"We Can't Breathe" -- An American Travesty

It's all Earth that cannot breathe –--
Not only Eric Garner.

Listen to the truth:

We who believe in freedom cannot rest;
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes:  
 Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons,
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons.
That’s the song that Bernice Johnson Reagon composed and called “Ella’s Song,” honoring Ella Baker, one of the key teachers and leaders within the Freedom Movement of the 1960s. You can hear it – please do hear it!  -- sung by Sweet Honey on the Rock, the musical ensemble that Reagon founded.

And listen with a truth-tuned ear to Martin Luther King, speaking on March 14, 1968, three weeks before he was murdered:

A Riot is the Language of the Unheard . ...It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the conditions -- intolerable conditions -- that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention.”

Or listen to Abraham Lincoln:

“If God wills that … every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said, ’The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’ ”  (Quoting Psalm 19, verse 9.)
Lincoln was sadly affirming what Thomas Jefferson, theorist of liberty and practitioner of slavery, had said about slavery two generations before: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”

Almost certainly, the grand jury in New York acted as they did because a district attorney beholden to a white-majority choke-hold on Staten Island did not encourage them to do their job. Not even to make clear they needed to find only “probable cause “ of a crime, so that a real trial could be held in open court. Not even to point out they could charge the policeman for a lesser offense like “reckless endangerment,”  if they could not bear to charge a white policeman for murder of a Black man.

What was and is at stake on Staten Island is not just a numerical white majority, but one addicted– along with the district attorney himself -- to Domination Disease.
This Domineering disease afflicts us not only in the guise, the arena, of racism:
 It afflicts us when the military allows superior officers to rape women and men under their command, and when a university allows football players to gang-rape a woman at a party, and when a corporation convinces the Supreme Court that its corporate “religious beliefs” trump the real-life religious beliefs of real-life human beings, its women employees. (You mean women can come to their own moral and religious decisions? It is to laugh!)
 It afflicts us when an American President chooses on his own say-so which American citizens he can “execute” – that is, kill -- without judge or trial or jury (as if he were a policeman using a high-tech flying choke-hold).  
It afflicts us when the American Jewish Committee demands that President Obama OK building the Tar Sands Pipeline, ignoring the warning of the Sioux Nation that a decision to build the Pipeline will be a Declaration of War against the Sioux Nation -- literally ignoring this urgent outcry of the Sioux.

Let alone the effects of burning this filthy carbon-loaded oil on Americans, Africans, Filipinos, Israelis.

What's the effect? WE Can't Breathe! Mother Earth is in a Choke-hold! 

(Next week I will share with you in more detail this shameful tale of a “Jewish” organization’s betraying Jewish values.)
What will cure us of the Domination Disease?
Surely not a techie solution – like cameras on police helmets.
What will they matter when a video showing a police officer choking a Black man – using the choke-hold “forbidden” by his own police force, while he, and we, can hear the (Black) man gasping, “I can’t breathe” -- does not bring a district attorney and a grand jury to think “probable cause”?
What will cure us? Despite Lincoln’s invocation of blood shed by the sword as “righteous judgments of the Lord,” the cure won’t come that way.
Despite Dr. King’s truthful warning that “riots are the language of those who are unheard,” those whose shouts and tears fall on self-deafened ears, the cure won’t come through riots.
It will come when we turn away from Domination to Community.
When white, black, and brown citizens join in haunting the homes of police chiefs until every policeman who kills an unarmed civilian is fired.
When neighbors gather at a local coal-burning plant, wearing gas masks and sitting in the gateways to force an end to the epidemics of coal-dust asthma that becloud our poorer, blacker, disempowered neighborhoods.
When all across our country, neighborhood co-ops are producing solar energy.
When churches, synagogues, mosques, and their congregants are choosing to Move Our Money – to place our savings and checking accounts with credit unions and neighborhood banks, not Super-Banks that invest in destroying mountains to burn coal, or raping the oceans to drill for oil, or fracking our water to profit from unnatural gas.
When these kinds of communities start growing and sprouting at the grass-roots and pavement tops of our country, we will see new laws sprouting through new cracks in the rigid concrete of our top-down governments.
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.

For Bernice Reagon’s “Ella’s Song” in the voices of Sweet Honey in the Rock, click to

Read Dr. King’s whole speech on the meaning of riots at <
Blessings toward shalom, salaam, peace -- the healing of our people and our planet --  Arthur



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