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Reminding the Pentagon on Martin Luther King day, there is no justice in war

January 17, 2011

Today America honors one of the greatest visionaries they have ever seen.  A man who fought for revolution, for justice and freedom with no more than his words, his empathy and his soul as his weapon.  He believed not in action through violence but in action through protest, through talking, through appealing to the better nature of others.

That man is Dr Martin Luther King Jnr.

I’m not going to write lots today regarding King – history has done him more justice than I could ever do, but I did want to dedicate today to reminding people of today that despite their attempts to rewrite history, to redefine what King stood for, history, the man’s own words prove them wrong.

Case in point: On January 13 this year Defense Department general counsel Jeh Johnson announced that Martin Luther King would have supported the current wars the US are in. He said:

“I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation’s military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack,”

Of course, he believes is very different from what may be true.  King was a vehement opponent of the Vietnam war and I have addressed this piece with a speech Martin Luther King gave, in the image above.

Many condemned Johnson’s words including Jeremy Scahill who said it was:

“[o]ne of the most despicable attempts at revisionist use of Martin Luther King Jr. I’ve ever seen.”

Salon’s Justin Elliott, pointed to King’s A Time To Break Silence speech, from where I have lifted my own quote above (you can hear it here). Elliott says King’s;  “political philosophy, as outlined in his landmark 1967 speech against the Vietnam war, strongly suggests that he would be an opponent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, for that matter, the secret wars in Yemen and Pakistan.”

King called the US “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” and said: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

The idea that King would support the wars of today therefore is an interesting opinion, but King himself shows that opinion may be very wrong. It not only amazes me that someone would think this true but that they would, as an official of the Pentagon, think America would have so easily forgotten the positions King did stand for.

As Alternet writes:

No, it’s safe to say that Dr. King would not regard any conflict that killed 10,000 people in a year as a humanitarian exercise. Nor would he “understand” how a nation in the grip of an economic meltdown like this one could again throw lives and resources away for almost a decade. It’s safe to say that he would move beyond the “prophesying of smooth patriotism” and stand up to end this war that’s not making us safer and that’s not worth the cost.

Martin Luther King was a peaceful man, who is admired for his continuance on that path no matter the anger he faced in opposition to himself – he kept on a path to peace as a viable means to an endgame because he was a man of principles.  Today America remembers the man who was the blueprint for social activism through nonviolence.

I have added as a tribute, a video from Linkin Park’s official site, a song called “Wisdom Justice and Love” which uses the words I have referenced from King. Enjoy.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. afrankangle permalink
    January 19, 2011 11:52 am

    Thanks for the unique look at Dr. King … I say unique b/c you’ve done this in a different way. Heck, finding these modern-day references is a feat in itself. And yes, I can’t see how Dr. King would approve of the current conflicts.

    • January 19, 2011 12:09 pm

      Thank you Frank. AS I said in my piece many others have spoken greater words than I ever could – I just wanted to highlight, using King, that we subvert history at our peril and for someone to try and claim King, anti war through his life, would support these two, one of which is illegal – well they have to be called out on that – it damages the good King did.


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