Civil rights activist Dick Gregory challenged a Weber State University audience Thursday to start challenging the white man's actions that have created the Per-sian Gulf war as well as racist and sexist attitudes that prevail throughout the country.
Gregory received a standing ovation from the standing-room-only crowd when he walked on stage. He talked for about an hour and intertwined his serious speech with a stand-up comedian routine.Gregory held the audience in the palm of his hand when he pointed out that the rich people in this country don't have to send their children to war in the Middle East. Proof, he said, is that cars like Mercedes, Lincolns or Cadillacs don't have yellow ribbons tied around their antennae.
He said the war against Saddam Hussein is nothing but an act of racism and that the U.S. citizens have to stop being so "gung ho" about war.
Gregory said he would prefer that President Bush bring the children home from the war and draft Mercedes owners.
"We don't need no more wars," said Gregory. "We've got to do away with this kind of hostility."
The activist, currently on a fast for peace, said that the military has satellites to find Iraqi military installations so warplanes can fly there to destroy the targets. But on the other hand, Gregory pointed out that Bush must be a fool if he didn't see the 500,000 Iraqi tanks and soldiers moving toward the borders of Kuwait before the invasion.
Gregory was on campus as the keynote speaker for Black Emphasis Week. He noted that the whole month of February was Black History Month, and he said he was "stunned" when Congress gave blacks a month with only 28 days.
February also has a Groundhog Day. "If a groundhog sees his shadow, what does that mean? Six more weeks of winter," explained Gregory. "What if a groundhog comes out and sees five black men? That means six more weeks of bas-ket-ball."
On a more serious note, the father of 10 said he was outraged that the powerful white men who stole millions of dollars from savings and loans institutions won't go to jail, while a black ghetto mother will spend time behind bars for stealing a loaf of bread to feed her children.
He called that policy racism and said if anybody challenged these laws, then they will be destroyed.
White people are racist but blacks aren't, he said, because racism means having the control over someone else's fate and destiny.
Gregory said he believed in God and was appalled that a so-called Christian nation was the only free democracy in the world that practices state-sanctioned executions. He said Jesus Christ received the death sentence because the state then also believed in capital punishment.
Think about it, he continued. If Jesus were here today and got the death penalty, people wouldn't be wearing crucifixes around their necks with Jesus attached to them. . . .They would instead be wearing a little electric chair necklace with Jesus strapped to it.
"We have to come together to change this whole thing," he added.
Gregory said that we haven't yet reached the point of no return, and he truly believed that people can turn their morals and values around by challenging racist, sexist and war policies of the people and their government.
He left the audience with this bib-lical thought, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."