At the end of the month, he gave a shorter version at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Between the two, on April 15th, he attended what was then the largest protest against the Vietnam War, in New York City, where he stated:
I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. There are people who have come to see the moral imperative of equality, but who cannot yet see the moral imperative of world brotherhood. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civil-rights and peace movements. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both.At the time King made these speeches, the United States was spending about 21% of the world share of annual military expenditures. Last year - 45 years later - our share of global military spending for a country's own defense was 43%. Under President Obama, we recently set a world record for arms exports to other nations - almost $8.7 billion. Mostly to countries who would be far better off spending these funds on education, infrastructure and green economic development.
Having saturated countries surrounding Iran with unneeded military equipment and systems over the past four years, Obama is now courting southeast Asian nations with the same weapons and systems, touting fear of China as the sales pitch.
Writing today about MLK's April 4,1967 speech, Glenn Greenwald notes:
Citing the massive violence brought by the US to the world, King urged: "How can they trust us when now we . . . charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions." Anticipating the predictable smears of him that he knew were coming from making this argument - from pointing out the US's own responsibility for the violence and extremism it claimed to be fighting - he said: "We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who . . . recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days."
But a citizenry whose "soul becomes totally poisoned" by endless war is incapable of considering nonviolence as an alternative. It loses its capacity for empathy (to understand what motivates others' actions), for self-assessment (to acknowledge the role one's own actions play in perpetuating this violence), for rationality (to consider whether those being killed are actually implacable foes), and for communion (to see "the enemy" as anything more than dehumanized Others who must be extinguished). Thus do we hear - in the face of endless reports of dead children and innocent adults from US violence - this morally stunted defense: I can't think of an alternative other than boots on the ground. That's the mantra of a degraded citizenry trained to recite from a script of endless war.Indeed, our pro-war mindset has numbed us to almost too many things to list. Non-response to the real dangers of climate change, degradation of lands and oceans through insane agricultural practices that poison each almost irremediably, decaying nuclear plants and the ticking time bombs of nuclear waste in spent fuel pools, top my list.
Of course, none of these dangers came up in Obama's second inaugural speech today. After all, it was partially paid for by Exxon-Mobil ($260,000), a company that has spent more than any other to create disinformation and lies about the seriousness of climate change:
A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists offers the most comprehensive documentation to date of how ExxonMobil has adopted the tobacco industry's disinformation tactics, as well as some of the same organizations and personnel, to cloud the scientific understanding of climate change and delay action on the issue. According to the report, ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science.I watched Obama's uninspired speech this morning. Afterward, I cleansed my mind, listening to both of King's April, 1967 speeches, which damned so fully the war empire Obama epitomizes.
It is very sad that had it not been for King's sacrifice, Obama might not have ever made it to the podium where he could perform for the elite today as the ultimate Uncle Tom.
Martin Luther King at Riverside Church:
Martin Luther King at Ebenezer Baptist Church: