MLK

An obligatory quote, in honor of this Martin Luther King Jr. From a speech to the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace, November 1967:

Second, the government will resist committing adequate resources for domestic reform because these are reserves indispensable for a military adventure. The logical war requires of a nation deploy its well fought and immediate combat and simultaneously that it maintain substantial reserves. It will resist any diminishing of its military power through the draining off of resources for the social good. This is the inescapable contradiction between war and social progress at home. Military adventures must stultify domestic progress to ensure the certainty of military success. This is the reason the poor, and particularly Negroes, have a double stake in peace and international harmony. This is not to say it is useless to fight for domestic reform, on the contrary, as people discover in the struggle what is impeding their progress they comprehend the full and real cost of the war to them in their daily lives.Now what are some of the domestic consequences of the war in Vietnam? It has made the Great Society a myth and replaced it with a troubled and confused society. The war has strengthened domestic reaction. It has given the extreme right, the anti-labor, anti-Negro, and anti-humanistic forces a weapon of spurious patriotism to galvanize its supporters into reaching for power, right up to the White House. It hopes to use national frustration to take control and restore the America of social insecurity and power for the privileged. When a Hollywood performer, lacking distinction even as an actor can become a leading war hawk candidate for the Presidency, only the irrationalities induced by a war psychosis can explain such a melancholy turn of events. [Applause]

The war in Vietnam has produced a shameful order of priorities in which the decay, squalor and pollution of the cities are neglected. And even though 70% of our population now live in them the war has smothered, and nearly extinguished the beginnings of progress toward racial justice. The war has created the bizarre spectacle of armed forces of the United States fighting in ghetto streets in America while they are fighting in jungles in Asia. The war has so increased Negro frustration and despair that urban outbreaks are now an ugly feature of the American scene. How can the Administration, with quivering anger, denounce the violence of ghetto Negroes when it has given an example of violence in Asia that shocks the world. [Applause]

The whole speech is excellent – words that echo through the ages. I doubt there ever was or ever will be a more inspirational leader. Also, if you’ve never heard it in its entirety, I also highly recommend listening to his (much more famous) I Have a Dream speech (Click here for mp3).

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