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An Industry of Untruth

An Industry of Untruth

The brand of all cultural revolutions is untruth about the past and present in order to control the future. Why we have this happening to our country is the only mystery left.

By Victor Davis Hanson • July 5, 2020

The current revolution is based on a series of lies, misrepresentations, and distortions, whose weight will soon sink it.

Viral confusion

Unfortunately few in authority have been more wrong, and yet more self-righteously wrong, than the esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci. Given his long service as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and his stature during the AIDS crisis, he has rightly been held up by the media as the gold standard of coronavirus information. The media has constructed Fauci as a constant corrective of Trump’s supposed “lies” about the utility of travel bans, analogies with a bad flu year, and logical endorsement of hydroxychloroquine as a “what do you have to lose” possible therapy.

But the omnipresent Fauci himself unfortunately has now lost credibility. The reason is that he has offered authoritative advice about facts, which either were not known or could not have been known at the time of his declarations.

Since January, Fauci has variously advised the nation both that the coronavirus probably was unlikely to cause a major health crisis in the United States and later that it might yet kill 240,000 Americans. In January, he praised China for its transparent handling of the coronavirus epidemic, not much later he conceded that perhaps they’d done a poor job of that. He has cautioned that the virus both poses low risks and, later, high risks, for Americans. Wearing masks, Fauci warned, was both of little utility and yet, later, essential. Hydroxychloroquine, he huffed, had little utility; when studies showed that it did, he still has kept mostly silent.

At various times, he emphasized that social distancing and avoiding optional activities were mandatory, but earlier that blind dating and going on cruise ships were permissible. Fauci weighed in on the inadvisability of restarting businesses prematurely, but he has displayed less certainty about the millions of demonstrators and rioters in the streets for a month violating quarantines. The point is not that he is human like all of us, but that in each of these cases he asserted such contradictions with near-divine certainty—and further confused the public in extremis.

In terms of how the United States “fared,” it is simply untrue that Europe embraced superior social policies in containing the virus. The only somewhat reliable assessments of viral lethality are population numbers and deaths by COVID-19, although the latter is often in dispute.

By such rubrics, the United States, so far, has fared better than most of the major European countries—France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden, and Belgium—in terms of deaths per million. Germany is the one major exception. But if blame is to be allotted to public officials for the United States having a higher fatality rate than Germany, then the cause is most likely governors of high-death, Eastern Seaboard states—New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in particular. They either sent the infected into rest homes, or did not early on ensure that their mass transit systems were sanitized daily as well as practicing social distancing.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, more than any other regional or national leader, is culpable for decisions that doomed thousands of elderly patients. He did not just suggest long-term-care facilities receive active COVID-19 patients, but ordered them to take them—knowing at the time that the disease in its lethal manifestations targeted the elderly, infirm, and bedridden.

Then in shameful fashion, after thousands died, Cuomo claimed that either the facilities themselves or Donald Trump were responsible for the deaths. In truth, in the United States, the coronavirus is largely a fatal disease in two senses: the vulnerable in just four states on the Eastern Seaboard that account for about 12 percent of the nation’s population but close to half of its total COVID-19 fatalities, and/or patients in rest homes or those over 65 years old with comorbidities.

Why are there currently spikes in cases among young people in warmer states and those of less population density in late June? No one is certain. But one likely reason is that millions of protestors for nearly a month crammed the nation’s cities, suburbs, and towns, shouting and screaming without masks, violating social distancing, and often without observant hand washing and sanitizing—most often with official exemption or media and political approval.

The period of exposure and incubation is over, and the resulting new cases—for the most part asymptomatic and clustered among the young—are thus no surprise. Still,  what is inconvenient is the rise in these cases—given that the Left either had claimed its mass demonstrations would not spread the disease, or, if they would, the resulting contagion was an affordable price to pay for the cry of the heart protests.

Perhaps, but the real cost of four weeks of protesting, rioting, and looting was to undermine the authority of state officials to enforce blatant violations of the quarantine. Obviously, if some can march with impunity in phalanxes of screaming, shoulder-to-shoulder protestors, while others are jailed as individuals trying to restart a business, then the state has lost its credibility with people and they will simply ignore further edicts as they see fit. Now what adjudicates quarantines are the people’s own calibrations of their own safety.

Mismanagement of the virus? There have been four disastrous official policy decisions: sending patients into rest homes; allowing millions en masse for political reasons to violate state mandates on masks and social distancing; retroactively attempting to reissue quarantine standards that their advocates and authors had themselves earlier de facto destroyed; and consistently issuing pandemic alerts solely on the flawed basis of new positive cases, without distinguishing those who were asymptomatic, or who were infected and recovered without ever being tested, or who were asymptomatic and tested positive for antibodies, or who were only briefly ill, recovered, and by no means still a case-patient.

Endemic Racial Violence?

Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and other revolutionary groups hijacked the tragic death of George Floyd. Within hours they created a mythology of rampant white police lethal attacks on innocent black victims. But that trope, too, was without a factual basis.

The wrongful deaths of unarmed African-Americans in custody have been on the decline, is far less than the number of police murdered per year, less than the number of white suspects killed, and proportionally fewer, in terms of percentages of those arrested by police, than other racial groups.

In rare interracial violence, blacks are five times more likely to attack whites than vice versa. There is a tragic war against young, black males—over 7,000 murdered per year—but it is an urban genocide of sort perpetrated in liberal cities, governed by liberal mayors and governors, and overseen by liberal police chiefs. The shooters are overwhelmingly other black males.

Somehow those facts were distorted by the Left into a trope that George Floyd was typical of an epidemic of white-generated lethal racial hatred. One can certainly argue about systematic racism as being a factor in all these asymmetries, but that is not what the rioting and their apologists have done in trafficking in accusations that have no data to support them.

Iconoclasm Redux

There is no logic to statue toppling, name changing, or culture canceling other than the quest to assert power, humiliate authorities, and create crises where they do not exist in order to manufacture a faux state of emergency—in service of a political agenda. In some sense, whether any statues fall is contingent entirely on the lack of resistance.

We know this because the ignorant rioters and protestors cannot explain why monuments to Ulysses S. Grant, Cervantes, black Civil War veterans, or Abraham Lincoln need to be toppled and destroyed as much as a statue of Robert E. Lee. We are not told why the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton is canceled out, but not the Wilson Center in Washington, or why a memorial to President Washington is targeted for defacement but not the hit play, “Hamilton,” another founder who at one time owned slaves. And what or who, if any, exactly is to replace our fallen luminaries? Name the most iconic—Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, or Che Guevarra and the current rules of perfection would disqualify them all.

The abettors of the madness—corporations, the Democratic National Committee, universities, and the media—are not so mad. Yale, named for a slave owner, is now mostly a brand name, not a certification of a first-class, disinterested, and classically liberal education.

Take the elite stamp away, and what replaces it might as well be an online degree mill—given that it is no longer so demonstrable that a Yale graduate learned more than in his four years than did a graduate of Cal State Stanislaus.

So university presidents at Princeton, Yale, Stanford, and Columbia, know that by the standards of BLM their brand names must be changed. But to do so is synonymous with multi-billion-dollar losses and the destruction of centuries-old brands. Perhaps that is why they pander to the mob the way a Roman would-be emperor outbid rivals seeking to win over the Praetorian Guard.

Trial Balloon Lies

The truth is that the COVID-19 epidemic, the lockdown, and the rioting were seen by the Left, the media, and now the Democratic Party as a renewed effort in this election year to do what Robert Mueller, Ukraine, and impeachment had not—abort the presidency of Donald Trump, or make it impossible for him to be reelected.

So Trump was to be reconfigured as a racist responsible for the death of George Floyd. Then he was smeared as a Herbert Hoover who supposedly crashed the economy all on his own. And then he became a Typhoid Mary purveyor of death who sickened and killed tens of thousands of Americans at his rallies in a way millions at left-wing protests did not.

To that end, almost daily, entire fantasies were birthed, floated, crashed, and then were replaced by new hoaxes. The strategy was that while one lie might be refuted, the bigger and more numerous the lies, the more a continuous narrative could be fabricated.

Consequently, the last two weeks, in succession we were told by the media that a noose was left in a NASCAR garage as a racist threat to NASCAR’s only major African-American driver, typical of Trump’s racist America; that Donald Trump, in dejection and self-incrimination, was soon to quit rather than face the humiliation of a landslide defeat in November; that the president knowingly rejected intelligence that the Russians were paying bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan, as part of his obeisance to Vladimir Putin; and that Trump went to Mount Rushmore to honor racist presidents and dishonor sacred Native American land.

All were not just lies, but respectively unimaginative and banal successors to similarly long ago discredited lies—the Jussie Smollett hoax, the “Trump never wished to be president in the first place” hoax, the Russian “collusion” hoax, and the hoax that Trump’s presence turns once esteemed monuments that prior presidents, most recently Barack Obama, visited into racist dog whistles.

Then there was the monstrous lie that Joe Biden has no cognitive disabilities. That he does was the consensus of one in five polled Democratic voters, of many of his own primary rivals in numerous Democratic debates, of handlers who bragged that his basement quarantine need not end because it resulted in him outpolling Trump, of a scramble to turn the vice-presidential nomination into a veritable presidential bid, and in a litany of gaffes, blank outs, and tragic memory lapses of familiar names, places, and common referents.

Biden finally came out of his bunker to do some tele-fundraising and talk to a few preselected reporters. He almost immediately blasted a reporter as a “lying dog face.” In one of his next appearances, his opening statement started with “I am Joe Biden’s husband, even as the liberal media insisted “Joe” was “Jill.” There is now a Biden-inspired cottage industry of arguing that what Biden is recorded as saying is not what he was saying—on the theory that he so poorly pronounces words that they can become almost anything you wish.

What is cruel is cynically using a cognitively challenged candidate for the purpose of winning an election and then replacing him with a far-left vice president who otherwise likely would never have been elected.

FDR and the Democratic Party did something similar in his successful fourth-term bid in 1944 because of FDR’s anticipated early death in office—but in matters of hiding physical rather than cognitive impairment. Moreover, at least that dishonest gambit was undertaken in order to prevent a socialist takeover of the United States by jettisoning the hard leftist, Vice President Henry Wallace.

In 2020, the effort is not to ensure that a socialist not be appointed president who otherwise would not have been elected, but rather to ensure that she will be.

The brand of all cultural revolutions is untruth about the past and present in order to control the future. Why we have let this happen to our country is the only mystery left.

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Their foot shall slide in due time. Deuteronomy 32:35.

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, that were God’s visible people, and lived under means of grace; and that, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works that he had wrought towards that people, yet remained, as is expressed, v. Deuteronomy 32:28, “void of counsel,” having no understanding in them; and that, under all the cultivations of heaven, brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in the two verses next preceding the text.

The expression that I have chosen for my text, “Their foot shall slide in due time,” seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction that these wicked Israelites were exposed to.

1. That they were always exposed to destruction, as one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the manner of their destruction’s coming upon them, being represented by their foot’s sliding. The same is expressed, Psalms 73:18, “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.”

2. It implies that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall; he can’t foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once, without warning. Which is also expressed in that, Psalms 73:18-19, “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation as in a moment!”

3. Another thing implied is that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another. As he that stands or walks on slippery ground, needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.

4. That the reason why they are not fallen already, and don’t fall now, is only that God’s appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that

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due time, or appointed time comes, “their foot shall slide.” Then they shall be left to fall as they are inclined by their own weight. God won’t hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands in such slippery declining ground on the edge of a pit that he can’t stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this:


There is nothing that keeps wicked men, at any one moment, out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.

By “the mere pleasure of God,” I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.

The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

I. There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men’s hands can’t be strong when God rises up: the strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands.

He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, that has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defense from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God’s enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces: they are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so ’tis easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that anything hangs by; thus easy is it for God when he pleases to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

II. They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God’s using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite

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punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, “Cut it down; why cumbreth it the ground” (Luke 13:7). The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and ’tis nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God’s mere will, that holds it back.

III. They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They don’t only justly deserve to be cast down thither; but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. John 3:18, “He that believeth not is condemned already.” So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is. John 8:23, “Ye are from beneath.” And thither he is bound; ’tis the place that justice, and God’s Word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assigns to him.

IV. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God that is expressed in the torments of hell: and the reason why they don’t go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as angry as he is with many of those miserable creatures that he is now tormenting in hell, and do there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth, yea, doubtless with many that are now in this congregation, that it may be are at ease and quiet, than he is with many of those that are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and don’t resent it, that he don’t let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation don’t slumber, the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them, the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened her mouth under them.

V. The devil stands ready to fall upon them and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The Scripture represents them as his “goods” (Luke 11:21). The devils watch them; they are ever by them, at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back; if God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is

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gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.

VI. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God’s restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men a foundation for the torments of hell: there are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, and exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments in ’em as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in Scripture compared to the troubled sea (Isaiah 57:20). For the present God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, “Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further” [Job 38:11]; but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all afore it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is a thing that is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God’s restraints, whenas if it were let loose it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so, if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into a fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.

VII. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. ‘Tis no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he don’t see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows that this is no evidence that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step won’t be into another world. The unseen, unthought of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they won’t bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noonday; the sharpest sight can’t discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending

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’em to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God’s hands, and so universally absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it don’t depend at all less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.

VIII. Natural men’s prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, don’t secure ’em a moment. This divine providence and universal experience does also bear testimony to. There is this clear evidence that men’s own wisdom is no security to them from death: that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death; but how is it in fact? Ecclesiastes 2:16, “How dieth the wise man? as the fool.”

IX. All wicked men’s pains and contrivance they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, don’t secure ’em from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do; everyone lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes won’t fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the bigger part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done: he don’t intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take care that shall be effectual, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.

But the foolish children of men do miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in their confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The bigger part of those that heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell: and it was not because they were not as wise as those that are now alive; it was not because they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If it were so, that we could come to speak with them, and could inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected when alive, and when they used to hear about hell, ever to be the subjects of that misery, we doubtless should hear one and another reply, “No, I never intended to come here; I had laid out matters

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otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself; I thought my scheme good; I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief; death outwitted me; God’s wrath was too quick for me; O my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter, and when I was saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ then sudden destruction came upon me” [1 Thessalonians 5:3].

X. God has laid himself under no obligation by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace that are not the children of the covenant, and that don’t believe in any of the promises of the covenant, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant.

So that whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men’s earnest seeking and knocking, ’tis plain and manifest that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction.

So that thus it is, that natural men are held in the hand of God over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold ’em up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out; and they have no interest in any mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of, all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.


The Use may be of Awakening to unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of everyone of you that are out

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of Christ. That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor anything to take hold of: there is nothing between you and hell but the air; ’tis only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but don’t see the hand of God in it, but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his hand, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it.

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not that so is the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun don’t willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth don’t willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air don’t willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God’s enemies. God’s creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and don’t willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are the black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God for the present stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor.

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given, and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty

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is its course, when once it is let loose. ‘Tis true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the meantime is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are continually rising and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God that holds the waters back that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward; if God should only withdraw his hand from the floodgate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and Justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.

Thus are all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced light and life (however you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, and may be strict in it), you are thus in the hands of an angry God; ’tis nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction.

However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them, when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, “Peace and safety”: now they see, that those things that they depended on for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended

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him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince: and yet ’tis nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment; ’tis to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep: and there is no other reason to be given why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up; there is no other reason to be given why you han’t gone to hell since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship: yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you don’t this very moment drop down into hell.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: ’tis a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the damned in hell; you hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.

And consider here more particularly several things concerning that wrath that you are in such danger of.

FirstWhose wrath it is: it is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were only the wrath of man, though it were of the most potent prince, it would be comparatively little to be regarded. The wrath of kings is very much dreaded, especially of absolute monarchs, that have the possessions and lives of their subjects wholly in their power, to be disposed of at their mere will. Proverbs 20:2, “The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger, sinneth against his own soul.” The subject that very much enrages an arbitrary prince, is liable to suffer the most extreme torments, that human art can invent or human power can inflict. But the greatest earthly potentates, in their greatest majesty and strength, and when clothed in their greatest terrors, are but feeble despicable worms of the dust, in comparison of the great and almighty Creator and King of heaven and earth: it is but little that they can do, when most enraged, and when they have exerted the utmost of their fury. All the kings of the earth before God are as grasshoppers, they are nothing and less than nothing: both their love and their hatred is to be despised. The wrath of the great King of kings is as much more terrible than their’s, as his majesty is

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greater. Luke 12:4-05, “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him.”

Second. ‘Tis the fierceness of his wrath that you are exposed to. We often read of the fury of God; as in Isaiah 59:18, “According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries.” So Isaiah 66:15, “For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebukes with flames of fire.” And so in many other places. So we read of God’s fiercenessRevelation 19:15, there we read of “the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God.” The words are exceeding terrible: if it had only been said, “the wrath of God,” the words would have implied that which is infinitely dreadful; but ’tis not only said so, but “the fierceness and wrath of God”: the fury of God! the fierceness of Jehovah! Oh how dreadful must that be! Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them! But it is not only said so, but “the fierceness and wrath of almighty God.” As though there would be a very great manifestation of his almighty power, in what the fierceness of his wrath should inflict, as though omnipotence should be as it were enraged, and exerted, as men are wont to exert their strength in the fierceness of their wrath. Oh! then what will be consequence! What will become of the poor worm that shall suffer it! Whose hands can be strong? and whose heart endure? To what a dreadful, inexpressible, inconceivable depth of misery must the poor creature be sunk, who shall be the subject of this!

Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies that he will inflict wrath without any pity: when God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed and sinks down, as it were into an infinite gloom, he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much, in any other sense than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires: nothing shall be withheld, because it’s so hard for you to bear. Ezekiel 8:18, “Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them.” Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may

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cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy: but when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God as to any regard to your welfare; God will have no other use to put you to but only to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel but only to be filled full of wrath: God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that ’tis said he will only laugh and mock (Proverbs 1:25-32).

How awful are those words, Isaiah 63:3, which are the words of the great God, “I will tread them in mine anger, and will trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.” ‘Tis perhaps impossible to conceive of words that carry in them greater manifestations of these three things, viz. contempt, and hatred, and fierceness of indignation. If you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favor, that instead of that he’ll only tread you under foot: and though he will know that you can’t bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet he won’t regard that, but he will crush you under his feet without mercy; he’ll crush out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his raiment. He will not only hate you, but he will have you in the utmost contempt; no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet, to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.

Third. The misery you are exposed to is that which God will inflict to that end, that he might show what that wrath of Jehovah is. God hath had it on his heart to show to angels and men, both how excellent his love is, and also how terrible his wrath is. Sometimes earthly kings have a mind to show how terrible their wrath is, by the extreme punishments they would execute on those that provoke ’em. Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty and haughty monarch of the Chaldean empire, was willing to show his wrath, when enraged with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and accordingly gave order that the burning fiery furnace should be het seven times hotter than it was before; doubtless it was raised to the utmost degree of fierceness that human art could raise it: but the great God is also willing to show his wrath, and magnify his awful majesty and mighty power in the extreme sufferings of his enemies. Romans 9:22, “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?” And seeing this

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is his design, and what he has determined, to show how terrible the unmixed, unrestrained wrath, the fury and fierceness of Jehovah is, he will do it to effect. There will be something accomplished and brought to pass, that will be dreadful with a witness. When the great and angry God hath risen up and executed his awful vengeance on the poor sinner; and the wretch is actually suffering the infinite weight and power of his indignation, then will God call upon the whole universe to behold that awful majesty, and mighty power that is to be seen in it. Isaiah 33:12-14, “And the people shall be as the burning of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire. Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”

Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue in it; the infinite might, and majesty and terribleness of the omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you, in the ineffable strength of your torments: you shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is, and when they have seen it, they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty. Isaiah 66:23-24, “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”

Fourth. ‘Tis everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity: there will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all; you will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances

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is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble faint representation of it; ’tis inexpressible and inconceivable: for “who knows the power of God’s anger?” [Psalms 90:11].

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in danger of this great wrath, and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation, that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old. There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have: it may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder if some that are now present, should not be in hell in a very short time, before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some person that now sits here in some seat of this meeting house in health, and quiet and secure, should be there before tomorrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest, will be there in a little time! your damnation don’t slumber; it will come swiftly, and in all probability very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder, that you are not already in hell. ‘Tis doubtless the case of some that heretofore you have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you: their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living, and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned, hopeless souls give for one day’s such opportunity as you now enjoy!

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God; many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are in now an happy state, with

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their hearts filled with love to him that has loved them and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield,7 where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

Are there not many here that have lived long in the world, that are not to this day born again, and so are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and have done nothing ever since they have lived, but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath? Oh sirs, your case in an especial manner is extremely dangerous; your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great. Don’t you see how generally persons of your years are passed over and left, in the present remarkable and wonderful dispensation of God’s mercy? You had need to consider yourselves, and wake thoroughly out of sleep; you cannot bear the fierceness and wrath of the infinite God.

And you that are young men, and young women, will you neglect this precious season that you now enjoy, when so many others of your age are renouncing all youthful vanities, and flocking to Christ? You especially have now an extraordinary opportunity; but if you neglect it, it will soon be with you as it is with those persons that spent away all the precious days of youth in sin, and are now come to such a dreadful pass in blindness and hardness.

And you children that are unconverted, don’t you know that you are going down to hell, to bear the dreadful wrath of that God that is now angry with you every day, and every night? Will you be content to be the children of the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted, and are become the holy and happy children of the King of kings?

And let everyone that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God’s Word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, that is a day of such great favor to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men’s hearts harden, and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls: and never was there so great danger of such persons being given up to hardness of heart, and blindness of mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and

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probably the bigger part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on that great outpouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles’ days, the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you you will eternally curse this day, and will curse the day that ever you was born, to see such a season of the pouring out of God’s Spirit; and will wish that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the ax is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree that brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Therefore let everyone that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over great part of this congregation: let everyone fly out of Sodom. Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed [Genesis 19:17].

Letter from a Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King April 1963

Letter from a Birmingham Jail   Martin Luther King  April 1963

16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants–for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?” We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham’s mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene “Bull” Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?” The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state’s segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of “somebodiness” that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad’s Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro’s frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible “devil.”

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies–a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle–have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as “dirty nigger-lovers.” Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful “action” antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and “preventing violence.” I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather “nonviolently” in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: “My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.” They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Published in:
King, Martin Luther Jr.


“Assad must go”

Worst economic growth since Herbert Hoover


The National Debt

Calling Terrorism  “Workplace Violence”




Iran deal

Executive Orders

President Obama and his mouthpieces have embarked on a bizarre scheme to hypnotize America into forgetting the many scandals of his presidency. They seem to think that intoning “this administration hasn’t had a scandal” over and over again will make history disappear. It’s the lamest Jedi Mind Trick ever, and is being pushed on people who know Star Wars is just a movie.

Here’s a short list of the many scandals Team Obama thinks it can make America forget:

The great “stimulus” heist: Obama seems to think nobody will remember he grabbed almost a trillion dollars for “stimulus” spending, created virtually zero private-sector jobs with it, allowed a great deal of the money to vanish into thin air, and spent the rest of his presidency complaining that he needed hundreds of billions more to repair roads and bridges.

Vast sums of taxpayer money were wasted on foolish projects that came close to the Keynesian economic satire of hiring some people to dig holes, and others to fill them in. Obama added insult to injury by appointing Vice President Joe Biden as the “sheriff” who would supposedly find all that missing stimulus loot.

Americans mostly ended up footing the bill for was an army of government jobs, and a lavish network of slush funds for the Democratic Party and its union allies. We’re supposed to forget about all that because years later, Obama’s weak economy finally dragged itself to something like normal “official” employment levels… with the U.S. national debt doubled, and our workforce rate reduced to Carter-era lows. Sorry, Democrats, but that’s more than just failed policy. It’s one of the worst government-spending scandals in our history. Democrats will howl to the moon over far, far smaller abuses of taxpayer money during the Trump administration, should any occur.

Operation Fast and Furious: Obama partisans seem to think any given example of abuse or ineptitude by their man stopped being a “scandal” the moment it seemed clear he wouldn’t be impeached over it. Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama administration’s insane program to use American gun dealers and straw purchasers to arm Mexican drug lords, is a scandal with a huge body count, prominently including Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jamie Zapata, plus hundreds of Mexican citizens. Agent Terry’s family certainly thinks it qualifies as a scandal.

It is difficult to imagine any Republican administration surviving anything remotely close to Fast and Furious. The media would have dogged a Republican president without respite, especially when it became clear his Attorney General was putting political spin ahead of accountability and the safety of the American people. Remember, AG Eric Holder escaped perjury charges by claiming he didn’t know what his own subordinates were doing – a pioneering, but sadly not unique, example of an Obama official using his or her incompetence as a defense. For years afterward, we would hear some version of “I’m not a crook, I’m just completely inept” everywhere from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But this was Barack Obama, so the media downplayed Fast and Furious news… to the point where viewers of NBC News learned about the scandal for the first time when Holder was on the verge of being held in contempt by Congress for it.

The relatively benign explanation for the astounding Fast and Furious scandal is that Obama’s Justice Department wanted to release guns into the Mexican wild, like so many radio-tagged antelope on a nature show, and follow them to arrest the big fish of organized crime. (In case you were wondering, no, the guns didn’t actually have radio tags in them – that was tried in the much smaller, and utterly disastrous, Bush-era program Obama’s team used as a model for their vastly larger and more careless program.) This explanation becomes more difficult to believe, the more you know about how careless the program was, and how abruptly it was shut down after Agent Terry’s death.

The more sinister take on Fast and Furious is that the Obama administration wanted to create gun crimes in Mexico so they could complain about lax regulations on American gun sales – “for the purposes of creating a narrative that they could use in America to try and thwart our Second Amendment constitutional rights,” as Andrew Breitbart put it during a 2012 interview.

No matter which interpretation you subscribe to, or how much you think Barack Obama knew about the program when he made scurrilous claims of executive privilege to shut down investigations, it’s an insult to a large number of murder victims to claim it wasn’t a scandal. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives hasn’t learned as much from the OFF debacle as we might have hoped.

Incidentally, the Border Patrol named a station in southern Arizona in Agent Brian Terry’s honor. On New Year’s Eve, persons unknown fired rifle shots at a Border Patrol vehicle near the station.

Eric Holder held in contempt of Congress: This was a result of Operation Fast and Furious, but it merits distinction as a separate scandal in its own right. Holder was the first sitting member of a president’s cabinet in the history of the United States to be held in contempt of Congress.

Of course, Democrats closed ranks behind Holder, the White House protected him, and the media allowed Holder to spin the contempt vote as mere “political theater.” In reality, it was a difficult step that responsible members of Congress didn’t want to take, and it was fully justified by Holder’s disgraceful conduct in the Fast and Furious investigation. No reasonable person could possibly review the way OFF was handled and conclude it was an example of transparency and accountability.

ObamaCare: Everything about ObamaCare is a scandal, from the President’s incessant lies about keeping your old plan if you liked it, to Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s “we need to pass it to find out what’s in it” dereliction of Congressional duty.

ObamaCare is a scam, pure and simple – sold on false pretenses by people who knew it wasn’t going to work the way they promised. It doesn’t feel right to dismiss it as a “failed” scheme when so much of the failure was intentional. The bill was so sloppily crafted that Democrats were basically signing blank sheets of paper when they rushed it through Congress in a foul-smelling cloud of back-room deals. ObamaCare’s designers precipitated a constitutional crisis by forgetting they left in a provision to cut subsidies for states that didn’t set up health-care exchanges – a provision that would have killed the entire program stone-dead two years ago, if it had been enforced as written.

The Supreme Court rewrote ObamaCare on the fly twice to keep it alive, which is a scandal in and of itself. President Obama delayed and rewrote the law so often it was impossible to keep track of the changes, cutting Congress out of the loop completely. (Actually, someone did keep careful track of them, and the tally was up to 70 distinct changes by January 2016.)

That made some of Obama’s rewritten mandates and deadlines blatantly illegal – but then, the Affordable Care Act isn’t really a “law” in the sense American government understood the term. In practice it became something entirely new, an enabling act that gave the executive unlimited power to do whatever it thought necessary to keep the system running. If subverting the American system of government isn’t a scandal, what is?

And let’s not forget the scandal of ObamaCare’s disastrous launch, foisted on the American people even though its designers knew it had severe flaws – the billion-dollar website that cost another billion dollars to fix after it crashed, accompanied by a constellation of state exchanges that blew up like Roman candles of bureaucratic incompetence. Let us not forget the absolute zero accountability for this disaster, mismanaged by everyone from President Obama to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who treated the biggest new government program in several generations as though it were a minor side project that could be handled by subordinates with minimal supervision.

Spying on journalists: Establishment media came about as close to falling out of love with Barack Obama as ever when his administration was caught spying on journalists.

Why, if the reporter subjected to the most egregious surveillance, James Rosen, didn’t work for Fox News, the mainstream media might have started treating Obama like a (shudder) Republican. Rosen was treated so badly that even Attorney General Eric Holder eventually admitted feeling a bit of “remorse” about it. Apparently he felt so much anguish that he suffered temporary amnesia and forgot to tell Congress that he signed off on the request to wiretap Rosen while he was testifying under oath.

The IRS scandal: The selective targeting of conservative groups by a politicized Internal Revenue Service was a scandal grenade Democrats and their media pals somehow managed to smother, even though the story began with the IRS admitting wrongdoing.

Democrats suffocated the scandal by acting like circus clowns during congressional hearings, but at no point were the actual facts of the case truly obscured: yes, pro-life and Tea Party groups were deliberately targeted for extra scrutiny, their tax exemption applications outrageously delayed until after the 2012 election without actually being refused. If anything remotely comparable had been done to, say, environmentalist and minority activist groups by the IRS under a Republican administration, the results would have been apocalyptic.

There’s also no question about the facts of the follow-up scandal, in which IRS officials brazenly lied about having backups of relevant computer data. The American people were expected to believe that multiple state-of-the-art hard drives failed, and were instantly shredded instead of being subjected to data recovery procedures.

Luckily for the politicized IRS, the Justice Department was hyper-politicized under Obama too, so no charges were filed, and scandal kingpin Lois Lerner got to enjoy her taxpayer-funded retirement after taking the Fifth to thwart lawful congressional investigation.

Benghazi: This is the clearest example of Obama and his supporters thinking all of his pre-2012 scandals ceased to exist the moment he won re-election. Benghazi has been investigated extensively, and argued about passionately, since the night of September 11, 2012. Nothing can change the absolute fact that the Obama administration’s story for the first few weeks after the attack was false, and they knew it was false. They spun a phony story to buy themselves a little time during a presidential election campaign, and it worked.

Nothing can change the fact that Libya was a disaster after Obama’s unlawful military operation. Nothing can obscure the truth that Ambassador Christopher Stevens was sent into a known terrorist hot zone without a backup plan to ensure his safety. Everything else from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and their defenders is pure political spin. They dragged the story out for years, until they thought it couldn’t hurt them any more. That doesn’t erase its status as a scandal. (And they were evidently incorrect in their belief that it couldn’t hurt them any more!)

Hillary Clinton’s secret server: While we’re on the subject of Hillary Clinton, her secret email server is an Obama scandal, too. She perpetrated her email offenses while working as his Secretary of State, and contrary to Obama’s false assertions, he knew about it.

Plenty of Obama officials other than Clinton played email games, most infamously EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, who created a false identity for herself named “Richard Windsor” to get around government transparency rules.

The Pigford scandal: Named after a landmark lawsuit from the Bill Clinton era, the abuse of a program meant to compensate minority farmers for racial discrimination exploded under Obama. After years of left-wing attacks on Andrew Breitbart for daring to speak up about the scandal, the mainstream media – no less than the New York Timesfinally admitted his critique of the program was accurate in 2013.

Once again: if careless mishandling (or deliberate politicized misuse) of huge sums of taxpayer money isn’t a scandal, what is?

NSA spying scandal: Opinions about the nature and intensity of this scandal vary wildly across the political spectrum, but there’s no doubt that Edward Snowden’s pilfering of sensitive National Security Agency data was a debacle that damaged national security. We had the ghastly spectacle of Attorney General Holder thanking Snowden for performing a public service by exposing surveillance programs Holder’s own administration didn’t want to talk about.

President Obama and his administration made many false statements as they tried to contain the political damage. The fallout included significant losses for U.S. companies, and diplomatic problems for the United States. Just about everything Obama did before, during, and after the Snowden saga damaged the relationship between American citizens and their government.

Bowe Bergdahl: Bergdahl’s ultimate fate rests in the hands of a military court (unless Obama pardons him) but no verdict can erase the scandalous way this administration conducted the prisoner swap that freed him from the Taliban and its allies. Many lies were told, the law was flouted, a deal of questionable wisdom was struck with his captors, and outraged Americans demanded recognition for the soldiers who died searching for Bergdahl after he abandoned his post.

Iran nuclear deal and ransom payment: Everything about Obama’s dealings with Iran has been scandalous, beginning with his silence while the Green Revolution was brutally put down by the mullahs in 2009. The Iran nuclear deal was pushed with lies and media manipulation. The infamous pallet of cash that wasn’t a ransom has become symbolic of Obama’s mendacity and penchant for breaking the rules, when he thinks following them is too much trouble.

Polluting the Colorado river: The Environmental Protection Agency managed to turn the Colorado River orange under this greenest of green Presidents. Of course there was a cover-up. Would you expect anything less from this “transparent” administration?

The GSA scandal: The General Services Administration was caught wasting ridiculous amounts of taxpayer money on lavish parties and silly projects. Heroic efforts to resist accountability were made, leaving puzzled observers to ask what it took to get fired from government employment under Barack Obama. (Alas, it was hardly the last time that question would be asked.) Oh, and of course there was a cover-up from the Most Scandal-Free Administration Ever.

The VA death-list scandal: The Department of Veterans Affairs has long been troubled, but the big scandals broke on Obama’s watch, most infamously the secret death lists veterans were put on while executives handed in phony status reports and signed themselves up for big bonuses. Obama was more interested in spinning the news and minimizing his political exposure than addressing problems; in few areas outside ObamaCare has his rhetoric been more hollow, his promises more meaningless.

Solyndra: The marquee green energy scandal wrote “crony capitalism” into the American political lexicon, as corners were cut and protocols ignored to shovel billions of taxpayer dollars at companies with absurdly unrealistic business models. President Obama’s ability to pick bad investments was remarkable. Luckily for him, American taxpayers covered his losses.

Secret Service gone wild: The Obama years saw one scandal after another hit the Secret Service, from agents going wild with hookers in Columbia, to a fence jumper penetrating the White House, and tipsy Secret Service officials driving their car into a security barrier.

Shutdown theater: Obama hit the American people hard during the great government shutdown crisis of 2013, doing everything he could to make American citizens feel maximum pain – from using “Barry-cades” to keep war veterans away from their memorials, to releasing illegal alien criminals from detention centers. It was an infuriating lesson for voters in how every dollar they get from government is a dollar that can be used against them, when they are impudent enough to demand spending restraint.

Coin Word Problems

Coin Word Problems

  1. Phil T. Rich has some coins in his pocket consisting of dimes, nickels, and pennies. He has two more nickels than dimes, and three times as many pennies as nickels. How many of each kind of coin does he have if the total value is 52 cents?


First try to determine which type of coin he has fewest of. This is often a good way to find what to let x stand for. Here he has fewer dimes than nickels or pennies.

The question asks how many of each kind of coin (not how much they are worth). That is, what number of each kind of coin does he have? So, let

x = number of dimes

Go back to one fact at a time. He has two more nickels than dimes.

x + 2 = number of nickels

Another fact is that he has three times as many pennies as nickels.

3(x + 2) = number of pennies

Next the information left for the equation is that the total value is 52 cents. You can’t say that the total number of coins equals 52 cents. Number of must be changed to value. If you had two dimes, you would have 20 cents. You multiplied how many coins by how much each is worth. So let’s change our how many to how much. If you have the number of dimes, multiply by 10 to change to cents. Multiply the number of nickels by 5 to change to cents. The number of pennies is the same as the number of cents.

Number of Coins Value in Cents
x = number of dimes  10x = number of cents in dimes
x + 2 = number of nickels 5(x + 2) = number of cents in nickels
3(x + 2) = number of pennies 3(x+ 2) = number of cents in pennies

Now we can add the amounts of money. If you make it all pennies, there are no decimals.

10x + 5(x + 2) + 3(x + 2) = 52

10x +5x + 10 + 3x + 6 = 52

18x + 16 = 52

18x = 36

x = 2


x = 2

x + 2 = 4

3(x + 2) = 12


2 dimes

4 nickels

12 pennies


  1. Ernest Worker had a collection of silver coins worth $205. There were five times as many quarters as half-dollars (50-cent pieces) and 200 fewer dimes than quarters. How many of each kind of coin did the Ernest have?


First try to determine which type of coin he has fewest of. This is often a good way to find what to let x stand for. Here he has fewer dimes than nickels or pennies.

The question asks how many of each kind of coin (not how much they are worth). That is, what number of each kind of coin does he have? So, let

x = number of dimes

Number of Coins Value in Cents
x = number of half-dollars 50x = number of cents in half-dollars
5x = number of quarters 25(5x) = number of cents in quarters
5x – 200 = number of dimes 10(5x – 200) = number of cents in dimes


Remember, everything has been changed to cents. So $205 has to be changed to cents by multiplying by 100. $205 has to be changed to cents by multiplying by 100. $205 = 20,500 cents.

50x + 25(5x) + 10(5x – 200) = 20,500

50x + 125x + 50x – 2000 = 20,500

225x = 22,500

x = 100

5x = 500

5x – 200 = 300

So, Ernest has 100 half-dollars, 500 quarters and 300 dimes.


  1. Kay Oss bought $32.56 worth of stamps. She bought 20 more 19-cent stamps than 50-cent stamps. She bought twice as many 32-cent stamps as 19-cent stamps. How many of each kind did she buy?


Number of Stamps Value in Cents
x = number of 50-cent stamps 50x
x + 20 = number of 19-cents 19(x + 20)
2(x + 20) = number of 32-cent stamps 32[2(x+ 20)]


Remember, $32.56 equals 3256 cents.

50x + 19(x + 20) + 32[2(x + 20)] = 3256

50x + 19x + 380 + 64x + 1160 = 3256

133x = 1596

x = 12

x + 20 = 32

2(x + 20) = 64


Kay purchased 12 50-cent stamps, 32 19-cent stamps and 64 32-cent stamps


12(50) + 19(32) + 64(32) = 3256

600 + 608 + 2048 = 3256

3256 = 3256


  1. A collection of coins has a value of 64 cents. There are two more nickels than dimes and three times as many pennies as dimes. How many of each kind of coin are there?


Number of Coins Value in Cents
x = number of dimes 10x = value of dimes
x + 2 = number of nickels 5(x + 2) = value of nickels
3x = number of pennies 3x = number of pennies

The total value of the dimes, nickels, and quarters equals 64 cents.


10x + 5(x + 2) + 3x = 64

10x + 5x + 10 + 3x = 64

18x = 54


x = 3

x + 2 = 5

3x = 9


There are 3 dimes, 5 nickels and 9 pennies.


3(10 cents) = 30

5(5 cents) = 25

9(1 cent) = 9


Total = 64 cents


  1. Lotta Spences has ten bills in her wallet. She has a total of $40. If she has one more $5 bill than $10 bills, and two more $ bills than $5 bills, how many of each does she have? (There are two ways of working this problem. See if you can do it both ways.)


Number of Bills Values in dollars
x = number of $10 bills 10x = value of $10 bills
x + 1 = numbers of $5 bills 5(x +1) = value of $5 bills
(x + 1) + 2 = number of $1 bills 1(x + 3) = value of $1 bills


10x + 5(x + 1) + (x + 3) = 40

10x + 5x + 5 + x + 3 = 40

16x = 32


x = 2

x + 1 = 3

x + 3 = 5


Lotta has 2 ten dollar bills, 3 five dollar bills and 5 one dollar bills.


2($10) = $20

3($5) = 15

5($1) = 5


Total = $40


  1. Dan D. Lyons bought $21.44 worth of stamps at the post office. He bought 10 more 4-cent stamps than 19-cent stamps. The number of 32-cent stamps was three times the number of 19-cent stamps. He also bought two $1 stamps. How many of each kind of stamp did he purchase?


Number of Stamps Value in Cents
x = number of 19-cent stamps 19x
x + 10 = number of 4-cent stamps 4(x + 10)
3x = number of 32-cent stamps 32(3x)
2 = number of $1 stamps 2(100)


19x + 4(x + 10) + 32(3x) + 2(100) = 2144

19x + 4x + 40 +96x + 200 = 2144

119x + 240 = 2144

119x = 1904

199x = 1904


x = 16

x + 10 = 26

3x = 48


Dan purchased 16 19-cent stamps, 26 4-cent stamps and 48 32-cent stamps.


19(16) + 4(26) + 32(48) + 200 =2144

304 + 104 + 1536 + 200 = 2144

2144 = 2144


  1. Nick O’ Time purchases a selection of wrenches for his shop. His bill is $78. He buys the same number of $1.50 and $2.50 wrench­es, and half that many of $4 wrenches. The number of $3 wrenches is one more than the number of $4 wrenches. How many of each did he purchase? (Hint: if you have not worked with fractions, use decimals for all fractional parts.)


Number of Wrenches

x = number of $4.00 wrenches

2x = number of $1.50 wrenches

2x = number of $2.50 wrenches

x + 1 = number of $3.00 wrenches

Value in Dollars

(x)(4.00) = value of $4.00 wrenches

(2x) (1.50) = value of $1.50 wrenches

(2x)(2.50) = value of $2.50 wrenches

(x + 1)(3.00) = value of $3.00 wrenches


x(4.00) + 2x(1.50) + 2x(2.50) + (x + 1)(3.00) = 78

Note in this problem that the decimal is removed when you clear parentheses.

4x + 3x + 5x + 3x + 3 = 78

15x = 75


x = 5

2x = 10

x + 1 = 6


Nick purchased 5 $4.00 wrenches,10 $1.50 wrenches, 10 $2.50 wrenches and 6 $3.00 wrenches.


5($4.00) = $20

10($1.50) = 15

10($2.50) = 25

6($3.00) = 18


Total = $78


  1. Phoebe Small at the XYZ Department Store receives $15 in change for her cash drawer at the start of each day. She receives twice as many dimes as fifty-cent pieces, and the same number of quarters as dimes. She has twice as many nickels as dimes and a dollar’s worth of pennies. How many of each kind of coin does she receive?


Number of Coins Value in Cents
x = number of 50-cent pieces 50x = value of 50-cent pieces
2x = number of 10-cent pieces 10(2x) = value of 10-cent pieces
2x = number of 25-cent pieces 25(2x) = value of 25-cent pieces
4x = number of 5-cent pieces 5(4x) = value of 5-cent pieces
100 = number of 1-cent pieces 1(100) = value of 1-cent pieces


Fifteen dollars equals 1500 cents.

50x + 2x(10) + 2x(25) + 4x(5) + 100 =1500

50x + 20x + 50x 20x + 100 = 1500

140x = 1400


x = 10

2x = 20

2x = 20

4x = 40


Phoebe has 10 50 cents pieces, 20 10 cents pieces, 20 25 cents pieces, 40 5 cents pieces and 100 1 cent pieces.


10(50 cents) = $5

20(10 cents) = 2

20(25 cents) = 5

40(5 cents) = 2

100(1 cent) = 1


Total = $15


  1. A collection of 36 coins consists of nickels, dimes, and quarters. There are three fewer quarters than nickels and six more dimes than quarters. How many of each kind of coin are there?

Let  x = number of quarters (there are fewer quarters)

x + 3 = number of nickels

x + 6 = number of dimes

Here we do not change to cents because the number of coins is given.


x + (x + 3) + (x + 6) = 36

3x + 9 = 36

3x = 27


x = 9 quarters

x + 3 = 12 nickels

x + 6 = 15 dimes


9 +12 + 15 = 36

36 = 36



  1. The cash drawer of the Greasy Spoon Cafe contains $227 in bills. There are six more $5 bills than $10 bills. The number of $1 bills is two more than 24 times the number of $10 bills. How many bills of each kind are there?

Let: x= number of dollars in $10 bills.

5(x + 6) = number of dollars in $5 bills.

24x + 2 = number of dollars in $1 bills.


10x + 5(x + 6) + 24x + 2 = 227

10x + 5x + 30 + 24x + 2 = 227

39x + 32 = 227

39x = 195


x = 5

x + 6 = 11

24x + 2 = 122


10(5) + 5(11) + 24(5) + 2 = 227

50 + 55 + 120 + 2 = 227

227 = 227


  1. Lois Lane went to the drugstore. She bought a bottle of aspirin and a bottle of Tylenol. The aspirin cost $1.25 more than the Tylenol. She also bought cologne which cost twice as much as the total of the other two combined. How much did each cost if her total (without tax) was $24.75?

Let x = cost in cents of Tylenol

x + 125 = cost in cents of aspirin

2(x + x + 125) = cost in cents of cologne


x + x + 125 + 2(2x + 125) = 2475

2x + 125 +4x + 250 + 2475

6x + 375 + 2475

6x = 2100


x = 350

x + 125 = 475

2(2x + 125) = 1650


3.50 + 4.75 + 16.50 = 24.75

24.75 = 24.75



  1. Superman bought some gum and some candy. The number of packages of gum was one more than the number of mints. The number of mints was three times the number of candy bars. If gum was 24 cents a package, mints were 10 cents each, and candy bars were 35 cents each, how many of each did he get for $5.72?

Let x = number of 35 cent candy bars

3x = number of 10 cent mints

3x + 1 = the number of 24 cent packages of gum

Value in Cents

35x = cents for candy bar

10(3x) = cents for mints

24(3x+1)= cents for gum


35x + 10(3x) + 24(3x+1) = 572

35x + 30x + 72x + 24= 572

137x + 24 = 572

137x = 548


x = 4

3x = 12

3x + 1 = 13


4(35) + 12(10) + 13(24) = 572

140 + 120 + 312 + = 572

572 = 572



  1. Clay Potts had $50 to buy his groceries. He needed milk at $1.95 a carton, bread at $2.39 a loaf, breakfast cereal at $3.00 a box, and meat at $5.39 a pound. He bought twice as many cartons of milk as loaves of bread and one more package of cereal than loaves of bread. He also bought the same number of pounds of meat as packages of cereal. How many of each item did he pur­chase if he received $12.25 in change?

Let x = number of loaves of bread at $2.39 each

2x = number of cartons of milk at $1.95 each

x + 1 =number of packages of cereal at $3.00 each

x + 1 = number of pounds of meat at $5.39 each

Cost in cents

239x = cost of bread

195(2x) = cost of milk

300(x + 1) = cost of cereal

539(x + 1) = cost of meat


239x + 195(2x) + 300(x + 1) + 539(x + 1) = 5000 – 1225

239x + 390x + 300x + 300 + 539x + 539 = 3775

1468x + 839 = 3775

1468x = 2936


x = 2

2x = 4                                                                    

x + 1 = 3

x + 1 = 3


169(2) + 130(4) + 200(3) + 359(3) = 3500 – 1225

338 + 520 + 600 + 1077 = 2535

2535 = 2535



  1. Mr. Merrill has 3 times as many nickels as dimes. The coins have a total value of $1.50. How many of each coin does he have?

Let n = number of nickels.

Let d = number of dimes.

n = 3d

.05n + .10d = 1.50

Multiply through by 100

5n + 10d = 150

Use (n = 3d) and sub in 3d for n

5n + 10d = 150

5(3d) + 10d = 150

15d + 10d = 150

25d = 150

d = 6


There are 6 dimes and 18 nickels

6 dimes equals 60 cents and 18 nickels equals 90 cents

60 cents and 90 cents = $1.50


  1. Ms. Lynch has 21 coins in nickels and dimes. Their total value is $1.65. How many of each coin does she have?

Let n = number of nickels.

Let d = number of dimes.

n + d = 21

.05n + .10d = $1.65

Multiply through by 100

5n + 10d = 165

Multiply first equation by -5

-5n + -5d = -105

Add both equations

5n + 10d = 165


-5n -5d = -105


5d = 60

d = 12


Ms. Lynch has 12 dimes and 9 nickels.

12 dimes equals $1.20 and 9 nickels equals 45 cents

$1.20 and 45 cents = $1.65.



  1. A vending machine that takes only dimes and quarters contains 30 coins, with a total value of $4.20. How many of each coin are there?

Let d = number of dimes.

Let q = number of quarters.

d + q = 30

.10d + .25q = $4.20

Multiply through by 100

10d + 25q = 420

Multiply first equation by -10

-10d + -10q = -300

Add both equations

10d + 25q = 420


-10d + -10q = -300


15q = 120

q = 8


The vending machine has 8 quarters and 22 dimes.

8 quarters equals $2.00 and 22 dimes equals $2.20

$2.00 and  $2.20 equals $4.20


  1. The total value of the $1 bills and $5 bills in a cash box is $124. There are 8 more $5 bills than $1 bills. How many of each are there?

Let x = number of one dollar bills

Let f = number of five dollar bills.

1x + 5f = 124

x + 8 = f

Substitute (x+ 8) for f in the first equation.

1x + 5(x + 8) = 124

x + 5x + 40 = 124

6x + 40 = 124

6x = 84

x = 14


There are 14 one dollar bills and 22 five dollar bills.

$14 + $110 = $124


  1. A collection of nickels and quarters amounts to $2.60. There are 16 coins in all. How many of each coin are there?

Let n = number of nickels

Let q = number of quarters.

n + q = 16

.05n + .25q = $2.60

Multiply through by 100

5n + 25q = 260

Multiply first equation by -5

-5n + – 5q = -80

Add both equations

5n + 25q = 260


-5n + – 5q = -80


20q = 180

q = 9 and n = 7


The collection contains 9 quarters ($2.25) and 7 nickels (.35)







  1. Joe Lick bought some 20-cent and 25-cent stamps. He bought 32 stamps in all, and paid $7.40 for them. How many stamps of each kind did he buy?

Let x = number of 20 cent stamps

Let y = number of 25 cent stamps

x + y = 32

.20x + .25y = $7.40

Multiply through by 100

20x + 25y = 740

Multiply first equation by -20

-20x + -20y = -640

Add both equations

20x + 25y = 740


-20x + -20y = -640


5y = 100

y = 20 and x = 12


Joe lick has 20 25 cent stamps (5.00) and 12 20 cent stamps ($2.40)








  1. For a school play, 340 tickets valued at $810 were sold. Some cost $2 and some cost $3. How many tickets of each kind were sold?

Let x = number of two dollar tickets.

Let y = number of three dollar tickets.

x + y = 340

$2x + $3y = $810

Multiply first equation by -2

-2x + -2y = -680

Add both equations

2x + 3y = 810


-2x + -2y = -680


y = 130 and x = 210


The school play sold 210 two dollar tickets ($420) and 130 three dollar tickets ($390)







  1. Romeo bought a mixture of 20-cent, 35-cent, and 50-cent valentines. The number of 20-cent valentines was 1 more than twice the number of 35-cent valentines, and the number of 50-cent valentines was 2 less than the number of 35-cent ones. If he spent $4.20 all together, how many valentines of each kind did he buy?

Let x = number of 20 cent stamps.

Let y = number of 35 cent stamps

Let z = number of 50 cent stamps

x = 2y + 1

z = y – 2

.20x + .35y + .50z = 4.20

Multiply third equation through by 100

20x + 35y + 50z = 420

Substitute x = 2y + 1 into third equation

Substitute z = y – 2 into third equation

20x + 35y + 50z = 420

20(2y + 1) + 35y + 50(y – 2) = 420

40y + 20 + 35y + 50y – 100 = 420

125y – 80 = 420

125y = 500

y = 4 and x = 9  and z = 2


Romeo purchased nine 20 cent stamps (1.80), four 35 cent stamps (1.40), and two 50 cent stamps (1.00).







4.20 or $4.20


Age Word Problems

Age Word Problems

  1. Sid Upp’s father is four times as old as Tip. Five years ago he was seven times as old. Find the absolute value of the difference of the ages now.


Let x = Sid’s age now   (smaller number)

4x = father’s age now

The problem tells you about their ages at another time. Five years ago your age would be 5 less than your age now.


x – 5 = Sid’s age 5 years ago

4x – 5 = father’s age 5 years ago

Five years ago he was seven times as old (as he was)

4x – 5 = 7(x – 5)

4x – 5 = 7x – 35

4x = 7x – 30

-3x = -30

Divide both sides of the equation by 3

x = 10


Sid is 10 and the father is 40.


  1. Abbott is 6 years older than Costello. Six years ago Abbott was twice as old as Costello. How old is each now?


Let x = Costello’s age now   (smaller number)

x + 6 = Abbott’s age now


x – 6 = Costello’s age 6 years ago

(x + 6) – 6 = Abbott’s age 6 years ago

Six years ago she was twice as old as him.


(x + 6) – 6 = 2(x – 6)

x = 2x – 12

-x = -12

x = 12 and x + 6 = 18


Costello is 12 and Abbott is 18.


  1. Willie’s Father is 26 years older than Willie. In 10 years, the sum of their ages will be 80. What are their present ages?



Let x = Willie’s age now.

Let x + 26 = Father’s age now.

In 10 Years

x + 10 = Willie’s age in 10 years

(x + 26) + 10 = Father’s age in 10 years


x + 10 + (x + 26) + 10 = 80

2x + 46 = 80

x = 17 and x + 26 = 43


Willie is 17 now.

Willie’s father is 43 now.


  1. Tess T. Fye is twice as old as Inda Cates. If 8 is subtracted from Inda Cate’s age and 4 is added to Tess T. Fye’s age, Tess T. Fye will then be four times as old as Inda Cates. Find their ages.


Let x = Inda Cates age now.

Let 2x = Tess T. Fye’s age now.


x – 8 = 8 subtracted from Inda Cate’s age.

2x + 4 = 4 added to Tess T. Fye’s age.


2x +  4 = 4(x – 8)

2x + 4 = 4x – 32

-2x = -36

x = 18

2x = 36


Tess T. Fye’s age is 36 years.

Inda Cate’s age is 18 years.

  1. A man is four times as old as his son. In 3 years, the father will be three times as old as his son. How old is each now?


Let x = son’s age now.

Let 4x = Father’s age now.

In 3 Years:

x + 3 = son’s age in 3 years

4x + 3 = father’s age in 3 years

In 3 years, the father will be three times as old as his son.


4x + 3 = 3(x + 3)

4x + 3 = 3x + 9

x = 6 and 4x = 24


The father’s age now is 24 years.

The son’s age now is 6 years.

  1. Robin Banks is 8 years older than Willie Catchup. Twenty years ago Robin was three times as old as Willie. How old is each now?

Let w = Willie’s age now.

Let w + 8 Robin’s age now.


w – 20 = Willie’s age 20 years ago.

(w + 8) – 20 = Robin’s age 20 years ago.


(w + 8) – 20 = 3(w – 20)

w -12 = 3w – 60

-2w = -48

w = 24 and w + 8 = 32


Willy is 24 and Robin is 32.

  1. Bill Dupp’s is twice as old as Doug Upp. If 16 is added to Doug’s age and 16 is subtracted from Bill’s age, their ages will then be equal. What are their present ages?


Doug’s age = x

Bill’s age = 2x

Bill Dupp is twice as old as Doug Upp.


2x – 16 = Bill’s current age

x + 16 = Doug’s current age

If 16 is added to Doug’s age and 16 is subtracted from Bill’s age they will be equal.


2x – 16 = x + 16

2x = x + 32

x = 32


Doug Dupps is 32 and Bill Dupp is 64.


  1. In 4 years Calvin’s age will be the same as Hobbes’s age now. In 2 years, Hobbes will be twice as old as Calvin. Find their ages now.


Let x = Hobbes’s age now.

x – 4 = Calvin’s age now.

In 2 years time, Hobbes’s age is x + 2

In 2 years time, Calvin’s age is (x – 4) + 2

The problem tells you about their ages at another time. Two years later your age would be 2 more than your age now.


x + 2 = 2[(x – 4) + 2]

x + 2 = 2x – 8 + 4

x + 2 = 2x – 4

x = 6 and x – 4 = 2


So Calvin’s age is 2 and Hobbes’s age is 6.


  1. Justin Case is twice as old as her daughter Jewell. Ten years ago the sum of their ages was 46 years. How old is Justin?


Let x = Jewell’s age
2x = Justin’s age

The problem talked about their age at another time which was ten years ago. So, that would be less than 10 because it was ten years ago.
x – 10 = Jewell’s age ten years ago
2x – 10 = Justin’s age ten years ago.

Ten years ago the sum of their ages was 46.


x – 10 + 2x – 10 = 46

3x – 20 = 46

3x = 66


x = 22


Jewell’s age is 22 and Justin’s is 44.

  1. A Roman statue is three times as old as a Florentine statue. One hundred years from now the Roman statue will be twice as old. How old is the Roman statue?



Let the Florentine statue = x

Let the Roman statue = 3x

In 100 years

The age of the Florentine statue = x + 100

The age of the roman statute =  3x + 100


3x + 100 = 2(x + 100)

3x + 100 = 2x + 200

x = 100

3x = 300


The age of the Florentine statue is 100 now.

The age of the roman statute is 300 now.

  1. Butch Err’s age in 20 years will be the same as Janet’s age is now. Ten years from now, Janet’s age will be twice Butch’s. What are their present ages?



Let Butch’s age= X+20

Let Janet’s age= X

10 Years From Now

Let Butch’s age = X + 30

Let Janet’s age = X + 10


x + 30 = 2(x + 10)

x + 30 = 2x + 20

10 = x


Butch Err’s age now is 10 years.

Janet’s age now is 30 years.


  1. Moe Tell’s age is three times Fran Tick’s. If 20 is added to Fran’s age and 20 is subtracted from Moe’s, their ages will be equal. How old is each now?


Let x = Fran Tick’s age now.

Let 3x = Moe Tell’s age now.


Moe’s age = 3x – 20

Fran’s age = x + 20

If 20 is added to Fran’s age and 20 is subtracted from Moe’s then their ages will be equal.


3x – 20 = x + 20

3x= x + 40

2x = 40

x = 20 and 3x = 60


Moe Tell’s age is 60 and Fran Tick’s age is 20 years old.



  1. Andy is twice as old as Kate, In 6 years, their ages will total 60. How old is each now?


Let a = Andy’s age now.

Let k = Kate’s age now.


a = 2k


(a+6) + (k+6) = 60


Substitute a for 2k




(2k + 6) + (k+6) = 60


Combine Like Terms


3k + 12 = 60


3k = 48


k = 16


a = 32




Andy is 32 years old and Kate is 16 years old.


  1. Mrs. Wang is 23 years older than her daughter. In 5 years, their ages will total 63. How old are they now?



Let w = Mrs. Wang’s age now.

Let d = daughter’s age now.

w = d + 23

d + 5 + w + 5 = 63 or d + w + 10 = 63 or d + w = 53

d + w + = 53

w = d + 23

d + (d + 23) = 53

2d + 23 = 53

2d = 30

d = 15 and w = 38


The daughter is 15 and Mrs. Wang is 38.

  1. Matthew is 3 times as old as Jenny. In 7 years, he will be twice as old as she will be then. How old is each now?




Let Matthew’s age = 3j

Let Jenny’s age = j

7 Years From Now

3j + 7 = 2(j + 7)


3j + 7 = 2(j + 7)

3j + 7 = 2j + 14

j + 7 = 14

j = 7


Matthew’s age is 21 and Jenny’s age= 7

  1. Juan is 8 years older than his sister. In 3 years, he will be twice as old as she will be then. How old are they now?


Let j = Juan’s age now.

Let s = sister’s age now.


j  = s + 8


j + 3 = 2(s + 3)


Substitute s + 8 for j




(s + 8) + 3 = 2(s + 3)


s + 11 = 2s + 6


-s + 11 = 6


-s = -5


s = 5




Juan is 13


His sister is 5


  1. Melissa is 24 years Younger than Joyce. In 2 years, Joyce will be 3 times as old as Melissa will be then. How old are they now?



Let m = Melissa’s age now

Let j = Joyce’s age now


j = m + 24

j + 2 = 3 (m + 2)

Substitute m + 24 for j


(m + 24) + 2 = 3 (m + 2)

m + 22 = 3m + 2

-2m = -20

m = 10


Joyce is 34 years old

Melissa is 10 years old


  1. Tom is 4 years Older than Jerry. Nine years ago Tom was 5 times as old as Jerry was then. How old is each now?



Let t = Tom’s age now.

Let j = Jerry’s age now.


t = j + 4

t + 9 = 5(j + 9)

Substitute (j + 4) for t.


(j + 4) – 9 = 5 (j – 9)

j – 5 = 5j – 45

j = 5j – 40

– 4j = – 40

– j = – 10

j = 10


t = 14

j = 10

Tome is 14 and Jerry is 10 now.


  1. Kathy is 6 years younger than Bill. Twelve years ago, Bill was twice as old as Kathy Was then. How old are they now?


Let k = Kathy’s age now.

Let b = Bill’s age now.


k + 6 = b

2(k – 12) = b – 12

Substitute (k + 6) for b.



2(k – 12) = (k + 6) – 12

2k – 24 = k – 6

k – 24 = -6

k = 18


k = 18

b = 24

Kathy is 18 and Bill is 24 now.

12 years ago Kathy was 6 and Bill was 12


  1. Dr. Garcia is twice as old as his son. Twenty years ago, he was 4 times as old as his Son was then How old are they now?


Let g = Dr. Garcia’s age now.

Let s = son’s age now.


2s = g

g – 20 = 4(s-20)

Substitute 2s for g.


2s – 20 = 4(s-20)

2s – 20 = 4s-80

-20 = 2s – 80

60 = 2s

s = 30


s = 30

g = 60

The son is 30 now and Dr. Garcia is 60 now.

20 years ago the son was 10 and Dr. Garcia was 40

  1. Mr. Klinker is 35 and his daughter is 10. In how many years will Mr. Klinker be twice as old as his daughter?


Let k = Mr. Klinker’s age now.

Let d = Daughter’s age now.


k + x = 2( d + x)

Replace k with 35 and d with 10


35 + x = 20 + 2x

35 + x = 20 + 2x

35 = 20 + x

15 = x

x = 15


In 15 years, Mr. Klinker will be 50, and his daughter will be 25, thus making Mr. Klinker twice his daughter’s age.


  1. George is 7 and his mother is 37. In how many years will his mother be 3 times as old as he is?


Let g = George’s age now.

Let m = mother’s age now.


g + x = 3(m + x)

Replace g with 7, and m with 37.


37 + x = 3(7+x)

37 + x = 21 + 3x

37 = 21 + 2x

16 = 2x

x = 8


In 8 years, George’s mother will be 3 times older than him.


  1. Pete is 14 and his grandfather is 54. How many years ago was his grandfather 6 times as old as Pete?


Let p = Pete’s age now.

Let g = grandfather’s age now.


6(p – x) = g – x

Replace p with 14, and g with 54.

6(14 – x) = 54 – x

84 – 6x = 54 – x

84 = 54 + 5x

30 = 5x

x = 6


6 years ago Pete was 8 and the grandfather was 48.


  1. Dorothy is 14 years younger than Rita. Ten years ago, Rita was 3 times as old as Dorothy was then. How old is each now?


Let d = Dorothy’s age now

Let r = Rita’s age now


d + 14 = r

r – 10 = 3(d – 10)

Replace r with d + 14


r – 10 = 3(d – 10)

d + 14 – 10 = 3(d – 10)

d + 4 = 3d – 30

4 = 2d – 30

2d = 34

d = 17


Dorothy is 17 and Rita is 31.


10 years ago Dorothy was 7 and Rita was 21.


  1. Ms. Ford is 48 and Ms. Lincoln is 35. How many years ago was Ms. Ford exactly twice as old as Ms. Lincoln?


Let f = Ms. Ford’s age now

Let l = Ms. Lincoln’s age now


2(f –  x) = l – x

Replace f with 48, and l with 35.


f –  x = 2(l – x)

48 –  x = 2(35 – x)

48 – x = 70 – 2x

48 + x = 70


x = 22



In 22 years ago , Ms. Ford’s was 26 and Ms. Lincoln’s was 13.



  1. Steve is 5 times as old as Janis. In 12 years, he will be twice as old as she will be then. How old are they now?



Let s = Steve’s age now

Let j = Janis’s age now

s = 5j

Then (In 12 Years)

(s + 12) = 2(j + 12)


s = 5j

(s + 12) = 2(j + 12)

(5j + 12) = 2(j + 12)

5j + 12 = 2j + 24

3j = 12

j = 4 so s = 32


Janis’s age is 4 and Steve’s age is 32.


  1. Mary is 4 years older than Toni. Sam is twice as old as Mary. The sum of their three ages is 8 times Toni’s age. How old are they?.



Let m = Mary’s age now.

Let t = Toni’s age now.

Let s = Sam’s age now.

t + 4 = m

s = 2m

m + t + s = 8t

Replace m with (t + 4)

Replace s with 2m and then replace the m in 2m with (t + 4)


(t + 4) + t + 2m = 8t

(t + 4) + t + 2(t+ 4) = 8t

t + 4 + t + 2t + 8 = 8t

4t + 12 = 8t

4t = 12

t = 3


Toni is 3

Mary is 7

Sam is 14

3 + 7 + 14 = 8(3)

24 = 24



  1. Larry is 8 years older than his sister. In 3 years, he will be twice as old as she is now. How old are they now?



Let l = Larry’s age now

Let s = sister’s age now

s + 8 = l

2(s + 3) = l + 3

Replace l with s + 8

2(s + 3) = l + 3

2(s + 3) = (s + 8) + 3

2s + 6 = s + 11

s + 6 = 11

s = 5


Larry is 13 and his sister is 5

In 3 years Larry will be 16 and his sister will be 8.



  1. Barry is 8 years older than his sister. In 3 years, he will be twice as old as she will be then. How old is each now?




Let b = Barry’s age now.

Let s = sister’s age now

b = 8 + s

Then (In 3 Years)

(b + 3) = 2(s + 3)


b = 8 + s

(b + 3) = 2(s + 3)

s + 11 = 2s + 6

11 = s + 6

s = 5


Barry is 13 and his sister is 5.


  1. Jennifer is 6 years older than Sue. In 4 years, she will be twice as old as Sue was 5 years ago. Find their ages now.




Let j = Jennifer’s age now.

Let s = Sue’s age now

j = s + 6

Then (In 4 Years)

j + 4 = 2(s – 5)


(s + 6) + 4 = 2(s – 5)

s + 10 = 2s – 10

10 = s – 10

20 = s

s = 20


Sue is 20 and Jennifer is 26.


  1. Adam is 5 years younger than Eve. In 1 year, Eve will be three times as old as Adam was 4 years ago. Find their ages now.



Let a = Adam’s age now.

Let e = Eve’s age now

a + 5 = e

Then (In 1 Years)

3(a – 4) = e + 1


3(a – 4) = e + 1

Replace e with (a + 5)

3(a – 4) = a + 5 + 1

3a – 12 = a + 6

2a – 12 = 6

2a = 18

a = 9


Adam is 9 and Eve is 14

In one year Eve will be 15 and 4 years ago Adam was 5.



  1. Jack is twice as old as Jill. In 2 years, Jack will be 4 times as old as Jill was 9 years ago. How old are they now?



Let j = Jack’s age now.

Let x = Jill’s age now

j = 2x

Then (In 2 Years)

j + 2 = 4(x – 9)


j + 2 = 4(x – 9)

(2x) + 2 = 4(x – 9)

2x + 2 = 4x – 36

2 = 2x – 36

38 = 2x

x = 19


Jill is 19 and Jack is 38.


  1. Four years ago, Katie was twice as old as Anne was then. In 6 years, Anne will be the same age that Katie is now. How old is each now?



Let k = Katie’s age now.

Let a = Anne’s age now

k – 4 = 2(a – 4)

k = a + 6


k – 4 = 2(a – 4)

Replace k with (a + 6)

(a + 6) – 4 = 2(a – 4)

a + 2 = 2a – 8

2 = a – 8

a = 10


Anne is 10 and Katie is 16

In 6 years Anne will be 16 and Katie is 16 now.

4 years ago Anne was 6 and Katie was 12


34. Five years ago. Tom was one third as old as his father was then. In 5 years Tom will be half as old as his father will be then. Find their ages now.



Let t = Tom’s age now.

Let f = Father’s age now

3(t – 5) = f – 5

2(t + 5) = f + 5


2 equations

3(t – 5) = f – 5

2(t + 5) = f + 5

First equation

3(t – 5) = f – 5

3t – 15 = f – 5

Second equation

2(t + 5) = f + 5

2t + 10  = f + 5

Solve second equation for f

2t + 10  = f + 5

2t + 5 = f

Substatute f form second equation for f in first equation

3t – 15 = (2t + 5) – 5


3t – 15 = 2t

t = 15


Tom is 15 and his Father is 35.

Five years ago Tom was 10 and his Father was 30. Tom will be 1/3 his father’s age.

In 5 years Tom will be 20 and his Father will be 40. Tom will be half his father’s a