“An unjust law is itself a species of violence, arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law of non-violence says that violence should be resisted. Not by counter-violence, but by non-violence… This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment.” Gandhi, II-150
Your Honors, as the story in the New Testament goes, as recorded by the Apostle Paul in the Acts,5:33ff, there was a man named Gamaliel.
He was, not unlike yourselves, “a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people.” I wonder if that is the origin of judges – teachers of the law – being referred to as “Your Honor”..
Anyway, as Paul wrote, “.. Peter and other Apostles were preaching about Jesus and were arrested, brought before the Sanhedrin.” Well, there was a great hue and cry that Peter and his associates be put to death. So Gamaliel stands up to the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court, and says essentially “Calm down! Get a grip!” He went on to recount examples of previous men who had stirred up the people: “Men of Israel,” he began, “think carefully about what you plan to do to these men.” He was referring, of course, to Peter and the other followers of Jesus, the non-violent peace & justice spokesperson of that time. Gamaliel continued, “Sometime ago, a man named Theuda appeared, claiming he was somebody. About 400 people followed him, but he was killed and all his followers scattered. So they accomplished nothing. Then later, Judas from Galilee came along. This was when the Romans made a list of all the people, Judas led a gang of men against the Romans. He to was killed. All his followers scattered.
“So, let me give you some advice: Leave these men alone! Let them go! If their plans and actions are only human, they will fail, but if their plans come from God, you won’t be able to stop these men – you will find yourselves fighting against God.”
As the story concludes, “The Sanhedrin whipped the men and let them go.”
So, Judges, Your Honors, I would submit you ponder these words carefully – especially if there are any Christians or Jews among your number.
There is a parallel here, strikingly so. For the past 12 years, there has been an annual and ever-growing number – in the thousands – of concerned nonviolent citizens protesting prayerfully and calmly, the existence, for over a half-century now, of a fully funded U.S.-sponsored school of terrorism. This ‘School Of Assassins’ began as the “School Of The Americas” in Panama, back in 1947. When it became too “politically hot” to have such a school in Panama, it was quietly moved, “like a thief in the night” to Ft. Benning, GA, outside Columbus, in 1984.
Tens of thousands of “graduates” from this infamous assassination and torture training academy have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths/disappearances of innocents – children, adults and infants in arms, since 1947. These victims, in 21 countries of Central and South America were and are the targets of the SOA “graduates” simply because they were and are seeking justice, as in “justice which the law demands.” These victims were murdered by SOA-trained thugs for trying to follow and keep “the law.” Doesn’t that fact give Your Honors pause? Aren’t you supposed to uphold law and justice?
As Judges and Magistrates you, above all people, purport to stand for “the law.” Yet, you wrap yourselves in the flag of this country and self-righteously hammer your gavels, chanting in unison “Obey the law!” You chant this mantra to the hundreds now, of non-violent, law-abiding citizens of this country who prayerfully cross artificial barriers to manifest a faith-based commitment, to a much higher law, which is far greater than any of the laws hastily put on the books which allow and even promote torture, assassination and “low intensity warfare” to be taught and implemented – and which still flourish - in Central and South America.
You and the so far majority of Congresspersons and Senators bow down, down to “laws” which implement a national foreign policy “imposing American style democracy” (in the words of a former SOA commandant) on the troops, police forces and national guards of the twenty-one sovereign nations in the hemisphere. This “democracy?” Rather, this “teaching aid – the rifle” is more akin in methodology to the Totalitarianism, Nazism, Facism and Communism of decades gone by. The former Guatemalan army general Arana, an SOA grad from the Panama days, was a leader of “Mano Blanca” – a death squad formed back in the 1960’s, “licensed to kill peasants” who supported the guerillas resisting the tyranny of the then Guatemalan government. He rose to become president of Guatemala, and in his inaugural address said: “Those who do not obey the law will be broken in two.” (Quoted from The Blindfold’s Eyes by Sr. Dianna Ortiz, O.S.U. 2002,p.183)
Of course, the “School of the Americas” has recently undergone a white-wash change in name. It is now called the Western Hemisphere Institute For Security Cooperation.” “WHISC” – better stands for “Whited Sepulchre”,” another Biblical parallel. From my prison cell in a Southern Georgia County Jail, Your Honors, I have two questions and one observation.
First, have you individually or as a group, ever asked, in your heart of hearts, or even asked your bosses, “Hey, doesn’t all this heavy sentencing and high fine activity get through to these do-gooder protesters?” And, since there are more and more of them each year, “is it possible they are right and we are wrong?”
Second, I respectfully submit, in line with Gamaliel’s observation to the Sanhedrin of old, if this movement of nonviolence and prayerful citizens, faith-based community builders in their own neighborhoods, is merely human, it will certainly fail. So far, each and all of you have done all you can to make it fail!
It’s just humanly possible that in your determination to uphold “the law” as you put it, that you are fighting against God. I would not want to be in your shoes – or robes – come judgment day. I recently learned one of your august body made the observation that “It’s better to look good than to be good.” Wow, Your Honors! Think about it.
John Patrick Liteky, #83275-020, Cell C-3
Crisp Co. Jail - 197 Hwy 300 S - Cordele, GA 31015