Protesting is a perfect topic for me to take and analyze, because I am from Birmingham, Alabama and live in the land of protests. We have a serious history of protests, some with of the peaceful kind of participants and some of the outrageously, stupid, angry fire-bombing kind of protesters.
Let me tell you right now, I have had the honorable privilege before she died to have the personal phone number of Deenie Drew who knew quite well, first hand, about the power of protests. I also, know Judge U.W. Clemon and proudly call him a friend. Those folks lived the consequences of protests. I am not equipped to give a serious first hand discussion on the important moments of Alabama’s sad history as an expert. I am taking the more limited and synthesised version of protests to explain. I mention those two great people to give me, by way of association some confidence to speak to the issues of protests. I am sure if I get it wrong, U. W. will let me know, you need not worry.
As I watch the riots on television and the internet from countries all over the world. I am saddened as are many millions of people who love freedom and religion. When I use this phrase, I mean it, for GOODNESS sakes, let us live like we should and do what we need to do to stop to violence. As our Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton responded,
“I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries,” said Clinton.” Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.”
She also said,
“We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer,” Clinton said forcefully. “They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.”
Deenie Drew knew the value of peaceful protest. For those that do not know the significance of the wonderful woman, Mrs. Drew, let me suggest you read Taylor Branch‘s work ,”Parting The Waters.” His book connects many of the heroes of the Civil Rights movement in an extremely scholarly way. From his work we know about Deenie and her family. From my few conversations with Mrs. Drew, I can tell you, she cared about all children. Dr. King stayed at her home on many occasions to discuss the ways to achieve change through peaceful strength. He respected her wisdom. Mrs. Drew was against the children participating in the marches. She was serious about non violence. As I was looking over the internet to refresh my memories of Mrs. Drew, I ran across a letter she wrote to James Meredith when he was accepted to The University of Mississippi. It was in her hand writing and served to remind me how very proud she was of students and their accomplishments. I do not have the words from the eulogy U. W. Clemon spoke at Mrs. Drew’s funeral, but knowing him , I am sure the words were eloquent and I wish I could see a copy because it would surely have a very important message. Surely someone, has them, I bet he spoke to the very issue of peace and protest. He thought of Mrs. Drew as a very special person in his life. U. W. Clemon lived the history of the Civil Rights and it shaped him into the man he became, he was the first black United States Federal Judge in Alabama. He would be the voice to listen to and appreciate; he would be the one to articulate the real value and issues of protests. Mine is just merely, a synthesised attempt to reach out to the common sense of regular people during this very angry time.
My few connections to Mrs. Drew were to help organize an educational experience for some children in our neighborhood community. She was gracious and thoughtful and encouraged me to share the messages of non violence. I hope she would approve of my taking the liberty to tell you about how she was a voice of reason and calm. She was right.
This summer we saw hordes of people protesting at a Chicken emporium waiting to purchase greasy chicken sandwiches, because they felt it was against their religion to allow grown adults to enter into a marriage based on love, claiming instead it was against the religious beliefs of the protestors and their interpretations of the Bible. Now that seemed to me like a durn near stupid waste of time and toil. However, I have to give it to them, they were peaceful, and I have to admit, those waffle fries are almost too to sinful to resist. Years ago some religious Conservative Christians got all upset about a movie titled “The Temptation of Christ” because it suggested Jesus might have had a fling with Mary Magdalene, by today’s standard-Christian-hype it would be the correct sex, but impure thoughts that would spark protests. Nonetheless, the movie was banned in the South and many others areas of the country. In neither of those protests did anyone go to the place of violence.
I mention this only to say, we need to take a breath and do a little soul-searching together. Now make sure you follow and hear me correctly as I explain my thoughts. As much as I love a moving church service, all religions are based on irrational premises, in the truest definition of the word. It is based on things that cannot be proven or that cannot be seen. Hear me now, it is not bad to believe in the good things in religion, that is faith and that is a very valuable thing to us all. However, when people feel their beliefs are disrespected, it can be expected irrational behaviors will happen. People get riled up about their religion. We should respect other’s religions, but violence is not acceptable.
It would be shallow and incomplete for me to review and repeat the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King in this small essay because I could never do them justice. I am not trying to give the reader a history lesson or preach an amazing sermon. I just want to remind all of us that we need to really think about the things we protest. Are they worth the time and effort? Is it really worth the efforts to make stupid videos that disrespect other’s religions thus justifying the turmoil they create? Is it really good business sense to support groups that have ties to hate groups? If you do happen to think it is ok to be violent, let me call the nearest nut with a NRA sticker on their bumper to give you a lecture about “do yourself a favor and take your own self , ‘out the game, don’t make gun possession look bad, remember as the NRA guy would say, Guns don’t kill, people do.” I happen to think owning a gun is a losing proposition, because somewhere , somehow, someone is going to get hurt. Don’t let me stop you gun owners from having a more valuable right to a gun, than the rest of us have a right to live. Don’t let the people screaming and acting in violence over religion indignation, get in the way of common sense, how many of you googled the video in question? I did and I watched seven or eight seconds of it and it was disgusting but it was also stupid and amateurish. I have seen worse on Fox during prime time, that slut station is about as close as you can get to porn without having to pay for it. However, you don’t see me protesting, much less standing around and eating a Chic a flick sandwich, reading my Bible, shouting death threats to anyone. I just turned the damn thing off. Come on, folks, have some dignity and sophistication about your religion.
Don’t pick on others and don’t hold grudges. Let it go, peacefully. I can hear Mrs. Deenie Drew right now, saying, “Our children are watching us.”
Just because we can do something , should we? No doubt about it, selfishness is an individual vice, but selfishness is very dangerous when applied to group mentality.
Having now explained that we should not disrespect other’s religion. I have to say, Protests have consequences. If you get all righteous over a chicken sandwich, then others that disagree can choose to go somewhere else to eat. However, if you resort to violence, be prepared to receive consequences.
I want to send my condolences to the members of the families that lost loved ones in Libya. We love you and we are a grateful nation for the truly important things your loved ones did to make peace in a world that is too selfish to understand its importance. Diplomats are amazing people.