Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line

Uh-oh. Guess which black minister, recently in the news, has come out in opposition to the war? An excerpt:

"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 with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, 'You're too arrogant! And if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I'll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name.'"

Heavy stuff. I'm sure any conservative reading the bit above would come away with only one thing - that the Reverend is threatening America with the very wrath of God. And who the fuck does he think he is?

And what does Obama have to say about all this?

To be honest, I don't think anyone's asked him.

They haven't asked for his opinion, because the above words are not those of his former minister, Reverend Wright. I took them from a speech by Martin Luther King called "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam."

Yeah, yeah, happy April Fool's Day and all that. But I must give all props to Tavis Smiley for this post, as it was his appearance on Real Time this week that reminded me that MLK was reviled for his position on Vietnam not only by southern bigots and his usual political opponents, but also by mainstream America. Referring to another of King's speeches on this same topic, the Washington Post said "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people," and Time called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." Even King's own parishioners told him that they felt he was abandoning their cause. King, however, saw the larger picture, and proposed that "a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

President Johnson, who formerly relied upon the personal counsel of MLK, and who signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 with King looking over his shoulder, now barred him from the White House, as he would not truck with opponents of the war. King differentiated Johnson's personality from that of his predecessor, saying that "President Kennedy was a man who was big enough to admit when he was wrong-as he did after the Bay of Pigs incident." But, according to King, Johnson did not stop bombing Vietnam, although he could've easily have found the popular support to do so, because his administration was devoid of statesmanship, and "when creative statesmanship wanes, irrational militarism increases."

Ah. True dat.

So my point is not that Reverend Wright is a King in wolf's clothing, no, far from it. My point is simply that we might take the occasion of the upcoming 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to reflect on how people are often viewed by history quite differently than they were in their own times.

Or, in other words, and as we are often reminded every April 1st, things are not always what they seem.


dguzman said...

Wow, looking at the MSM's treatment of MLK for speaking from his heart makes me realize that the MSM has ALWAYS sucked the reich-wing's dick.

Great post, Vik.

Larry Jones said...

Prior to the mid-sixties, everybody in the U.S. had crewcuts and worshiped the military. Populist opposition to the war in Vietnam, I believe, made it a little more mainstream to object to stoopid government violence. Naturally, the neocons hate this, but at least you don't get teargassed and beat up by cops in riot gear for wearing a peace pin.

Dad E said...

I don't believe in a pesonal god, OK. But this inane idea that god favors America, is one of the worst by-products of religion in this country. And how easily it leads to stupid thinking. How arrogant and smug! American live mut be more inportant that Iraqi lives. We don't even bother to report them but we all know the count of American lives lost.

Bush goes and prays for guidance just before he goes to war in Iraq (even though he had already made up his wee mind) smug in his faith and in the assumption that god is on American's side and what ever he decides as president must be OK.

Pardon me while I throw up!

Madam Z said...

"when creative statesmanship wanes, irrational militarism increases."

Thanks, Vikkitikki, for reminding me of this oh-so-true statement of King's. And thanks for another great post.

Anonymous said...

dad e is right, and he reminds me (I'm wildly paraphrasing here) about what Lincoln said about how dare we ask for god's help and assume god is on our side when we (at the time) were making our bread off the sweat of another man's brow. Only now, it's line the muther fuckers up at Gitmo and torture away, god is still on our side because we're America.

SkylersDad said...

Actually, God doesn't take sides in war. God is too busy helping superstar athletes catch touchdown passes or hit game winning homers...

vikkitikkitavi said...

DGuz: I think it's good to be reminded that MLK wasn't always worshipped, and he wasn't always regarded as such a "dreamer." He was a man of words, yes, but also of action. And his stance on Vietnam IN THE MID-60S was an incredibly brave one, given the political climate.

Larry: Yes, sometime after they are all dead, we must remember to thank the baby boomers for causing such a revolutionary change to the way citizens approach the numskullity of our government. We will have to wait until they all die, of course, because if we honor them while they are still alive they will become even more insufferable. I realize, Larry, that you are probably a boomer, which is why I have stated my opinion of them in such relatively restrained language.

DadE: It's all just a little bit too convenient, all that "God is on our side" business. Investing in that idea gives you license to do just about anything, right? Even to co-op the powers of a god and mete out "justice" accordingly, which, of course, we are very big on.

Mme.Z: You're welcome, and I got to say that when I read that statement, I nearly feel out of my chair. Please feel free to follow the link to the entire speech. About a 15 minute read, and so worth it.

Kirby: Ah, Lincoln wrote so much on this subject! He was forever dwelling on the fact that the Southern leaders also claimed to be on the side of God. Quote: "In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God can not be for, and against the same thing at the same time."

vikkitikkitavi said...

SkyDad: Not to mention acquiring Grammy awards for Kanye West.

Some Guy said...

I'm always left speechless after reading your posts. Outstanding!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I loves me some trouble and peace making MLK and I've had a guy crush on Tavis for years now. Great post.

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