly Double Since 2013.
The number of meat and poultry products recalled in the US for potentially life-threatening health hazards has nearly doubled since 2013, according to a report by a consumer watchdog group.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture logged 97 meat recalls for serious health hazards in 2018, ranging from 12 million pounds of raw beef that made close to 250 people ill with salmonella to the withdrawal of 174,000 pounds of chicken wraps for possible contamination with listeria.

These "Class 1" recalls — for conditions the USDA deems "a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death" — are up from 53 in 2013, the report by the US PIRG Education Fund said.

"The most dangerous types of meat and poultry recalls are on the rise," said Adam Garber, who co-authored the report. "Whether you like hamburger or chicken, more and more dangerous meat is reaching your house."
Some people argue that this proves inspections are working; i.e. more cases are being caught. Either way, the numbers are going to go up the longer the shutdown lasts. Food safety is one of the many things that will compromised by a shuttered government.

Joel Shannon at USA Today: Measles Outbreak Grows in Area with Low Vaccination Rate, Most Patients Unimmunized. "A measles outbreak in southwestern Washington state has grown to 16 confirmed cases, and most of the children affected are unimmunized against the disease, officials said Thursday. ...Only two of the children have an unverified immunization status; the other 14 are unimmunized, officials say. Clark County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state, with more than 22 percent of public school students having not completed their vaccinations, The Oregonian reports, citing state records."

Outbreaks of disease, whether due to a subversion of herd immunity or other causes, will also be even worse than otherwise if the shutdown continues. We are just fucked on so many levels.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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Get. Him. Out. Of. Office.

After Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote Donald Trump a letter suggesting he not give his State of the Union address during the shutdown, Donald Trump retaliated by writing Pelosi a letter telling her she was no longer allowed to go on her planned trip to Afghanistan (because Mr. Insult can't even come up with his own ideas anymore).

This was bad for a whole lot of reasons — and, despite the fact that the president doesn't have the authority to permanently ground members of Congress, Trump's bullshit has now forced Pelosi to cancel her trip.

Sam Stein at the Daily Beast reports:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's deputy chief of staff claimed on Twitter Friday that the Trump administration had leaked the speaker's plans to fly commercially to Afghanistan to complete her scheduled visit with U.S. troops — and that because of the leak, the trip has now been canceled.

The drama began yesterday when [Donald] Trump canceled Pelosi's original trip to Afghanistan, for which the speaker planned to use military aircraft, noting that she should not leave the country until the shutdown has ended. In his letter to Pelosi, he invited her to fly commercially instead.

"After [Donald] Trump revoked the use of military aircraft to travel to Afghanistan, the delegation was prepared to fly commercially to proceed with this vital trip to meet with our commanders and troops on the front lines," Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hamill wrote on Twitter, noting that "In the middle of the night, State Dept's Diplomatic Security Service provided an updated threat assessment detailing that the President announcing this sensitive travel had significantly increased danger to the delegation & to troops, security, & other officials supporting trip."

Hamill added that "This morning, we learned that the Administration had leaked the commercial travel plans as well."

"In light of the grave threats caused by the President's action, the delegation has decided to postpone the trip so as not to further endanger our troops and security personnel, or the other travelers on the flights," he said.
Not only was Trump just being a belligerent shit to Pelosi, punishing her because of her position regarding his delivering a State of the Union address during a shutdown — for which there are legitimate security concerns — but he stopped her from a key diplomatic mission: "She was scheduled with other members to visit NATO commanders in Brussels and troops in Afghanistan over the next several days."

That's right — Pelosi was going to stop in Brussels to meet with NATO leaders, presumably to reassure them that the Democratic leadership does not share Trump's view of NATO and the United States' responsibility to our allies.

Stopping her from that mission is sure to make Vladimir Putin very pleased with his White House puppet.

For fuck's sake.

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Trump Regime Contemplated Denying Refugee Children Their Right to Asylum Hearings

[Content Note: Nativism; child abuse.]

A government whistleblower passed a December 2017 memo drafted by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, "Policy Options to Respond to Border Surge of Illegal Immigration," to Senator Jeff Merkley, who passed it on to NBC News. Julia Ainsley reports:

Trump administration officials weighed speeding up the deportation of migrant children by denying them their legal right to asylum hearings after separating them from their parents, according to comments on a late 2017 draft of what became the administration's family separation policy obtained by NBC News.

The draft also shows officials wanted to specifically target parents in migrant families for increased prosecutions, contradicting the administration's previous statements.

...The document was circulated between high level officials at DHS and the Justice Department, at least one of whom was instrumental in writing the first iteration of the administration's travel ban.

The plan, and the comments written in the margins, provide a window into the policy discussion thinking at the time, how far officials were willing to go to deter families seeking asylum and what they may still be considering.
And again: There was not a crisis at the border to which this unfettered cruelty was a response. Ainsley notes at the time of the memo's drafting, "the number of undocumented immigrants seeking to cross the southern border was near historic monthly lows."

It is and and always been an imagined crisis, invented by people who need to justify an authoritarian nightmare's desired monument to nativist white supremacy, because malice is the agenda.

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Trump Committed Obstruction Another Time and Must Be Removed Immediately

A report from Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier at BuzzFeed published last night details how Donald Trump committed obstruction on yet another occasion: Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen to Lie to Congress About the Moscow Tower Project.

Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.

Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. "Make it happen," the sources said Trump told Cohen.

And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.

Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying about the deal in testimony and in a two-page statement to the Senate and House intelligence committees. Special counsel Robert Mueller noted that Cohen's false claim that the project ended in January 2016 was an attempt to "minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1" — widely understood to be Trump — "in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations."

Now the two sources have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump's involvement.

...This revelation is not the first evidence to suggest the president may have attempted to obstruct the FBI and special counsel investigations into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

But Cohen's testimony marks a significant new frontier: It is the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia.
So, a couple of important things to note about this: If accurate, not only is Trump instructing Cohen to lie to Congress obstruction of justice, but it is also subornation of perjury, which is itself an illegal act.

Further, the leak about this is not from Trump's team, but from "two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter." It's notable that the unleakable special counsel's investigation just leaked this giant piece of damning information about Trump.

No less on the same day that someone passed Trump information about Nancy Pelosi's travel plans that was sure to backfire — and did — and was a deeply unethical if not illegal disclosure. Which reeks of a set-up from inside his inner circle.

Trump is getting battered from all sides. The attacks are coming from new sources, and from closer and closer to him — and let us note that the federal investigators' leak also took a swipe at his kids.

All of this reaffirms my feeling that Trump is about to become a scapegoat for Republicans who want to exploit with surgical precision the authoritarian groundwork that Trump has laid — all under the mendacious auspices of rescuing us from Trump.

And if I am wrong, as I hope, and everything is as it is meant to seem, and Mueller is doing a straightforward investigation, then he clearly has more than enough to start making moves to hold Trump accountable, and many of the people around him, including Mike Pence. So he needs to move forward now, aggressively and urgently. It has already been far too long, and we cannot afford to wait a moment longer.

The president is holding the government hostage, in order to try to avoid accountability for breaking the law and subverting our democracy and being a traitor. He is willing to starve his own people, which is something that only the most brutal dictators in history have done.

Mueller has to wrap it up immediately, and, if he won't (and frankly, even if he will), Democrats need to start drawing up impeachment papers. The Trump administration must be removed from power. Now.

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Open Thread

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Hosted by a pink sofa. Have a seat and chat.

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Question of the Day

Since yesterday's QotD was about the worst vegetable out there, I bet you thought today's was gonna be about the best vegetable out there, but I'M THROWING YOU A CURVEBALL, SHAKERS!

What do you think is probably the worst fruit out there?

Pears. Just an absolute no from me. I don't care how you prepare them. NOPE.

I also really hate olives, possibly even more than pears, but because they yield olive oil, which I love, they escape being listed in my top spot of most loathed.

[Got a suggestion for the Question of the Day? Leave it here!]

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image of an old Journey album cover featuring the band members and their band name JOURNEY, beneath which I have added text reading: 'would strongly like to encourage you 1: don't stop believin' 2. hold onto that feelin''

[Previous FYI: Rick Astley; Eddie Murphy; The Eurythmics; Eddie Rabbit; Sinéad O'Connor; Was (Not Was); Bon Jovi; Kenny Rogers; Bobby McFerrin; Starship; Dead or Alive; Right Said Fred; Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians; Salt n Pepa; Nelson; The Cure; The Soup Dragons; Europe/BushCo; Elton John; Eddie Money; Human League; Glenn Frey; Van Halen; Alanis Morissette; Depeche Mode; The Beatles; The Proclaimers; Bruce Springsteen; Meat Loaf; Cyndi Lauper; Cole Porter; Tina Turner; The Jets; Starland Vocal Band; Kenny Loggins; Gloria Estefan; Martha Reeves & The Vandellas; Rebecca Black; Queen; Rihanna; Bryan Adams. Hint: They're better if you click 'em!]

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An Observation About Toxic Masculinity

As I mentioned in Tuesday's We Resist thread, the razor brand Gillette released an ad challenging toxic masculinity, which naturally prompted misogynist shitwheels to prove the very point yet again by responding with heaping fuckloads of toxic masculinity.

I've written a whole lot in this space about the harmfulness of toxic masculinity to every gender, and how vile its defenders are — but something else occurred to me as I watched (or rather could not avoid seeing) defenders of toxic masculinity rage endlessly over days.


Defending one very specific and limiting and impossibly rigid notion of masculinity is like arguing that there shouldn't be greyhounds or dachshunds or keeshonds or mutts because EVERY DOG SHOULD BE A LABRADOR. AND NO HORSES, EITHER!

Why would anyone want that kind of world? And the assholes who do don't even have the sense to realize that it's their fiercely guarding an oppressively stifling set of dehumanizing rules that makes them aggressive and resentful and cruel.

The evil of banality makes them vicious.

Stop being boring. Be creative. You don't have to be a labrador! Go be a poodle!

(My apologies to labradors, who are very accepting.)

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What I'm Reading Now

A thread for sharing what we're currently reading: Fiction, nonfiction, novels, short stories, historical fiction, biographies, romance, fanfic, comic books, graphic novels, longform journalism, research papers, stuff for pleasure, stuff for work, whatever.

I'm not reading anything at the moment, because I'm waiting on my copy of Robin Marty's Handbook for a Post-Roe America, which I want to start as soon as it arrives. And I don't have the capacity to have more than one book going at a time these days!

What are you reading now?

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat crawling on me as I lie in bed, bonking her head against my hand

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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We Resist: Day 728

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Earlier today by me: No Collusion! No Collusion! Okay, Maybe Some Collusion! and Just a Regular Reminder That the Scoundrels Destroying the Country Are as Embarrassing as They Are Wicked and Nancy Pelosi Knows What She's Doing. And late yesterday ICYMI: What a Mess, Britain.

Here are some more things in the news today...

Barbara Starr at CNN: Trump Is Fraying Nerves Inside the Pentagon. (Join the club, Pentagon!)
Two years into his presidency, Donald Trump is fueling unprecedented uncertainty and anxiety inside the Pentagon. In private conversations over the past month, many of them unsolicited, more than a dozen key military officers, enlisted personnel, and senior civilians have expressed worry and concern to CNN. None of the officials have spoken publicly about this, as military law prohibits active-duty personnel from criticizing a sitting president.

It's not just Trump's unpredictable decision making that has officials on edge, it's also his penchant for politicizing the military — something that's come into focus in recent months as he's struggled to fulfill his campaign promise to crack down on immigration and build a border wall. His decision to draw down troops in Syria and his claims that ISIS is defeated have also rankled military commanders who felt it wasn't well thought out.

Some of the highest-ranking officers say there is a new atmosphere of unease inside the Pentagon, particularly among some of the most senior ranks, over the president's inclination to use the military to achieve certain partisan policy objectives. Behind the scenes officials are trying to keep it all at bay. "The amount of time we have to spend making sure our statements and what we say is apolitical is astronomically higher than ever before," one senior military officer told CNN.

...Pentagon officials have also been unnerved by requests from the White House National Security Council, which continues to ask the Pentagon for options to attack Iran. Military planners CNN has spoken to say these requests are concerning since there is no real understanding of how Iran might react — or exactly what military objective the Trump Administration is trying to achieve.
Emphasis mine. Holy fuck.

Btw, that should probably (definitely) be the lede, instead of being buried six paragraphs into the story.

* * *

[Content Note: Nativism; child abuse] Julia Ainsley at NBC News: Thousands More Migrant Kids Separated from Parents Under Trump Than Previously Reported. "Thousands more immigrant children were separated from their parents under the Trump administration than previously reported and whether they have been reunified is unknown, according to a report released Thursday by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services. ...The families separated under 'zero tolerance' were represented in a class action lawsuit, where a federal judge ordered that the government reunify them. However, the government had no such order to reunify children separated prior to 'zero tolerance.' Some may have been released to family or nonrelative sponsors, but it is not known how many have been reunified."

There is a whole lot to detest about this report, but this just about takes the fucking cake: "HHS officials did not keep track of whether children they were releasing from their custody had been separated from their parents at the border or whether they crossed the border without a parent. 'We don't have any information on those children who were released prior to the court order,' an official from the HHS Office of Inspector General told reporters on a call Thursday."

Goddammit. Two thoughts: 1. Only a court order forced this regime to care about the children it was taking into their custody, and they are stacking the courts as quickly as possible with judges who won't force them to care ever again. 2. This is based on the regime's own reporting, so we can be reasonably certain it is far worse than they are even admitting here.

[CN: Nativism; child abuse] Alexandra Villarreal at the Guardian: The U.S. Detention Center Where Sick Children Receive 'the Bare Minimum'.
Since attorney Jacquelyn Kline began representing immigrant families detained at Berks in the summer of 2014, she said the majority of her clients have gotten sick. Usually, the illnesses have been minor. But sometimes, when common problems have gone ignored or untreated, they have spiraled to become something more.

"In my experience, [the staff] do the bare minimum and they don't want to do more than that unless it becomes a situation where they have to do it," Kline said. "Because they don't address things when there are minor issues, it allows them to become more serious issues."

...The fact that serious medical conditions occur and go untreated for days, weeks or months while immigrant children are under the government's protection may come as a surprise to many. But advocates who have been on the ground at detention facilities under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are well acquainted with stories such as these that point to a wider trend.

"I am surprised that more children or parents have not died while in DHS custody, given the systemic failure on the part of the government to provide medical services," said Kathryn Shepherd, national advocacy counsel for the Immigration Justice Campaign at the American Immigration Council.
Rage seethe boil.

[CN: Nativism; racism; disablism] Eli Rosenberg at the Washington Post: A Latino Marine Veteran Was Detained for Deportation, Then ICE Realized He Was a Citizen. "Richard Kessler, an immigration lawyer in Grand Rapids, Mich., said he was surprised when a woman he had worked with called to tell him that her son, a 27-year-old Marine veteran with mental-health issues, was being held in an immigration facility, apparently awaiting a possible deportation. Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, whose service as a lance corporal and tank crewman included time in Afghanistan, was born in the Michigan city of 200,000. Kessler said he didn't understand what was going on. 'I was shocked,' he said in an interview. 'Everybody knows that Jilmar is a U.S. citizen and a Marines vet.' ...'I immediately called ICE and shouted at them,' he said. 'And they called me back and said, kind of, 'Oops, yeah, come and get him.' They didn't say, 'Our bad,' but kind of implied that.'" JFC.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues to scream about his fucking wall, while still telling rank lies in its defense:

The entire appearance was really something, and Aaron Rupar has a terrific thread with video if you want to see the lowlights of Trump slurring his way through it, looking and sounding like he was on ten thousand biebergrams of downers.

And just as a reminder that Trump's #2 is just as big an indecent, dishonest sack of shit as he is:

And in more news about how their entire party is full of vile, white supremacist gremlins...

[CN: White supremacy; Holocaust denialism] Will Sommer at the Daily Beast: GOP Congressmen Meet with Holocaust-Denying Troll Chuck Johnson. "Notorious alt-right figure and Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson met with two Republican lawmakers in Congress on Wednesday. Johnson's visit was first noted by a HuffPost reporter, who tweeted a picture of Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD) and Phil Roe (R-TN) walking with Johnson. Johnson, a former Breitbart reporter, has denied the magnitude of the Holocaust, expressing doubt that gas chambers were real and questioning whether six million Jews were really killed — a figure that has been well documented by scholars and historians. He also ran crowdfunding efforts for white supremacist causes, including the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer. In statements, the lawmakers confirmed that they had met with Johnson to discuss genetic testing and DNA, but claimed they weren't aware of Johnson's history of making racist statements."

"We were only meeting with a Holocaust denier to discuss eugenics, but we didn't know he was a racist!" is quite a defense, guys.

[CN: White supremacy] Erin Mansfield at the Tyler Morning Telegraph: Tyler Congressman Louie Gohmert Says Steve King Raised a Fair Question. "A congressman from East Texas says his colleague raised a fair question about Western civilization and is being treated unfairly. U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert said that U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa — who has been disciplined by Republican leaders for comments about white supremacy and white nationalism — is not getting due process, and he is still a friend."

Of course Louie Gohmert defended Steve King. Of course he did.

[CN: White supremacy; voter suppression] Alan Pyke at ThinkProgress: Lindsey Graham Just Accidentally Admitted That Suppressing Black Voter Turnout Is a Core GOP Goal. "Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had wielded his power to thwart non-white voters from accessing the franchise, [National Urban League head Marc Morial] reminded Graham. ...In his scramble to regain the momentum in the exchange, Graham accidentally gave the game away. 'Elections have consequences,' the senator interjected... 'If you don't expect elections to matter, that's a mistake,' he said, confirming for a second time that to vote for Republicans is to vote for a government that supports the systematic disenfranchisement of [Black voters]."

* * *

Ben White at Politico: Recession Warnings Pile Up as Shutdown Wraps Up Fourth Week. "The partial government shutdown was supposed to be a brief non-event for the economy. Now it's starting to look like a serious crisis that could nudge the U.S. toward recession and threaten [Donald] Trump's economic message during his reelection campaign. Across Wall Street, analysts are rushing out warnings that missed federal paychecks, dormant government contractors, and shelved corporate stock offerings could push first-quarter growth close to or even below zero if the shutdown, which is wrapping up its fourth week, drags on much longer."

Which is a very anodyne way of saying that the shutdown will come for all of us, eventually — so, you know, maybe self-interest will serve as a motivating factor for people if basic human decency can't move them to care about the people who are being immediately affected by the shitdown (typo and I'm leaving it).

Casey Michel at ThinkProgress: The Latest Front in Russian Infiltration: America's Right-Wing Homeschooling Movement. "The group and its origins sound innocuous enough. But the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) — a right-wing group founded 36 years ago — has deepened connections between America's religious right and Russians even as the latter have been sanctioned by the United States, according to a ThinkProgress investigation. By networking with Russians, the HSLDA — now America's largest right-wing homeschooling association — has provided the Kremlin with a new avenue of influence over some of the most conservative organizations in the United States."

[CN: Homophobia; retaliation] Andy Towle at Towleroad: N.C. Deputies: We Were Fired for Reporting Lieutenant's Homophobic Remarks. "Two former deputies in Wake County, North Carolina (home of Raleigh) say they were fired in retaliation for reporting their supervisor's homophobic remarks. Former Master Deputy Gray Speight and former Master Deputy Steven Williamson told WRAL that then Lieutenant Teddy Patrick (who was recently promoted to the higher rank of Captain by new sheriff Gerald Baker) outed a fellow deputy and signaled to members of the squad who were engaged in 'sensitivity training' sessions that he didn't like gay people. ...When Gerald Baker became sheriff, an office with 'legal authority to hire and fire as they wish' according to WRAL, he promoted Patrick to Captain and fired Speight and Williamson."

Where are all the good cops? Fired, for doing the right thing apparently.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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Nancy Pelosi Knows What She's Doing

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi knows what she's doing, especially when it comes to Donald Trump. That's just a fact. And anyone who had any doubt need look no further than her decision to write him a letter politely suggesting he not give his State of the Union address while the government is shut down, thus denying him the one thing he craves most — attention.

I've seen a lot of bad arguments against Pelosi's decision, most of them the usual veiled misogyny with no further argument, but the worst of them all is the take in which she is scolded for upending a democratic tradition like the State of the Union out of spite, or because she's drunk with power, or for various other reasons that all share in common the defining feature of manifestly not being her motivation.

There are a couple of problems with this argument, the first and (oughtta be) most obvious being that slightly delaying the State of the Union address is hardly the biggest of our concerns regarding democratic norms at the moment, and any ire regarding deviance from democratic tradition should be directed squarely at the occupant of the White House and his democracy-destroying minions.

Secondly, this shit isn't happening in a vacuum. It's not like Trump was going to deliver some beautiful, thoughtful, important address waxing contemplative about the year behind us and laying out detailed policy proposals for the year to come. He was going to spend an hour, give or take, disgorging rambling shards of belligerent bigotry, elaborately lying, sniffing, and sucking his teeth.

None of us need to hear a single fucking thing he was going to say. No one knows that any better than Nancy Pelosi.

So good for her for using whatever methods she's got to stop him from saying any of it, for as long as possible.

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