Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The most appalling racist letter ever published in the Guardian

Today  the Labour Party Disciplinary Committee is due to adjudicate on a case of a suspended Labour Party member, Marc Wadsworth,  who allegedly made anti-Semitic comments towards Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, who is Jewish, at the launch two years ago of the Chakrabarti report on incidences of  anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

It comes the day after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn met  for several hours with the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council.

On 18 April I submitted this letter to The Guardian newspaper: it remains unpublished.

I do not think I can ever recall reading  such an incendiary letter published in the Guardian as the one you published  on 17 April from Paul Charney (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/16/israeli-snipers-letter-divides-opinion,) who signs himself as the chairman of the Zionist Federation, UK and Ireland,  (https://zionist.org.uk/) responding to a collective letter from five militarily recalcitrant former Israeli defence force (IDF) snipers on 13 April.
 
Mr Charney mentions he served in the IDF tank corp. His biography on the ZFUKI web site details he hails from South Africa, has lived in Israel for “many years” and now resides in the UK running a property evaluating business after having studied  in Britain earlier.

Writing on behalf of the ZFUKI he justifies the murder of dozens of Palestinian civilian protesters inside their own refugee camp inside the fenced off Gaza strip by IDF  snipers on the asserted grounds these were rioters armed by Hamas with guns and, explosives and Molotov cocktails.

I do not understand why foreign nationals - is he Israeli or South African? - are allowed to promote the murder of civilians in Gaza with impunity with such deeply offensive proclamations as you published on Tuesday

When many backbench Labour MPs spent several hours on Tuesday excoriating their own party leader Jeremy Corbyn in a Parliamentary debate, over concerns of anti-semitic bias in some parts of society, including  claimed to be inside the Labour Party (“MPs accuse Corbyn of lack of leadership over antisemitism,” !8 April), they also appeared to justify  taking a pro-Zionist  political stance, in that they support the right of the state of Israel  to  continue to exist..

I would be greatly encouraged if Ruth Smeeth and Lucian Berger, two Labour MPs who have received totally unacceptable abuse on social media from individuals who appear to  be  political supporters of the Labour leader from their  hashtags - and who received virtually unprecedented Parliamentary applause from MPs colleagues  for their  outspoken speecheshttps://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-04-17/debates/9D70B2B4-39D7-4241-ACF8-13F7DFD8AEB2/Anti-Semitism- were to publicly renounce the extreme belligerent and deeply aggressive views and language of the chairman of the ZFUKI, which I think brings  kind humanitarian spirit with which jewish  people have been associated for centuries  into disrepute with his appalling letter.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

A contemptible (wind-) rush to judgment by the Home Office


 

Currently there is a Petition before Parliament entitled: “Amnesty for anyone who was a minor that arrived In Britain between 1948 to 1971”(https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/216539”) which has 175,000 signatures. It points out: “Windrush Generation were invited as settlers and as British subjects. Minors also had the right to stay.” and calls on the government to “stop all deportations, change the burden of proof and establish an amnesty for anyone who was a minor.” and insists the Government should also provide compensation for loss & hurt.”

Parliament will debate this petition on 30 April.

Indeed, petitions to Parliament involving Caribbean workers have a long history. For instance, on the 4th February 1859 Lord Brougham presented a petition to Parliament on the  Immigration Act (Jamaica) “from emancipated labourers, and others, of Arnatto Bay, in the Island of Jamaica, complaining of a Bill having been passed, without due consideration and in great haste, seriously detrimental to their interests.”  (https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1859/feb/04/immigration-act-jamaica-petition; HL Deb vol 152 c106) 106

The Bill related to the immigration of free labour to the island, and the Petition prayed that it should be disallowed. The petitioners complained, it said, that the Petition had been passed through the Legislature with such haste, that they had no opportunity of raising their voice against its enactment, They further stated that there was no want of labourers in that country, and that all attempts which had been made to obtain a further supply of them had proved absolute failures. and they therefore “prayed that their Lordships would, by an address to the Crown, use their influence to prevent the Royal Assent being given to the measure.” Royal assent had or had not been given to this Bill.


Just over a hundred years later, some 15 years after the post–war Immigration Act had been passed, and a year after the Commonwealth Immigration Bill had been passed into law (https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/acts/commonwealth-immigration-act-1962) he Home Office told MPs in a written answer – under the heading Commonwealth Immigrants (Deportation)- asking about the total number of deportation orders which had been considered under the Commonwealth Immigration Act, by stating:

“Up to 20th March [1963], 571 recommendations were received in respect of Commonwealth citizens and citizens of the Irish Republic. Forty-nine have been the subject of successful appeals and thus called for no further action; [TheHome Secretary] had considered 371, and made 198 deportation orders. Among the balance of 151 awaiting consideration were 26 cases in which appeals were pending.”

HC Deb 28 March 1963 vol 674 cc172-3W
https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/written-answers/1963/mar/28/commonwealth-immigrants-deportation)

In light of the revelations in The Guardian by Amelia Gentleman - married herself to government  minister Jo Johnson - over the past few months, reaching a crescendo in the past week that has demanded attention of Parliament and ministers at the top of Government, the origins of the 1948 British Nationality Act are very interesting and demand a revisit.(https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1948/may/11/british-nationality-bill-hl) It followed the Commonwealth Conference on Nationality and Citizenship in 1947.

The Immigration Bill was introduced in Parliament in the Lords by the Lord Chancellor, Viscount  William Jowitt, almost exactly 20 years before Conservative MP and former shadow cabinet member Enoch Powell’s  notorious ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in Birmingham on 20 April 1968 warning of a future race war between  black and white in the UK.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rivers_of_Blood_speech)

 

Viscount Jowitt opened by warning “I cannot conceal from you that, although I do not think the Bill is controversial, it is concerned with a very complicated and difficult subject…I start with this general principle: I believe that of all the remarkable contributions which our race has made to the art of government, the conception of our Empire and Commonwealth is the greatest. …it may fairly be said of our conception of the British Empire and Commonwealth that its service is perfect freedom. Now the link, the bond which binds us together, is, of course, primarily the fact that we are all proud to be subjects of His Majesty the King. There are other things which bind us: there is the sense of perils shared together and overcome in the past; there are the hopes for the future. But those things are not in any sense limited to members of the "family;" they are things which we share, I hope, with the countries of Western Europe. But there is something about the family which to my mind depends upon there being a common status and a common nationality. The problem is how to achieve that common status.”

He went on to point out: “you could have a common code: you could have every member State enacting the same legislation, and so you might say you had a common test of nationality through the whole of the Commonwealth. That is the principle upon which the 1914 Act was drafted. That Act extended, or was intended to extend, throughout His Majesty's territories, and it was contemplated that part of the Act would be adopted by various member States.”

Here I want to point out that, this being the new principle, we must provide for citizenship of the United Kingdom. Our citizenship, of course, equally has British nationality, and subsection (1) of Clause 1, which I call the key clause of the Bill, sets out the position: Every person who under this Act is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or who under any enactment for the time being in force in any country mentioned in the next following subsection is a citizen of that country shall, by virtue of that citizenship, be a British subject.”

And he then explained the new development in citizenship being  introduced by the Labour Governemnt.

“ First, your Lordships will see that the citizenship which for the first time we prescribe is not ‘citizenship of the United Kingdom,’ but citizenship  ‘of the United Kingdom and Colonies.’ That is the species. It may be asked, "Why do you add 'and Colonies'? Why not let the Colonies have their own species of citizenship? "But then you are confronted with the difficulty that either you deal with the Colonies as a group or you deal with each Colony individually. Ultimately, of course, we are responsible for the peace, order and good government of our Colonial territories; in a sense, we are trustees for the people of those territories. In those circumstances, is it right that we should differentiate between our own people and the people for whom we are trustees? We think it is not right.”

He added: The […] propositions in regard to children may therefore, I think, be stated thus: a child born in this country or in the Colonies will be a citizen, except of course the child of a foreign diplomat. The children of the first generation born outside this country, whether abroad or in a Commonwealth country, will have citizenship. Subsequent generations born in foreign countries will also have citizenship….The child of a citizen will also be a citizen if born in a Protectorate, Protected State, Mandated Territory, or Trust Territory.”

Responding Viscount Simon for the Conservatives observed: “Beyond all question, this is a very difficult and complicated matter, and it is perhaps worth while for a moment to point out how, historically, it has come about. Originally, the conception of British nationality was the simplest thing in the world.”

He added: “The […]complication—and none of us has the slightest reason to regret it—has come about much more  recently, and is a result of development in the British Commonwealth of sovereign States, of equal power and authority with ourselves.”

(HL Deb 11 May 1948 vol 155 cc754-99 )

The debate was resumed six weeks later, one day before the MV Empire Windrush, a German built ship, brought the first group of Caribbean families to theUK by invite and encouragement  of the British Government.  The Bill’s  very first clause read: “Every person who under this Act is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or who under any enactment for the time being in force in any country mentioned in the next following subsection is a citizen of that country shall, by virtue of that citizenship, be a British subject.” (HL Deb 21 June 1948 vol 156 cc992-1083; https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1948/jun/21/british-nationality-bill-hl)

For the opposition Conservatives Lord Altringham  commented: “agreement was arrived at with the rest of the Commonwealth in regard to the general structure of this Bill. We understand that there is a clear agreement upon that subject, and we should hesitate to take any action which implied a difference of opinion on that subject between this country and the Dominions. So far as I know, there is none. But in creating a new citizenship of an entirely new geographical and political entity, known as "the United Kingdom and Colonies," the Bill does something which is subject purely to the jurisdiction of this United Kingdom Parliament. It is a matter in which we are responsible, and in which nobody shares our responsibility. This Parliament, therefore, must look at this new proposal seriously and soberly.”

He stressed “I think most of us must feel, that the term ‘citizenship’ is inconsistent with what constitutes the true basis of loyalty in the Colonial Empire. After all, the allegiance of the King's subjects within the Colonial Empire is not to any political system; it is quite simply to the King in person….Hitherto, it has been our proud boast that all British subjects have equal rights in the United Kingdom. Whatever you may say at the outset, if you create a distinctive citizenship it is bound to set up a tendency towards differentiation. This is a metropolitan country, the greatest in the world, the greatest and most liberal in all history.”

Viscount Jowitt retorted: “whatever Party we belong, [we] regard the British Empire and Commonwealth as the greatest institution which British genius has ever developed. And it would be a very evil day if any of us were to do anything to attempt to weaken or destroy it.”

When the debate was resumed a days later (HL Deb 24 June 1948 vol 156 cc1246-64

https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1948/jun/24/british-nationality-bill-hl#column_1246) it addressed the very title of the Bill  which read “to make provision for British nationality, and for citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies.”

Viscount Simon suggested the title of the Bill should omit "for citizenship" and insert "to constitute a British nationality."

Viscount Jowitt for the Governemnt  rejected the proposal with a very interesting argument, stressing: “. I regard this as dealing with a very fundamental question. Speaking for myself—and I think speaking on behalf of my noble friends—we feel that if we assent to this Amendment, logical though it may be, we shall be becoming accessories after the fact in a very unpleasant and unfortunate deed. The proposal is to  strike out the words "for citizenship." I was surprised on the previous occasion to hear the words "citizenship" and "citizen" spoken of as though they had some kind of republican flavour. They are very old words. In Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress I think you repeatedly find the phrase "Citizen of Heaven"—I do not know whether Heaven is a Republic or a Monarchy…

The word has always been used in America, where you talk about "an American citizen," and the word "citizen" is undoubtedly the right word. We can use it in either sense. But the words "nationality" and "British nationality" have a wholly different conception. The whole point of British nationality is that it is something which applies all over His Majesty's Dominions throughout the whole world, and that was one of the great forces, apart from the allegiance which we owe to the King, which bound us all together”.

A month or so later, with the Bill now under examination in the Commons, the Labour MP for Norwood, Ronald Chamberlain, drew attention to “certain characteristics on the expression ‘citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies,’ which he considered “ a rather regrettable one… The proposed expression is a very heterogeneous and artificial expression, and indeed rather an unfortunate one because if there is one thing which those who live in the Colonies want to avoid, it is any suggestion of a tie-up with Whitehall or Downing Street. They may exaggerate the danger and difficulties of such a thing but it is very real.”(HC Deb 13 July 1948 vol 453 cc1052-119https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1948/jul/13/british-nationality-bill-lords-1

He went on to argue “By these arrangements in the Bill there will now be a situation that if someone comes from the West Indies or Nigeria  he is a recognised citizen of this country immediately, but if someone comes from Australia or Canada it is not so. …It is clear …that someone coming from Nigeria is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies directly he sets foot in this country, and he is recognised as such immediately, but that someone coming from Australia is not recognised in that way. He is on a lower plane, and much though we esteem and value our friends in the Colonies, we surely do not want to put them on a different and higher plane in this matter to our brothers and sisters in the Dominions.”

The Conservative MP for Abingdon, Sir Ralph Glyn, wryly observed: “This Debate today has made it even more difficult than it was on Second Reading for some hon. Members to make up their minds how to vote. I am impressed by what has been said by some hon. Members in regard to the curious position that will be created for some members of British Colonies if they find themselves in other Dominions…What we must recognise is that all the member States of the British Commonwealth have an independent position. They have that position, and separate votes. They must be perfectly free to pass whatever legislation they like. The dilemma I am in is this. We cannot divest ourselves of our responsibility to all the people in the British Colonies. They are the responsibility of this House; this House sees to it that the Minister for the Colonies is responsible to this House, so that each one of us is responsible for the welfare of all the people in the Colonies.”

Nine years later, another immigration bill was introduced into Parliament by The Earl of home, who later briefly became the Conservative prime minister. (HL Deb 16 December 1957 vol 206 cc1182-97; https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1957/dec/16/british-nationality-bill-hl),  with the aim of updating the 1948 British Nationality Act, would “ serve the needs of the evolving and expanding Commonwealth, and to make such provision as will enable certain individuals, who were not able to take advantage of the provisions of the 1948 Act, to become eligible for citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies”.

Lord Home explained that Clause 3 of the Bill’s purpose was “to enlarge the provisions of the 1948 Act to provide for certain persons who may wish to do so, and who were previously disqualified, to apply for registration as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies…in 1948, the Commonwealth countries had not defined their citizenship laws, and it was difficult, if not impossible, to foresee whether and how everyone would be covered by laws as yet unmade. In the result, the great majority were satisfactorily covered, but some people found themselves given the transitional status of British subjects without citizenship. Some of these were given the opportunity of applying to the Secretary of State to be registered as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, if they passed certain tests, before January, 1950, and. through ignorance of the conditions, or mischance, they missed the opportunity. Clause 3 is therefore framed to try to cover this limited number of cases of real hardship.”

Ten years later,less than two months before Powell’s ‘rivers of Blood’ speech,  the then Labour Home Secretary James Callaghan  introduced a new  Commonwealth Immigration Bill to Parliament. (HC Deb 27 February 1968 vol 759 cc1241-368; https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1968/feb/27/commonwealth-immigrants-bill#S5CV0759P0_19680227_HOC2_380)

He opened stressing:”We are about to discuss one of the greatest issues of our time, an issue which can tear us apart or unite us. I think it is true to say that, excluding the extremists, it is possible for men who are seeking the same ends to have honest differences of opinion about the way in which those ends should be achieved, and I therefore approach the debate in that spirit.

He added: “What are the ends? The Government, Parliament, all parties in the country, are fully committed to the development of a multi-racial society in Britain—a society which will be diverse in culture and will be equal before the law; a society in which all communities will have respect for each other; a society in which there will be unity in purpose and common allegiance. Those are the aims, as I see it, of the great debate that is now overtaking the nation, as well as Parliament, on this issue. But this ideal of a multi-racial society, to which all of us except the extremists are committed, will not happen of its own accord. It is something that has to be worked for. Our policies must establish the ends that we will. We have to look to the long term and not Just to the issue or to the group of people who face us today or whose problems we may be considering at a particular moment.”

“We must trust the instinctive sense of fair play of the British people. Our policy, if it is to endure, must be acceptable to them and to their sense of fair play. I cannot separate, in this connection, those who come into the country and the treatment we afford to them after they are here.

This Bill, however some may regard it, must be considered at the same time, and in accordance with, the proposal of the Government to introduce a Race Relations Bill which will establish in this country equality of treatment in the very sensitive areas of housing and of jobs, which is to be introduced by the Government during the next six weeks—certainly before Easter.”

Both these Bills are, in my view and my judgment, essentially parts of a fair and balanced policy on this matter of race relations. I do not discern much tendency to call names. As I have said, everyone is concerned about this issue, and it was no easy decision to introduce a Bill of this sort.

I seek to approach this debate in a sprit of understanding of the emotions of many hon. Members who may find difficulty in accepting what the Bill contains. I hope that they will acknowledge that the others of us, too, are trying to approach this problem honestly and with a view to the achieving of a multi-racial society in all its aspects, and I hope they will acknowledge—if I may pick up a phrase used on the editorial of one of the powerful newspapers this morning—that it is possible that the origin of this Bill lies neither in panic nor in prejudice but in a considered judgment of the best way to achieve the idea of a multi-racial society.”

He then addressed a key aspect of the Bill: “Perhaps now I can finally come to the important question of the immigrants who arrive in this country, because I am not sure that the House is fully aware of what is happening or what is being done. A number of voluntary bodies are playing a very full part in helping with the settlement of those arriving, and I thank them for their hard work and the efforts they are making in this very necessary task. I propose to meet some of them and ask them to continue their efforts. What they are doing through their efforts is making special provision for the arrival of citizens whose language and customs differ entirely from those of the rest of the community.

The Government have a dual responsibility. The first is to establish the conditions under which people arrive. The second is the Government's responsibility for these people during the settling-in period, especially in relation to the needs of the areas where they wish to go.”

We all understand, and we have heard and seen, the great strain placed on local services in the areas where these new immigrants settle. Over two years ago, the Government announced their intention of giving special financial help towards expenditure in these areas.

This help is over and above the grants that are given in respect of services such as schools. Local authorities in such areas are able to claim the cost of engaging extra staff where they are needed to undertake exceptional commitments in order to ease pressures on the social services which arise from the differences in language and cultural background and to deal with problems of transition and adjustment.

For example, the grant is payable—and I want to emphasise this so that the House and those local authorities who may not be aware of the position understand it—to local authorities which have to engage interpreters, specially appointed teachers, ancillary helpers in schools, staff employed in local authority children's 1258 homes, health visitors in respect of visits to immigrant families in excess of the norm for the community as a whole, and public health inspectors for visits to multi-occupied houses. I give this as an illustration of the way in which the Government are making finance available to the local authorities.

The general rule under which the Government are operating is that authorities with more than 2 per cent. immigrants in their area have a prima facie claim for grant. So far, 57 authorities have submitted claims in respect of expenditure totalling over£ 3 million. The grant is limited to 50 per cent. of the approved expenditure and I make it clear that the Government will continue to watch this situation in a positive manner as it develops in order to assist with the integration of immigrants into the community.

There is one further and vital point in relation to our attitude. I have said before that it is not proper to isolate one aspect of this difficult problem and to treat it separately from the rest. It is essential to consider this matter in relation to the rest of the Government's programme and policy—indeed, of Parliament's policy as a whole. I have emphasised before and do so again that it is essential that, after our immigrants arrive, they should be treated in every way as equal before the law, and it is to fulfil this principle that the Government intend to introduce within the next six weeks, a Bill that will define racial equality in this country in a number of important issues, especially in the vital areas of jobs and homes. In this way, by having a fair and balanced policy, I believe that we shall be able to fulfil the obligations that all of us feel towards these new citizens who have come among us and to help to avert the tensions that racial disharmony would result in.

I regret the need for this Bill. I repudiate emphatically the suggestion that it is racialist in origin or conception or in the manner in which it is being carried out. In the light of what I have said, in the light of the full policy the Government are pursuing, which tries to do justice as between citizens overseas and citizens in this country and to those citizens overseas when they come here, I commend the Bill to the House.

Quinton Hogg,( who later became Lord Hailsham) responding observed: “I suspect it has been the objective of every hon. Member on either side of the House, to assist in building at home a homogeneous society of which all of us can be proud, and which will command the allegiance of everyone dwelling within it. We desire no second-class citizens, we desire no race discrimination, we desire no dilapidated areas, housing different communities from the majority”

For the minority opposition Liberal Party, David Steel (later to be Party Leader and elevated to the Lords) intervened saying: “I begin by referring to the discussion which has taken place about the legal situation under the Kenya Independence Act, 1963. As I said earlier, I take issue with the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) and with the Home Secretary on one point which they both made, that the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962, removed the right of free entry into this country of people of the Asian and African communities in Kenya. This is just not so. It was the amendment in 1965 to the 1962 Act which did that.

The Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962, did not apply to a person born in the United Kingdom or a person who held a United Kingdom passport and was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies. Up to the Independence Act of 1963, people in Kenya were issued with 1286 passports bearing the designation. "British subject—citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies".

Labour MP Roland Moyle, who later became a minister, commented: “ In spite of all the hysteria which has preceded this debate, it seems that there is a lot more common ground on this issue than one would have suspected. …today is a very sad day indeed. When one thinks back to the proud hopes of 10 or 12 years ago, the thought that we could let them all come, the thought that the British people were mature enough to absorb all the immigrants, the thought that we could treat everyone on the basis of equality—all these proud hopes are now dimmed. “

 

In June 1981 the Conservative Government introduced  yet more immigration legislation,  British Nationality Bill(HL Deb 22 June 1981 vol 421 cc853-69 :https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1981/jun/22/british-nationality-bill

Lord Belstead  introducing the legislation said: “this Bill creates three new citizenships. Those whose connections are with this country would become British citizens. Those who possess connections with our remaining colonies or associated states would become citizens of the British dependent territories, and those who have no relevant links with either the United Kingdom or a dependent territory would become British overseas citizens.

.He explained: “clause 1 of the Bill provides that a child born in this country after commencement shall be a British citizen at birth if either of his parents—and it is of course a great feature of this Bill that it deals on an absolutely even-handed basis with men and women in nationality matters—is a British citizen or is settled in this country. At present, any child born in this country is automatically a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies unless his father enjoys certain kinds of diplomatic or consular status. This means that citizenship is conferred on all who happen to be born here. It is hardly surprising, I think, that many other countries, including all but one of our European Community partners, operate a system whereby children born in their territory are citizens only if one of the parents (and in many cases it is confined to the father only) is a citizen. So I think there can be nothing unreasonable in our adopting the same kind of approach. But our approach is more generous because we would allow the children of "settled" parents who are not our citizens to benefit.”

 

The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury (John Habgood) observed in the ensuing debate: “Along with others who have already spoken, I accept that a new nationality Bill is needed. In the 30 years since the present British Nationality Act was passed, we have seen an enormous change in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the former Commonwealth and Empire. We should also remember that, during that time, our country has benefited immeasurably, and continues to benefit, from the presence of people who have settled here from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Our economy has benefited; our cultural life has been enriched. Even, I should say, our religious perspectives have been widened.”(HL Deb 22 June 1981 vol 421 cc875-956; https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1981/jun/22/british-nationality-bill-1

 

A further 18 years later, the Labour Government of the day announced to Parliament a new strategy on Immigration and Asylum through Home Secretary Jack Straw. (27 July 1998 vol 317 cc35-54; https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1998/jul/27/immigration-and-asylum)

The Government published a White Paper, "Fairer, Faster and Firmer—A Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum", following what Straw asserted was “a wide-ranging examination undertaken as part of the comprehensive spending review.“

Straw argued that governments have “few more complex and sensitive responsibilities, yet the system has been subject to piecemeal and ill -considered changes that have failed to tackle the real problems. Indeed, the changes have often made the problems worse. The arrangements for supporting asylum seekers are a shambles: huge backlogs have been allowed to develop, and additional complexity and regulation have made the system unwieldy to operate.

“Despite the dedication and professionalism of immigration staff at all levels, genuine applicants have suffered, while abusive claimants and racketeers have exploited delays in the system. It is time for a new approach. The Government are determined to maintain firm control over immigration, but to do so in a way that meets our international obligations and our commitment to strengthening human rights.

Our immigration policy will continue to support family life by admitting the spouses and minor dependent children of those already settled in the United Kingdom. It must also sustain and promote racial equality. It is particularly important for us to acknowledge the huge contribution that immigrants and their descendants have made to our society in all walks of life.”

And finally,  the immigration legislation that underpins the current furore. During the Commons debate on 30 January 2014 ( at Hansard Column 1045) Jeremy Corbyn, then merely the MP for Islington North stated: “ In response to an intervention, the Home Secretary said that at some point a stateless person’s position in the UK could be regularised, which is an interesting concept. If they became stateless, they would in the meantime presumably become destitute in this country, because they would not be eligible for access to any benefits or other aspects of society. Has she considered that, and are there any people in that situation at present?”

Theresa May, the then Home Secretary responsible fo rth e Bill replied:” The answer to the second question is that there are no people in that situation, because I have not been able to deprive anybody of their citizenship and therefore potentially make them stateless. That is the existing situation. If somebody is stateless and either does not apply for citizenship of another state despite having access or is denied permission to do so, but stays in the United Kingdom, we would have to look at the situation and at their immigration status. Crucially, their status would not attract the privileges of a British citizen—they would not be entitled to hold a British passport or to have full access to certain services—so they would therefore be in a different position from the one they were in when they held British citizenship.

A few months ago, one of the few black peers, Liberal Democrat Baroness Floella Benjamin, a former television presenter hailing from Trinidad, asked the Government “what plans they have to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks in June 1948 carrying Caribbean” (HL 8 January 2018) (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2018-01-08/debates/514B09D5-2BA0-47AF-8FBD-64439F0602C4/MV%E2%80%9CEmpireWindrush%E2%80%9D)

Communities minister, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, replied: “the United Kingdom has long been a country of inward and outward migration. Post-war immigration, including via MV “Empire Windrush”, which was in many ways at the forefront of this migration, means that we are now a richly diverse society. I will be meeting key figures from community groups over the coming weeks to decide how best to celebrate this anniversary. I would also welcome input from the noble Baroness and from noble Lords throughout the House.”

Baroness Benjamin reacted strongly saying: “I thank the noble Lord for that Answer. “No coloureds welcome” was the sign that the Windrush pioneers faced in 1948 because the Government did not make it absolutely clear that the Caribbean people were invited to come to the UK to rescue the NHS, the transport system and factories after the war. Today, many descendants of those pioneers do not know that part of their history, as it is not generally taught in schools. As the Prime Minister wants everyone to feel included in our society, will the Government create a Windrush Day, recognising the outstanding contribution that the Windrush generation has made to Britain?

Lord Bourne commented with words that may look rather limp and open to  challenge in retrospect: “I think that there have been fundamental changes in this country and the views of most people. Are we yet there with everybody? No, of course not; there are still challenges out there. As the noble Baroness will know, the Prime Minister initiated the race disparity audit, for example, which most people in the House and the country would welcome. We are now entering the next phase, in which departments are being asked to respond to the data and come up with policies and actions as to how we are going to tackle that. So we are not there yet, but most fair-minded people would say that there has been significant progress and continues to be so”

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

When Britain attacked Russian villagers with chemical weapons


On her visit to Copenhagen yesterday, Mrs May asserted: "The UK utterly condemns the use of chemical weapons in any circumstances." (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-in-denmark-9-april-2018) That may be today's policy, but it hasn't always been so. 99 years ago, Britain attacked Russian villages with chemical weapons, under orders of  Minister for War, Winston Churchill, as the article below reveals


Winston Churchill's shocking use of chemical weapons
The use of chemical weapons in Syria has outraged the world. But it is easy to forget that Britain has used them – and that Winston Churchill was a powerful advocate for them
Winston Churchill speaking at a munitions factory in Ponders End, 1916.
Winston Churchill speaking at a munitions factory in Ponders End, 1916. Photograph: Hulton Archive
Secrecy was paramount. Britain's imperial general staff knew there would be outrage if it became known that the government was intending to use its secret stockpile of chemical weapons. But Winston Churchill, then secretary of state for war, brushed aside their concerns. As a long-term advocate of chemical warfare, he was determined to use them against the Russian Bolsheviks. In the summer of 1919, 94 years before the devastating strike in Syria, Churchill planned and executed a sustained chemical attack on northern Russia.
The British were no strangers to the use of chemical weapons. During the third battle of Gaza in 1917, General Edmund Allenby had fired 10,000 cans of asphyxiating gas at enemy positions, to limited effect. But in the final months of the first world war, scientists at the governmental laboratories at Porton in Wiltshire developed a far more devastating weapon: the top secret "M Device", an exploding shell containing a highly toxic gas called diphenylaminechloroarsine. The man in charge of developing it, Major General Charles Foulkes, called it "the most effective chemical weapon ever devised".
Trials at Porton suggested that it was indeed a terrible new weapon. Uncontrollable vomiting, coughing up blood and instant, crippling fatigue were the most common reactions. The overall head of chemical warfare production, Sir Keith Price, was convinced its use would lead to the rapid collapse of the Bolshevik regime. "If you got home only once with the gas you would find no more Bolshies this side of Vologda."The cabinet was hostile to the use of such weapons, much to Churchill's irritation. He also wanted to use M Devices against the rebellious tribes of northern India. "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes," he declared in one secret memorandum. He criticised his colleagues for their "squeamishness", declaring that "the objections of the India Office to the use of gas against natives are unreasonable. Gas is a more merciful weapon than [the] high explosive shell, and compels an enemy to accept a decision with less loss of life than any other agency of war."
He ended his memo on a note of ill-placed black humour: "Why is it not fair for a British artilleryman to fire a shell which makes the said native sneeze?" he asked. "It is really too silly."
A staggering 50,000 M Devices were shipped to Russia: British aerial attacks using them began on 27 August 1919, targeting the village of Emtsa, 120 miles south of Archangel. Bolshevik soldiers were seen fleeing in panic as the green chemical gas drifted towards them. Those caught in the cloud vomited blood, then collapsed unconscious.
The attacks continued throughout September on many Bolshevik-held villages: Chunova, Vikhtova, Pocha, Chorga, Tavoigor and Zapolki. But the weapons proved less effective than Churchill had hoped, partly because of the damp autumn weather. By September, the attacks were halted then stopped. Two weeks later the remaining weapons were dumped in the White Sea. They remain on the seabed to this day in 40 fathoms of water.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Novichok narrative questioned

Letter sent to The Times:
Your Diplomatic Correspondent’s front page reports on the source of the Novichok nerve agent used in Salisbury (“Salisbury poison ‘made at Russia’s Porton Down,” 6 April 2018; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/salisbury-poison-made-at-russia-s-porton-down-7p7kfcs3c) and “UK locates source of Salisbury nerve agent,” 5 April 2018; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/uk-locates-source-of-salisbury-nerve-agent-nx8p39kqv) appear to be based substantially on the assessment of Col. Hamish de Bretton Gordon, the former commander of Britain’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear  Regiment, who you  importantly report “has seen the intelligence.”
If accurate, this raises an important constitutional issue, as Security Minister Ben Wallace explained on the BBC radio Today Programme on April 5, that the number of people entrusted with the most sensitive intelligence details the needed to be deliberately kept small so intelligence sources were protected, when he justified not sharing  all the Government knows with  Jeremy Corbyn, the  leader of the official opposition in Parliament, even on  privy council protective  terms.

If the Government believes it is acceptable to share such secret information with a retired chemical weapons expert - albeit one who now makes a living as managing director CBRN of Avon Protection Systems, based in Wiltshire, selling respirators to the US military - but not with Mr Corbyn, we have a serious problem of trust.

You cite ret.Col de Bretton Gordon as dismissing the notion the Novichuk could  have come from a chemical laboratory in Uzbekistan, rather than Shikhany in Russia, but provide no supporting evidence for this assertion.

What is known is that in August 1999, the US military began dismantling the Chemical Research Institute at Nukus, in Uzbekistan, where Novichuk was tested on the nearby Ustyurt plateau.(“US dismantles chemical weapons,”  BBC News on line, August 9, 1999; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/415742.stm)

We also know from an earlier report from the New York Times (“US and Uzbeks Agree on Chemical Arms Plant Cleanup,” , May 25 1999; https://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/25/world/us-and-uzbeks-agree-on-chemical-arms-plant-cleanup.html) the Pentagon announced  that it intended to spend up to $6 million under its Cooperative Threat Reduction program “to demilitarize the so-called Chemical Research Institute, in Nukus. Soviet defectors and American officials say the Nukus plant was the major research and testing site for a new class of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons called Novichok."

For Government to work properly on national security issues, it is essential that the leader of the opposition is provided with the full intelligence details on ‘privy council’ conditions. Otherwise the public may rightly conclude there is something inconvenient to the Government’s  “novichok narrative” it wishes to keep to itself and its friends.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Remembering Great Moments of History: on the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King's murder

“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

https://www.afscme.org/union/history/mlk/ive-been-to-the-mountaintop-by-dr-martin-luther-king-jr
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at Mason Temple, Memphis, TN on April 3, 1968.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered this speech in support of the striking sanitation workers at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN on April 3, 1968 — the day before he was assassinated. License to reproduce this speech granted by Intellectual Properties Management, 1579-F Monroe Drive, Suite 235, Atlanta, Georgia 30324, as manager for the King Estate. Write to IPM re: copyright permission for use of words and images of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy in his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It's always good to have your closest friend and associate say something good about you. And Ralph is the best friend that I have in the world.
I'm delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow. Something is happening in Memphis, something is happening in our world.
As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" — I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn't stop there. I would move on by Greece, and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality.
But I wouldn't stop there. I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and esthetic life of man. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even go by the way that the man for whom I'm named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church in Wittenberg.
But I wouldn't stop there. I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
But I wouldn't stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy." Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a away that men, in some strange way, are responding — something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same — "We want to be free."
And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we're going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demand didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence.
That is where we are today. And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn't done, and in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I'm just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period, to see what is unfolding. And I'm happy that He's allowed me to be in Memphis.
I can remember, I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn't itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God's world.
And that's all this whole thing is about. We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying that we are God's children. And that we don't have to live like we are forced to live.
Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we've got to stay together. We've got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.
Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we've got to keep attention on that. That's always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers were on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn't get around to that.
Now we're going to march again, and we've got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be. And force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That's the issue. And we've got to say to the nation: we know it's coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.
We aren't going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces; they don't know what to do, I've seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day; by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth and they did come; but we just went before the dogs singing, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me round." Bull Connor next would say, "Turn the fire hoses on." And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn't know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn't relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses; we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denomination, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist, and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water.
That couldn't stop us. And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them; and we'd go on before the water hoses and we would look at it, and we'd just go on singing "Over my head I see freedom in the air." And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, "Take them off," and they did; and we would just go in the paddy wagon singing, "We Shall Overcome." And every now and then we'd get in the jail, and we'd see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers, and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn't adjust to; and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham.
Now we've got to go on to Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us Monday. Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we're going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.
We need all of you. And you know what's beautiful tome, is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It's a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and say, "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Somehow, the preacher must say with Jesus, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor."
And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years; he's been to jail for struggling; but he's still going on, fighting for the rights of his people. Rev. Ralph Jackson, Billy Kiles; I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit. But I want to thank them all. And I want you to thank them, because so often, preachers aren't concerned about anything but themselves. And I'm always happy to see a relevant ministry.
It's all right to talk about "long white robes over yonder," in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It's all right to talk about "streets flowing with milk and honey," but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preachers must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.
Now the other thing we'll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people, individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively, that means all of us together, collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That's power right there, if we know how to pool it.
We don't have to argue with anybody. We don't have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don't need any bricks and bottles, we don't need any Molotov cocktails, we just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, "God sent us by here, to say to you that you're not treating his children right. And we've come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God's children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you."
And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy—what is the other bread?—Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying, they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.
But not only that, we've got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank—we want a "bank-in" movement in Memphis. So go by the savings and loan association. I'm not asking you something we don't do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We're just telling you to follow what we're doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies in Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an "insurance-in."
Now these are some practical things we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.
Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we've got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point, in Memphis. We've got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.
Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus; and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters in life. At points, he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew, and through this, throw him off base. Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn't stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But with him, administering first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the "I" into the "thou," and to be concerned about his brother. Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn't stop. At times we say they were busy going to church meetings—an ecclesiastical gathering—and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn't be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that "One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony." And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather to organize a "Jericho Road Improvement Association." That's a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effort.
But I'm going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It's possible that these men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, "I can see why Jesus used this as a setting for his parable." It's a winding, meandering road. It's really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles, or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you're about 2200 feet below sea level. That's a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the "Bloody Pass." And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"
That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's the question.
Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.
You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?"
And I was looking down writing, and I said yes. And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that's punctured, you drown in your own blood—that's the end of you.
It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states, and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what the letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never forget it. It said simply, "Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School." She said, "While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze."
And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn't sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream. And taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, been in Memphis to see the community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering. I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.
And they were telling me, now it doesn't matter now. It really doesn't matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."
And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/16/i-have-a-dream-speech-text-martin-luther-king-jr_n_1207734.html
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King :The “I Have A Dream” speech he delivered in 1963 in Washington, D.C.

The full text is below,

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”