2 Years ago today Much was made about Barrack Obama’s 2nd inauguration being on MLK day and the parallels between the two men that will be drawn. There is an obvious parallel with both having black heritage, and ultimately King’s work as a civil rights activist was unquestionably the driving force that allowed a man of African-American descent to be elected to the highest office in the land. But sadly that day was not the culmination of Kings dream but a radical deviation from where MLK would have wanted his lifes work to go.
MLK is of course known for his civil rights advocacy but the part of his life that gets white washed was his anti US militarism and imperialism. While it is erased today it was criticized then, even his supporters complained that his anti-war activism was “taking away” from his civil rights positions. On April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City, one year to the day before he was murdered, MLK gave a speech where he stated the criticism of his supporters,(“Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask?”), and responded by stating that ending US Militarism and Imperialism was not independent of his staunch Civil rights stance but a necessary prerequisite to justice for all people on this earth. In that speech, King called the US government:
“the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today… the war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit… A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom… it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war.”
MLK concluded that speech by saying:
“If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over.”
You could easily change the word “Vietnam” for “Afghanistan”. You should, because Obama won’t.
MLK’s stinging US criticism made him the target of not only racist white southerners but of the FBI and their notorious COINTELPRO program. Yes the official US Government response was to investigate MLK as if he was a terrorist. The FBI went as far as to send a letter to MLK calling him a fraud and imploring him to kill himself just before receiving his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.
So here we stand today. The man whose Militaristic policy stands in staunch opposition to MLK’s peace activism. The man who leads the greatest surveillance state in the world spying on its own citizens claiming the mantle of the man who was targeted by the FBI’s domestic spying apparatus. A man who flubs his own speeches when the teleprompter cuts off in contrast to the man who is the closest thing America ever had to a Cicero. A man surrounded by impenetrable security vs. a man who had to worry if there will be another burning cross on the lawn or if shots will puncture his house again tonight for speaking the truth. A man who broke the Presidential golfing record in his 1st term vs. the man who wasn’t allowed around a Golf course. And I’m fairly certain Coretta Scott-King never dipped into church funds to take lavish vacations.
Obama placed his hand on MLK’s Bible to take the oath of office. His hand shouldn’t touch that Bible, he’s not even fit to carry MLK’s shoes…