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King Who Condemned US Wars Again Betrayed by War-Supporting Clergy's Praise

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Working as Assistant Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra (founded by Ho Chi Minh) in Hanoi, during most of the 1990s, I  learned something of the human side of what the Vietnamese call the American war after the French war of recolonization paid for by US taxpayers.

All the musicians had lost family, "killed by the Americans' they would smile in Buddhist equanimity when asked. Between preparing Beethoven and Brahms I got to know the most soft spoken, heroic, charming and fun to be with people in the world. If many of Americans recognize their complicity, why should not clergy, who turned their back on King's revelations.

I cringe when I think of the Grimm fairy tale nature of the anti-Vietnamese propaganda heard over so many years. Do clerical stomachs not turn like ours do as candidates for public office are acclaimed as heroes for having "served' in Vietnam.

On the opening day of the US bombing of Baghdad in 2003, I marched in a London street protest. The next day as our flight on the way to India detoured well away from Iraq, we could see flashes the horizon - Iraqis being killed and maimed supposedly to depose a Saddam Hussein supported by the CIA for two decades? Had to ask myself, is bull being sold
as to why the US is bombing or invading this or that small country because clergy leaders deny the necessity to study history carefully, as King  came to do to help his people.

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This idea of clergy not properly protecting us from deception even of the crudest historically ass-backwards kind was still fresh in my mind as I read the three Calcutta English language newspapers, and watched BBC Asia, which interestingly is quite a bit to the left of BBC London or New York, because it has to compete with local channels serving a citizenry less gullible after suffering a century of racist colonialism. (The British, including clergy, back in England feed on the same outlandish nonsense excusing and justifying the colonial behavior of their armies abroad just as America's clergy accepts absurd excuses for American neocolonial wars  abroad).

At a dinner party thrown for the patrons of the concert series, I was introduced to an Anglican minister stationed in India. Revved up as I was from watching floods of videos and photos of piles of bodies of civilians, headless children, body parts and clothing strewn everywhere, (images not being seen in America), I thought to comment inquisitively, how the war, with British pilots bombing, must be weighing heavily on him, as one responsible for moral leadership. He looked at me puzzled, a little annoyed, and answered to the effect that a minister's job had absolutely nothing to do with war or preventing it, that church and politics don't mix. Altercation proceeded: "Church and its government's homicide surely don't mix either - you bless the troops shipping out to kill." "Its the job of a priest, rabbi or minister." "It's a political act of acquiescence or complicity in homicide ."

I thought to myself, yes, of course, Western establishment entrenched religious leaders must be the same throughout the world. Wasn't I in India, where pastors took tea with wealthy faithful, both well acclimatized to a multitude of the landless being starved so that a profit might be turned from what would have been their land to cultivate (predatory investments King spoke of). Charity, rather putting an end to the legalized starving of the poor, is the usual clergy led Christian response.

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When I was a kid, I tired of listening to sermons about the hem length of ladies skirts and such, when the headlines of the newspapers I delivered were about millions of people starving to death. It caused me to visit my schoolmates houses of worship looking in vain for better Christianity.

As an adult, have on many occasions  confessed feeling, as an American, drenched in the blood of millions only to hear my minister or priest trying to help me be at peace with it.

Official clergy enjoy prestige as the guardians of morality, family and community values but unlike King are careful not to answer why Americans and Christians from other nominally white nations, are killing Afghanis in Afghanistan, for ten years designating Taliban as enemy as were the Vietcong in King's day.

The average cleric would most likely talk no differently than the average American, either in some agreement with an outrageous lie justifying war on Afghanis, or fielding a disarming remark to deflect such an uncomfortably serious and aggressive question, "Look, nobody likes war' or the more fundamental oxymoron, "War is war' and "God will receive the victims.'

By praising exceptional clergy King cut at the majority, "surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history.

Even on Kings birthday  the whole Baptist community leadership and the NAACP focused solely on domestic injustice, while the wars that King condemned as perpetuating domestic injustice rage on unspoken of. Is this not an obvious repudiation of King's guidance?

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 Do all these pastors and church officials they think King was wrong when he taught, in the maturity of the increased awareness of his final year, the futility of trying to improve America while America is destroying other nations, using up  social and material resources to conquer abroad for accumulation of capital by investors?

A prominent New York church, where King once denounced his government for crimes against humanity, held a special King birthday event in which the personable minister opening the service, though having on other occasions decried today's wars, spoke of "that awful war" (in Vietnam) as if that is what King had spoken against and not described it as being a part of the bloody wars and calculated violence presently still going on for financial interests. Misleadingly listed in the program was hearing a recording of "Beyond Vietnam" (in which King had detailed US crimes.) We heard only a carefully selected few minutes long snippet calling for improving society along general principles of social well being that would not have offended supporters of today's wars or even war criminals or war profiteers. 

King had told us, "The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady.  We have seen  a pattern of suppression,  the presence of U.S. military advisers 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. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. "Look 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 not just."

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Jay Janson is an archival research peoples historian activist, musician and writer; has lived and worked on all continents; articles on media published in China, Italy, UK, India and the US; now resides in NYC; First effort was a series of (more...)
 

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