December 3, 1964 – Malcolm X debates at the Oxford University Union, England (real audio)
The debate was televised to an audience of millions by the BBC. The proposition under debate was Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue, a statement made by Barry Goldwater in his 1964 speech accepting the Republican Party nomination for president of the United States.
Malcolm X was the fifth of six speakers, and the second of three who defended the above proposition.
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“I think the only way one can really determine whether or not extremism in defense of liberty is justified, is not to approach it as an American or a European or an African or an Asian, but as a human being. If we look upon it as different types, immediately we begin to think in terms of extremism being good for one and bad for another, or bad for one and good for another. But if we look upon it, if we look upon ourselves as human beings, I doubt that anyone will deny that extremism in defense of liberty, the liberty of any human being, is no vice. Anytime anyone is enslaved or in any way deprived of his liberty, that person, as a human being, as far as I’m concerned he is justified to resort to whatever methods necessary to bring about his liberty again. [Applause]”
Two months later, ‘they’ killed him.
But, there he was in 1964 – a black Muslim man, in a time of overt racism, speaking before a predominately white audience, yet receiving a vigorous round of applause notwithstanding his fiery, revolutionary message.
He had discovered the key to our power, that is at once the secret to ‘their’ success.
As long as Malcolm was part of the black nationalist movement – essentially a domestic hate club – he was ineffective – nothing but a fly in ‘their’ soup; a mild nuisance to be dealt with through humor and dismissed out of hand.
But, when he traveled abroad and learned to identify with ALL human beings – no matter what color, or religion – making analogies and drawing parallels between conditions abroad and conditions at home; when his message became UNIVERSAL, he became an existential threat that had to be eliminated.
He finally understood their tricks, their trade – their whole kettle of lies and deceptions that for decades had kept people of simple means – of all races and religions – down, unable to fend for themselves or emerge from their squalid conditions.
Divide, Divide, Divide, and Conquer – they did it then and they do it now.
Who are ‘they?’
They are those who see themselves as more deserving than any other of the fruits of this planet that we all inhabit, such that they are ready to lie, cheat and even kill to ensure that they get it. But, by far, their most effective and preferred mechanism of control is deception.
They trick us into accepting our fate by filling our minds with twisted logic – Up is Down, Right is Wrong, and before you know it, what’s rightfully ours becomes legally theirs and we’re extremists if we’re willing to fight to get it back.
Malcolm may not have convinced his audience in 1964 , but he was and continues to be right.
Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice and moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.
Those unwilling to risk their lives for liberty and justice, will never know either liberty or justice because, throughout history, never has an oppressor relinquished his power or control over another without being forced.
“It is a time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood. That’s the only thing that can save this country.”
–Malcolm X, two days before he was assassinated
BROTHERHOOD and the will to fight for it is the only thing that can save our world.