BEYOND THE CLICHES
I honestly hope that referencing Dr. Martin Luther King’s Beyond Vietnam speech has become a cliche in the blogosphere, and I hope that my doing it here is adding to an overbearing weight. The Republicans are trying their best to co-opt Dr. King’s words in order to grease the social wheels of their nefarious schemes. Of course, true to form, the Democrats are saying little of consequence in response. It is up to us out here in the electronic realm to let the truth of Dr. King’s words echo between us. If all we have now is to remind ourselves of what is real and what should be, then that is where we must begin.
The speech was given exactly one year to the day before he was assassinated, and only a fuzzy-brained fool would choose to believe that there was no connection between the stance outlined in the speech and Dr. King’s murder. If you have never read this speech before, it is important to understand that it was not well received by the establishment at the time, nor is it widely circulated today. Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! sums it up this way:
Time magazine called the speech “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi,” and the Washington Post declared that King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”
Despite the negativity from the mainstream corporate press, Dr. King’s speech was incredibly relevant as well as strikingly prophetic. I urge you to go and read it, even if you have already.
…The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality [applause], and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. [sustained applause] So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru…