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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

The Prison of Fear

By: Donald V. Watkins

© Copyrighted and Published on December 1, 2019.

The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, is a human rights activist in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). She survived detention, house arrest, and attacks on her life after she joined her country's political resistance in 1988 to fight military rule in Myanmar. The Nobel Prize made her the world's most prominent dissident at the time.

"The only real prison is fear," Suu Kyi famously wrote, "and the only real freedom is freedom from fear."

No truer words have been spoken. Suu Kyi never feared prison.

We all know about dissidents who have been persecuted and jailed. The most famous dissident of all time was Jesus Christ. He was accused of parading without a permit, practicing medicine without a license, making wine without a permit, obstructing the stoning death of an adulterer, trespassing on synagogue property, destruction of gaming property, walking on water without permission, and treason against the recognized Jewish religious hierarchy. Jesus was tried, flogged, and crucified for these crimes.

Yet, Jesus never feared imprisonment.

Nelson Mandela was targeted by South Africa's all-white government in the early 1960s and charged with treason and other felonious crimes. In 1964, Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment at the notorious Robben Island prison. Mandela's only real crime was his life-long crusade to secure human and civil rights for black South Africans. After he was freed from prison in 1990, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1993 (as well as the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and various other awards). He quickly went on to become the first black President of South Africa in 1994.

Mandela never feared imprisonment.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led America's civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. Like Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela, Dr. King was also the winner of a Nobel Peace prize for his non-violent protest during the civil rights movement. Dr. King was hated and vilified by the FBI in his leadership role. The FBI proclaimed King as the "most dangerous Negro in America" because of his ability to mobilize the masses of black Americans. Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. Dr. King was arrested on trumped up criminal charges countless times during the civil rights movement, often at the behest of federal agents. Yet, Dr. King never feared imprisonment.

Too many national leaders today fear persecution and imprisonment by the forces that oppose human and civil rights for the unprotected classes in our society. This fear controls everything they say and do. It makes them docile, complacent, and self-centered about the important things that matter in life.

There will always be those among us who occupy what the Bible calls the "Pharaoh" position in our lives. They will always sit high, but look low. They will always persecute and punish dissidents in the name of administering law and order.

These "Pharaohs" have successfully instilled a fear of imprisonment in modern-day dissidents. This is particularly true in the black community where imprisonment has become the "Pharaoh's" politically palatable substitute for the government's acknowledged and documented 1970 national plan to intern black dissidents in concentration camps around the U.S.

Implementation of the government's modified internment plan works as follows: The federal government's criminal justice system targets black dissidents; it accuses them of trumped up crimes; it railroads them in federal courts; and it imprisons them, all while telling the white community these dissidents are ordinary criminals. This internment program has been very effective. It is one of the reasons blacks constitute 37.5% of all inmates in federal prisons, while accounting for only 13% of the U.S. population.

Sadly, at the time of his death in 1968, 75% of white Americans disliked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The FBI had successfully demonized Dr. King to white America by portraying him as a "thug", a "filthy animal” and an “evil, abnormal beast". Today, Dr. King is the only non-U.S. President who has a National Memorial dedicated to his life's work on the National Mall in Washington. Ironically, Dr. King never had the opportunity to smell the roses while he was alive. The "Pharaohs" of his time made sure of that.

Freedom is a state of mind. The only real prison is fear and too many Americans are serving a life sentence in that prison.

PHOTO: Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar human rights activist

PHOTO: Martin Luther King Jr in solitary confinement at the Birmingham City Jail

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