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Rev. Jesse Jackson at MIT Peace Rally Against Gulf War

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PRESENTER: OK, our final speaker, many of you know him. He doesn't really need much of an introduction. But I'll just briefly tell you what he's been doing recently. He has been to Baghdad and to Kuwait recently on a mission to free American and French English hostages.

He's met with Saddam Hussein for six hours. He's also met with Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. After the August 2nd invasion, he was the first person to go to Kuwait and get out American hostages from that occupation.


He has been spending a good amount of his time trying to facilitate a peaceful settlement by trying to get both sides of this dispute to sit down. He participated in civil rights activities in his childhood, and in fact, he did participate in the Selma to Montgomery March, I found out. He was only a small child. Commitment at an early age.

He is currently the senator from the besieged state of Washington DC. I don't know if people know that right now he is waging a heroic battle to finally get the people of Washington DC, many of whom are people of color, to actually have a say in the governance over themselves. They do not have representation in the House or the Senate.


And he would hope that as many people as possible can contribute to that effort, and make him become the legitimate senator he should be representing more people than senators in five different states. So let's hope that Jesse Jackson is the next senator of Washington DC.

OK, I did not want to get into a long thing about Reverend Jackson, the senator from Washington. He has a long history in not only civil rights, issues of racial justice, but he has been perhaps the leading national spokesperson, a supporter of grassroots organizations, unions, women's groups-- you name it, he has been there for poor people. And I think we're really honored to have the Reverend Jesse Jackson speak to us now.


JACKSON: Let me express to you tonight my sincere appreciation to the organizers of this event for allowing me to participate in this historic event, which could literally save the whole world. Tonight, you are at the center of the universe and can determine its course by tilting the axis toward peace and away from war.

I want to announce that this week MIT is inaugurating the MIT Peace and Justice Center. You'll be called upon to join in efforts for peace. There will be a whole week of activities where there will be a organizing and the education of people against war in the Gulf, pursuing alternatives to war.

Tonight there will be the inauguration of the Peace and Justice Center immediately upon the conclusion of this program. We urge you tonight, when we will then finish, to march with us to the building next door, that the whole nation might see, and other campuses might grasp your spirit and make centers for peace and justice on every campus around this nation, yes, around this world. You are to be congratulated.


To those of you who are in here tonight, and to thousands of others who are connected around this campus, your concern and your sense of desperation is a contagious spirit that must grip our nation and our world. Tonight we must congratulate Senators Kennedy and Kerry for their vote on this past Saturday.

When we think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, tonight is the eve of his 62nd birth date. Tomorrow should be a day for a worldwide celebration, of the birth date of the apostle of nonviolence and peace, and not the day for showdown for World War while we hold our breath, bated breath, of world peace.

Peace and justice are indivisible. As we pursue this quest to change our nation's political mindset, as I painfully reflect upon the voting this past Saturday, we lost the vote in the Senate by the margin of defected Democrats. One Republican Party is enough.

Sanctions are working. What's the rush for the artificial date, January the 15th? There was no cutoff date to end the apartheid in South Africa.


We have restrictions on South Africa and sanctions on Iraq. And even those weak restrictions imposed by our Congress called sanctions are being circumvented by President Bush. We are importing South African iron and steel into our country. We do not need it. American iron and steel workers are unemployed, and South Africa does not deserve the market.

And yet, there is no cut-off date for when Nelson Mandela might have the right to vote. January the 15th. We're not about to be attacked on tomorrow. Vital resources to America are not about to be cut off on tomorrow. It's an artificial date with destiny, driven by ego needs and political needs, not national security needs.

The artificial date reflects not national threat but anxiety about the fragility of this business alliance called a worldwide coalition. If we truly support UN resolutions, which is a new idea for this administration--


Mr. Reagan, Mr. Bush would not pay UN dues in the 1980s. They tried to impose sanctions on the UN. If we support the UN, lets pay them the $600 million that we owe them in back dues, so the UN can be used in Liberia and other nations around the world where it is needed.

The UN does not impose these sanctions. There has been no vote before the United Nations. 26 nations in the UN voted. China, which represents one fourth of the human race, did not vote. The Japanese offered some yen, the Germans some marks, but no people.

Others are in it because of debt forgiveness or more weapons or grants or intimidation. It's not that we fear attack from Iraq tomorrow. We fear the fragile business alliance may not hold if we shift from deterrence to offense.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, his legacy is a call to action, a call to leadership, to not follow opinion polls but to mold opinion. Vanity calls us to popularity. Politics calls us to expediency. [INAUDIBLE] calls us to do the right thing. Bold leadership, new direction, and action.

The issue in the Middle East tonight should be the goal to get Iraq out of Kuwait, not the date. The focus must be the goal, not the date. The bombing would kill thousands of Kuwaitis, Iraqis, and Americans. It would invite world seduction into war. The bombs fall on the Iraqis. If they hit or hit at Israel, it will respond in its interests. To do so it must fly over Jordan and Syria. They will respond.

The war will not just be fought in the Middle East. The expressions of it economically and militarily will be felt around the whole world. We're discussing a World War, not a limited, strategic war, or a limited surgical war. We could not employ surgical war against Panama, and they didn't have an Air Force.

And for those who believe in surgical bombing, let them hold the building. Let them and their children hold the building while the bombing takes the building away and leave them standing, for those who believe in surgical wars and hits.

If we win the bombing war, we then must remain and occupy that which we bomb. We must then occupy Kuwait and Iraq, as we are now doing Panama. If the war takes place, the price of oil will go up, the price of blood will go down. The many will die, the few will prosper. Worldwide economic inflation. Governments will be destabilized. Terror will strike the world.

MIT, do the world a favor, don't just protest war, make war less likely by committing yourself to study war no more.


In the final analysis, we do what we study. That's why the ancient prophet Isaiah urged us centuries ago to study war no more and beat our swords into plowshares. Make our weapons of war weapons of development, swords into plowshares, spears into pruninghooks.

Isiah talked about conversion, from war build-up to peace build-up, thousands of years ago. Even then they recognized the futility of war. War represents moral exhaustion, intellectual bankruptcy.

When there's no thoughts left, when there is no hope left, we fight to reflect our emptiness and our lack of vision. If you study teaching, you may not have a job in school. But whenever you go down the street and see children going towards school, lesson plans come in your mind. You kind of do what you study.

If you study law, you may choose not to be a practicing lawyer, but wherever you see a judge wrap his gavel, your sense of law that you've studied begins to come out. Somehow you want to do what you studied.

If you studied music, you may not be a practicing musician, but every time you hear the sound, criticisms come in your mind. If you study medicine, you may not be a practicing physician, but whenever you pass a hospital or whenever you hear the sound of ambulances, and whenever you see blood anywhere, there is a pull to do what you studied.

And so if you study war and use your mind, your brilliant scientific minds, to make these weapons, then you lay the basis for the use of them. We must have the moral judgment, the good sense, to study war no more, and beat our swords into plowshares.

The greatest threat to our environment tonight is nuclear weapons. While there is understandable concern about Saddam Hussein may get a nuclear weapon, there are 300 to 400 nuclear weapons already in the Persian Gulf tonight. And plan A is to strike and strike quickly. What awesome power.

If plan A fails and there is a counterstrike, what is plan B? Would we lose a war? Would we accept heavy casualties without using plan B? We are close to a nuclear war ushered in by an artificial date with destiny.

Dr. King's birthday, maybe his vision, his prophecy, will be the saving grace, the redemption of our nation and the salvation of our world tonight. I remember, along with a group of staff members, being with him on his last birthday. We did not know it would be his last birthday, January 15th, 1968. We did not realize that April 4th, 1968, would be his death date.

His last day on Earth was spent focusing on organizing unorganized workers, economic justice for the least of these, social justice for everybody. And on that birth date I remembered so well, that morning he had breakfast at home with his nuclear family-- his wife and children.

He came to church around 10 o'clock in his work clothes. There we had with us a small group of whites and Hispanics and Native Americans and people with whom we had never worked before, with whom we'd never worked before, organizing a poor people's campaign. He knew a way to end racial tensions was to raise up the issue of economic justice to make everybody secure. He was organizing the Poor People's Campaign, preparing for another march on Washington.

We spent that morning-- as you honor Dr. King, and as you celebrate his birthday, here's how he spent his own birthday. With family at church, organizing a national campaign for a job on income for everybody, reviving a war on poverty, and not a war on the poor.

A friend came in around 1 o'clock with a cake. We stopped, lit candles. We laughed, we ate the cake. And then around 2:30, a workshop on ways to end the war in Vietnam. A focus on how to end the war, the study of war, and change national priorities, and usher in world peace.

He spent his own last birthday with family, war on poverty, and world peace. You can do no less tomorrow in the focus on racial justice, social justice, and peace. Because justice and peace are indivisible. You can't have a peace movement to save awesome war in the Persian Gulf, and ignore the lack of racial justice, the gender exploitation, that is taking place at home.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a broader focus than that. We must be concerned tonight. Infant mortality for African-American babies is likened unto Bangladesh, an impoverished third-world country. That black adults die seven years earlier than whites. Lives of stress.

The incarceration for young African-American males is four times greater than that of South Africa. The person that would dare veto a civil rights bill in 1990 using race as bait, but in reality that veto was against women and workers, the physically disabled, Hispanics and blacks as well. That the result of lack of life options-- on the one hand, the jails are full. On the other hand, that 30% of the ground troops in the Persian Gulf are African-American, 45% black and brown, 75% black, brown and poor. Those who made the judgment on Saturday have no children there.

And because of lack of racial justice, if the war breaks out, the black and the brown and the poor will burn first in the Gulf, and their parents will freeze first because of the economic inflation at home.

Some Republican senator said to me on Saturday, as I talked with him about DC statehood, he says to me, now, you know, I'm not for [INAUDIBLE], it's a hard sell. And the fact that to get DC statehood, you'd probably have two Democratic senators. And maybe if there was some chance of one Democrat and one Republican, it may be more plausible. I said, are you suggesting that we have 50% Democrats and 50% Republicans in the Persian Gulf? Are you saying we got too many poor, too many black, too many brown, in the Persian Gulf?

If our youth are not there based upon their political party, then why impose that rule in our quest for self determination at home? Racial justice. Because in the real sense, unless we end slavery for blacks, we could not speak of our suffrage movement for women. In some real sense, the quest for justice and peace are indivisible.

Racial justice. It tears up our coalition at home that's needed for the peace movement for our world. Jessie Helms this year used the "shaking white hand" theory. White hand about to get the job, shaking. And as he's about to get the job, a strong black hand pushed it back.

If that strong black hand had a basketball in it, its name was Michael Jordan, it's all right. If that strong black hand had a football in it, and his name was Bo Jackson, it would be all right. If that strong black hand had a rifle in it, pointed at Iraq, it's all right. But if it's trying to go to college to get a job, it seems a national threat.


The fact is, our jobs-- we lost three million jobs and [INAUDIBLE] 800,000 family farmers, they did not go from white to black. They did not go from male to female. We should not have races threatening and fighting each other on our campuses. We should not have men threatened by women, and whites by blacks and browns. We should be expanding are options and not fighting each other.

Where did the jobs go? They didn't go to abandon urban ghettos and Barrios. The shoe industry from north in the North from the New England area went to the Far East, not to the ghetto. The Nike tennis shoes that Michael Jordan wears, the Reebok shoes, the LA Gear shoes, are made in Taiwan and South Korea for $10 a pair, and sold here for $160. They didn't go from white to black.

The VCRs that we use, they didn't go from white to black, there are no American-made VCRs. The Zenith electronic jobs that were in Chicago, they didn't go from white to black. They went to Mexico, cheap labor undercutting organized labor. There are no American-made bicycles. Schwinn bicycles are made in Taiwan. Hear me, my friend.

The 800,000 family farmers did not lose their farms to blacks or browns. The ConAgra, Cargill, the agri-giants consumed them. The little dog that used to listen to his master's voice, the RCA amplifier, that little dog is gone. That was an English-speaking trained dog. The master now speaks Dutch and German and Japanese. That dog left, and so did those jobs.

And I might add the Dutch, the German, Japanese, they did not take our market. We sold it in a trade-off. We chose to make--


We said there is no basis for Asian bashing. The Japanese did not take our jobs. The Germans, the Dutch, did not take them. We made a macho trade-off. You are not allowed to make missiles and B-1 bombers, the big stuff.

You make little stuff like chips. VCRs, Honda, Toyota, Saturns, you make little stuff that everybody needs. We make big, old stuff for which there is no consumer market. And so now we got weapons that nobody wants, and they are making products that they can not make enough of.

We must stand for racial justice. But don't stop. There's social justice in this coalition. 40 million Americans with no health insurance. People dying in the emergency rooms because they don't have a green or yellow card to go upstairs. Good minds-- good minds can't go to college in the world's richest country.

Social justice. We're in economic crisis not because the poor want jobs and women want equality. The S&L crisis-- $600 billion of legal thievery. They opened the vaults and then fired the guards. And now our banking crisis is in an insurance crisis. There must be a commitment to economic justice and fairness. Greed-- not the poor willing to work-- is the source of our economic crisis.

Social justice. A commitment to rebuild America, make all of us better and not bitter and more secure. Social justice. Peace.

I was in the Middle East about three months ago. It's clear to me we should stand for the restoration of Kuwait's sovereignty, for Saudi's security, for resolution of the Iraqi-Kuwaiti conflict. We cannot stand idly by while the strong devour the weak.


The military deterrence is working. But if you're going to apply those principles in new world order, apply them to Kuwait, West Bank, Lebanon, Lithuania, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, Panama, Angola, South Africa. Apply those principles around the world.

We lose our moral authority selectively applying those principles. What about the blood in Tiananmen Square? What about the crushing of Lithuanians? What about apartheid in South Africa? Play the game of the new world order by one set of rules, and regain our moral authority in this world.

What about the cost of this war? Administration officials estimate the cost of Persian Gulf deployment will range from $25 to $30 billion for fiscal year 1991, just to transport and maintain US equipment and personnel, which is expected to soon reach 410,000.

The Center for Defense Information estimates that if combat erupts, the cost of war would exceed $163 billion dollars for 1991, $450 million for a day, $19 million dollars every hour.

The Bush Administration's fiscal year 1991 budget for human capital programs, including education and job programs, go to $1.4 billion, down from $45 billion in 1980. The Children's Defense Fund estimates that in 1988 the cost of eliminating poverty in families with children would have been $26 billion. Today, $54 billion, a fraction of the cost of a shooting war. The estimated $82 million for a day it would cost to transport, feed, and maintain the Persian Gulf troops is nearly 20 times the cost the Children Defense Fund proposed.

The US Student Association estimates that the daily cost of Operation Desert Shield could give federal grants to 59,655 students, or assure 89,220 students college work-study jobs. Both programs have been cut over the past decade.

There is a way out. And we need guided minds, not misguided missiles. There is a way out, a way to have peace. When we condemn the invasion of Kuwait, we're right. We say economic sanctions are working, we are right. I was there. He cannot expand beyond Kuwait. He has the hotels but no customers. There are oil wells but no markets. Oil cannot get in. Oil cannot get out. He can't grow.

Sanctions are working. There are three articles in the UN resolution. We are focused on two. Article 1-- condemn the invasion of Kuwait. Article 2-- unconditional withdrawal. Article 3-- resolve the Kuwaiti-Iraq dispute. Let's focus for a minute on the zone of dispute. Unconditional withdrawal does not mean you ignore the zone of dispute. That was a dispute prior to the invasion.

The invasion, annexation, occupation, was one way to resolve the dispute, but that was a recognized dispute. Recognized by the US, Kuwait, and the UN. It had to do with oil pricing, oil gouging, land boundaries and an access to the sea.

Why can't we be creative enough to agree to mutually no bombing during negotiations and after? There would be a fair, credible court-- world court, Arab court, UN court-- to adjudicate the issues in dispute and proceed with the International Peace Conference. And why should that be, for us, so confusing?

We are not talking about the Hussein Peace Conference. We're talking with the UN-sponsored International Peace Conference. It predates August 2nd. To ignore the peace conference is reverse linkage. It's saying, in effect, unless we end the occupation in Kuwait, we will not proceed with peace. What about that invasion negates proceeding with peace for the region? There's this and that. There's a Middle East crisis of which the Iraq invasion of Kuwait is a dimension of it.

A commitment to no bombing, a commitment to negotiate in the zone of dispute, a commitment to an International Peace Conference. Well, Miterrand and Europe or already there. The world is searching for a way out. The fact is a ground attack, an air attack, will not save Kuwait. There are thousands of Kuwaitis who remain in Kuwait. An all-out air attack will kill thousands of Kuwaitis to save them.

If we bomb Kuwait and Iraq, and if we win, we then must stay there while they redevelop. Stay there in Iraq as we have had to do in Panama. Suppose we win. Then occupation. Then global animosity. Then unlimited cost. If we attack Iraq, and they shoot us, shoot at Israel, they must respond. To do so, they must fly over Jordan and Syria. If they become directly involved, Mubarak cannot restrain the feelings of the Egyptians. If the war strikes in the Persian Gulf, we'll feel the impact economically and militarily within our own country.

Why risk a world war using overkill and misguided missiles when we have the use of guided minds at our disposal? I am sincerely convinced seeking Kuwait's sovereignty, regaining it, is the right thing to do. But my friends, as we fight for self determination in Kuwait, this great principle, self determination-- well, I'm your senator from Washington. I sat in the balcony of the Senate on this past Saturday, watching us fight for the self-determination of 200,000 Kuwaitis and 600,000 residents of Washington who cannot vote.

There are more troops in the Persian Gulf reserved from Washington than 18 states. More per capita than 48 states. If our reservists did not go to the Persian Gulf, they go to jail. Go on to fight for principles in the Middle East that they are denied at home. As I sat there watching that debate-- more people live in Washington than Vermont, Delaware, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Alaska-- I watched 10 senators vote who represent fewer people than I do in Washington. We pay more taxes than 10 states which have 20 US senators make a vote, and we can not, in the name of self-determination. The Feds occupy 50% of the city, and the diplomats is tax-exempt.

60% of the income is-- cannot be taxed at the source, and so we subsidize the Feds and we subsidize the suburbs. Self-determination-- don't we have a right to vote? In South Africa, you can vote in Soweto for your local officials, to administer Soweto, but they can't vote in Pretoria.

In Washington, we can vote for local officials. We can't vote on Capitol Hill. It's the same basic principle of colonialism. We want the principles of self-determination applied all over the world, yes, beginning at home.

And so I say to young America tonight, what made Martin Luther King different was a will to act. While he studied on the campuses in this area, he was in the middle of many analysts, and there's a danger of getting the paralysis of analysis, and never act and make things happen. It's time to act. The whole world's at stake. It's time to act. A call to action. A call to hope.

Don't surrender to war. We must not be morally bankrupt. We marched too long. We've been jailed too much. We've died too young. We've seen the futility of war. You could be looking at your final exam, unless we choose peace over war, and negotiation over confrontation.

I urge you tonight to study war no more. Beat your swords into plowshares, your spears into pruninghooks. Let's turn to each other, and not on each other. And let's love and respect each other. Justice for the Kuwaitis. Security for the Saudis. Co-existence for Israelis and Palestinians rather than co-annihilation. Freedom in South Africa. Peace in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Ending the bloodshed in Liberia. No more war in Angola. Democracy in China. End the killing in Lithuania.

Let's make the whole world more secure. And let's be better and not bitter, and be driven by suffering and serving and sacrificing that which is good and right. Rise about racism and sexism and anti-Semitism and anti-Arab-ism and Asian bashing.

This is the generation that the Lord has called to choose this day to save the world, literally, for our children and our posterity. Let no street miss the pitter-patter of our marching feet. Let no school miss our powerful discourse. Let every politician be on notice that we choose life over death.

And through with all, and it will be tough-- keep hope alive. Don't give up. Keep hope alive. Don't surrender! Keep hope alive! Study war not more! Keep hope alive! Save the children! Keep hope alive! Stop the bombing! Keep hope alive!

This is our world! Keep hope alive! Keep hope alive! Keep--

AUDIENCE: Hope alive!


AUDIENCE: Hope alive!

JACKSON: Keep hope alive! Keep hope alive! Keep hope alive! Keep--

AUDIENCE: Hope alive!

JACKSON: Louder!

AUDIENCE: Keep hope alive!

JACKSON: More determined!

AUDIENCE: Keep hope alive! Keep hope alive! Keep hope alive!