This one is pretty hard to write. The title comes from Martin Luther King’s 1963, “Why We Can’t Wait.” That, and his “Letter from a Birmhingam Jail” also 1963 are the sources for the quotes here.
It has probably occurred to very few that the struggle to seek justice in the matter of the illegal war in Iraq, and the seeking of a Resolution of Inquiry into the impeachable offenses of GWB in the illegal war Iraq, have any correlations with the Civil Rights movement of the late 1950’s and 1960’s. There are more correlations than you might imagine.
“There is a right side and a wrong side in this conflict (civil rights)and the government does not belong in the middle.” -Why We Can’t Wait 1963
“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’. . .justice too long delayed is justice denied.” -Letter from a Birmingham Jail 1963
Now the hearing on Thursday, June 16 of the Democratic House Judiciary Committee Hearings on the Downing Street Minutes was denied a proper meeting room. They thought to meet in the Democratic Headquarters Building, but decided on a basement room in the House, instead. That was the only room they were given. It was another show of profound disrespect. The scheduling was made enormously difficult because of so many last hour votes, that all members of the Democratic House Judiciary Committee could not attend, or if they were able, they had to run in and out of the hearing. This, too, one could only interpret as a Republican attempt to hamper proceedings.
Anyone who wants to read the rules about how hearings are convened and what the procedure is for hearings can read them here. But the pertinent passage I found was this:
(a) The Committee Chairman or any Subcommittee chairman shall make public announcement of the date, place, and subject matter of any hearing to be conducted by it on any measure or matter at least one week before the commencement of that hearing. If the Chairman of the Committee, or Subcommittee, with the concurrence of the Ranking Minority Member, determines there is good cause to begin the hearing sooner, or if the Committee or Subcommittee so determines by majority vote, a quorum being present for the transaction of business, the Chairman or Subcommittee chairman shall make the announcement at the earliest possible date.
(b) Committee and Subcommittee hearings shall be open to the public except when the Committee or Subcommittee determines by majority vote to close the meeting because disclosure of matters to be considered would endanger national security, would compromise sensitive law enforcement information, or would tend to defame, degrade or incriminate any person or otherwise would violate any law or rule of the House.
(c) For purposes of taking testimony and receiving evidence before the Committee or any Subcommittee, a quorum shall be constituted by the presence of two Members.
(d) In the course of any hearing each Member shall be allowed five minutes for the interrogation of a witness until such time as each Member who so desires has had an opportunity to question the witness.
(e) The transcripts of those hearings conducted by the Committee which are decided to be printed shall be published in verbatim form, with the material requested for the record inserted at that place requested, or at the end of the record, as appropriate. Individuals, including Members of Congress, whose comments are to be published as part of a Committee document shall be given the opportunity to verify the accuracy of the transcription in advance of publication.
Any requests by those Members, staff or witnesses to correct any errors other than errors in the transcription, or disputed errors in transcription, shall be appended to the record, and the appropriate place where the change is requested will be footnoted. Prior to approval by the Chairman of hearings conducted jointly with another congressional Committee, a memorandum of understanding shall be prepared which incorporates an agreement for the publication of the verbatim
Rule IV. Broadcasting
Whenever a hearing or meeting conducted by the Committee or any Subcommittee is open to the public, those proceedings shall be open to coverage by television, radio and still photography except when the hearing or meeting is closed pursuant to the Committee Rules of Procedure.
“The conservatives who say, ‘Let us not move so fast,’ and the extremists who say, ‘Let’s go out and whip the world,’ would tell you that they are as far apart as the poles. But there is a striking parallel: They accomplish nothing; for they do not reach the people who have a crying need to be free.” Why We Can’t Wait 1963
Now, every time the subject of seeking a Resolution of Inquiry comes up, there is a chorus who shout, “Wait! We can’t do anything until we have a Democratic Congress!! This is a waste of time, while the Republicans are the majority there is no hope. You will only divide the forces by pushing this issue.”
Well, I think the people who are arguing this point are dead wrong. And I don’t think they understand what it means to be a minority in America. Democrats, no matter how large their numbers, are the minority in their representation in this current government. Arguing that we cannot address justice issues until we have enough Democrats in the House and in Congress is like arguing that we won’t be able to sit down to any lunch counter we choose until their is enough black or minority ownership of lunch counters. It is patently false that democracy works only for the majority power holders. It is just wrong.
(Students from North Carolina A&T State University during a sit-in at the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter)
So, here is what I propose to you as my compromise, my offer. I work 16 hours a day on justice issues — mainly to stop the illegal war in Iraq, to rid the White House of its rat infestation and illegal squatters, and the restoration of a democratic Constitutional republic, which means to me in great part the restoration of the Bill of Rights. Now out of those 16 hours a day, I will give to anyone who wants to bring about a Democratic win in 2006 one fourth of my working time and energy. I will give you folks four hours a day. I will do anything — write letters, send out literature, write articles, etc. That’s the best I can offer you.
But on my part, I am absolutely committed and absolutely unshakeable in my resolve that no matter who is in the house, justice must be served. There is a great dignity to being in the minority. There is great power in being on the right side of justice.
“The brutality with which officials would have quelled the black individual became impotent
when it could not be pursued with stealth and remain unobserved.” Why We Can’t Wait 1963
“The enemy the Negro faced became not the individual who had oppressed him but the evil
system which permitted that individual to do so.” Why We Can’t Wait 1963
“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.” -Letter from a Birmingham Jail 1963
“The ultimate tragedy of Birmingham was not the brutality of the bad people, but the silence of the good people.” Why We Can’t Wait 1963
Write a flood of letters to the Washington Post asking for the firing of Dana Millbank.
Congressman John Conyers Diary About the Milbank Article in the Washington Post is here:
Accountablility in the Media
Dana Milbank’s Article in the Washington Post is here:
Democrats Play House to Rally Against the War
I will be happy to post any more references on this issue.