Martin Luther King Day

Today, the third Monday in January, is Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday in the United States.

This is the speech he gave in opposition to the Vietnam War. He was murdered a year later.

It is shocking in its relevance to the situation today. Just as King here says "There are those who are seeking to equate dissent with disloyalty", we have Bush telling the American people: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

Yet you won't see this speech on US television, nor will you hear it even referred to...even on Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday in the United States.

My objection to this speech, the references to God aside, is that rather than King seeing the Vietnam war as an imperialist war, he cites the fact that the US government spent $500,000 on each Vietnamese soldier killed while back home they spent £53 on each poor classified person and says: "I was increasingly compelled to see this war as an enemy of the poor and attack it as such." There is no class analysis of the war in Vietnam. He does have a point, however, in identifying that there was an irony in that black people were sent 8,000 miles to fight for freedom in South East Asia when they had no freedom in South Georgia; how white and black soldiers were asked to die together in Vietnam when back home they were no allowed to sit in the same school room.

Over on the World in Common forum, Arminius today provides some interesting quotes by Martin Luther King Jnr:

"You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry ... Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism … There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1966

"The movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, Why are there forty million poor people in
America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, Who owns the oil? You begin to ask the question, Who owns the iron ore? You begin to ask the question, Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water? These are questions that must be asked."

"We 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, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

"The dispossessed of this country the poor, the white and Negro live in a cruelly unjust society. they must organize a revolution against that injustice, not against the lives of the persons who are their fellow citizens, but against the structures through which society is refusing to take means which have been called for, and which are at
hand, to lift the load of poverty."

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