Written on the Forty-fifth Anniversary of the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
home, on TV, American kids watch machine gun thrillers and news videos
of US soldiers and planes killing bad guys in six or seven countries at a
time. ln school they learn that in 1968, beloved national hero Martin
Luther King Jr. was shot dead by a man who hated black people.
should check how many schoolchildren get to learn the words that Martin
King Jr. cried out in solemn and serious outrage, one year to the day
before he was murdered; words that made headlines across the whole
world. King condemned US wars and covert violence in small nations on
three continents as meant to maintain unjust predatory investments!
"The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government.
For the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.
across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing
huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the
profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the country.
This is a role our nation has taken, " refusing to give up the
privileges and the pleasures
that comes from the immense profits of overseas investments " This is
not just " our alliance with the landed gentry of South America, "This
is not just."
King went on speaking of the Vietnamese suffering during the then ongoing US undeclared war in Vietnam:
have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. They move
sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers
into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They
know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs ... primarily women
and children and the aged watch as we poison their water, as we kill a
million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar
through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander
into the hospitals. So far we may have killed a million of them, [in
Vietnam by 1967] mostly children. They wander into the towns and see
thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes,
running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children
degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children
selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers."-"-
do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we
refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform?
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do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the
Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration
camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim
to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?
have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and
the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We
have cooperated in the crushing -- in the crushing of the unified
Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of
A time comes when silence is betrayal. I have moved to
break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of
my own heart " to move beyond smooth patriotism to firm dissent based
conscience and the reading of history."
Bring up these words of
King's in conversation with people who are under sixty, and likely as
not, the listener will look confused or even angry that you are saying
something awful about the most honored American of our time.
forty-five years US corporate owned and operated media, promoting and
justifying all US wars, has made sure that not only American children,
but the rest of its world-wide audience as well, hear or read nothing of
King's blistering condemnation of US wars in small countries of the
third world during his sermon on April 4th, 1967.
who were children at the time not be astounded to learn that the day
after King thundered about a US history of atrocities, one hundred and
sixty-eight major newspapers had denounced King, some with venom, the
New York Times and Washington Post among the most insulting of King for
his condemnation of undeclared US wars.
(To this writers
knowledge, none of these newspapers has ever printed a retraction or
apology, even when King's birthday was made a public holiday - presently
the only America so honored. This attacking
King seems small compared to the crimes against humanity of US media
having, in lock-step, promoted and justified the US war in Vietnam and
every subsequent undeclared war.)
In the America that today
dutifully supports the undeclared wars begun now by a black president no
less, the blackout of King the condemner of his governments "atrocity
wars" has become literally absolute.
Unions, whose members have
marched against the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan refuse to
endorse a campaign for international awareness that King Condemned US
Wars, a campaign already endorsed by progressive celebrities and
virtually every sincere peace and antiwar organization in the country.
two large unions in New York, 1199 International Service Workers and
Local 802 Musicians Union, AFL, whose auditoriums are often used by
antiwar and anti-nuke events, decline. After months of contacting
officials, as advised by its well known president,
the final rebuff came, "" not at this time." But if one enters the
lobby of the 1199 building, one is likely see and hear a large TV set
playing a tape of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech on civil rights.
tabu is the subject of King's heartfelt call for America to halt its
homicidal violence in Vietnam, that the two men who had held the dying
King in their arms, Andrew Young and Jesse Jackson during their long
speeches at the unveiling of the King Monument in Washington, made no
mention of King's condemnation of his nation's undeclared wars. (One
notes that surely this was a grievous example of a betrayal by omission,
a silence of betrayal, betrayal of country and of King and his
dedication as a minister.)
Would it not seem strange to learn,
that during all these years, mainstream media had at not found the
either brave or outrageous moments of the last year of a famous
personality like King, worthy of
exploring and human interest discussion? Suspicious, right? Must be an
important reason behind such a complete blackout of history. Slowly, one
might mull over how tightly tied media has become tied to the military
and corporate governance supported undeclared wars.
begin to imagine that investors in war on Wall Street must have been
relieved that King was stopped from carrying through his intention to
stop a Vietnam war that was at the time only half-way through. The
question might arise, was it fortunate for investors that King's antiwar
crusade was stopped in its tracks or was it necessary that he be
From here, it is only one step away from beginning to
question the flimsy and fantastic official story of King's murder.
(Shades of the JFK assassination story that includes the stranger than
strange murder of the presumed assassin.)
CNN: "A high-school dropout and small-time criminal broke out of a
Missouri prison in 1967 and onto the international stage on April 4, 1968."
friend and colleague James Bevel put bluntly: "There is no way a
ten-cent white boy could develop a plan to kill a million-dollar black
man."[ At Canaan's Edge. Simon & Schuster. 2006. p.770]]
A straight forward Wikipedia article relates the simple most important facts:
impending occupation of Washington D.C. by the Poor People's Campaign
has been suggested by some as a possible primary motive for a federal
The Federal Bureau of Investigation took
responsibility for investigating King's death. Its head. J. Edgar
Hoover, had previously made efforts to undermine King's reputation, had
tapped his phone, etc., and today is known
to have despised him.
months after King's death, escaped convict James Earl Ray was captured
at London Heathrow Airport while trying to leave the United Kingdom for
Angola, Rhodesia or South Africa on a false Canadian passport. Ray
charged with King's murder, confessing to the assassination on March 10,
1969 (although he recanted this confession three days later).
the advice of his attorney Percy Foreman, Ray took a guilty plea to
avoid a trial conviction and thus the possibility of receiving the death
penalty. He confessed and was sentenced, but promptly recanted and
attempted to be tried on an innocent plea. Ray was sentenced to a
99-year prison term.
fired Foreman as his attorney (from then on derisively calling him
Fourflusher") claiming that a man he met in Montreal, Canada with the
alias "Raul" was involved, as was his brother Johnny, but not himself,
further asserting through his attorney Jack Kershaw that although he did
not "personally shoot King," he may have been "partially responsible
without knowing it," hinting at a conspiracy.
spent the remainder of his life attempting (unsuccessfully) to withdraw
his guilty plea and secure the trial he never had. In 1997, Martin
Luther King's son Dexter King met with Ray, and publicly supported Ray's
efforts to obtain a
June 1977, Ray testified that he did not shoot King to the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
two separate ballistic tests conducted on the Remington Gamemaster
allegedly used by Ray in the assassination did not match the bullet to
the gun. Moreover, witnesses surrounding King at the moment of the
shooting say the shot was fired from a different location, from behind
thick shrubbery near the rooming house, and not from the rooming house
1999, the King family conducted a civil case to consider the existence
of an assassination conspiracy. The suit (for wrongful death) mentioned
only Loyd Jowers by name, but also alleged government involvement.
jury --six blacks and six whites--found that King had been the victim of
assassination by a conspiracy involving the Memphis police as well as
federal agencies. This verdict affirmed Ray's innocence, which the King
family has always maintained.
a news conference afterward, King's widow and children made it clear
that they considered the case now closed. The ''most incredible coverup
of the century'' has now been exposed, said Dexter Scott King, one of
Dr. King's four children. ''We know what happened,'' Mr. King said.
''This is the period at the end of the sentence. So please, after today,
we don't want questions like 'Do you believe James Earl Ray killed your
father?' I've been hearing that all my life. No, I don't, and this is
the end of it.''
Many documents pertaining to this investigation remain classified, and are slated to remain secret until 2027.
belittling attitude of US media toward the trial was indicated by the
title of the New York Times article covering it: "Dr.
King's Slaying Finally Draws A Jury Verdict, but to Little Effect" The
Federal Government as well, managed to dismiss it as inconclusive and
unworthy of further interest.
Not to belabor the point or any implied insinuation, but
seems the violent history of the American empire is replete with
stories of seemingly pointless assassinations of a peculiar nature
always characterized by media as senseless acts of individuals acting on
their own, assassinations that nevertheless brought investment
opportunities for investors on Wall Street either by chance or plan.
the top of the head, the following assassinations come to mind:
Profitable war threatening Martin Luther King
Independent Black economic power leader Malcolm X,
of the anti-Vietnam War movement John Lennon - wrote and recorded "Give
Peace a Chance". sung by a quarter of a million demonstrators against
the Vietnam War in Washington, DC,
The very effective
Chicago tenement organizer Fred Hampton,
Union Leader Jimmy Hoffa, scheduled to testify before US Senate Church
Committee investigation illegal activities of war involved US
Populist-socialist Governor of Louisiana and national figure contesting immoral capitalism Huey Long
Carpet bagging profits interfering President Abraham Lincoln.
President Kennedy and his
brother Robert? (There has been some theorizing about a battle between
old Wall Street money and new Texas oil money influence. We just note
that something with financial conflict overtones has been batted about
to round out this list of curious circumstances of a possible
speculative investment banking community elite or renegade activity.
Zinn, rest his soul, made a supreme effort to encourage antiwar and
peace organizations to regularly quote from Martin Luther King Jr.'s
Vietnam sermon. Zinn fostered the creation of the King Condemned US
Wars International Awareness Campaign. Its website lists the
endorsements of most every sincerely antiwar organization and a few
celebrities. However, none of these organizations and celebrities have
followed through, either with quoting King in sound bite, or in
following King's self-admonishment for putting the issue of Americans
murdering the poor abroad second to focusing on issues of racial and
economic injustice of Americans to Americans at home.
Here we are
at another anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.,
modestly being noticed by the few, like yours truly, dedicated to
stoping Americans from continuing to slaughter human beings for the
international community of speculating investors in war.
for the bullet to his head King would have led us in stopping the
unlawful, (precedentedly "lawful') 2nd holocaust that
was the Vietnam War, just a he had led us in stopping the worst of the
unlawful (conspiracy made "lawful') crimes against the African American
descendants of (unlawful, made "lawful') slavery.
charismatic figure of proven revolutionary leadership ability, even
considering a run for the presidency, with all the national debates that
would have come about, was a threat to the security of the billions of
dollar investments in the Vietnam War.
Today, there is no one to
frighten the investors in wars of subjugation and re-colonialization of
the non-white world, and King's condemnation of US wars for profit have
been successfully buried along with his body. But words of wisdom have
an almost infinitely longer lifetime than the brother or sister who
King's non-violent example will also reemerge, and
perhaps be enough to rekindle that spirit in others to lead us in King
Readers so motivated or inclined may visit the
websites of two groups of such rekindled spirits, which solicit neither
contributions of money nor joining in the activities of anyone else, and
are offered merely as educational tools in the manner of peoples
historian Howard Zinn, upon whose suggestion and in whose name they were
created - with an expected snowball effect in mind.King Condemned US Wars (International Awareness Campaign
- which contains a link to:Prosecute
US Crimes Against Humanity Now Campaign
, which features the pertinent
laws, exhortations America's leading dissidents and a country by country
(19 and counting) history of US crimes. Dissident Voice Newsletter
supports the campaign to prosecute US crimes against humanity now.
those interested, further excerpts continue from the Martin Luther King
Jr. sermon "Beyond Vietnam - a Time to Break Silence" given at
Riverside Church in New York, April 4, 1967
are gathered below:
"I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation.
Tonight I wish to speak to my fellow Americans.
was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and
to attack it as such ... I knew
that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in
rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued
to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction
Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when
it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating
the hopes of the poor at home.
was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight
and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of
the population. I could not be silent in
the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.
ask if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve
its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit
home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the
violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken
clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my
own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this
government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under
our violence, I cannot be silent " no one who has any concern for the
integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war.
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. So it is that those of us who are yet determined
that America will be -- are -- are led down the path of protest and
dissent, working for the health of our land.
the ministry of Jesus Chrisi...was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and
for white, for revolutionary and conservative?
are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of
our nation and for those it calls "enemy," - these humans any less our
must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people
proclaimed their own independence in 1945, after a combined French and
Japanese occupation. They were
led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of
Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize
them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her
For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.
nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of
independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their
abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we
were meeting eighty
percent of the French war costs... We encouraged them with our huge
financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had
lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this
tragic attempt at recolonization.
the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform
would come again through the Geneva Agreement. - we supported one of the
most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Diem.
Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?
there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon, the only solid
-- solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military
bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call "fortified
hamlets." The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new
Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts?
We must speak for them and raise the
questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers.
a more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who
have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation
Front, that strangely anonymous group we call "VC" or "communists"? What
must they think of the United States of America when they realize that
we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem, which helped to bring
them into being as a resistance group in the South? What do they think
of our condoning the violence which
led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our
integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the North" as if there
were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now
we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and
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.
we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence.
Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of
destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.
How do they judge us
when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five
percent communist, and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What
must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control
of major sections of Vietnam, and yet we appear ready to allow national
elections in which this highly organized political parallel government
will not have a part?
ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is
censored and controlled by the military junta. And they
are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help
form without them, the only party in real touch with the peasants. They
question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace
settlement from which they will be excluded.
questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build
on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of new
Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and
nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear
his questions, to know his assessment
of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses
of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and
profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.
too, with Hanoi. In the North, where our bombs now pummel the land, and
our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but
understandable mistrust. After 1954, they watched us conspire to prevent
elections which could have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a
united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again. Ho Chi
Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its
forces,he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of
aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more
than eight hundred -- rather, eight thousand miles away from its shores.
the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for
this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak for those whose land
is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is
being subverted. I speak of the -- for the poor of America who are
paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, I speak as a citizen
of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have
taken. "Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their
enemies. The image of America will never again be the image of
revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and
militarism" (King quoted the message of "the great Buddhist leaders of
. The world now demands ...that we admit that we have been
wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been
detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. In order to atone for
our sins and errors in Vietnam, " we must make what reparations we can
for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is
badly needed, making it available in this country, if necessary.
Meanwhile -- Meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a
continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a
disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices and our
lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be
prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative
method of protest possible.
As we counsel young men concerning
military service, we must clarify for them our
nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of
conscientious objection. and I recommend it to all who find the American
course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one.
I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their
ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors.
Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best
suits his convictions, but we must all protest.
war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the
American spirit, and if we ignore this " we will find ourselves
organizing "clergy and laymen concerned" about Guatemala -- 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.
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.
must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a
person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and
property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant
triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast
true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and
say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This
business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's
homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into
the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and
bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically
deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation
that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense
than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
us not join those
who shout war Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to
mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual
must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout
the developing world,Once to every man and nation comes a moment to
decide,"-And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to
transform this pending cosmic elegy ... If we will make the right
choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world
into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.