Dreams and Recurring Nightmares – 50 years after Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ Speech

Professor Gus John

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

These famous words, the second sentence of the American Declaration of Independence on 4th July 1776, were the cornerstone of Dr Martin Luther King’s speech on 28 August 1963. That speech is rarely remembered in its entirety and consequently over time the last part which is most frequently quoted has come to represent a rallying cry for black and white integration rather than a ‘call to arms’ in the struggle for equal rights and justice.

Why is that important and what is its relevance for Britain? Read more of this post

Has the Nobel Prize Committee Ignored the European Elephant in the Room?

Dave Scotford 

Image © Horia Varlan

The European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after they were credited with six decades of work in advancing peace and stability across the region. While announcing the decision, the Norwegian prize jury praised the union’s “advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights.”

Senior leaders within the EU are overjoyed with the decision and avid supporters of the union are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief. Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, said the award recognized the EU’s work as “the biggest peacemaker in history,” and Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso said that it was “a tremendous honour.”

Though there’s a problem. To speak frankly, to suggest the last sixty years across Europe have been decades of peace and harmony is simply wrong. Did the awarding committee forget about the violent breaking up of the former Yugoslavia or about the decades of violence which threatened to bring Northern Ireland to its knees? How about the stand off between Greece and Turkey on the island of Cyprus or the vast social unrest which marches through European capitals in the modern day?

Even if the committee acknowledged these conflicts, surely they understood that it was not the EU who played any major role in bringing, or attempting to bring, them back under control. Since the creation of NATO in 1945, it is they who have been tasked with keeping the peace when trouble has flared. We should also remember NATO was built up under the control of American generals in response to the Cold War, and not the EU.

The advancement of human rights is based solely on the European Convention of Human Rights which was first introduced in 1950, 43 years before the EU was founded. Strictly speaking, the EU has only been in existence since 1993 and its predecessor, the European Economic Community was set up twelve years after the end of World War II as a trading organisation.  Read more of this post

The real villain of the GOP race

Scott Hill

Image © Greg Elin

In the somewhat irrelevant, mundane and over-long run-up to November’s presidential election much of the media spotlight has been on the talents – or rather, lack of – within the GOP ranks. Frontrunner Mitt Romney is suffering from what I shall refer to as the sinister and weird Mormon problem, up-and-coming Rick Santorum is, by any true believers’ standards, a complete and utter loon, which is also a tag all-too-easily synonymous with the recently humbled Rick Perry, who, following an on-going drought in Texas, declared official “Days for Prayer for Rain”[i] back in April last year.

Yet, before I sink to the similarly low depths of much of the media, I shall refrain from dissecting the Republican nominees too much; they are not the most important, nor indeed, the most interesting segment of this excruciatingly predictable election campaign.

Instead, I would like to propose that we imagine for a moment, if you will, that a Republican was in the White House and a young, enigmatic idealist named Barack Obama was their greatest challenger. Rather than use those phony, over-polished slogans – “Change we can believe in”[ii] – we shall pretend, for the sake of clarity, that his campaign was made up of pledges mirroring the reality of what has transpired since the 20th January, 2009.

Read more of this post

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