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The Morning Dispatch: MLK in Montgomery
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The Morning Dispatch: MLK in Montgomery

"The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that allows judgment to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

Happy Monday! Only two more days until we can all place orders for four “free” COVID-19 rapid tests, which, once ordered, will ship after an additional 7 to 12 days. Just in time for the arrival of the Omicron wave!

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Up to 70 Ukrainian government websites were targeted in a cyberattack over the weekend. The websites’ functionality and data were reportedly not compromised, but ominous messages—“be afraid and wait for the worst”—were posted on homepages. Russia has denied responsibility for the hack, but Ukrainian officials believe Russian forces were behind it and U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan said yesterday it “would not surprise” him if Russia was the perpetrator. Russia has reportedly been moving additional tanks, rocket launchers, and other military equipment toward its border with Ukraine over the past week. 

  • Russia’s Federal Security Service said Friday—and an anonymous Biden administration official confirmed—that Russia had arrested several members of the REvil hacking group believed to be behind many of last year’s ransomware attacks on American companies, including the Colonial Pipeline.

  • North Korea on Friday conducted its third and fourth missile tests of recent weeks, with the country’s state media asserting over the weekend its military had successfully launched two ballistic missiles from a train car and hit a target in the ocean.

  • The Census Bureau reported Friday that U.S. retail sales fell an estimated 1.9 percent from November to December, worse than economists’ projected 0.1 percent decline and a further sign that Americans moved much of their holiday shopping to earlier in the year.

  • President Biden on Friday announced he is nominating Sarah Bloom Raskin, Lisa Cook, and Philip Jefferson to the Federal Reserve Board, with Raskin also being nominated to serve as the Board’s vice chair for supervision. All three are expected to face Republican resistance during the confirmation process.

  • The Centers for Disease Control updated its masking guidance on Friday to highlight the added protection against COVID-19 transmission provided by N95 masks over cloth ones, recommending Americans “wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.”

  • A rabbi and three other people who were taken hostage at a synagogue near Dallas, Texas on Saturday were freed after an hours-long standoff involving the FBI. Law enforcement identified the now-dead perpetrator on Sunday as a 44-year-old British national, Malik Faisal Akram, who was reportedly motivated by the U.S. imprisonment of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman who was given an 86-year sentence on terrorism charges in 2010. British authorities arrested two young men Sunday in connection with the attack.

  • Rep. John Katko of New York announced Friday he will not run for a fifth term in 2022, becoming the sixth House Republican this cycle to retire from public office and the third of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump last January.

‘We Ain’t Goin’ Let Nobody Turn Us Around’

(Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images.)

In lieu of a main item today, please read this excerpt from “Our God is Marching On,” a speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama just weeks after hundreds of nonviolent protesters were violently beaten by state troopers while walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 that legally prohibited race-based discrimination had been signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson months earlier, but black would-be voters continued to be disenfranchised at staggering rates in much of the South, where poll taxes, literacy tests, white-only primaries, and overt intimidation had guarded the ballot box for decades. In 1964, for example, just 6.7 percent of eligible black voters in Mississippi were actually registered to vote, according to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. 

The “Bloody Sunday” march—and King’s speech—played a key role in building momentum for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which Johnson signed into law that August. By 1967, nearly 60 percent of eligible black voters in Mississippi were registered to vote. In November 2020, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, that percentage had risen to 83, compared to 79 percent of eligible white voters in the state.

They told us we wouldn’t get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, but all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, “We ain’t goin’ let nobody turn us around.”

Now it is not an accident that one of the great marches of American history should terminate in Montgomery, Alabama. Just ten years ago, in this very city, a new philosophy was born of the Negro struggle. Montgomery was the first city in the South in which the entire Negro community united and squarely faced its age-old oppressors. Out of this struggle, more than bus [de]segregation was won; a new idea, more powerful than guns or clubs was born. Negroes took it and carried it across the South in epic battles that electrified the nation and the world.

Yet, strangely, the climactic conflicts always were fought and won on Alabama soil. After Montgomery’s, heroic confrontations loomed up in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, and elsewhere. But not until the colossus of segregation was challenged in Birmingham did the conscience of America begin to bleed. White America was profoundly aroused by Birmingham because it witnessed the whole community of Negroes facing terror and brutality with majestic scorn and heroic courage. And from the wells of this democratic spirit, the nation finally forced Congress to write legislation in the hope that it would eradicate the stain of Birmingham. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Negroes some part of their rightful dignity, but without the vote it was dignity without strength.

Once more the method of nonviolent resistance was unsheathed from its scabbard, and once again an entire community was mobilized to confront the adversary. And again the brutality of a dying order shrieks across the land. Yet, Selma, Alabama, became a shining moment in the conscience of man. If the worst in American life lurked in its dark streets, the best of American instincts arose passionately from across the nation to overcome it. There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger at the side of its embattled Negroes.

The confrontation of good and evil compressed in the tiny community of Selma generated the massive power to turn the whole nation to a new course. A president born in the South had the sensitivity to feel the will of the country, and in an address that will live in history as one of the most passionate pleas for human rights ever made by a president of our nation, he pledged the might of the federal government to cast off the centuries-old blight. President Johnson rightly praised the courage of the Negro for awakening the conscience of the nation.

On our part we must pay our profound respects to the white Americans who cherish their democratic traditions over the ugly customs and privileges of generations and come forth boldly to join hands with us. From Montgomery to Birmingham, from Birmingham to Selma, from Selma back to Montgomery, a trail wound in a circle long and often bloody, yet it has become a highway up from darkness. Alabama has tried to nurture and defend evil, but evil is choking to death in the dusty roads and streets of this state. So I stand before you this afternoon with the conviction that segregation is on its deathbed in Alabama, and the only thing uncertain about it is how costly the segregationists and Wallace will make the funeral.

My people, my people, listen. The battle is in our hands. The battle is in our hands in Mississippi and Alabama and all over the United States. I know there is a cry today in Alabama, we see it in numerous editorials: “When will Martin Luther King, SCLC, SNCC, and all of these civil rights agitators and all of the white clergymen and labor leaders and students and others get out of our community and let Alabama return to normalcy?”

But I have a message that I would like to leave with Alabama this evening. That is exactly what we don’t want, and we will not allow it to happen, for we know that it was normalcy in Marion that led to the brutal murder of Jimmy Lee Jackson. It was normalcy in Birmingham that led to the murder on Sunday morning of four beautiful, unoffending, innocent girls. It was normalcy on Highway 80 that led state troopers to use tear gas and horses and billy clubs against unarmed human beings who were simply marching for justice. It was normalcy by a cafe in Selma, Alabama, that led to the brutal beating of Reverend James Reeb.

It is normalcy all over our country which leaves the Negro perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of vast ocean of material prosperity. It is normalcy all over Alabama that prevents the Negro from becoming a registered voter. No, we will not allow Alabama to return to normalcy.

The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that allows judgment to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy of brotherhood, the normalcy of true peace, the normalcy of justice.

Worth Your Time

  • In a piece for National Review, Michael Brendan Dougherty argues that, for many of Donald Trump’s earliest supporters, the shine has come off. “While it may be difficult or painful to remember in the year 2022, when Donald Trump came down the escalator to announce his run for president in 2015, he was an issue-driven candidate,” Dougherty writes, referring to Trump’s opposition to immigration, interventionism, and entitlement reform. “When he first ran for president, Trump genuinely promised to do things that voters wanted, to make the country great, proud, and prosperous again. Now, he is essentially asking Republicans to do something for him, to restore his tarnished honor and make credible his belief in his own victory. All that is left of Trumpism are Trump’s grievances and aspirations. This is not an agenda that will win him high office, help his party, or accomplish anything for his countrymen.”

  • The Biden and Obama administrations are made up of mostly the same people, but Ezra Klein believes the situations in which the two White Houses found themselves could not be more different. “The Obama administration was bedeviled by crises of demand. The Biden administration is struggling with crises of supply,” he writes in his latest essay, arguing the trillions of dollars in congressional pandemic relief staved off a 2009-style recession but brought about a new slate of problems. “The conversations I have with the Biden administration’s economists are very different from the conversations I had with the Obama administration’s economists, even when they’re the same people. Now the discussion is all about what the economy can produce and how fast it can be shipped. They need companies to make more goods and make them faster. They need more chips so there can be more cars and computers. They need ports to clear more shipments and Pfizer to make more antiviral pills and shipping companies to hire more truckers and schools to upgrade their ventilation systems.”

  • A few weeks back, we wrote to you about San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s about-face on public safety, saying the city needed to be “less tolerant of all the bullsh**” and crack down on crime. Her new stance has sparked plenty of pushback from progressives, but she isn’t backing down yet—and sat down with Kara Swisher to explain why. “I am really sick and tired of people who are sadly out there in the Tenderloin breaking the laws and making life miserable for the people who live and work there,” Breed said. “And that’s what I mean. It’s really at a point where we have to respond, and we have to hold people accountable for the crimes that they commit. We have an obligation as a city to keep people safe. And right now, we are not doing that with the residents and the people who work in the Tenderloin.”

Presented Without Comment

Also Presented Without Comment

Also Also Presented Without Comment

Toeing the Company Line

  • Sarah and David recorded Advisory Opinions Thursday morning—and then they recorded it again after the vaccine mandate decisions dropped! Enjoy all 98 minutes of this double-decker podcast that dives into both the Supreme Court’s OSHA and CMS rulings as well as the listener mailbag.

  • In Friday’s Uphill (🔒), Harvest and Haley provide additional context on Senate Democrats’ failure last week to blow up the legislative filibuster to advance the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 

  • Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington joined Sarah and Steve on Friday’s Dispatch Podcast to discuss rural America’s rightward shift, the filibuster, Democrats’ voting reform push, and the proper role of the federal government in election administration.

  • In his latest G-File, Jonah tries to make a subtle—but important—point: “I think voting is very, very important. What has two thumbs and likes democracy? This guy,” he writes. “But neither the right to vote, nor democracy itself, are the source of all of our other rights.”

  • As David notes in his Sunday French Press, men tend to make up the overwhelming majority of CEOs, but men are also overdosing on opioids, committing suicide, and losing close friends at a much higher rate than women. “Men can do very, very well in the United States of America, disproportionately so,” he writes. “But men also can do very, very poorly—again, disproportionately so.”

Let Us Know

Martin Luther King, Jr. was, of course, not always as universally admired as he is now. In 1965—the year he delivered the above speech—45 percent of the country had a positive impression of him, and 45 percent a negative one.

Is there a person—or idea—that is contentious now, but that you believe will have near-unanimous support in a few decades?

Reporting by Declan Garvey (@declanpgarvey), Andrew Egger (@EggerDC), Charlotte Lawson (@lawsonreports), Audrey Fahlberg (@AudreyFahlberg), Ryan Brown (@RyanP_Brown), Harvest Prude (@HarvestPrude), and Steve Hayes (@stephenfhayes).