"It Wasn't the United States!"

A speech presented to the Dallas City Council by Reverend L. Charles Stovall during deliberations of a resolution condemning parts of the U.S. Patriot Act

Afterward, Reverend Stovall, a highly respected civil rights leader, was denounced by Councilman Blaydes as "a certain Black minister who is comparing our President to Hitler." Blaydes, a white real estate man, added piously, "I put you behind me!"

A Statement to the Dallas City Council in Support of the Bill of Rights' Resolution Against the Patriot's Act

by L. Charles Stovall, Chair, Unified Organizations for Justice Pastor, Camp Wisdom United Methodist Church 1300 W. Camp Wisdom Rd.Dallas, TX 75232 972-224-4556

February 25, 2004

To Mayor Laura Miller and members of the Dallas City Council:
My name is L. Charles Stovall. I am the chair of the Unified Organizations for Justice (UOJ) and pastor of Camp Wisdom United Methodist Church located 1300 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX. I am here urging you to Support the resolution presented by the Bill of Rights Committee against the Patriot's Act. First, let me remind us of the history.

The destruction of the building was considered a direct, attack on the nation. As the building laid in ruin, the president, surrounded by national media, invoked God and declared war on terrorism and the ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East.

Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now popular leader had pushed through legislation in the name of combating terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it. That legislation suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus. Police could now intercept mail and wiretap phones, suspected terrorist could be imprisoned without specific charges and without access to their lawyers; police could sneak into people's homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism."

The year was not 2001, but was 1933. The country was not the USA, but was Germany. The building was not the World Trade Center, but was the German Parliament Building. The president was not George W. Bush, but was Adolph Hitler. Whether intentional or not, the similarities and amazing, disturbing and haunting.

Hitler and Bush sought and received emergency powers to ensure further terrorist attacks would not occur. Hitler establish the Office of Fatherland Security, Bush established the Office of Homeland Security . Hitler's administration passed the patriotic "Decree on the Protection of People and State", "the Enabling Act", and Bush's administration passed "The Patriots Act." Both administrations consolidated previously independent law enforcement and investigative agencies under one umbrella.

These are historical facts, and not just alarmist opinion. Right now there in debate on the development of a national data base where the most intimate details of every citizen would be filed. Libraries are being asked to give information on every resource checked out. Airlines are being asked to give detailed information on every single passenger that boards a plane. Neighbors are being asked to spy on neighbors. Law enforcement agencies are given unprecedented powers.

Hermann Goering, at one time second in charge to Hitler, was interviewed as he sat in prison during the Nuremberg trial of 1946. He is reported to have said, "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, ad denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same in every country ."

One has to wonder if this is reflected by Secretary of Education Ron Paige as he referred to the National Education Association (NEA) as a terrorist organization. There is already fear and apprehension in the hearts and minds of many African Americans because of abuse at the hands of members of the Police Department.

In a recent community forum held in the Pleasant Grove area, residents expressed their fear, distrust and frustration of police personnel who regularly harass them and violate their civil rights. UOJ is persuaded that the deaths of Alan Simpson, Keenon Forge, Tommel Hurd, Tony Vernon and too many others have resulted from a distortion of police powers coupled with a predetermined negative attitude as to the value of life in those communities.

The only way to preserve democracy is to preserve the laws that guarantee the individual rights of the citizens and laws that provide checks and balances on the government. The Bill of Rights must be protected at all costs. We must stand behind the Constitution of the United States of America. Otherwise we set the stage, intentionally or not, for the destruction of democracy. We must keep in mind what happened in Germany, and know that "those who fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it."

It may seem unconceivable, but before 911 an attack on the American mainland was also considered unthinkable. Dallas must join other municipalities and governments in the adoption of this resolution.

 

 

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