MLK’s Heroic Stand Against US Militarism

Glenn Greenwald has published a great article today in The Guardian about what he considers a whitewashed legacy of heroic and vehement anti-militarism.


Even in the midst of criticism that his anti-war activism was a distraction to the civil rights movement, King found it a central moral imperative to address this “deeper malady within the American spirit”.

Whenever MLK day rolls around, everyone from across the political spectrum loves to try and lay claim to him as, in the words of Jon Stewart, their “imaginary political yes-man”. It’s always easy to claim that someone who is dead would agree with you. However, Greenwald’s article can claim legitimacy on this issue since it was something that MLK actually addressed passionately.

The significance of President Obama being sworn in on MLK Day was repeatedly addressed by the media as an enduring symbol of Dr. King’s legacy, and sure – it is.

But this symbolic link has another, less inspiring symbolic meaning: Obama’s policies are a manifestation of exactly the militaristic mindset which King so eloquently denounced. Obama has always been fond of invoking King’s phrase “fierce urgency of now”, yet ironically, that is lifted from this anti-war speech, one that stands as a stinging repudiation of the continuous killing and violence Obama has spent the last four years unleashing on many countries around the world

Greenwald is able to draw some very acute parallels between the lessons and principles expressed in King’s speech with the policies used to fight the endless War on Terror. I applaud him for being unafraid of being politically incorrect. For example, he explains the vicious circle of the violent drone war creating more death and animosity making it that much easier for al Qaeda to recruit. Of course that demonstrably convincing argument can never considered in our militarized mindset. “Appeaser! Sympathizer!”

A citizenry that has been fed a steady diet of war and aggression and demonization is understandably incapable of even entertaining “alternatives” that do not involve causing the deaths of others, and of expressing nothing but pure callousness when confronted with the human suffering of the policies they support.

Go read it all for yourself. Both Glenn Greenwald’s article and especially MLK’s speech. Challenge the narrative you’ve been fed!



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