Martin Luther King Jr.: Stop the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Stop the Mugging of the Middle Class and Poor by the Wealthy → Washingtons Blog
Martin Luther King Jr.: Stop the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Stop the Mugging of the Middle Class and Poor by the Wealthy - Washingtons Blog

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr.: Stop the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Stop the Mugging of the Middle Class and Poor by the Wealthy

The Defense Department’s general counsel said that he believed Martin Luther King, Jr., might have supported the current wars:

I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation's military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack.

That is easily disproven.

As King said in 1967:

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They 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… We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.
King also proclaimed in 1967:
A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, 'This way of settling differences is not just.'... A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
King lamented that the United States had become the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, said the world "is sick with war", and said that "war is not the answer." King said:
I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating method of physical violence.
And he warned that the deep malady of the American spirit is our perverse devotion to what he called the "giant triplets" of "racism, extreme materialism, and militarism."

Indeed, if one understands King's core philosophies, the Pentagon's statement becomes even sillier.

Initially, as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chris Hedges points out:

Anger at injustice, as Martin Luther King wrote, is the political expression of love.
In other words, King believed that his Christian faith required him to fight injustice. That is why King said that we have to fight against "systems of exploitation and oppression."

Moreover, King was an adherent of two philosophical concepts which Gandhi also followed:

1. "Ahimsa" - non-violence towards all


2. "Satyagraha" - truth is the only weapon needed

Adherents of the philosophy of ahimsa don't believe that some wars are jusitifed ... they believe that we shouldn't harm any person or even any critter if we can help it (the most extreme followers of ahimsa are the Jain sect of India. They are so extreme that they sweep the path ahead of them when they walk so that they will not accidentally squish any bugs. Neither Gandhi or King were Jainists, however, this extreme example helps to explain the basic idea.)

Indeed, the following statements by King only make sense when one understands King's ahimsa philosophy:

  • "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth."
  • "Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."

  • "Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

    Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

    We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

In addition, adherents of the philosophy of satyagraha believe that truth is the most powerful force in the universe. That is why both Gandhi and King believed that non-violent resistance is the most effective form of dissent: they believed that the "force of truth" would eventually win out over the "force of violence".

King Was Against Economic Injustice

Additionally, King fought against economic injustice as well. For example, he said:

I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic inequalities of an economic system which takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.

As Roger Bybee writes today:

As Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen noted,

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" — including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power."

Thus, at the time of his death on April 4, 1968, Dr. King was deeply immersed in the struggle of 1,300 black sanitation workers in Memphis who had organized themselves into an AFSCME local.. At the same time, he was also building a coalition for a "Poor People's Campaign" that would assemble in Washington, D.C., to demand "economic rights" for people of all colors. It was aimed at building a mighty coalition that would span autoworkers in Detroit, discarded coalminers in Appalachia, Latino farmworkers, and oppressed blacks in both the South and North.

In his new book All Work Has Dignity, Honey pulls together 11 of King's speeches on labor and explains the lasting significance of King's emphasis on the need for "economic rights" for all.

People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. As we struggle with massive unemployment, a staggering racial wealth gap and near collapse of our financial system, King’s prophetic writings and speeches underscore his relevance for today.

And so - if King were alive today - it is certain that he would be demanding an end to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, and an end up to the mugging of the middle and lower classes by the wealthy.

Of course, to the extent that the war in the Middle East is largely a crusade against brown-skinned Muslims, King would also have opposed it as being based on racism and religious intolerance.


  1. The nonsense that the MSM has been allowed to publish without contradiction for the last decade is way beyond scandalous.

    It's felonious.

    Thanks for standing up for the truth, friend!


    Long live Dr. King!


    From: Inflection Point

    What Would MLK Do in 2011 - A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    If ever there were a Black leader whose political motivations and inclinations could be predicted, it was MLK, one of the most documented leaders in American history. His steadfast, coherent, courageous positions on issues of peace and social justice remained consistent even as they evolved. If he were alive, Dr. King “would not be erecting a protective barrier around Barack Obama, the First Black President of the United States, but would instead confront him.”

    "Dr. King would never passively tolerate the wholesale consumption of the American state by Wall Street."

    See: What Would MLK DO, in 2011?

    In 1967, King was the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic our foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech (below) delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 -- a year to the day before he was murdered -- King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

    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.

    It took 8 more years before the fall of Saigon.

    If still alive, Dr. King would remind us today is the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower's Farewell Speech where he warned us of LIVING BEYOND OUR MEANS and THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX stating:

    "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."


    “As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

    Today those who benefit, justify our senseless wars in the name of democracy. While many at home are pushed to the edge, where military service is their only option. The nations economic pursuits both foreign and domestic are unsustainable. As we draw closer to the event horizon of becoming an "insolvent phantom of tomorrow", the question is: As A Community, will we demand our birth right and reinstatement of THE RULE OF LAW! Or, will we cowardly shrink as our grand experiment decays into Chaos? -EC

    "The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

    "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." - Martin Luther King Jr.

  3. Great post! Thank you for what is always thoughtful and motivating.

  4. King also said, "wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows". This quote has become the motto of the group, 9-11 Families for Peaceful Tomorroews, a peace group composed of families who lost a loved one on September 11th. If anyone is justified in feeling hatred towards Islamic extremists it should be these people. But they teach forgiveness and peace. Look, the greatest enemies of peace on the planet are those in the Pentagon who make their livelihood from war, killing and destruction. We need to close the Pentagon and every military base on foreign soil and watch peace break out sall over the place!

  5. Thanks GW for pulling MLK’s life and everything he stood for out from the propaganda attack by the Defense Department who has twisted his good character and name to stand for something that he was against. Shame on you Mr. Jeh Johnson!

    Every year the government propagandist does the same with Caesar Chaves and proclaims that he was for illegal immigration.

    How much credibility does the Department of Defense, or for that matter, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice has? – ZERO—they just act out their charade for their homeys!


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