The Practical Radical

Restoring Sanity – Martin Luther King Jr. speaks on Honor and War | August 30, 2010


There is no greater irony than to listen to Sarah Palin speaking on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., a man who gave his life for peace and justice and spoke out against an unjust Vietnam war, while she in the same speech extols the virtues of another questionable war in a far off place.

In her speech she makes admirable commendations of two soldiers who undertook honorable actions in horrific conditions. She cannot be faulted for this.

click more to see the rest of the article and video of her speeches …

What she can be faulted for is the strong message that to challenge the US military policy is to dishonor these men and to be unpatriotic and treasonous. It is not. As it is not dishonouring nor treasonous to the men and women who fight in the Canadian military in Afghanistan if we choose to challenge Canadian military policy.

Here is her speech (in two parts).

Here is Martin Luther King’s speech given on April 4, 1967 entitled Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.

In this speech King outlines why a war such as Vietnam is a war on the poor in that country, as well as a war on the poor in the United States. This analysis seems to have gone missing – we now seem to view war as something good for the economy – even while our economies sink ever deeper into the muck. While we believe we are fighting for Afghani freedom, it is increasingly everyone but the Afghanis who believe so.

And finally, we must get to the heart of the matter and the name of Beck an Palin’s rally “Restoring Honor”. One asks, what does King have to  say about honor, and how does it pertain possibly to the situation America and the world face in Afghanistan? Would Beck and Palin listen to him, or are they just youtube-jacking his name?

I leave you with the following quote from his speech (full text here):

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote:

Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism (unquote).

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It 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. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.

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