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Operation Clean Sweep Sources

Washington Post Articles

  1. D.C. School Budget Stirs Few Sparks at Hearing: Usual Political Acrimony is Missing By Marc Fisher 02-14-1987
  2. Reclaiming Clifton Terrace; NW Neighbors Wage War on Drug Dealers
  3. Tracking D.C.’s Clean Sweep Arrests; Computer Yields Surprises in 6 Month Oil Crime Crackdown by Linda Wheeler 03-03-1987
  4. D.C. Police End Drug Roundups, Say Funds Short by Sari Horwitz 04-28-1987
  5. D.C. Operation Clean Sweep To Resume, Officials Say by Sari Horwitz
  6. Clean Sweep’s Real Value 05-01-1987
  7. Drug Probes Invigorated By New Commitment, Cash by Nancy Lewis 05-04-1987
  8. Smart Moves by the Police 05-12-1987
  9. Barry Urges $12 Rise in Tax Bills; Public Safety Cited For Budget Shortfall by Tom Sherwood & Gwen Ifill 05-15-1987
  10. 3 D.C. Prison Are 700 Inmates Above June 1 Court Cap by Nancy Lewis 05-18-1987
  11. Car Impoundment Law Hits Innocent Owners; D.C. Police Seize Autos in Drug Arrests by Elsa Walsh 06-05-1987
  12. Gloomy D.C. Financial Outlook; Report on Government Spending Heats Up Tax Debate by Gwen Ifill 06-07-1987
  13. Slain Officer Remembered at Police Promotions by Victoria Chruchville 06-11-1987
  14. Drug-Linked D.C. Killings Rise Sharply; Rival Dealers Use Powerful Weapons In Growing Violence by Victoria Churchville 06-17-1987
  15. Police Seize $233,000 Worth of Drugs in NE Raid 06-17-1987
  16. ANC Actions 06-18-1987
  17. Photographer For Life Sues District Police by Nancy Lewis 10-23-1987
  18. Paradise Manor Co-Op Plan Hailed at Partners’ Party by Douglas Stevenson 10-29-1987
  19. Southeast’s Search for a Little Understanding; Residents of Historic Quadrant Struggle Against Stigmas, Assert Pride in Diversity by Linda Wheeler 11-08-1987
  20. D.C. Officer Shot in NE Drug Mart; Clean Sweep Has Its First Casualty by Carlos Sanchez & Rene Sanchez 12-02-1987
  21. N.Y. Youth Charged in Police Shooting; Officer Wounded In NE Drug Arrest by Sari Horwitz 12-08-1987
  22. D.C. Prison Officials Ask for Emergency Release; Barry Expected to Free Over 1,000 Inmates by Victoria Churchville 12-05-1987
  23. Washington, Police Reach a Separate Peace; On the Third Day, the City, Demonstrators and Even Soviets Seem to Be Loosening Up Series: Summit in Washington by Victoria Mintz & John Mintz 12-10-1987
  24. Clean Sweep Roundup Nets More Than 100 Arrests in SE; Crackdown One of the Largest in Program by Carlos Sanchez & Martin Weil 12-12-1987
  25. Clean Sweep Nets 124 Arrests 12-13-1987
  26. Jail Filled, But Drugs Still a Problem, Chief Says 12-17-1987
  27. 3 Officers Shot in D.C. Drug Deal By Carlos Sanchez 12-17-1987
  28. Sending the Right Message 12-28-1987
  29. Unsolved Killings Hit New High in District; Drug Trade, Burdens on Detectives Cited by Rene Sanchez 12-31-1987
  30. Guns Mean Status to Some D.C. Youths by Patrice Gaines-Carter & Lynne Duke 01-01-1988
  31. “Headline Missing” 01-12-1988
  32. District Revising Drug War; Clean Sweep’s Role May Be Reduced by Sari Horwitz 01-13-1988
  33. Proposed Clean Sweep Cuts Draw Barrage of Criticism;2 on D.C. Council Vow to Save Drug Fight by Sari Horowitz 01-15-1988
  34. Hiring 150 Officers Proposed to Offest Clean Sweep Cuts by Athelia Knight 01-16-1988
  35. D.C. Police: Strained, Overworked 01-22-1988
  36. Clarke Suggests Holding the Line on D.C. Hiring by Athelia Knight 01-23-1988
  37. Prince George’s Battles to Stem Drug Traffic, Improve Image by Retha Hill & Jeffrey Yorke 01-24-1988
  38. Operation Clean Sweep’s Future Uncertain; D.C. Police Officials Seek to Revamp Drug Program to Cut Cost by Linda Wheeler & Sari Horwitz 01-26-1988
  39. D.C. Homicides Equal Record; NW Barbershop Slaying in 32nd Killing in Single Month by Sari Horwitz 01-28-1988
  40. Youth Crime Plan Gets a Slow Start; 3 Times in 2 Years, Barry Has Promised New Programs by Marcia Slacum Greene 02-01-1988
  41. Drug-Induced Frustration Plagues Search for Solutions by Courtland Milroy 02-04-1988
  42. A Regional Ban on Handguns? Yes. They’re at Least As Dangerous As Beer and Wine 02-07-1988
  43. D.C. Police to Boost Drug War Firepower; Officers to Carry Semiautomatic Guns by Victoria Churchville 02-10-1988
  44. D.C. Clean Sweep to Resume Sunday; Turner Announces Offensive Against Drug by Victoria Churchville 02-11-1988
  45. A Drug War With Real Troops; While the Guard Directs Traffic, Out Cops Can Hit the Dealers by Linda Wheeler 02-14-1988
  46. Clean Sweep Reborn as Police Seek Drug Sites; District Officers Enter Suspected Crack Houses by Victoria Churchville 02-15-1988
  47. Why Not Hire More Police? 02-20-1988
  48. More Police Is Not the Answer 02-24-1988
  49. D.C. to Add Police Reserves; Latest Tactic Calls for Training Volunteer Officers by Victoria Churchville 02-25-1988
  50. Suburban Drug Use Here Worst in U.S.; Region’s Problems Unmatched, Report Say by Lynne Duke 02-26-1988
  51. Police, Lawyers and Drugs (Cont’d) 02-29-1988
  52. How to Stop the Murder; Begin with a Consensus the Illegal Drugs are Evil 03-06-1988
  53. Tip Yields Drugs, Guns, 8 Arrests in Raid in NW by Carlos Sanchez 03-09-1988
  54. Clean Sweep Drug Team Cut Swath in SE Area by Sari Horwitz 03-12-1988
  55. Appeals Court Bars D.C. From Using U.S. Prisons; City Sought to Ease Crowding at Lorton by Nancy Lewis 03-12-1988
  56. Operation Clean Sweep Net Snares Atlanta DEA Agent by Lynne Duke 03-13-1988
  57. 90 Arrested in Clean Sweep On Drug Areas in Southeast 03-13-1988
  58. Friday Night Live 03-15-1988
  59. Clean Sweep’s Dirty Trail by Courtland Milloy 03-22-1988
  60. City Workers Arrested on Drug Charges; Corrections Officers Accused of Dealing 03-23-1988
  61. Antidrug Faction Won’t Surrender in NE Housing Project War Zone by Victoria Churchville 03-29-1988
  62. ANC Actions by Virginia Mansfield 03-31-1988
  63. PCP Allegedly Found on Boy, 4; Manassas Police Charge Father With Possession of Drugs by John Lancaster 04-03-1988
  64. Hide and Seek With Drug Smugglers; Union Station Squad Gives Couriers an Inhospitable Welcome by Rene Sanchez 04-14-1988
  65. Drug Patrol Turns Violent; Muslims Beat Man in NE Narcotics Market 04-19-1988
  66. Fighting Fire with Fire by Courtland Milloy 04-21-1988
  67. Legalize Drugs? 05-02-1988
  68. D.C. Police Seize Biggest Drug Cache; 29 LBS. of Cocaine Taken at Train Station by Rene Sanchez 05-06-1988
  69. Drug Problem in Prince William Worse Than Ever; Official Says by Thomas Pierre 05-12-1988
  70. P.G. Police, Posing as Dealers, Arrest 23 for Buying ‘Drugs’ by Jeffrey Yorke 05-13-1988
  71. P.G. Police Arrest 30 More In Drug Sting by Keith Harriston 05-14-1988
  72. Learning to Play the Drug Game; District Youngsters Emulating adults in Make-Believe Deals by Rene Sanchez 06-05-1988
  73. Routine District Drug Arrests Generate Long, Complex Cases by Nancy Lewis 06-13-1988
  74. Drug War Puts Unanticipated Squeeze on D.C. Budget Series; Running on Empty; The District’s Troubled Finances Series Number: 2/3 01-09-1989
  75. Priorities of D.C. Policw 02-06-1989
  76. Year-Old Antidrug Program Falls Short of Barry’s Pledges; ‘Operation Fight Back’ Meets Obstacles by Sari Horwitz 02-12-1989
  77. Manassas Takes Steps Against Drugs by Pierre Thomas 02-16-1989
  78. Detectives’ Overtime Curtailed; New Order Affects D.C. Homicide Cases by Sari Horwitz 02-17-1989
  79. 2 Drug Case Suspects Still WOrk of Police; 3 D.C. Officers File Complaints on ‘Obvious Security Breach’ by Sari Horwitz 02-18-1989
  80. Va. Drug Bust Fills Jail 02-18-1989
  81. Georgetown South Changing Its Image; Manassas Community Turns to Volunteerism to Fight Crime, Recharge Neighborhood by Pierre Thomas 02-23-1989
  82. Turner Acknowledges Need For More Police in District; Police Chief Declares Crime Emergency by Sari Horwitz 02-25-1989
  83. D.C. Anitcrime Proposal Mirror System’s Flaws; Courts Can’t Handle Load, Experts Say by David Broder 03-07-1989
  84. The Mayor’s Forceful Critic; Police Union Leader Gary Hankins, Speaking out on Marion Barry and District Crime by Jacqueline Trescott 03-07-1989
  85. Drug Raids Illustrate Vicious Circle in Criminal Justice by Thomas Pierre 03-09-1989
  86. D.C. Killings Top 100 with No Solution in Sight; Officials Renew Appeal to Public for Help by Sari Horwitz 03-09-1989
  87. Government Actions;City of Manassas 03-16-1989
  88. Strike Force Planned in D.C. War on Drugs;Bennett to Target Markets, Repeat Offenders by Michael Isikoff 03-19-1989
  89. Kemp Quarterbacks a Drug Fight; Crusade in Public Housing Systems Resurrects Legal Problems by Gwen Ifill 03-22-1989
  90. Antidrug Sweep Judged a Success; Arrests Clear Streets in Georgetown South by Pierre Thomas 03-23-1989
  91. D.C. and Drugs:Priorities 04-06-1989
  92. 16 Linked to Drug Gang Arrested in Area Sweep; U.S., District Forces Catch 2 Alleged Leaders by Nancy Lewis & Sari Horwitz 04-17-1989
  93. Taking the System to Its Limits; Prison Director Hallem Williams & the Cost of Containing Crime by Jacqueline Trescott 04-18-1989
  94. Public Housing Residents Describe ‘Emergency’ Drugs, Gangs Plaque Areas, Hill Panel Told by Gwen Ifill 05-11-1989
  95. Bennett and the Priorities Trap by William Raspberry 05-12-1989
  96. Quantico’s Tiny Police Department Gets a Major Influx of Help by Claudia Sandlin 06-01-2019
  97. Weary Drug Unit Losing Ground as District Police Tactics Shift by Rochelle Riley 06-05-1989
  98. In the District, Justice vs Management; Prosecutors’ Role in Papering’ Deflects Cases Before They Reach Court by Barton Gellman 06-08-1989
  99. Next D.C. Police Chief Considered a “Man of Action”; Many Like Fulwood’s Can-Do Attitude but his Style Sometimes Rubs People the Wrong Way by Sari Horwitz 06-13-1989
  100. Barry Nominates Fulwood As Next D.C. Police Chief by Sari Horwitz 06-13-1989
  101. Fulwood’s First Priority: Recuruiting Officers by Sari Horwitz 06-14-1989
  102. Drug Ring Boss Faces Life Term; Tough New U.S. Law Provides No Parole by Tracy Thompson 06-18-1989
  103. Fear of Drug Violence in D.C. Slows Some Suburban Buyers by Jeffrey Goldberg 06-27-1989
  104. Fulwood Sworn In as Chief, Asks Community for Help by Carlos Sanchez 08-05-1989
  105. Va. Businessman Slain in SE; Death Called Drug-Related by Carlos Sanchez 09-15-1989
  106. Ex-Officer Sentenced in Drug Case; Money Laundered for Area Ring by Robert F. Howe 09-30-1989
  107. Barry Says Slayings Are Unstoppable; City Is Doing “All I Know How to Do” by Sari Horwitz 10-20-1989
  108. Courting Rayful Edmond; Ex-Hoya Turner Among Those Who Play Roles in Drug Suspect’s Sporting Life by Bill Brubaker 11-02-1989
  109. Valley Green Wraps Skepticism Around City’s Promises by Lynne Duke 12-04-1989
  110. Fulwood Shakes Up Police Department; Consolidation of Investigative Units Reflects ‘Change in Mission’ by Sari Horwitz 02-01-1990
  111. Just Cause For Change; Is an Overflowing Jail any Reason to Build a Bigger One? 02-18-2019
  112. Regulators Shift Strategy on Selling Ailing S&Ls; U.S. Hopes to Reduce Costs of Rescue by Disposing of Thrifts Before They Go Broke by Jerry Knight 07-11-1990
  113. Ex-Chief As Mayoral Candidate; Turner’s Record Raised in Race Series: OCC by R.H. Melton & Sari Horwitz 11-01-1990
  114. D.C. Police See Thereat to Overtime, Free Parking by Michael York 03-28-1991
  115. D.C. Drug Roadblocks Ruled Illegal; Appeals Court Panel Surprises ACLU by Saundra Torry 05-02-1991
  116. Putting Public Housing in Social Order by Neal R. Peirce 06-08-1991
  117. The Ghosts Are Always Around A Little Bit by Sari Horwitz 06-30-1991
  118. Dixon to Propose Broad-Based Effort Against Violence; Stiffer Penalties, New Programs for Teens on Agenda, Sources Say by James Ragland & Sari Horwitz 11-22-1991
  119. 3,000 Killings Later, A Culture of Violence Poisons Area Series; In the Line of Fire: Five Years of Killing Series Number: occ by Sari Horwitz & Paul Duggan 12-20-1991
  120. Barry’s Setup for Self-Destruction by Milloy Courtland 04-26-1992
  121. Fulwood Passes On an Uneven Legacy: Chief’s Successes are Tempered by Low Morale, Equipment Woes by Keith Harriston 09-10-1992
  122. Former Police Chief Maurice Turner Dies at 57 by Martin Weil & Sari Horwitz 06-17-1993
  123. D.C. Moves To Stem Tide of Violence; More Police Planned for Affected Areas by Serge F. Kovaleski 06-26-1993
  124. D.C. Police Chief Sets An Anti-Crime Initiative by Serge Kovaleski 07-17-1993
  125. Putting Their Best Feet Forward; Community Patrols Send More Police Onto D.C. Streets by Ruben Castaneda & Paul Duggan 09-17-1993
  126. In D.C. Violence,’We’ve Seen It All Before’; Residents Battle to Save Neighborhoods, Watch as Officials Try Again and Again to End Crisis by Rene Sanchez & James Ragland 10-03-1993
  127. Halfway Home 10-24-1993
  128. To Resotre D.C.’s Domestic Tranquillity; Give up The War on Drugs 11-07-1993
  129. Barry Says Jail Gave Him Vision for a Better City;’I Now Know What Didn’t Work,’ Mayoral Candidate Asserts in Outlining Agenda by Yolanda Woodlee 07-01-1994
  130. Crack’s Crash; Teens Are Rejecting the Drug That Ruled D.C. by Katherine Boo 08-26-1994
  131. Back to ‘Clean Sweep’ by Colbert I. King 08-12-1995

Operation Clean Sweep

Washington, DC, was one of the last cities in the nation to encounter the drug boom of the 1980s and 1990s. The crime began to spike in 1986, and the public demanded a response from the Police Commissioner Maurice Turner and his Assistant Commissioner Issac Fulwood. Fulwood created Operation Clean Sweep, a comprehensive crackdown on street-level dealing. Washington was known for large open area drug markets, and the new effort was designed to strike a blow to the practice. Operation Clean Sweep began August 31, 1986.

The operations had a few signature initiatives.

  1. “Stop and Question” any person that is in a drug infested neighborhood
  2. Installing busses and trailers outside drug markets known as “mobile police stations”
  3. Drug roadblock to facilitate random searches in neighborhoods known for drugs
  4. Undercover officers posing as users and dealers

These initiatives created backlash because they sacrificed privacy and freedom of movement for safety. Some examples of the collateral damage of Operation Clean Sweep can be gleaned from how the implementation at Clifton Terrace.

Clifton Terrace was a luxury apartment complex built in 1916. By the late eighties, it was an open-air drug market. The complex was such a popular drug market there would often be traffic jams due to so many customers coming into the apartments to buy their wares.

The police responded by banning people from parking near the building. They also patrolled the halls, randomly stopping anyone in the building. They had a master list of all leaseholders. If the police didn’t find one’s name on the leaseholders’ list, the person would have to name the person they were visiting in the building. The patrolman would then follow them to the apartment to verify the story. [2]

Another example of the cost of Operation Clean Sweep was roadblock set up to search cars for drugs. Police implemented the tactic in the historically black neighborhood of Anacostia. The area has had predominantly black people since the turn of the century. There were pockets of high crime, but there were also many upstanding black middle-class residents. In December of 1987, police arrested 124 people at a single roadblock. The two articles on the bust did not mention how many drugs, guns, and money were confiscated.[24,25] More than likely, these were arrested for small possession for personal use.

Not only were civil liberties constrained, but tax money was exhausted. In February of 1987, Mayor Barry had to cut the school budget to cover the cost of increased policing. In March of the same year, Operation Clean Sweep recorded 12,000 arrests, seizing 6.8 million in drugs, confiscating 300 cars, and hundreds of weapons.[3] Up to this point, there was only a 2% drop in overall crime.[4] However, the cost of $4.5 million exceeded the budget, and the city suspended the program in April. Public outcry forced the city to reopen it the next week.

Operation Clean Sweep was successful in increasing arrests. However, the facility that houses DC inmates, Lorton in Virginia, was soon overcrowded. The overcrowding forced the city to release prisoners. From July to October of 1987, the city released 815 inmates. Housing inmates is a serious problem for DC because there is nowhere in the city limits to put a prison. The District would have to coordinate with another state to house prisoners or use Federal prisons. By 1988 Clean Sweep arrested 46,400 people, but only 1,400 went to prison.[91,90]

Despite increased arrests, there was a decrease in the number of solved murders. From 1970 to 1980, about policed solved 83% of the murders. From 1980 to 1985 it was around 70%. By 1987 the stat fell to around 60%.[29] Part of the problem was people from outside of DC traveled there to sell drugs. When someone from out of town murders or is murdered, it is even more challenging to find the killer. Because no one in the city knew the killer, there were very few witnesses that were useful in court. Investigators had to travel for clues. The percent of drug-related murders increased from 25% in 1985 to 60% in 1987. It is also important to remember 1985 was a record low for murders and 1987 was the record high. [29] To increase the closed homicide rate, the city needed to hire more detectives.

No one took more risks or paid a higher price than the 200 officers assigned to Operation Clean Sweep. The first casualty happened in December of 1987 when Herman Keels died in an undercover operation. Weeks later, three more officers are wounded in the line of duty.

Due to high costs in overtime, Operation Clean Sweep was suspended again in December of 1987. The public was not informed until late January 1988.[35] Publicly Mayor Marion Barry wanted to continue the operation as it was. The police chief Maurice Turner wanted the program to end. They were arresting many people, but the overall crime rate was not going down. Turner wanted to try a holistic approach that included schools and churches.[26] He also supported mandatory minimum sentencing.[43] The city council was pushing to hire 150 more cops.[34] The overtime cost of 1987 could be reallocated in new hires so there would be no net increase in the budget. However, many experts, such as Fraternal Order of Police Chairman Gary Hankins, said 500 new officers need to be hired. [33]

So the city was looking for low-cost ways to supplement the police force. The first method was to modify the role of the City Police Reserve Corp. Previously the Reserve Corp were unarmed volunteers that aided police. Now they would receive full police training and weapons.[49] The Dopebusters initiative was the second. The Nation of Islam ran the Dopebusters force. They would provide unarmed security for problem housing developments on a volunteer basis initially. Eventually, the Dopebusters became DC contractors through Nation of Islam Security Inc.

Operation Clean Sweep officially resumed in February 1988. It could not have started at a better time because there had been 46 murders so far that year. [44] The first order of business was to replace the officers’ six-shooter revolvers with semi-automatic weapons. There was not a large amount of overtime allocated in 1988, so traffic patrol lost officers.[45]

Despite Operation Clean Sweep, straining the court and prison system without reducing the overall crime rates, neighboring communities adopted Clean Sweep tactics. Montgomery County MD, Fairfax VA, and Manassass VA all underwent similar police overhauls. These suburbs needed to respond to a spike in crime partially caused by criminals fleeing the crackdown in DC. Implementing these smaller Clean Sweep Operations further exacerbated the prison population problem.

A power vacuum was left in the drug market as another side effect of arresting large amounts of people at one time. This vacuum was filled by out of town drug dealers, mostly from New York as stated earlier. The influx of out of town dealers made crime investigation even more difficult and costly. Also, children were often employed as dealers because they would not receive long sentences. Usually, when the Washington Post wrote stories about the phenomenon of children dealing drugs, they rarely mention external factors that could cause such a problem.

Fortunately, the DEA created an alternative to Clean Sweep, Operation Pipeline. In this effort, the DEA trained local police on how to spot drug traffickers and collaborated with them on investigations. Drug sniffing dogs inspected packages at train stations. Police were trained to spot shotty welding on cars, which usually mean after-market modification to create drug compartments. By having a detailed methodology for identifying traffickers, older, cruder methods were replaced. One antiquated method would be to stop Hispanic men with Florida license plates to see if they were running narcotics. Operation Pipeline caught drug dealers at twice the rate of Operation Clean Sweep.[64]

Another Alternative to Operation Clean Sweep was Operations Fight Back. Fight back started initially to work concurrently to Clean Sweep. Mayor Barry announced it on January 12, 1988. [76] A new drug enforcement unit was initiated with 101 reassigned officers. The officers would collaborate with Federal and other local drug enforcement agencies. The city would also fund drug education and treatment services.

Turner retired as police chief in 1989, and Fulwood took over. One of his first acts was to end Operation Clean Sweep officially. He admitted, “We attempted to try to make police operation the backbone of fighting drugs. It did not work.”[104] The DC police moved to more comprehensive methods that use community watch, drug rehabilitation, and collaboration with various law enforcement agencies.

Clean Sweep cannot be considered a total failure. Evidence gathered in Clean Sweep arrests and investigations was instrumental in taking down DC most notorious kingpin Rayful Edmond and the Mayfair’s most notorious kingpin Michael Palmer. Clean Sweep was DC’s first comprehensive attempt to take stop the crack boom. There were many problems, but the lessons learned helped DC build the foundation of their current methods.

Police did bring back Operation Clean Sweep in 1993 on a limited basis. It appears that they only increased overtime for officers. By 1994, even Marion Barry admitted Operation Clean Sweep was a failure.

It is doubtful that Operation Clean Sweep will ever fully return. One of the main pillars of the operation, the drug roadblock, was found to be unconstitutional by DC Superior Court. The drug roadblock was used to enforce the law in general, not to find a specific offense such as a DUI roadblock. Therefore it violated the fourth amendment rights.

SOURCES

1971 Central High Walkout and Jerry Anderson Foundation

Biography of Ledi Sayadaw

Ledi Sayadaw was born on December 24, 1846, and given the birth name of Tet Kaun. His parents were both rice farms in a society in which one was either in agriculture or living a monastic life. Ledi’s parents decided to give one of their five children to the monastery, so Ledi entered at ten years old. Luckily he excelled and graduated at 15 with the name Nyanadaza, Banner of Wisdom. He left monastic life briefly to help his parents on the farm but returned at 20 for full ordination. After full ordination, he went to the capital city of Mandalay.

Burma was a very turbulent place when Ledi was coming of age. The British had already captured Lower Burma, and everyone knew the British wanted to expand to upper Burma. The royal family controlled upper Burma from Mandalay. One of the King’s functions was to keep order within Buddhist monastics, also known as the Sangha. If a monk broke his vows, the King would have the final say on his ex-communication. The Sangha would keep their vows and perform good deeds to build good karma for the rest of the community. Therefore, if the British dethroned the King, Buddhism could die.

While at the monastery in Mandalay, Ledi excelled and became a first teacher at 27. He was also forward-thinking and wanted to build a Buddhism that could take Burma into a new century. He teamed up with fellow scholar Hpo Hlaing, who had an extensive library of western science and Burmese literature. They also worked together to learn and document British administration. The goal was to find the connections that are universal in all knowledge. They also wanted to have the tools to build an independent Burmese administration that ran efficiently.

Then in a twelve-day war that started on October 22, 1885, Upper Burma was conquered, and the King sent into exile. The same year Ledi created one of his first works of philosophy, “The Letter on Cows,” which forbade lay people from eating beef. This book was one of many on morality. The others were against a host of topics such as gambling and drinking.

Sociokarma was the underlying theme in all of Ledi’s works. It is the idea that individual actions and efforts can help or hurt the group. Keeping with the idea that individual effort improves the group, he also began his efforts toward meditation and teaching others by going into the forest in 1887. The meditation method he would use was Vipassana, which uses bodily sensation as the meditation anchor.

The Buddha also taught students within a particular order. The first aspect was morality. Ledi covered this aspect in his books on morality. Then came concentration covered by Ledi with Vipassana meditation. The last pin was wisdom. The book Ledi would cover this was 1897’s Manual of Ultimates. He decided to allow laypeople to learn complex philosophical concepts generally reserved for the clergy. He also began a form of sermonizing referred to as “fan down’ sermons. This new style of public speaking focused on laypeople and was relevant to their lives.

The more toward an educated lay population was vital because colonial administration immersed Burmese society. Most Burmese children went to schools run by Christian missionaries. These missionaries would often berate Buddhism and other local customs as “heathen.” Those children and their parents needed to have rebuttals ready. Ledi’s resistance allowed the Burmese to keep their cultural heritage.

Buddhism, in Ledi’s view, had superior reasoning to Christianity. In the West, science and religion are often at odds. In Buddhism, science, defined as knowledge obtained from observable data, was part of Buddhism. Ledi saw Buddhism as transcending and including science. Buddhism goes on to include a multi-level cosmos in which humans and spirits inhabit. So Ledi could continue the tradition of chanting and other more mystic practices. The supernatural didn’t conflict with science or the reverse.

In addition to Buddhism encompassing science, it comprises politics. The struggle for Burma’s political freedom fused with the propagation of Buddhism. The coming of the British could end Buddhism by consuming all Burmese culture. Ledi wanted to make sure that it did not happen.

Ultimately Buddhism encompasses all areas of mundane life. Once one begins a regiment of meditation and philosophical study, they see the world with new eyes. This unique “insight” makes all pursuits a liberatory experience. One can see the suffering and the relief and move towards healing.

In 1913, Ledi began the Buddhist Foreign Missionary Society to bring Buddhism to Westerners. Those in the Society believed once Buddhism was introduced to the West a world movement would begin to unite people all over the world.

Ledi Sayadaw died in 1923 at the age of 77 years old. However, his legacy lives on. He taught a layman named Saya Thetgyi. Thetgyi taught U Ba Khin, who taught S.N. Goenka. Goenka starts the Vipassana tradition that is popular in Asia and North America today. From the Goenka tradition, Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg became meditation teachers. These mediation teachers, along with Jack Kornfield, started Insight Meditation Center in 1975. So the most popular meditation traditions in the West began with the anti-colonial struggle.

For more information read the book The Birth of Insight by Erik Braun. Click the link HERE

The Disowned Self by Nathaniel Branden

Trumpet of Conscience

This book is a compilation of lectures given to a Canadian radio audience in 1967. These speeches focus on the future of the Civil Rights movement as it becomes part of the more expansive humanitarian movement.

Impasse in Race Relations

He starts the lecture by explaining the role Canada played in the liberation struggle. Canada was the last stop on the Underground Railroad. In the fugitives, slaves coded songs; it was symbolized by the word “heaven or north star.”

He then moved on to a discussion of the Civil Rights Movement and broke the movement down into two phases. The first was the unified resistance against the legal institution of Jim Crow. Once Jim Crow ended, many whites felt the struggle was over. The relative place of black people improved. The whites that were satisfied saw no need for equality between the races.

The second phase of the Civil Rights Movement is now underway. The focus now is not on law, but building a moral revolution. Also, many repressed feelings are surfacing. The first is the prejudice of whites; now that there are more interactions with other races. The second is the repressed rage of many blacks.

The repressed rage manifested itself in riots in the North. Many whites saw these riots as evidence that black people were fundamentally not able to handle freedom. Many blacks saw the riots as the first stages of an armed rebellion to take over the government.

King holistically analyzed the riots. The rage black people exhibited in the riots was caused by years of failed policy. Poor policy decisions caused discrimination, slums, unemployment, and poverty. The crimes on Blacks are derivative. Even when Blacks serve in the military, they return home to be treated as second class citizens. To build a more egalitarian society, there needs to be a government focused initiative to end poverty. King explicitly asks for a jobs program and Universal Basic Income.

The riots were also caused by frustration in the inability of the Civil Rights Movement to affect change in the Northern cities. Marches have little effectiveness in bustling cities that are used to large gatherings of people. King admitted the movement must devise new methods that are also non-violent.

When King used the term “The White Man,” he explains he does not mean all white people. Many whites had aided him in the Civil Rights Movement. The term “The White Man” is a shorthand to represent the black man’s adversary. Not only people but policy and value systems.

Conscience and the Vietnam War

This lecture was given after the famed Riverside Church speech in which he first denounced the Vietnam War. He addressed his critics asking why a civil rights activist would get involved in the peace movement. In the speech, King not only explains how the two issues are related, but how one that fights for equality in America can not turn his back on the freedom struggles of people across the globe.

There was three main criticism given by King for the Vietnam War. The first was spending for the war diverts funds away from social programs to aid the poor. The second was the poor do most of the fighting when they don’t even have full democracy at home. Finally, one can not advocate for non-violence in their movement and condone state-sponsored violence.

Ultimately, the USA was on the wrong side of history. King admits the National Liberation Front were no paragons of virtue, but only 25% of their soldiers were communist. Their opposition, the Ngo Dinh Diem government, brutally suppressed dissent. The United Buddhist Church, the largest non-communist political organization, was included in this suppression. The USA is motivated to support moneyed interest and the former colonial powers. The Vietnamese can not trust America while they destroy their country and rip apart families.

No American can sit on the sideline on the issue of Vietnam. We are required as Humanists to protest. The only question is what type of protest. This opposition will be under-girded by a revolution of American values centered around wisdom, justice, and love. Communism is ultimately a judgment on the failure of capitalism to meet people’s needs.

Youth and Social Action

The current generation is the first to live under the threat of nuclear war. This threat made ventures such as the Vietnam War risky with no apparent reward insight. America had lost its purpose, and the youth felt this disillusionment.

There were three groups of young people in Dr. King’s estimation. The first is the conformists. They understand the current system is untenable, but they have not entirely given up on it. The second group is the radicals. They understand the urgency for action to induce systematic change. However, they don’t have an ideology, and they are also not committed to non-violence. The last group is the Hippies. They seek to escape and disengage in society. When they participate in protests, it is a form of escape, not a catalyst for change. King correctly predicted the group would not last long, and many will move into communes away from the larger society.

Without a larger purpose to society, material growth has become a means to its end. The marriage of Big Business and the government has left many feeling alienated. Alienation is walking death, and it is especially damaging for the young.

Social cohesion will be regained when a new moral mission is undertaken. The hippies can provide their commitment to non-violence. The radicals will bring their urgency for action. Practical problem solving will be provided by the conformists. The new commitment to purpose is desperately needed because we are running out of time.

Non-Violence and Social Change

King begins with an ethical defense of civil disobedience. Most of his critics disagreed with his tactics because he was, ultimately, breaking the law. He uses the metaphor of a fire truck going through red lights. The urgency to put out a fire matters more than obeying traffic law. In the same way, ending segregation was an urgent need and law had to be broken for the greater good.

In the same way, people were attempting to understand Civil Disobedience. They wanted to understand the race riots happening in the North. Many whites saw the riots as proof that Blacks could not assimilate into society, and they were naturally bloodthirsty. Dr. King rebuts this idea with facts.

The riots did cause millions of dollars in property damage, but no white people were killed. Most of the deaths during the riots were blacks shot by the military. The looting and theft were motivated by a need to rebel against a system of oppression and not personal greed. Many of the loiter returned the merchandise after the riot, which proves they only wanted the thrill of taking something they couldn’t otherwise buy.

The rioters were rebelling against a system and not motivated by a blood lust to kill whites. If they wanted to kill whites, they would have killed them. They didn’t fear death or retaliation because they could be killed for looting. The riots were ultimately a warning. If nothing changes systematically, violence could be worse next time.

King also addressed critics that said non-violent direct action would not work in the North because Blacks in the North were more violent and too sophisticated. This idea results from a common stereotype that Blacks in the South are docile and slow. In reality, violent personalities often channel their anger constructively through Civil Disobedience. In fact, during the Chicago campaign members of the street gang Black Stone Rangers march with King and stayed non-violent. The same was true of people that had violent personalities in the South. However, new tactics need to be devised to address social injustice holistically.

The next phase of the Civil Rights Movement will be international. The first stage would require 3000 volunteers into a non-violent army of the poor. They would receive months of training in non-violent direct action to prepare for an occupation of the mall in Washington, DC. Their focus would be to advocate for policies to lower unemployment and increase wages.

As for the international front, King worked toward reducing military intervention and increasing foreign aid to developing countries. He goes as far as saying 3% of Gross National Product should be going to international aid. Developing countries are poor because of exploitation from the West, not an inability to manage their countries.

He also calls for economic sanctions on countries that aren’t practicing humanitarian values. South Africa was explicitly needed sanction until Apartheid ended. Only a united effort to apply pressure to Capital will lead to conditions of change.

Christmas Sermon on Peace

In this sermon, King explores what it means to have “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” To him, this phrase was an affirmation of the sacredness of all life. It also is a commitment to love over hate.

To better define love, he goes through the ancient greek classifications of the word. The first definition is “eros,” which is the ascetic romantic love for the divine. The next definition is “philo” which is an intimate love between friends. King wants the audience to practice and understanding of goodwill for all man mimicking the love of G-d, “agape.”

There is also a difference in agape love and liking someone. Liking is superficial and spawned from positive interaction. One can’t love someone that slanders, attacks, and dismisses him. Love understands redemptive goodwill. Not retaliating with physical force, but Gandhi’s “soul force.” The King movement will wear down their enemy with their ability to endure hardships.

In this speech, King says one of his most often misconstrued quotes:

“Toward the end of that afternoon (March on Washington), I tried to talk to the nation about a dream that I had had, and I must confess to you today that not long after talking about that dream I started seeing it turn into a nightmare.”

He then explained how he was frustrated at the continued violence against black people when fighting for freedom, black systemic poverty, and escalation of US interventionism. He ends by doubling down on the original “I Have a Dream Speech” saying he will not lose hope. King never gave up on integrating America. Instead, he expanded his mission to help the poor all over the world.

Did Dr. King Evacuate the “Burning House”?

There are two very misconstrued quotes from King. The first is “My Dream turned into a nightmare” from his 1967 Christmas Eve Sermon broadcast on the Canadian Broadcast Channel. The other is “I have integrated by people into a burning house.” Most use these quotes as proof that toward the end of Dr. King’s life he abandoned integration for black separatism or black militancy. Looking at both of these quotes, more rigorously will help us understand what King meant.

The exact quote from the Christmas Eve Speech was:

“Toward the end of that afternoon (March on Washington), I tried to talk to the nation about a dream that I had had, and I must confess to you today that not long after talking about that dream I started seeing it turn into a nightmare.”

In this speech, he explains his frustration at the amount of violence blacks have encountered in the Civil Rights Movement. But his frustration led him to double down on his philosophy of integration. In the speech, he goes on to say that hope is what keeps people alive, and he would never lose faith in the cause.

The 1967 Christmas Sermon is just one of five Massey Lectures. The Massey series was something the Canadian Broadcast Channel did to showcase significant contemporary thought leaders. If one reviews the entire Dr. King Massey Lecture series in the book Trumpet of Conscience his philosophy on social justice is thoroughly explained. He sees the first stage of the movement as removing the legal basis of segregation. The movement was now in its second phase, world-centric humanitarianism. In this movement, the focus was on empowering all underprivileged people all over the world. He espoused global egalitarianism manifested in his opposition to the Vietnam War.

The second quote on the “burning house” comes from a story told by Harry Belafonte. Here is the quote from The New York Amsterdam News:

According to Belafonte, King responded, “I’ve come upon something that disturbs me deeply. We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know we will win, but I have come to believe that we are integrating into a burning house. I’m afraid that America has lost the moral vision she may have had, and I’m afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears the soul of this nation. I fear I am integrating my people into a burning house.”

Belafonte added, “That statement took me aback. It was the last thing I would have expected to hear, considering the nature of our struggle.”

Belafonte said he asked King, “What should we do?” and King replied that we should, “become the firemen.” King said, “Let us not stand by and let the house burn.”

So again, Dr. King did not want to evacuate the house. Instead, he wanted us to be agents of change and harbingers of a new moral code. A full retelling of Belafonte’s story is consistent with what was expressed in the Massey Lectures.

However, the best way to understand if Dr. King gave up on the idea of would-be evaluating his last efforts in organizing. He died while building “The Poor People’s Campaign.” In 1967, King announced a plan to bring thousands of poor people from across the nation to a new March on Washington. Their first meeting in March 1968 had leaders from many trade unions, civil rights organizations, and academia. This effort was a multi-racial, multi-ethnic initiative to fight for class issues. They pushed for an economic bill of rights that included social programs, the elimination of slums, and a full-employment initiative. Nothing in the campaign singled out blacks or abandoned integration.

Sources

  1. The New York Amsterdam News“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: I fear I am Integrating My People Into a Burning House” 01/12/2017 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2017/jan/12/dr-martin-luther-king-jr-i-fear-i-am-integrating-m/
  2. Santa Clara University Website: “Harry Belafonte Reflections on Peace” https://legacy.scu.edu/ethics/architects-of-peace/Belafonte/essay.html
  3. https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/history/

Indian Census and the Chawdar Reservior

This blog post is from the first half of Essay on Untouchables 3: Politics.

From Millions to Fractions

Untouchability is not a legal term. It is also not determined by physical features. It is a social concept that ostracizes a group. Dalits, the group that suffers from untouchability, have accrued disadvantage through generations. Birth determines untouchability. The condition can’t be changed.

Ambedkar lists the number of Dalits (Untouchables) in India as 50 million. The figure came from the 1931 census. The Indian government conducts a census every ten years.

There was no mention of caste in the first Indian Census of 1881. There was an attempt to add a caste question to the 1891 census, but the effort failed. The census of 1901 was the first successful attempt to add a question on untouchability. That year an untouchable was defined as one that most of the native people believe is untouchable. In 1911, there was a ten-question test to determine if one was a Dalit or part of the depressed classes. The questions involved if one eats beef or receives religious directive from a Brahmin. Many opposed the test on the basis that it perpetuates the idea of caste. The opposition did not win, and the question was on the 1921 census. Finally, the 1931 census confirmed there were 50 million Dalits pr one-fifth of the population.

The number of Dalits became vital after the formation of the Simon Commission. The group was formed to study and determine how best to rule India. One of the efforts they were undertaking was increasing the political power of Dalits through a reserved electorate. A reserved electorate would allow Dalits to vote for a select number of seats. The electorate and the candidates would all be from the Dalit Community.

The Lothian Committee in 1932 also attempted to win Dalits an appropriate amount of political representation. The effort to increase Dalit political power was opposed by various provincial committees that tried to make the case that untouchability no longer existed. The provincial committees believed the British wanted to reduce Hindu political power by splitting their share in government between touchables and untouchables.

There were also factions of Indian society that could benefit from an electoral reservation for Dalits. The first group is the economically underprivileged of India referred to as Backward Classes. They wanted to join the reserved electorate for Dalits. If this were to happen, the reserved voters would have more people from the Backward Classes than Dailts watering down the Dalit vote. Dalits would have supported a Backward Class reservation from the portion allotted to Hindus but not their own. The Backward Classes insisted on getting a reservation from the Dalits. When the Dalits refused, the Backward Classes joined the Hindus in their denial of untouchability.

The second faction that could benefit from an electoral reservation for Dalits, is Muslims. If the Hindu electorate split between Dalits and Hindus the relative power of Muslims increases. Muslims did not support the electoral reservation because they were pushing to have a larger representation in Parliament than their number in the population, which is called weightage. Hindus would only agree to weightage if they had an overwhelming amount of power in Parliament, and giving more power to the Muslims would not upset their majority. Seeding power would be beneficial to Hindus if it prevents the Muslims from splitting into their own country. The second reason Muslims opposed having a reserved electorate for Dalits is that many Dalit Muslims would leave the Muslim political contention to join with other Dalits. Indian Muslims still practiced caste, just not as severely as Hindus. The following quote from Ambedkar can be found in this essay:

Although Islam is the one religion which can transcend race and colour and unite diverse people into a compact brotherhood, yet Islam in India has not succeeded in uprooting caste from among the Indian Musalmans (Muslims).

Misinformation hampered future efforts to account for Dalits. Hindus began telling Dalits that the government planned to institutionalize untouchability. Dalits were afraid to register as such, thinking they would never be able to pass as a caste Hindu. Dalits would often attempt to pass as caste Hindu to avoid discrimination.

Ambedkar reiterates the need for Dalits to agitate at the end of this essay. If no one speaks out, there will be no way to increase Dalit political power.

The Revolt of Untouchables

Dalit resistance came in two stages. Before 1920, Dalits concentrated on protest and petitioning the government. After 1920, Dalits realized that petition the government has little success. Also, the national government declared that all public utilities and institutions were open to all citizens regardless of caste. Dalits moved toward Civil Disobedience and Direct Action.

One of the first civil disobedience campaigns was getting the ability to use roads near a temple called Vaikom in Travancore state. The campaign forced the government to move the road far enough away from the temple to allow Dalits to travel on it without polluting the temple.

The second great campaign was formed to grant Dalits access to Chawdar (Chavdar) Water Tank, located in Mahad, Bombay, in 1927. This tank revered as a reservoir for caste Hindus in the city. No one knows who originally built it, but it was declared public property in 1869. Dalits would frequently come to Mahad to shop and conduct other business. They would have to bring water from a well from a neighboring Dalit town or pay a caste Hindu to fetch water. In 1924, the city of Mahad adopted the laws allowing all citizens access to public facilities or institutions, including the water tank. However, the threat of caste Hindus violence kept Dalits away from the water tank.

Ambedkar organized a conference in Mahad in March of 1927 to discuss and organize around Dalit rights. On the first day of the conference, the 2,500 people in attendance felt frustrated in their ability to access water. Only Hindus could retrieve water from the tank, and they charged a premium price. On the second day of the conference, Ambedkar decides to take matters into his own hands.

After a rousing speech, Ambedkar entreats the participants in the conference to take water from the Chawadar Water Tank. The Dalits were energized, and all went with Ambedkar to the tank. This mass protest caused the Hindus to gather paralyzed with shock at first. Then the Hindus unleashed terror on the Dalits that participated in the protest.

After the protest, the Dalits realized what they were up against and decided to double down. A second conference was called for December 25th -27th, 1927. At the same time, the Hindus chose to fight back by petitioning the local Magistrate to forbid Dalits from using the water tank.

The Magistrate refused because the Hindus never proved that they had exclusive use of the tank. The Hindus then went to state court to establish their exclusive right to use the water tank. Ambedkar and a group of Dalits contested. At the beginning of the trial, the Hindus ask the court to issue a restraining order on Ambedkar to prevent him from returning to the tank. Ambedkar received the order days before the December conference.

With the trial in recess, Ambedkar leads the December Mahad Conference. On the first day, he decides to have a public demonstration of the injustices of the caste system. He burned a copy of Manusmirti, the religious book that codifies the caste system. Ambedkarites still commemorate the Burning of Manusmirti as a holiday.

The next order of business was deciding if they would disobey the restraining order and drink from the water tank in protest. The Magistrate communicated he would uphold the state-mandated restraining order. After careful deliberation, the group decided to comply with the restraining order to give themselves the best chance of winning the court case. It turns out that it was a good decision. Ambedkar won the court case, and Dalits were allowed to drink from the Chawdar Water Tank. Ambedkar cautioned over celebration as Dalits needed to continue fighting to prevent untouchability from being recognized nationally.

The December Mahad Conference went on to express the vision of the Ambedkar movement. The conference created a manifesto that declared equality is the birthright of all Indians. No one had a right to remove that equality without due process of law. The law was created to secure this equality and must be respected by all people. The caste system, as detailed in Manusmirti was explicitly created to disadvantage Dalits. Those in this conference vow to oppose all literature, modern or ancient, that promotes the caste system. Those in the conference also vow not to do the jobs mandated by their caste. Specifically, transporting dead animals and cleaning homes of the dead.

Ambedkar makes sure to attack the idea that Dalits brought scorn onto themselves by eating the dead animals they transport. Many attempts to claim the Hindus repulsion at Dalits were justified because the practice of eating rotten meat is disgusting. Ambedkar reminds the audience that Dalits would only eat rotten meat if they have no other options. The cruelty of the caste system prevents Dalits from finding any other work. Also, the law mandates they participate in scavenging to keep the only housing they were allowed to live. Legally mandated work for no money is no better than slavery.

The Dalits must be strong to not obliged the work their caste mandates. The civil disobedience Ambedkar prescribes would serve two functions. The first is to increase self-esteem and self-respect. The second is to strike a blow against the Hindu Social Order. The current oppression only last because Dalits comply.

Held At Bay

Hindus view the advancement of Dalits as a personal attack. As the situation stands now, the Touchables are above the Untouchables. They are not one people. They are people from two different nations. By resisting caste, the Dalit seeks to elevate himself and the perceived expense of the Touchables. The Touchables will use any means necessary to maintain the status quo.

One example of this ruthlessness of caste Hindu oppression was in the immediate aftermath of the Chawadar Water Tank demonstration. It began with the Dalits exercising their right to tank water for the city reservoir during the Mahad Conference. Once the caste Hindus in the area saw the demonstration, a rumor began that the Dalits would soon enter the temple. Two hours after the water tank rally, the conference members were having a community dinner. A mob of Hindus attacked the Dalits with sticks. Many of the Dalit leaders kept their brothers from fighting back, stopping a much larger riot.

After the conference ended, Hindus from Mahad sent messages to government officials from the districts where conference delegates lived. Hindus assaulted many of the conference delegated on the way home or once they returned home.

Another example of oppression happened in Dholka Talvka, Bombay when Dalits attempted to integrate a school. Many of the Hindu parents did not want their child sitting with Dalits. They pulled their children from the school. The tension from the integration efforts led to a Brahmin to attack a Dalit. The Dalit men of the community protested at the police station to ensure something would be done. When the men were away, Hindus attacked the Dalit section of town. The Hindu mob included women. There was also another force of Hindus waiting to ambush the men after their demonstration at the police station. The ambush plan was thwarted, but Dalits still sought redress for the attack on their women and children. To further frustrate the Dalit’s effort, the Hindus poured kerosene in the Dalit well. The Dalits only had this one water source.

The Dalits appealed to Gandhi through Harijan Seva Sangh, Gandhi’s organization that promoted Dalit Civil Rights. They did nothing. Not only did they do nothing, they forced the Dalits to remove their complaint from the Magistrate and promised them no harm would come to them. Dalits had no way of enforcing Gandhi’s promise.

After reflecting on the incidents detailed above, one must wonder why Dalits are always on the bottom of the hierarchy. Ambedkar proposes a few reasons. They are a minority and scattered throughout the country. Also, the idea of caste has infected the mind of Dalits. Even within the Dalit community, there is a Caste hierarchy. There needs to be a common ethos to unite Dalits.

One example of a minority community with a unifying ethos is the Muslims. When a Muslim was attacked, the group unites in retribution. Much of the reason Hindus treat Muslims better is fear of a blood feud starting between Hindus and Muslims. The idea of a unifying ethos does not stop and India’s border. Muslims from other countries would not be afraid to defend their brothers in the subcontinent.

One way Hindus can exact revenge on Dalits is through violence. If the Dalits go to the police, the police rarely act. Most of the police are caste Hindus themselves. Even if they investigate the infraction, it is rare other caste Hindus would testify against their own.

However, the much more effective form of Hindu reprisal is the social boycott. Dalits own minimal economic infrastructure and depend on Hindus for employment and commerce. If a Dalit is seen at a protest, he can be fired. If he is not fired, Hindus could refuse to sell him goods. Both firing someone from a job or refusing to sell products to Dalits is legal. The only recourse for Dalits is political action.

Their Wishes Are Laws Unto Us

When Hindus are asked why they oppose the advancement of Dalits, they don’t reply with how it physically harms them. Hindus respond that it is an offense to their Dharma. Dharma means the privileges, duties, and obligations of a man as a member of the Hindu community, caste, and age group. Manusmirti sets each person in their station in life, responsibility, and benefits. A Smriti is a religious holy book for Hindus. They have several, but of all of them, Manusmirti is the most prominent and influential.

Manusmirti codifies who is inside and outside the social order, called Chaturvarna. Chatuvarna is a hierarchy with the Priest class at the top and the Menial class at the bottom. Those outside of Chaturvarna are called Bahayas, excluded. The denotation of Bahayas is the Western equivalent of being a non-citizen. Bahayas were never meant to have rights under the social order.

Bahayas are the present-day untouchables. To illustrate how the denotation of outsider plays out in current times, Ambedkar uses the example of the Balais. Balais is a sub-group of the Untouchables. The local caste Hindus attempted to force the Balais to confirm to caste rule. The Balais refused and the Hindus retaliated. Balais were not allowed to get water from village wells or cross land owned by Caste Hindus. Not being allowed to cross land owned by Hindus put some Balais cattle farmers out of business because the property of Caste Hindus surrounded their land. These draconian laws force Balais to leave local municipalities they had occupied for centuries.

It is important to remember at the time of the persecution of the Balais there was no legal enforcement of the Caste System. Ambedkar illustrates how custom could be more powerful than the law. Every social group has habits in how they act, feel, and value various things. Even when a new individual joins the group, they are pressured into conformance. To challenge the group norm could lead the new entrant to become an outsider himself.

To counter the power of Chaturvarna propagated by custom, laws must be passed to destroy the Caste System actively. As one can see, the Protestant Reformation would not have been successful without laws separating church and state. Laws were also needed to make state superior to the church. Without an active degradation of church authority, it would have regained its place as supreme authority.

Dr. A. A. Muhammad Analysis

What Dr. Alim got right

He is a superb advocate for holistic medicine and improving overall health in the black community. The Hoop House concept is an actionable plan to address the problem of food deserts. Urban gardening will not only improve the nutrition in underprivileged communities; it will increase fellow feeling amongst those that participate in the effort. The root of good health is nutrition. In a community with little money for health insurance, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In addition, the building of hoop houses will not require government help.

He also brought an awareness of Ayurvedic medicine and Yoga to the black community. Without Dr. Alim, many black people would not have been exposed to any eastern medicine. Other avenues to eastern medicine are price prohibitive for poor people.

Advocacy for prostate cancer awareness is also vital in the black community. Because we are oppressed anything that can threaten virility can do severe damage to our psyche. Back in the 1990s when his work started losing a prostate could mean the loss of the ability to get an erection. Even the rectal exam could make men feel emasculated.

The economic devastation of Iraq through government sanctions was a subject few would discuss. Dr. Alim shined a light on the subject and urged Blacks to do what we could for those overseas. The act of discussing the US embargo on Iraq shows a glimmer of a world-centric perspective.

The most significant campaign of Dr.Alim’s life was the Dopebusters campaign. He provided a community solution when the government decided to underfund police in DC. Most stood by and watched DC neighborhoods fall apart. Dr. Alim created a program to at least retard the cancerous growth of crack.

Is Dr. Alim racist or antisemitic?

No evidence could be found of Dr. Alim advocating violence toward anyone for any reason. Also, there was no evidence that he prevented someone from improving their life due to race. In fact, in the Yale speech, he said NOI member that has a weapon can be expelled from the organization. He repeatedly said that the NOI is a peaceful movement and any vengeance will be taken out by Allah. So to equate him to the Ku Klux Klan or neo-nazis is a stretch.

Most often he is accused of supporting Steve Cokley’s conspiracy theory on Jewish doctors spreading HIV to babies in Africa. After evaluating the evidence presented he never confirmed the conspiracy only said the Cokley is a reputable researcher. Dr. Alim never evaluated the claim for himself. To hold Dr. Alim responsible for something, another person said that is not even in the Nation of Islam would be unfair. Dr. Alim said HIV was created and spread by the US government.

The worst statement Dr. Alim made was about Mayor Barry saying he “should not bow down to the Jews.” This statement is insensitive, yet not promoting violence to Jews directly or indirectly. So the statement can be considered a gaffe more than evidence of hate toward anyone.

In Dr. Alim’s work, he partnered with an Indian American and a Chinese American to create Abundant Life. Later he worked with Dr. Freddie Ulan, a white man, on Nutritional Response Testing. So he has worked with people outside of his race and faith for most of his career.

Finally, he works in conjunction with the Church of Scientology. The vast majority of the members of that organization are white. Therefore it would be difficult to say a black man that worked with Scientologist and took Scientologist training is racist. Racism is defined as advocating for violence, harassment, or destruction of property of other people based on race. He also would not fit the definition of racist if it is defined by impeding a person from advancement economically or politically because of race.

It would also not be fair to say Dr. Alim is racist for his affiliation with the Nation of Islam alone. If the NOI is evaluated from the lens of all Blue meme ethnocentric religions, it is not worse than any other. The belief of the NOI is the Mother Plane will return and lay waste to the earth and create a new Muslim social order. It is no different from the belief the Jesus will return lay waste to the current order and create the Kingdom of Heaven. Indeed, the Nation of Islam will not accept white converts, but many sects of Judaism will not accept those that are not ethnically Jewish. Master Fard Muhammad taught that whites are the devil, as the bible says many of the Hebrew’s neighboring tribes were evil. Therefore, the NOI might have racist members, but all those in the NOI are not racist by virtue of being members.

What Dr. Alim got wrong

What Dr. Alim gets wrong is the idea of a grand conspiracy that is thwarting blacks and every turn or a grand plan to kill all black people. It is true that there are nefarious plots conducted by individuals, but there is not grand plan that every white person is involved with to destroy black America.

When Dr. Alim was in charge of the Dopebusters program, he claimed that elites were all working against him. In reality, he had support from Democrats like Maxine Waters and Republicans like Jack Kemp. The NOI Security Agencies won contracts when they were not the lowest bidder. The effort stopped because the companies went bankrupt not because a law was created to stop them from getting contracts.

There were some Jewish groups like the Anti-defamation League (ADL) that were against the NOI getting government contracts. Their motivation was various insensitive things high profile leaders of the NOI said, not arbitrary hate for Muslims. In essence, there was a legitimate call for concern on the part of Jews. It is reasonable to be worried that if the NOI had the authority to police, they could begin to commit racial violence. The Senate conducted an investigation that vindicated the NOI against claims of racism. Therefore there was a legitimate concern that was evaluated and determined to be unfounded.

The Dopebuster program ended because the company went bankrupt. To blame a conspiracy by the elite only obfuscates from the real issue. Unless there is a thorough evaluation of what happened, people can’t improve community policing efforts in the future. The idea of a grand conspiracy will discourage future community policing attempts because people will believe the effort will be thwarted.

Another conspiracy that never materialized was the government was going to use the 2009 swine flu outbreak to force vaccinations. That never happened. It is currently 2019, and there has been no effort to force people to get vaccinated. There was no plot to infect a large portion of society with a virus to cause a mass extinction. Wild assertions like the government is attempting to exterminate black people through vaccines only raise suspicion of vaccine effectiveness in the black community. For a group of people with limited access to healthcare, it is essential to implement all low-cost preventative measures like vaccines.

The most outrageous conspiracy theory is the idea of an earthquake machine at the HAARP weather research facility causing the 2010 Haitian Earthquake. There is no scientific method to heat a tectonic plate. A man that graduated from medical school is smart enough to a tectonic plate can’t be heated artificially. By making such a wild conspiracy theory, it distracts from the real issue of America’s foreign policy toward Haiti. Because the US has not allowed the country to be fully sovereign, Haiti couldn’t build proper infrastructure. Having people advocate from Haiti spewing complete nonsensical assumptions only hurts Haiti.

Where is Dr. Alim on the Spiral?

Dr. Alim is a Blue meme spiritual leader. Even though he has an extensive background in science, most of his worldview is under-girded with NOI theology. The world is a dichotomy between the elite and aboriginal people. The elite are all in cahoots to systematically kill and oppress the aboriginals.

In the Crucible, Don Beck speaks of how once one sees the world in a dichotomy, they often dehumanize those seen as others. The dehumanization of others causes much of the “white man is the devil” rhetoric prevalent in the NOI. Even though Dr. Alim is more moderate than the average NOI member, he often indulges in wild conspiracy theories with little evidence. An example of a wild conspiracy theory is the idea that the US government has an earthquake gun.

The super-ordinate goal of Dr. Alim and the NOI is to unite Black America under their brand of Islam. NOI Islam is not the same as orthodox Islam. The most significant theological difference is the belief in “The Wheel,” a giant UFO that houses NOI leaders after death. So the NOI historically was against other versions of Islam. However, Dr. Alim never spoke against other forms of Islam.

One area that does not fit the traditional idea of the Blue Meme is motivation based on fear and guilt. The NOI doesn’t believe in an afterlife. It appears Dr. Alim believes one can live over 100 years with proper diet and exercise. NOI motivates people through the authority of the leaders. Dr. Alim exemplifies the adherence to authority through leadership in how often he references Louis Farrakhan when speaking.

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