Griffen: Baltimore is 'evidence of a mounting resistance movement' against injustice | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Griffen: Baltimore is 'evidence of a mounting resistance movement' against injustice

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 12:36 PM

click to enlarge GRIFFEN
  • GRIFFEN
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, also a pastor who routinely does quite a bit of deep thinking on the topic of social justice, has never been one to shrink from controversy and uncomfortable topics. This morning, he published an essay over on his blog that definitely bears reading: "Civil Unrest and Subversive Vision." In places, the piece sounds like it could have been plucked from the frustrated heart of any young person involved in the recent unrest in Baltimore.

One of the issues Griffen lingers over in particular: the contention that scenes of riot and violent protest are somehow a disservice to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As Griffen writes: 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned our society and world about the evils of racism, materialism, and militarism. Politicians and pundits who profess to respect Dr. King have refused to heed his prophetic call to lead the world in undergoing a “radical revolution of values” away from placing concern about property over concern about people,

Dr. King warned that the absence of justice for black people will not be tolerated tranquilly. In an essay published after his death, King wrote: “When millions of people have been cheated for centuries, restitution is a costly process. Inferior education, poor housing, unemployment, inadequate health care—each is a bitter component of the oppression that has been our heritage… White America must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.” The politicians and pundits engaged in televised head-scratching, hand-wringing, and task force convening have quoted the “I have a dream” words of King, but have remained deliberately ignorant about and dismissive of King’s warnings.

What the pundits and politicians now fail to recognize (or admit) is something Dr. King wrote in that 1968 essay published after he was murdered. “… [T]o this day, black Americans have not life, liberty nor the privilege of pursuing happiness, and millions of poor white Americans are in economic bondage that is scarcely less oppressive. Americans who genuinely treasure our national ideals, who know they are still elusive dreams for all too many, should welcome the stirring of Negro demands. They are shattering the complacency that allowed a multitude of social evils to accumulate. Negro agitation is requiring America to reexamine its comforting myths and may yet catalyze the drastic reforms that will save us from social catastrophe.”

To put it bluntly, what the politicians and pundits are denouncing as “civil unrest” are the sights, sounds, and other efforts of people engaged in a grass roots struggle against institutionalized and politically sanctioned injustice. These struggling people are no longer willing to accept the lies of politicians and profiteers who talk about “economic development” that leaves their communities with the highest unemployment, the worst social services, the most impoverished schools, and the most people with law enforcement credentials who abuse and kill their neighbors and relatives. 

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