Harry C. Blaney III

We are living in a time that we see at home and abroad attacks on justice, human rights and a leader in our nation that espouses racism and hate. It is time thus to remember the words on his birth date pf Martin Luther King Jr.  He knew deeply the forces of evil and hate and the returned both with peaceful protest and understanding and love. It is sad that we have moved so much backward from not only his fight against bigotry but also his work  for the poor and neglected. We are seeing around the world but also now a determined effort to harm the “least among us” at home by Trump and his supporters, but also abroad with his acquiescence in acts of cruelty and violation of human rights and not least admiration of brutal dictators.  King would have understood that context and would voice his opposition but in the hope of redemption by moral force.

A personal note, Martin Luther King Jr was a beacon of hope and justice during my grad student days. I heard him at a Yale commencement and later in London heard his talk at St. Paul’s Cathedral on his way to pick up his Nobel prize. I joined earlier also at grad school in a “sit-in” effort in St. Augustine in Florida on Spring break sponsored and led by King’s Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), landed in jail with many others including my wonderful Yale Chaplain William Sloane Coffen Jr.

I leave for my readers a quote from him on this the anniversary of his birth:

“ I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

“God is not interested merely in freeing black men and brown men and yellow men, but Gold is interested in freeing the whole human race.”

The other line in his draft “Letter from Birmingham Jail” which is with me to this very day was ”In justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

Let us not forget is goals and sacrifice.




Harry C. Blaney III

We have tried to focus on foreign and security policies and issues in this blog but the reality is that what happens in the United States in terms of our leadership and our society and governance is a main driver of out engagement with the world. This is the case with the confrontation recently in Charlottesville and especially the follow on of how Donald Trump dealt with this domestic divisive crisis and his corrosive and demoniac perspective on dealing with racism, the KKK, White Nationalists and neo-Nazis.

The picture of Americans marching with guns an other weapons, in mock military uniforms and with the Nazi flags and shouting Nazi and racist, anti-Semitic slogans and acting in threatening ways including the killing of a woman and attacking others who were counter-protesting against such evil beliefs.  All over the removal of a stature of a general who supported slavery and was a traitor his nation who took the oath of office to defend that nation. The image of this tragic and brutal event that defies all American value, was broadcast over the world. In Berlin people organized donations for the victims of the brutality and murder and maiming of those who simply sought justice. (See comment below on German official reaction.)

In response, the American media, by and large, saw this event for what it was and Trump’s response, especially on Saturday and on Tuesday as a desecration of our values, our constitution, and our unity as a people seeking the perfection of democracy.  Already the world sees Trump and this administration as destructive and is fearful and this only adds to their despair.

David Gergen, former advisor to both Republican and Democratic presidents on CNN noted that we have a more dangerous situation for our country than before and questioned of how we could come to grips with the anger in this man that is our President and its dangerous implications for our nation. The military leaders our Chiefs-of-Staff are now on record in support of American tolerance, inclusiveness, and against racism in our military and our nation. Their statements are in contrast to the Trump relative pro-racist sympathy and equation of Alt-Right and White Racists with that of those who opposed them was a moment of a fearsome turning point in trust in Trump as a rational decent leader for many. But clearly not all.

If we see a President that is unhinged so does our allies who frankly are frighted and worried that America is a more dangerous force in the world than even Russia. Even our adversaries think they can take advantage of these stupid and depraved acts by Trump.  People overseas see Trump defending evil which disheartens any decent person here or abroad.

On a positive side, the Wednesday night vigil in Charlottesville was a massive act of its citizens and showed, via a peaceful march, a hope to our global community that the forces of justice and democracy against racism and Neo-Nazis is still strong. Towards the end of the candlelight march they sang the songs of the civil rights movement, and ballads of inclusiveness of the folk singers of that generation of the 60’s, that I knew so well in my own life. If the world could see these public acts of concern and support for justice in our nation, perhaps they would give us some day a second change to help provide positive leadership to face together our world’s many challenges.

But to address our own faults and tendencies towards the evils such as Trump has given voice to, requires a truing point in our politics in which the vast majority of our nation recognizes our dilemma and dangers of a government that seems intent to destroy our constitution, democracy, and fairness to all our citizens. We all will need to act to change our direction and push back to those who preach selfishness, racism and self-destruction.

The world is watching us. The vast majority of the world wants us to once again to assert our values and not endanger them with lies, hate and racism. This may be a key moment of decision and bravery.  Our security and our values are at stake.

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