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Finneran: A Savage Act

Friday, April 06, 2018

 

Even now, fifty years later, the wound lays raw, the hatred incomprehensible.

Fifty years is a very long time. Yet some wounds ulcerate for ages upon ages. Ask the Irish.

Slavery is an utterly incomprehensible institution. How does a human being ever imagine that ownership—along with brutal exploitation-- of another human being is acceptable? Slavery degrades everyone and everything.

Slavery is of course the great original sin of the United States, a permanent stain on an otherwise glorious birth. It might be history’s greatest paradox that a self-proclaimed Judeo-Christian society, itself committed to throwing off the humiliating yoke of monarchy, made a cynical accommodation to keeping certain fellow human beings in chains. It was a grotesque and evil bargain.

It is fifty years ago this week that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray, a lunatic racist who was cheered by other lunatic racists. The horror of it all remains, the hatred still incomprehensible.

Martin Luther King spoke “American” to the American people. His words were simple, his effect was profound. Words like “freedom”, “fairness”, “equality”, “dignity” and “opportunity” meant something to the American people. At some point in their lives they knew, perhaps from their ancestors, what it meant to be on the outside looking in. King borrowed liberally from Scripture and he reflected on that quintessentially American phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. To any observant person of the ‘50s and ‘60s, black or white, those words would have stung.

He spoke of America’s default on its “promissory note” to the American people, black and white. The lives and liberties of black Americans were not honored, respected, or protected. He wondered whether “the bank of justice is bankrupt”.

King’s years of non-violent protest, his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, his “I Have a Dream” speech on the Washington Mall, and his steady efforts at demolishing voter registration obstacles culminated in raising the awareness of the American people that the Union Army’s victory over the Confederacy had done little to elevate black Americans from the effects of bondage and the schemes of racists. That growing awareness, along with an elementary expectation of simple justice for everyone, gave Lyndon Johnson the tools he needed to break the chains of Congressional resistance. When King, a philosopher, joined forces with Johnson, a legendary wheeler-dealer, the die was cast for serious civil rights legislation, an outcome utterly unimaginable just five years earlier. Say good-bye to the “for colored only” and “for whites only” signs.

But the removal of signs, the integration of lunch counters, and the accommodation of all people in the nation’s hotels and motels, while steps forward in the march of freedom, were small steps.

By 1968, Dr. King was focusing on the larger question of economic justice. It was that continuation of his lifelong mission which brought him to Memphis back in 1968, in support of striking sanitation workers.

His work on earth was not yet done but he was doomed to death, and to heaven, by an assassin’s bullet.

Such a savage and evil act by a savage and evil man.

And as for King’s work? There’s still unfinished business...............

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio

 

Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017

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Sponsor: GoLocalProv

Sample: N=403

Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

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Are you registered to vote at this address?

Yes: 100%

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When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

Unaffiliated: 49%

Democrat: 32%

Republican: 15%

Moderate: .4%

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Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?

Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...

Definitely be voting: 78%

Probably be voting: 13%

50-50: 9%

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In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

Right track: 39%

Wrong track: 45%

Mixed: 10%

Don't know/Refused: .6%

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What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?

Jobs and economy:  21%

Education: 12%

Taxes: 12%

Roads: 12%

State budget: 9%

Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

Healthcare: 3%

Governor: 3%

Homelessness: 2%

Immigration: 2%

Other: 7%

Don’t know: .9%

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Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 35%

Changed for the worse: 16%

Not changed at all: 43%

Don't know/Refused: 5%

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Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 26%

Changed for the worse: 19%

Not changed at all: 54%

Don't know/Refused: 1%

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Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?

Net: Approve: 28%

Definitely approve: 15%

Probably approve: 14%

Net: Reject: 67%

Probably reject: 19%

Definitely reject: 48%

Don't know: 4%

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Could you please tell me your age?

18-24: 7%

25-34: 15%

35-44: 15%

45-54: 20%

55-64: 17%

65+: 25%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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What was the last grade you completed in school?

0-11: 2%

High school grad: 16%

Technical/Vocational school: 1%

Some college: 23%

College grad: 34%

Graduate degree: 24%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).

$50,000 or less: 27%

More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%

More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%

More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%

$150,000 or more: 13%

Don't know/refused: 17%

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What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?

American/None: 21%

English: 13%

Italian: 13%

Irish: 12%

Black or African American: 6%

Latino/Hispanic: 6%

French: 6%

Portuguese: 3%

Jewish: 3%

German: 1%

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Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?


Excellent: 13%
Good: 12%
Fair: 14%
Poor: 57%
Never heard of:  0%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 22%
Good: 29%
Fair: 23%
Poor: 15%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 6%

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Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 17%
Good: 22%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 28%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 7%

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Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 9%
Good: 29%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 27%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate:  8%

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Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 7%
Good: 30%
Fair: 20%
Poor: 18%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 11%

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Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?

Excellent: 6%
Good: 28%
Fair: 30%
Poor: 31%
Never heard of: 1%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?


Excellent: 3%
Good: 16%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 8%
Never heard of: 26%
Cannot rate: 25%

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Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?


Excellent: 3%
Good: 20%
Fair: 28%
Poor: 17%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 19%

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Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 18%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 13%
Never heard of: 21%
Cannot rate: 21%

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Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?

Excellent: 5%
Good: 21%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 10%
Never heard of: 20%
Cannot rate: 23%

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Would you say that Jorge Elorza has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Mayor of Providence?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 24%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 22%
Never heard of: 9%
Cannot rate: 15%

 
 

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