Friday December 20, 2013
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Beyond Vietnam - A Time To Break The SilenceChuck Palazzo Salem-News.com
"true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar....it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring" -Dr. King's Beyond Vietnam speech
(DA NANG, Vietnam) - Starting in 1965, King began to express doubts about the United States' role in the Vietnam War. In an April 4, 1967 appearance at the New York City Riverside Church—exactly one year before his death—King delivered a speech titled "Beyond Vietnam". In the speech, he spoke strongly against the U.S.'s role in the war, insisting that the U.S. was in Vietnam "to occupy it as an American colony" and calling the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today". He also argued that the country needed larger and broader moral changes:
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will 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 countries, and say: "This is not just."
King also was opposed to the Vietnam War on the grounds that the war took money and resources that could have been spent on social welfare services like the War on Poverty. The United States Congress was spending more and more on the military and less and less on anti-poverty programs at the same time. He summed up this aspect by saying, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death".
Many white southern segregationists vilified King; moreover, this speech soured his relationship with many members of the mainstream media. Life 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."
King stated that North Vietnam "did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had arrived in the tens of thousands". King also criticized the United States' resistance to North Vietnam's land reforms. He accused the United States of having killed a million Vietnamese, "mostly children."
The speech was a reflection of King's evolving political advocacy in his later years, which paralleled the teachings of the progressive Highlander Research and Education Center, with whom King was affiliated. King began to speak of the need for fundamental changes in the political and economic life of the nation. Towards the time of his murder, King more frequently expressed his opposition to the war and his desire to see a redistribution of resources to correct racial and economic injustice. Though his public language was guarded, so as to avoid being linked to communism by his political enemies, in private he sometimes spoke of his support for democratic socialism. In one speech, he stated that "something is wrong with capitalism" and claimed, "There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism."
King had read Marx while at Morehouse, but while he rejected "traditional capitalism," he also rejected Communism because of its "materialistic interpretation of history" that denied religion, its "ethical relativism," and its "political totalitarianism."
King also stated in his "Beyond Vietnam" speech that "true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar....it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring". King quoted a United States official, who said that, from Vietnam to South America to Latin America, the country was "on the wrong side of a world revolution." King condemned America's "alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America," and said that the United States should support "the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World rather than suppressing their attempts at revolution.
King spoke at an Anti-Vietnam demonstration where he also brought up issues of civil rights and the draft.
"I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. There are people who have come to see the moral imperative of equality, but who cannot yet see the moral imperative of world brotherhood. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civil-rights and peace movements. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both."
Wikipedia is the source.
The words above are from Dr. King and some commentary about that famous speech which was held at the Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967– in my opinion, a genius of a man, who was ironically assassinated exactly one day from the speech which I quote parts from, above. How prophetic were his words? Look at the messes we are in today - we spend and spend and spend on wars in foreign lands. We have no reason to be there. And those are monies that could be used right in the US – to feed the poor, to house the homeless, and yes, to help all of us, the Veterans who bravely fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice, unwillingly and unknowing.
Here is a link to Dr. King’s entire speech from that day. I urge us all to read it, listed to it and ask ourselves, are we any further along? I say we are not – I say we are moving in the wrong direction!
Chuck Palazzo is a Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran, the Interim Editor for Agent Orange, and a longtime Vietnam Veterans Against the War Member. Chuck Palazzo has spent years since the war studying the impacts and effects of Agent Orange, a defoliant chemical sprayed by the U.S. govt. on the jungles of Vietnam. He says Dioxins have been re-discovered to cause all sorts of damage to humans. These include Heart Disease, Parkinsonism, Diabetes etcetera. Dioxins are already known to produce serious birth defects and a variety of cancers. The chemical is still sold in Third World Countries and causing the same problems.
We at Salem-News.com welcome Chuck aboard and look forward to sharing more of his stories with our readers in the future.
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