Monday, January 21, 2008

And Then Came the Shots

Just in case you've overdosed on the cuddly, Kumbaya version of Martin Luther King Jr, here are some excerpts from "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam," a sermon delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967. (If you'd rather just read, it's similar to, but not exactly, this speech from a few weeks earlier)

[19:20] Take a stand on this issue. Tomorrow may be too late. And don’t let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force, to be – a sort of policeman of the whole world! God has a way of standing before the nations in judgment, and it seems to me that I can hear God saying to America, “You’re too arrogant!

It's kind of fun to imagine what that evening's O'Reilly Factor would have been like, isn't it?

[Related: If the "I've been to the mountaintop" speech from 4/3/68 doesn't give you goosebumps, then you're James Earl Ray.]


Elizabeth said...

"America....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 led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

"....another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission -- a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for "the brotherhood of man." This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism, and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers."

from the eloquent April 4, '67 ML King speech

O'Reilly (poor soul that he is) would do well to discuss this speech, even now - but don't ya think it's still a bit too deep for him?

Burro Hall said...

The average annual snowfall in Queretaro is too deep for Mr O'Reilly.

It's probably not fair to pick on Fox here. At the time, the Washington Post wrote the MLK "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people," with the speech, and TIME called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi."

Still, It'd be funny to see someone ask Romney if he shared his Dad's BFF's belief that America was destroying the hope of the world and angering God in the process.

Elizabeth said...

With all due respect to the burro-blogger, it's always fair to pick on Fox. B'sides, John Stewart picks on all of 'em. Fox is just so compelling!

The excerpts I quoted of the 4/4/67 King speech were used to illustrate what I felt best explained his most personal feelings re. that war. I thank you for posting the link.

Very articulate, same speech:

“Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for 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. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us. “

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor - both black and white - through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and 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 tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the 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. It 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. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor."

Seargent Shriver had worked tirelessly, in fact, to construct and promote the workings of the war on poverty (as originally directed to do by LBJ), which, tho' well-crafted, was left unfunded in a big way while the govt. escalated & promoted a pointless war.

I guess it's not surprising that the news mags of the time criticised his speech, as I'm sure my parents would have. (Mom was truly wonderful @ teaching right from wrong, with ideals, but didn't always teach by example) Okay, enough for now ~