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Monday, July 25, 2011


Deacons for Defense and Justice

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The Deacons for Defense and Justice is an armed self defense African American civil rights organization in the U.S. Southern states during the 1960s. Historically, the organization practiced self-defense methods in the face of racist oppression that was carried out by Jim Crow Laws; local and state agencies; and the Ku Klux Klan. Many times the Deacons are not written about or cited when speaking of the Civil Rights Movement because their agenda of self-defense, in this case, using violence (if necessary) did not fit the image of strict non-violence agenda that leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached about the Civil Rights Movement. Yet, there has been a recent debate over the crucial role the Deacons and other lesser known militant organizations played on local levels throughout much of the rural South. Many times in these areas the Federal government did not always have complete control over to enforce such laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Currently, this group is "calling for arms" in black communities both mentally and physically through the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Deacons are a segment of the larger tradition of Black Power in the United States. This tradition began with the inception of African slavery in the U.S. and began with the use of Africans as chattel slaves in the Western Hemisphere. Stokely Carmichael defines Black Power as, “The goal of black self-determination and black self-identity—Black Power—is full participation in the decision-making processes affecting the lives of black people, and recognition of the virtues in themselves as black people.”[1] Those of us who advocate Black Power are quite clear in our own minds that a “non-violent” approach to civil rights is an approach black people cannot afford and a luxury white people do not deserve.[1] This refers to the idea that the traditional ideas and values of the Civil Rights Movement placated to the emotions and feelings of White liberal supporters rather than Black Americans who had to consistently live with the racism and other acts of violence that was shown towards them.
The Deacons were a driving force of Black Power that Stokely Carmichael echoed. Carmichael speaks about the Deacons when he writes, “Here is a group which realized that the ‘law’ and law enforcement agencies would not protect people, so they had to do it themselves...The Deacons and all other blacks who resort to self-defense represent a simple answer to a simple question: what man would not defend his family and home from attack?”[1] The Deacons, according to Carmichael and many others were the protection that the Civil Rights needed on local levels, as well as, the ones who intervened in places that the state and federal government fell short.



[edit] History

The Deacons were not the first champions of armed-defense during the Civil Rights Movement. Many activists and other proponents of non-violence protected themselves with guns. Fannie Lou Hamer, the eloquently blunt Mississippi militant who outraged Lyndon B. Johnson at the 1964 Democratic Convention, confessed that she kept several loaded guns under her bed.[2] Others such as Robert F. Williams also practiced self-defense. Williams transformed his local NAACP branch into an armed self-defense unit, for which transgression he was denounced by the NAACP and hounded by the federal government (he found asylum in Cuba).[2]
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was no stranger to the idea of self-defense. According to Annelieke Dirks, “Even Martin Luther King Jr.—the icon of nonviolence—employed armed bodyguards and had guns in his house during the early stages of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956. Glenn Smiley, an organizer of the strictly nonviolent and pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), observed during a house visit that the police did not allow King a weapon permit, but that ‘the place is an arsenal."[3] Efforts from those like Smiley convinced Dr. King that any sort of weapons or “self-defense” could not be associated with someone like him in the position that he held. Dr. King agreed.
In many areas of the “Deep South” the federal and state governments had no control of local authorities and groups that did not want to follow the laws enacted. One of these groups, the Ku Klux Klan, is one of the most well-known and widely publicized organizations that openly practiced acts of violence and segregation based on race. As part of their strategy to intimidate this community [African Americans], the Ku Klux Klan initiated a “campaign of terror” that included harassment, the burning of crosses on the lawns of African-American voters, the destruction (by fire) of five churches, a Masonic hall, and a Baptist center, and murder.[4] These incidents were not isolated but a significant amount of this victimization of African-Americans occurred in Jonesboro, Louisiana in 1964.
Not wanting to fall victims any longer to groups like the Klan the African-American community felt that a response of action was crucial in curbing this terrorism because of the lack of support and protection by State and Federal authorities. A group of African American men in Jonesboro, Louisiana led by Earnest "Chilly Willy" Thomas and Frederick Douglas Kirkpatrick founded the group in November of 1964 to protect civil rights workers, their communities and their families, against the violence of the Ku Klux Klan. Most of the Deacons were war veterans with combat experience from the Korean War and World War II. The Jonesboro chapter later organized a Deacons chapter in Bogalusa, Louisiana led by Charles Sims, A.Z. Young and Robert Hicks. The Jonesboro chapter initiated a regional organizing campaign and eventually formed 21 chapters in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The militant Deacons' confrontation with the Klan in Bogalusa was instrumental in forcing the federal government to invervene on behalf of the black community and enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act and neutralize the Klan.
Ernest “Chilly Willy” Thomas was born in Jonesboro, Louisiana, on November 20, 1935. Being born in a time of extreme segregation in places like Jonesboro, Thomas understood that things were secured by force rather than moral appeal. Civil Rights organization CORE had a freedom house in Jonesboro which became the target of the Klan. The practice, referred to as “nigger knocking,” was a time honored tradition among whites in the rural South.[5] Because of repeated attacks on the Freedom House, the Black community responded. Earnest Thomas was one of the first volunteers to guard the house. According to Lance Hill, “Thomas was eager to work with CORE, but he had reservations about the nonviolent terms imposed by the young activists.”[5] Thomas, who had military training, quickly emerged as the leader of this budding defense organization that would guard the Jonesboro community in the day with their guns concealed and carried their guns openly during the cover of night to discouraged any type of Klan activity.
There is no definitive answer on how the group obtained their name. There are many accounts but according to Lance Hill the most plausible explanation is, “the name was a portmanteau that evolved over a period of time, combining the CORE staff’s first appellation of ‘deacons’ with the tentative name chosen in November 1964: ‘Justice and Defense Club’. By January 1965 the group had arrived at is permanent name, ‘Deacons for Defense and Justice.’”[5] The organization wanted to maintain a level of respectability and identify with traditionally accepted symbols of peace and moral values. As one ex-Deacon wrote in a lyric of a song, “the term ‘deacons’ was selected to beguile local whites by portraying the organization as an innocent church group...”[5]
The work of the Deacons is the subject of a 2003 Television movie, Deacons for Defense. The film, produced by Showtime stars academy-award winner Forest Whitaker, Ossie Davis and Jonathan Silverman. The film is based on the actual Deacons for Defense and their struggle to fight against the Jim Crow South in a powerful area of Louisana that is controlled by the Ku Klux Klan. The film bases the story around a white-owned factory that controls the economy of the local society and the effects of racism and intimidation on the lives of the African-American community. The film follows the psychological transition of a family and community members from ones that believe in a strict non-violent stance to ones that believe in self-defense.[6]

[edit] Role

The Deacons were very instrumental in many campaigns led by the Civil Rights Movement. A good example of this is The June 1966 March Against Fear, which went from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. The March Against Fear signified a shift in character and power in the southern civil rights movement and was an event that the Deacons participated in.
Scholar Akinyele O. Umoja speaks about the group’s effort more specifically. According to Umoja it was the urging of Stokely Carmichael that the Deacons were to be used as security for the march. Many times protection from the federal or state government was either inadequate of not given, even while knowing that groups like the Klan would commit violent acts against civil rights workers. An example of this was the Freedom Ride where many non-violent activists became the targets of assault for angry White mobs. After some debate and discussion many of the civil rights leaders comprised their strict non-violent beliefs and allowed the Deacons to be used. One such person was Dr. King. Umoja states, “Finally, though expressing reservations, King conceded to Carmichael’s proposals to maintain unity in the march and the movement. The involvement and association of the Deacons with the march signified a shift in the civil rights movement, which had been popularly projected as a ‘nonviolent movement.”‘[7]
Umoja suggests that ideological shifts in the movement were becoming apparent even before the March Against Fear. By 1965, both SNCC and CORE supported armed self-defense. National CORE leadership, including James Farmer, publicly acknowledged a relationship between CORE and the Deacons for Defense in Louisana.[7] This alliance between to the two organizations highlighted the support and concept of armed self-defense many southern-born Black people embraced. A significant portion of SNCC’s southern-born leadership and staff also supported armed self-defense.[7]
The Deacons had a relationship with other civil rights groups that advocated and practiced non-violence: the willingness of the Deacons to provide low-key armed guards facilitated the ability of groups such as the NAACP and CORE to stay, at least formally, within their own parameters of non-violence.[8] Although many local chapters felt it was necessary to maintain a level of security by either practicing self-defense as some CORE, SNCC, and NAACP local chapters did, the national level of all these organizations still maintained the idea of non-violence to achieve civil rights. Nonetheless,in some cases,their willingness to respond to violence with violence, led to tension between the Deacons and the nonviolent civil rights workers whom they sought to protect.Organizations like SNCC, CORE, and SCLC all had major roles in exposing the brutal tactics that were being used against Black people in America, particularly to Southern Blacks. This was seen as crucial to getting legislation passed that would protect African-Americans from this oppression and help develop their status of equality in America. However, according to Lance Hill, author of, The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement, “the hard truth is that these organizations produced few victories in their local projects in the Deep South—if success is measured by the ability to force changes in local government policy and create self-governing and sustainable local organizations that could survive when the national organizations departed...The Deacons’ campaigns frequently resulted in substantial and unprecedented victories at the local level, producing real power and self-sustaining organizations.”[9] According to Hill, this is the true resistance that enforced civil rights in areas of the Deep South. Many times it was local (armed) communities that laid the foundation of equal opportunities for African-Americans. National organizations played their role of exposing the problems but it was local organizations and individuals who implemented these rights and were not fearful of reactionary Whites who wanted to keep segregation alive. Without these local organizations pushing for their rights, and many times, using self-defense tactics not much would have changed according to scholars like Hill.
An example of this type of force needed that made substantial change in the Deep South took place in early 1965. Black students picketing the local high school were confronted by hostile police and fire trucks with hoses. A car of four Deacons emerged and in view of the police calmly loaded their shotguns. The police ordered the fire truck to withdraw. This was the first time in the twentieth century, as Lance Hill observes, “an armed black organization had successfully used weapons go defend a lawful protest against an attack by law enforcement.”[2] Another example as Hill writes is, “In Jonesboro, the Deacons made history when they compelled Louisiana governor John McKeithen to intervene in the city’s civil rights crisis and require a compromise with city leaders—the first capitulation to the civil rights movement by a Deep South governor.”[10]
Not much history of the Civil Rights Movement is focused on organizations like the Deacons because of a number of reasons. First, the dominant ideology of the Civil Rights Movement is one of practicing non-violence and this overarching view has been the only accepted way to think about the Civil Rights Movement. Second, the threats to the livelihood of the members required secrecy to be maintained. The Deacons kept their membership secret to avoid terrorist attacks on their supporters, and they recruited mature and male members, contrasting with informal self-defense efforts in which women and teenagers also played a role.[3] Finally, with the shift to more Northern Black plight and the idea of Black Power emerging in major cities across America the Deacons became the news of yesterday and organizations like The Black Panther Party gained notoriety and became the publicized militant Black organization.
The tactics of the Deacons attracted the attention and concern of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which commenced an investigation of the group. In the years to follow, the bureau produced more than 1,500 pages of comprehensive and relatively accurate records on the Deacon’s activities, largely through numerous informants close to or even inside the organization.[11] Members of the Deacons repeatedly were questioned and intimidated by F.B.I. agents. One member Harvey Johnson was “interviewed” by two agents who asked only about the idea of how the Deacons obtained their weapons. No such questions about Klan activity or police brutality were ever asked.[11] In February 1965 after a New York Times article was produced about the Deacons J. Edgar Hoover became interested in the group. Lance Hill offers Hoover’s reaction which was sent to the field offices of the Bureau in Louisiana, “Because of the potential for violence indicated, you are instructed to immediately initiate an investigation of the DDJ [Deacons for Defense and Justice].”[11] Since being exposed in the late 1970’s the FBI under its COINTELPRO program became involved in many illegal activities that monitored organizations that it deemed “a threat to the American way”. The Deacons, opposing White dominance, clearly became an organization that would have fell under this category for the FBI to monitor.However, with the advent of other militant Black Power organizations and the Black Power Movement becoming the more visible movement towards the later part of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, the involvement of the Deacons in the civil rights movement declined, with the presence of the Deacons all but vanishing by 1968.[1]
Roy Innis has said of the Deacons that they "forced the Klan to re-evaluate their actions and often change their undergarments", according to Ken Blackwell.[12]

1600 pages of files copied from FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and archived on CD-ROM, covering the Deacons for Defense and Justice. In 1965 the FBI began investigating the Deacons for Defense and Justice until early 1972 when the organization became inactive. This organization was characterized as a black militant vigilante group which was formed in Louisiana in late 1964 for defensive purposes in retaliation for Ku Klux Klan activities.

Charles Sims was the founder of the Deacons for Defense and Justice. Sims formed the DDJ after local police escorted a Klan march through a black neighborhood in Jonesboro, Louisiana. Based in local churches, the Deacons for Defense and Justice set up armed patrol car systems in cities such as Bogalusa and Jonesboro, Louisiana. The DDJ expanded to 62 chapters throughout the South and a chapter in Chicago.

Files cover racial matters in the south and Chicago. Files document FBI surveillance of attempts of the DDJ to spread. Files included detailed coverage of the violence surrounding the August 1966 visit of Martin Luther King Jr. to Chicago. Organizations covered in the files include: American Nazi Party, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Coordination Council for Black Power, Nation of Islam, Original Knights of the Klu Klux Klan, Progressive Labor Party, Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), Socialist Workers Party, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), United Klans of America, and W.E.B DuBois clubs of Chicago
Archival copy on CD-ROM
Price $10.00
60% OFF 
A Complete 1.6 Million Page Set
All 258 Titles - 15 DVD-ROM Set


Monday, July 11, 2011


Search Amazon.com for obama

PrintEmailReprintsshareLinkedInStumbleUponRedditDiggDel.i.ciousIt is 9 A.M. on a fresh, sunny Saturday in Rockford, Ill., and nearly a thousand people have gathered in the gymnasium at Rock Valley College to participate in a town meeting with their Senator, Barack Obama. It is an astonishingly large crowd for a beautiful Saturday morning, but Obama--whose new book, The Audacity of Hope, is excerpted starting on page 52--has become an American political phenomenon in what seems about a nanosecond, and the folks are giddy with anticipation. "We know he's got the charisma," says Bertha McEwing, who has lived in Rockford for more than 50 years. "We want to know if he's got the brains." Just then there is a ripple through the crowd, then gasps, cheers and applause as Obama lopes into the gym with a casual, knees-y stride. "Missed ya," he says, moving to the microphone, and he continues greeting people over raucous applause. "Tired of Washington."

There's a sly hipster syncopation to his cadence, "Been stuck there for a while." But the folksiness pretty much disappears when he starts answering questions. Obama's actual speaking style is quietly conversational, low in rhetoric-saturated fat; there is no harrumph to him. About halfway through the hour-long meeting, a middle-aged man stands up and says what seems to be on everyone's mind, with appropriate passion: "Congress hasn't done a damn thing this year. I'm tired of the politicians blaming each other. We should throw them all out and start over!"

"Including me?" the Senator asks.

A chorus of n-o-o-o-s. "Not you," the man says. "You're brand new." Obama wanders into a casual disquisition about the sluggish nature of democracy. The answer is not even remotely a standard, pretaped political response. He moves through some fairly arcane turf, talking about how political gerrymandering has led to a generation of politicians who come from safe districts where they don't have to consider the other side of the debate, which has made compromise--and therefore legislative progress--more difficult. "That's why I favored Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal last year, a nonpartisan commission to draw the congressional-district maps in California. Too bad it lost." The crowd is keeping up with Obama, listening closely as he segues into a detailed discussion of the federal budget. Eventually, he realizes he has been filibustering and apologizes to the crowd for "making a speech." No one seems to care, since Obama is doing something pretty rare in latter-day American politics: he is respecting their intelligence. He's a liberal, but not a screechy partisan. Indeed, he seems obsessively eager to find common ground with conservatives. "It's such a relief after all the screaming you see on TV," says Chuck Sweeny, political editor of the Rockford Register Star. "Obama is reaching out. He's saying the other side isn't evil. You can't imagine how powerful a message that is for an audience like this."

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Obama's personal appeal is made manifest when he steps down from the podium and is swarmed by well-wishers of all ages and hues, although the difference in reaction between whites and blacks is subtly striking. The African Americans tend to be fairly reserved--quiet pride, knowing nods and be-careful-now looks. The white people, by contrast, are out of control. A nurse named Greta, just off a 12-hour shift, tentatively reaches out to touch the Senator's sleeve. "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! I just touched a future President! I can't believe it!" She is literally shaking with delight--her voice is quivering--as she asks Obama for an autograph and then a hug.

Indeed, as we traveled that Saturday through downstate Illinois and then across the Mississippi into the mythic presidential-campaign state of Iowa, Obama seemed the political equivalent of a rainbow--a sudden preternatural event inspiring awe and ecstasy. Bill Gluba, a longtime Democratic activist who sells real estate on both sides of the river in the Quad Cities area, reminisced about driving Bobby Kennedy around Davenport, Iowa, on May 14, 1968. "I was just a teenaged kid," he says. "But I'll never forget the way people reacted to Kennedy. Never seen anything like it since--until this guy." The question of when Obama--who has not yet served two years in the U.S. Senate--will run for President is omnipresent. That he will eventually run, and win, is assumed by almost everyone who comes to watch him speak. In Davenport a local reporter asks the question directly: "Are you running for President in 2008?" Obama surprises me by saying he's just thinking about the 2006 election right now, which, in the semiotic dance of presidential politics, is definitely not a no. A few days later, I ask Obama the obvious follow-up question: Will he think about running for President in 2008 when the congressional election is over? "When the election is over and my book tour is done, I will think about how I can be most useful to the country and how I can reconcile that with being a good dad and a good husband," he says carefully, and then adds, "I haven't completely decided or unraveled that puzzle yet."

Which is even closer to a yes--or, perhaps, it's just a clever strategy to gin up some publicity at the launch of his book tour. The current Obama mania is reminiscent of the Colin Powell mania of September 1995, when the general--another political rainbow--leveraged speculation that he might run for President into book sales of 2.6 million copies for his memoir, My American Journey. Powell and Obama have another thing in common: they are black people who--like Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan--seem to have an iconic power over the American imagination because they transcend racial stereotypes. "It's all about gratitude," says essayist Shelby Steele, who frequently writes about the psychology of race. "White people are just thrilled when a prominent black person comes along and doesn't rub their noses in racial guilt. White people just go crazy over people like that."

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When I asked Obama about this, he began to answer before I finished the question. "There's a core decency to the American people that doesn't get enough attention," he said, sitting in his downtown Chicago office, casually dressed in jeans and a dark blue shirt. "Figures like Oprah, Tiger, Michael Jordan give people a shortcut to express their better instincts. You can be cynical about this. You can say, It's easy to love Oprah. It's harder to embrace the idea of putting more resources into opportunities for young black men--some of whom aren't so lovable. But I don't feel that way. I think it's healthy, a good instinct. I just don't want it to stop with Oprah. I'd rather say, If you feel good about me, there's a whole lot of young men out there who could be me if given the chance."

But that's not quite true. There aren't very many people--ebony, ivory or other--who have Obama's distinctive portfolio of talents, or what he calls his "exotic" family history. His parentage was the first thing he chose to tell us about himself when he delivered his knockout keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004: his father was from Kenya and his mother from Kansas. He told the story in brilliant, painful detail in his first book, Dreams from My Father, which may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician. His parents met at the University of Hawaii and stayed together only briefly. His father left when Obama was 2 years old, and Barack was raised in Hawaii by his Kansas grandparents, except for a strange and adventurous four-year interlude when he lived in Indonesia with his mother and her second husband. As a teenager at Hawaii's exclusive Punahou prep school and later as a college student, Obama road tested black rage, but it was never a very good fit. There was none of the crippling psychological legacy of slavery in his family's past. He was African and American, as opposed to African American, although he certainly endured the casual cruelties of everyday life--in the new book, he speaks of white people mistaking him for a valet-parking attendant--that are visited upon nonwhites in America. "I had to reconcile a lot of different threads growing up--race, class," he told me. "For example, I was going to a fancy prep school, and my mother was on food stamps while she was getting her Ph.D." Obama believes his inability to fit neatly into any group or category explains his relentless efforts to understand and reconcile opposing views. But the tendency is so pronounced that it almost seems an obsessive-compulsive tic. I counted no fewer than 50 instances of excruciatingly judicious on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-handedness in The Audacity of Hope. At one point, he considers the historic influence of ideological extremists--that is, people precisely unlike him. "It has not always been the pragmatist, the voice of reason, or the force of compromise, that has created the conditions for liberty," he writes about the antislavery movement of the 19th century. "Knowing this, I can't summarily dismiss those possessed of similar certainty today--the antiabortion activist ... the animal rights activist who raids a laboratory--no matter how deeply I disagree with their views. I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty--for sometimes absolute truths may well be absolute."

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Yikes. But then Obama is nothing if not candid about his uncertainties and imperfections. In Dreams from My Father, which was written before he became a politician, he admits to cocaine and marijuana use and also to attending socialist meetings. In The Audacity of Hope, I counted 28 impolitic or self-deprecating admissions. Immediately, on page 3, he admits to political "restlessness," which is another way of saying he's ambitious. He flays himself for enjoying private jets, which eliminate the cramped frustrations of commercial flying but--on the other hand!--isolate him from the problems of average folks. He admits that his 2004 Senate opponent, Alan Keyes, got under his skin. He blames himself for "tensions" in his marriage; he doubts his "capacities" as a husband and father. He admits a nonpopulist affinity for Dijon mustard; he cops to being "grumpy" in the morning. He even offers his media consultant David Axelrod's opinions about the best negative TV ads that could have been used against him in the 2004 Senate campaign. (He once--accidentally, he says--voted against a bill to "protect our children from sex offenders.")

There is a method to this anguish. Self-deprecation and empathy are powerful political tools. Obama's candor is reminiscent of John McCain, who once said of his first marriage, "People wouldn't think so highly of me if they knew more about that." Obama's empathy is reminiscent of Bill Clinton, although the Senator's compassion tends to be less damp than Clinton's: it's more about understanding your argument than feeling your pain. Both those qualities have been integral to Obama's charm from the start. His Harvard Law School classmate Michael Froman told me Obama was elected president of the Law Review, the first African American to hold that prestigious position, because of his ability to win over the conservatives in their class. "It came down to Barack and a guy named David Goldberg," Froman recalls. "Most of the class were liberals, but there was a growing conservative Federalist Society presence, and there were real fights between right and left about almost every issue. Barack won the election because the conservatives thought he would take their arguments into account."

After three years as a civil rights lawyer and law professor in Chicago, Obama was elected to the Illinois state senate and quickly established himself as different from most of the other African-American legislators. "He was passionate in his views," says state senator Dave Syverson, a Republican committee chairman who worked on welfare reform with Obama. "We had some pretty fierce arguments. We went round and round about how much to spend on day care, for example. But he was not your typical party-line politician. A lot of Democrats didn't want to have any work requirement at all for people on welfare. Barack was willing to make that deal."

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The raising and dashing of expectations is at the heart of almost every great political drama. In Obama's case, the expectations are ridiculous. He transcends the racial divide so effortlessly that it seems reasonable to expect that he can bridge all the other divisions--and answer all the impossible questions--plaguing American public life. He encourages those expectations by promising great things--at least, in the abstract. "This country is ready for a transformative politics of the sort that John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt represented," he told me. But those were politicians who had big ideas or were willing to take big risks, and so far, Barack Obama hasn't done much of either. With the exception of a bipartisan effort with ultra-conservative Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to publish every government contract--a matter of some embarrassment to their pork-loving colleagues--his record has been predictably liberal. And the annoying truth is, The Audacity of Hope isn't very audacious.

A few weeks ago, I watched Obama give a speech about alternative energy to an audience gathered by MoveOn.org at Georgetown University. It was supposed to be a big deal, one of three speeches MoveOn had scheduled to lay out its 2008 issues agenda, a chance for the best-known group of activist Democrats to play footsie with the party's most charismatic speaker, and vice versa. But it was a disappointment, the closest I had seen Obama come to seeming a standard-issue pol, one who declares a crisis and answers with Band-Aids. In this case, he produced a few scraggly carrots and sticks to encourage Detroit to produce more fuel-efficient cars. The audience of students and activists sensed the Senator's timidity and became palpably less enthusiastic as Obama went on. Just two days before, Al Gore gave a rousing speech in New York City in which he proposed a far more dramatic alternative energy plan: a hefty tax on fossil fuels that would be used, in turn, to reduce Social Security and Medicare taxes. I asked Obama why he didn't support an energy-tax increase married to tax relief for working Americans in the MoveOn speech or in The Audacity of Hope. "I didn't think of it," he replied, but sensing the disingenuousness of his response--talk of a gas tax is everywhere these days, especially among high-minded policy sorts--he quickly added,"I think it's a really interesting idea."

I pressed him on this. Surely he had thought about it? "Remember, the premise of this book wasn't to lay out my 10-point plan," Obama danced. "My goal was to figure out the common values that can serve as a basis for discussion." Sensing my skepticism, he tried again: "This book doesn't drill that deep in terms of policy ... There are a slew of good ideas out there. Some things end up on the cutting-room floor."

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Universal health insurance also found its way to the cutting-room floor. I asked about the universal plan recently passed in Massachusetts, which was a triumph of Obama-style bipartisanship. The plan requires everyone who earns three times the poverty rate to purchase health insurance and subsidizes those who earn less than that. Shouldn't health insurance be mandatory, like auto insurance, for those who can afford it? Obama wouldn't go there. "If there's a way of doing it voluntarily, that's more consonant with the American character," he said. "If you can't solve the problem without the government stepping in, that's when you make it mandatory."

After we jousted over several other issues, Obama felt the need to step back and defend himself. "Look, when I spoke out against going to war in Iraq in 2002, Bush was at 60-65% in the polls. I was putting my viability as a U.S. Senate candidate at risk. It looks now like an easy thing to do, but it wasn't then." He's right about that: more than a few of his potential rivals for the presidency in 2008 voted, as a matter of political expediency, to give Bush the authority to use military force in Iraq. Then Obama returned to the energy issue. "When I call for increased fuel-economy standards, that doesn't sit very well with the [United Auto Workers], and they're big buddies of mine ... Look, it's just not my style to go out of my way to offend people or be controversial just for the sake of being controversial. That's offensive and counterproductive. It makes people feel defensive and more resistant to changes."

Talk about defensive: this was the first time I had ever seen Obama less than perfectly comfortable. And his discomfort exposed the elaborate intellectual balancing mechanism that he applies to every statement and gesture, to every public moment of his life. "He's working a very dangerous high-wire act," Shelby Steele told me. "He's got to keep on pleasing white folks without offending black folks, and vice versa." Indeed, Obama faces a minefield on issues like the racial gerrymandering of congressional districts and affirmative action. "You're asking him to take policy risks? Just being who he is is taking an enormous risk."

There is a certain amount of political as well as psychological wisdom to what Steele says. The most basic rule of presidential politics is that you run against your predecessor. If Obama, 45, chooses to run in 2008, his consensus seeking would stand in stark contrast not only to the hyperpartisan Bush Administration but also to the histrionic, self-important style of baby-boom-generation politicians. Or it could work against him. An old-time Chicago politician told me Obama's thoughtfulness might be a negative in a presidential campaign. "You have to convey strength," he said, "and it's hard to do that when you're giving on-the-other-hand answers."

Meanwhile, back in our interview, I offer a slightly barbed olive branch: Maybe I'm asking for too much when I expect him to be bold on the issues, I suggest. Maybe my expectations for him are too high? "No, no," he says, and returns for a third time to energy policy--to Gore's tax-swap idea. "It's a neat idea. I'm going to call Gore and have a conversation about it. It might be something I'd want to embrace."

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But he's not ready to make that leap just yet. Boldness needs to be planned, not blurted--and there are all sorts of questions to ponder before he takes the next step.Would the arrogance implicit in running now, after less than one term in the Senate, undercut his carefully built reputation for judiciousness? Is the Chicago politician right about the need to be strong and simple in a run for President? Or can Obama overturn all the standard political assumptions simply by being himself? "In setting your expectations for me now, just remember I haven't announced that I'm running in 2008," he concluded. "I would expect that anyone who's running in 2008, you should have very high expectations for them."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1546362,00.html#ixzz1RnAyVqHk

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1546362,00.html#ixzz1Rn8WAHBk

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Friday, July 01, 2011



A Key to Freedom
Front Cover
Lushena Books, 2001 - 159 pages
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References to this book



Malaria healed

Joseph Baleka
Reprinted from the June 2006 issue of The Christian Science Journal.
I became acquainted with Christian Science when I’d had enough of going to church. I felt that even though I prayed, God didn’t give me any answers. I told myself that I was going to pray to God for the last time. I went into my room, and I addressed God the way one would address a man.
I said, “If in five days you don’t respond, it’s finished.” I think I had asked for shoes or a shirt. I said, “I’ll stop praying, and I’m going to govern my own life because there clearly isn’t any God.”
After I prayed, I got up to leave the room, but I thought to turn around. I saw a Bible, which a cousin had left on a table. It was the Jerusalem Bible. I decided to open it for the last time, and I saw the book of the prophetess Judith, which isn’t included in the Louis Segond Bible [French-language Bible].
I told myself, “Well, I’ll just read the story.” As I read the account, I realized that the people of Israel had done the same thing I was doing. When they were surrounded by the Assyrians, they had told God that if He didn’t send them rain in exactly five days, they would let the enemy come in and destroy the temple.
That really struck me, and I suddenly felt that there was a presence with me—that God was there.
During the next five days, it’s not as if I received what I had requested, but a friend gave me a book that introduced me for the first time to the idea that prayer follows certain rules. The book was based on Bible verses that said that one can move mountains with faith. I began to pray from that basis, and it seemed I received some results. But I wasn’t able to understand the concepts very well.
It was during this questioning period, when I was constantly talking to friends about this subject, that a Christian Scientist gave some French-language copies of The Herald of Christian Science to my friends, saying, “When you finish reading them, give them to Joseph, your friend who’s asking a lot of questions.”
This was the knowledge for which I was searching.
When I read a Herald for the first time, I told myself that these people must have the knowledge for which I was searching. But I didn’t know how to find that knowledge. I saw that they recommended a book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which could be ordered from Boston. I prayed and wondered how I could get the book.
Then one month later I met a person who had a Christian Science pamphlet. I was immediately attracted to it. I asked this person where he’d gotten the pamphlet, and he told me about the Christian Science Reading Room in our city.
When I got there, I found ten copies of Science and Health on display. That’s how I first became acquainted with Christian Science and Science and Health.
I asked the person working there what he thought was essential in this book. He showed me page 259, where it says that there is one perfect God, and that man, made in His image, is perfect. This passage helped me later when I suffered from malaria.
At the beginning, when I started reading Science and Health, I experienced small healings. For instance, when I had headaches, I would tell myself, “I can try to apply what I’ve read in this book to see if I’ll get results.”
I pray from the basis that I am God's image.
Since childhood, I had suffered a lot with headaches. But now, with Christian Science, when I had a headache, instead of taking an aspirin, I would pray from the basis that there is a perfect God and that I’m His image, and that I do not have a mind that’s separate from God. Therefore, in order for me to have a headache, it would be necessary for God to have a headache first.
Whenever I felt ill, when I prayed like this, the illness or pain would disappear. But I would often ask myself, “If I have an illness that’s a lot more serious than a headache, will I be able to hold on to what I’ve read in Science and Health?” Two years later, 1993, I was to find out.
I had the symptoms of malaria, with terrible pains in my spine, and headaches. I had to accompany my nephews to the doctor, because they were also experiencing the same symptoms. After the medical examination, they were told they had malaria. Since I had the same symptoms, I asked the nurse to examine me, and they found that I had trophozoites in my blood, which meant I had malaria.
I told myself, “Oh my goodness. This is a really serious disease.” I was used to seeing people have quinine injected into their muscles to be healed of malaria.
I told myself, “On one hand, I’m working from a new basis, but from a medical standpoint, if I don’t take care of this illness with medical remedies, this means death for me. Maybe I should go see someone so that in case I die, they will be able to testify that I had placed my trust in Christian Science and that it hadn’t worked.”
I went to see a friend who was a Christian Scientist. I was showing all the symptoms of malaria. He promised his support in prayer. When I got home, I found that my cousin (who lived with me) had purchased the quinine injections that had been prescribed for me, but I threw them all behind a closet.
I read Science and Health to find comfort and peace.
The first thing I told myself was that I would review all the passages I had underlined in Science and Health so I could be comforted and find peace. That’s what I did during the first few days. But on the fourth day, I felt terrible. It was the turning point. I had atrocious pains and, still worse, a relative came to visit me to tell me that a cousin who had the same illness, and who had been hospitalized, had just passed on.
I almost panicked, but I had a deep-down trust in my understanding of Christian Science, so I didn’t panic. This was on Thursday. The symptoms were at their worst. I couldn’t even stand up to get Science and Health to read, but I told myself that I would apply what I understood, no matter what happened.
While lying in bed, I began by asking myself who was in the process of suffering at that moment. Based on Science and Health, I began to answer, I am a spiritual being made in God’s image. So if I’m not a material, mortal being, then it’s not me suffering on this bed. Since I’m the image of God, that can’t be me. For me to suffer, it would be necessary for God to suffer first. Therefore I’m not a mortal who’s on his bed in the process of suffering. I’m the image of God.
Everything stopped all at once. The headache stopped. It was all over. I got up. It was two o’clock in the morning, and I got up to nurse my nephews, who were still ill and who continued under medical treatment.
My neighbors were surprised to see me out fetching water.
When I got up that next morning, I carried a large bucket to wash myself, because we fetched water from a faucet. We were tenants in a home where there were a lot of people, and they were surprised to see that the frail person who had been on the couch yesterday could carry a big bucket today. I could hear them questioning among themselves.
This healing took place about ten years ago, and no symptoms have ever returned. After the healing, it was so astonishing for people that my friends said, “Listen, maybe it’s the type of psychological healing where the germs are still there. Are you really sure? You need to be examined.”
At their insistence, we went to an infirmary, and they told the orderly that they had come with a friend who was ill and they wanted a confirmation that he was healed. They asked to test me for malaria. I gave blood, and the orderly told us to come back 30 minutes later.
When we came back he told us to take another 30 minutes. When we came back again, he said that he didn’t understand.
"There's nothing wrong with him. He's well."
“You tell me he’s sick, but the exam doesn’t show anything. There’s nothing there. All that I would maybe recommend is that he take a strong dose of some medication that I’ll give you, but I’m telling you, there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s well.”
I told my friends, “You see, it’s not psychological. There are no more trophozoites in my blood.”
In our country, malaria is an illness that seems to be everywhere. I feel completely disengaged from that perspective, completely above it. I think that if I hadn’t become acquainted with Christian Science I would be like the people who even today consider malaria to be like a ghost.
What Christian Science has done for me is extraordinary. It has elevated me to a view of this illness that is not what I had before. This and all disease are no longer scary to me. My relationship with God has allowed me to completely disengage myself from that fear.
Joseph Baleka lives in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa.
Perfect God and perfect man:
Science and Health:
King James Bible:
John 8:32