Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Targets On Our Backs

Targets On Our Backs

by C. A. Matthews 


Five cops brutally beat up and killed a young black man named Tyre Nichols in Memphis after a routine traffic stop. A large contingent of police shot and killed a climate activist, Manuel Teran, while he camped in the Weelaunee Forest (a.k.a. “Cop City”) in Atlanta. In Florida, officers handcuffed Jose Ortega Guiterrez, a homeless man not charged with any crime, then took him to an isolated location and beat him until he was unconscious. These recent incidents have made it readily apparent that ordinary Americans are walking around with targets on their backs.

“To protect and serve” is a slogan painted on many cities’ cop cars. But who are the police really “protecting” when they are, in fact, beating and shooting just as many people as the so-called criminals are doing? Who are these cops “serving” when they take an innocent life or destroy their victim's health by beating him into unconsciousness simply for being homeless? 

We’re on a record pace this year for mass shootings already. Did we really have to add to this shameful total, officers?

Don’t worry—there won’t be any cuts in funding or manpower at your local police department anytime soon. In fact, we might actually witness yet another round of increases in police budgets. Mayors and police chiefs will explain their reasoning for these increases in these words, more or less: “We just have to give our officers more weapons, more riot gear, more lethal fire power because… It’s dangerous out there.” 

It sure is. It’s dangerous to be a young black man driving a car. It's dangerous being a homeless person on the street. It’s dangerous to be a climate activist who is expressing his opinion that a forest shouldn’t be chopped down and destroyed for the sake of building a police training center to teach even more killers in uniform to kill even more of us for the sake of… protection and service? 

You would think after the horrible death toll of students and teachers in Ulvade, Texas, not that long ago that most Americans would have caught on to the truth of the matter. Many of us sat horrified as we observed the lack of concern the school police officer displayed while a shooter roamed the halls of the elementary school. We should have known better. That cowardly cop was acting completely in character. 

The police in the United States of America aren’t tasked with protecting you or your loved ones from harm. They’re tasked with protecting the property of the wealthy and powerful. They’re tasked to serve those with wealth and power. Working class kids in small town Texas aren’t all that wealthy or powerful now, are they?

That’s why the police in the US carry guns—and aren’t afraid to use them usually. Their rich masters expect them to keep poor folks away from their expensive material possessions and off their exclusive property. The upper classes expect the working classes to respect their authority and to defer to their taxpayer-provided bodyguards. 

In contrast, police officers in many countries don’t even carry firearms while performing everyday traffic control stops or safety patrols of neighborhoods. It's possible these cops view their citizens as actual human beings worthy of protection and service and not as targets. You never know. 

There's also one big difference that's never mentioned by mainstream media pundits when trying to explain away American police brutality. Police in other countries have never been tasked with returning runaway slaves to their masters, dead or alive, like the officers of the Slave Patrols once did. The US police system is based upon the Slave Patrols and slave catching. It's not based on protecting and serving the public as a whole. American policing is all about protecting and returning property (read: "slaves") to their owners. 

That bit of history might explain why ordinary Americans are often seen as bullseyes and not as human beings. The only human beings who count in the eyes of American law enforcers are those who can afford to keep slaves. Police forces who do a good job protecting the property of the wealthy are usually well-paid for their service, too. This payment goes beyond mere salaries and health benefits. It includes such things as "qualified immunity" or getting away with murder simply because a person is wearing a cop uniform with a shiny badge on his or her chest.

What’s the solution to this dilemma? If the solution to ordinary people shooting each other on a regular basis is to institute some kind of gun control, then the same solution could be applied to the trigger-happy, violent cops. Take away their guns. 

I'm serious. If British "Bobbies" can survive their shifts without a firearm at their side, then why can't American cops?

I mean, who needs an AR-15? Nobody—and I mean nobody. It’s a firearm for killing people as quickly and efficiently as possible. A deer hunter doesn’t need an AR-15. A police officer certainly doesn’t need one. And I’ll go out on a limb here and say even a soldier doesn’t need a weapon that is capable of mowing down hundreds of human beings in a matter of minutes. 

Nobody should have the right to kill or injure anybody with handguns, rifles, semi-automatics, automatics, knives, tasers, batons, or with their bare fists, knees, boots, or whatever object they may have on them at the time. Nobody. 

American taxpayers shouldn't be forced to furnish police forces with military-grade killing machines that could be used against them later. Our communities need more mental health care workers and social workers to go out on calls whenever a person is experiencing a crisis such as homelessness. We need peacemakers to deal with activists/protesters, not trained killers.

We must hire more people who can provide quality mental health care and defuse tense situations between ordinary people. No one has ever been killed by a person carrying a clipboard and speaking in a calm and reassuring manner to all parties. (At least, I hope not.)

Our tax dollars should be poured into fixing our neighborhoods, schools, hospitals and healthcare facilities (and not into the hands of private health insurance corporations who profit from our suffering). We need to spend more on housing those who are homeless and focus our energy into preventing others from becoming homeless because of the greed of landlords. 

We certainly don’t need to keep pouring our money and resources into endless wars to kill even more people overseas. Everybody on Earth deserves to live in peace and relative prosperity. We must learn to act like good neighbors, not bullies. 

We the People need to take the targets off our backs and place them where they belong—on the backs of the sociopathic billionaire capitalists. After all, they’re the ones causing all the trouble. We the People shouldn’t been seen as practice targets by their bodyguards in blue any longer. We must stand up to these injustices and speak out against all levels of government constantly raising police funding and adding lethal weapons to their arsenals. 

If we don't, the next victim of a police killing or beating may be one of your loved ones. Or it could be you. Why take that chance? #DefundThePolice #DemilitarizeThePolice #AbolishThePolice

More insight into the police murder of Tyre Nichols:

From The Class Issues in the Police Killing of Tyre Nichols https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/01/28/ucde-j28.htm

So far this year, at least 79 people have been killed, according to a tracker maintained by the Washington Post. At this pace, roughly three killings a day, 2023 will meet or top the 2022 toll of more than 1,100 people killed by police officers in the US. (…) 

Police violence, like every other social evil under capitalism, is fundamentally a class question. There are more white people killed by police in the US than blacks or Hispanics, although blacks and Hispanics are killed in numbers disproportionate to their percentage of the population. Racism plays a part, but a part secondary to social class. The police are recruited from more backward layers of the population, and police departments are known to be riddled with fascistic and white supremacist elements, including many veterans of US imperialist wars around the world.

What the overwhelming majority of victims of police violence and murder have in common is that they are part of the working class. Racism is itself an ideological and political weapon long employed by the capitalist class to divide the working class, in accordance with the strategy of “divide and rule.”

Racialist politics buttress this ruling class strategy. Memphis is a clear example. The second largest city in Tennessee has a population of 635,000, over 65 percent of which identifies as African-American. Roughly 56 percent of the police likewise identify as African-American, including female police chief Cerelyn Davis. Within four months of being sworn in as police chief on June 14, 2021, Davis created the Scorpion unit, which has become notorious for its brutal and repressive methods.

More insight into the police ambush of the Atlanta Forest Defenders:

From NLG Statement In Solidarity With Atlanta Forest Defenders https://popularresistance.org/nlg-statement-in-solidarity-with-atlanta-forest-defenders/

National Lawyer Guild National joins our Atlanta and University of Georgia Chapters and comrades in mourning the devastating loss of a beloved community member. Tortuguita was a kind, passionate, and caring activist, who coordinated mutual aid and served as a trained medic. The Atlanta Community Press Collective is compiling memories and accounts of their life, and we encourage everyone to honor and remember Tortuguita through the words of those who love them.

As radical movement legal activists, NLG recognizes that this horrific murder and the related arrests are part of a nationwide attack on protesters, land defenders, and marginalized folks, especially Black, Indigenous, and other activists of color. Labeling these demonstrators “domestic terrorists” is a harrowing repetition of No DAPL activist Jessica Reznicek’s terrorist enhancement last year, and both are clear indicators that the people in power view protesters and environmental activists as enemies of the state.

Related Articles:

Five Memphis Cops Arrested and Charged with the Murder of Tyre Nichols https://popularresistance.org/five-memphis-cops-arrested-and-charged-with-the-murder-of-tyre-nichols/ 

Memphis Police Shutter SCORPION Unit, Activists Say That’s Not Enough  https://truthout.org/articles/memphis-police-shutter-scorpion-unit-activists-say-thats-not-enough 
Movement to Stop Atlanta’s ‘Cop City’ Calls for Support After Police Kill Forest Defender https://scheerpost.com/2023/01/26/movement-to-stop-atlantas-cop-city-calls-for-support-after-police-kill-forest-defender/ 
NLG Statement In Solidarity With Atlanta Forest Defenders
The Class Issues in the Police Killing of Tyre Nichols https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/01/28/ucde-j28.htm

How White Supremacy Murdered Tyre Nichols (video)
Florida Officers Charged with Battery After Allegedly Beating Homeless Man https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/29/florida-officers-kidnap-assault-homeless-man
Hialeah Officer Accused of Kidnapping, Beating Homeless Man Denied Bond  https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/2-hialeah-police-officers-accused-of-kidnapping-and-beating-homeless-man/2959166/
With Whom are Many U.S. Police Departments Training? With a Chronic Human Rights Violator – Israel 

The Crackdown on Cop City Protesters Is So Brutal Because of the Movement’s Success https://theintercept.com/2023/01/27/cop-city-atlanta-forest/
Ulvade Police Didn't Move to Save Lives Because that's Not What Police Do  https://www.rsn.org/001/uvalde-police-didnt-move-to-save-lives-because-thats-not-what-police-do.html
All Guns Are B*stards https://continuousrev.blogspot.com/2022/05/all-guns-are-bstards.html 

Seen on Twitter:

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Great Divide


The Great Divide

by C.A. Matthews   

Imagine, if you will, a Great Divide so wide and so deep that it takes hours—if not days—to cross on foot. To get from one side to the other, you must carefully climb down the first wall, taking care not to start a fatal rock slide, until you reach the canyon floor.   
Once on the plain, you hike several miles until you get to a river, a whitewater, fast-flowing stream with no way to get around it except to swim through it. If you survive the river crossing, then you face several miles of canyon floor to cross in order to reach and scale the steep precipice of the far-side wall.
Did I forget to tell that you have no tools save your bare hands to climb to the top of this near vertical jagged rock cliff? That’s the situation, but still you struggle and strain and slowly inch your way to the top. You’re not going to let the Great Divide defeat you. You keep working harder and harder...

At last! You’ve made it to the top where you are left panting in exhaustion with only a few cuts, bruises, gnashes, and muscle pulls to show for your exertions. There’s no celebration of your achievement or even a cold drink of water waiting for you, sorry. A sign commands you on pain of death to turn around and do it all again. And again. Because. 

Now, imagine that same Great Divide you just traversed with a long, high bridge crossing it. No, you don’t get to use the bridge to cross the second time. The bridge is not for the likes of you. Only those deemed worthy to take the bridge will be ferried across the gorge in comfortable luxury vehicles driven by chauffeurs. They don’t even notice ant-sized persons like you crawling up and down the walls, hiking across the plains, and swimming through the churning river below. They just swoosh past you, sipping champagne in their posh rides, leaving you choking on their exhaust fumes.
While it takes you long hours to cross the Great Divide, those being driven across will cross it in a matter of minutes. What awaits them on the other side is far better, too. They’re greeted by a cheering crowd of friends and family at a party where cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are served by good-looking hosts and hostesses. They are given a choice whether or not they wish to cross over again on the bridge, too. Choice, comfort, recognition...they deserve it. Why? Because they were born with the correct last name.
Fair enough, right?

If you’re starting to question this corrupt socioeconomic system most Western countries live under, you’ll probably have a few choice words to give those who zoomed by and left you suffering in their wake. Why do only certain persons get to take the shortcut? Why do they get to take the easy route and even employ others to do the actual hard work like driving for them? What besides sheer dumb luck of where and when and to whom you were born to determines which path across the Great Divide you’re allowed to take? 

It’s difficult for many working class Americans to grasp just how great that Great Divide is between those just scraping by and those whose total net worth is larger than some countries’ Gross National Products. A recent study done by Oxfam tells us that for every $1 you earn as a worker, a billionaire makes $1.7 million. This isn’t an exaggeration. Let's say you make $10 an hour working. In that same time period a billionaire sipping champagne makes $17 million an hour—and he doesn’t even risk getting his hands dirty!  

The super rich have been growing wealthier over the past three years of the pandemic, growing wealthier than ever in history. While millions suffered from COVID-19, Long COVID, and the deaths of loved ones due to COVID, the billionaire class and their wealth have kept growing and growing and growing… We the workers can take comfort in the fact that the actual number of billionaires on the planet is actually still quite small—only about two thousand in total. But these two thousand individuals own most of all wealth in the world, leaving a small portion for the remaining eight billion of us to share. 


According to Oxfam, an international humanitarian organization dedicated to fighting poverty and hunger, in their report Survival of the Richest the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population took nearly two-thirds of all new wealth, six times greater than the wealth made by the poorest 90% of workers. Simply put, billionaires are getting richer while overall global poverty is increasing. Oxfam warns:

  • Since 2020, the richest 1% have captured almost two-thirds of all new wealth – nearly twice as much money as the bottom 99% of the world’s population.

  • Billionaire fortunes are increasing by $2.7 billion a day, even as inflation outpaces the wages of at least 1.7 billion workers, more than the population of India.

  • Food and energy companies more than doubled their profits in 2022, paying out $257 billion to wealthy shareholders, while over 800 million people went to bed hungry.

  • Only 4 cents in every dollar of tax revenue comes from wealth taxes, and half the world’s billionaires live in countries with no inheritance tax on money they give to their children.

  • A tax of up to 5% on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires could raise $1.7 trillion a year, enough to lift 2 billion people out of poverty, and fund a global plan to end hunger. 

    You're probably catching on to how wide, deep, and treacherous the Great Divide is. And it’s not just about how horrible the distribution of material wealth is on Earth. The Great Divide is an analogy for how political and military/police power is distributed as well. The more money you have, the more power you wield and the more military/police might to back up your claim to that wealth and power you have. This is readily apparent at a yearly gathering of the super-wealthy and their sycophants in Davos, Switzerland.


The World Economic Forum in Davos is where our “betters” get to tell us, the struggling workers, what we should be doing. They'll toss a few nuggets of wisdom our way, like we all should stop purchasing gas stoves or we should simply stop being sick and get back to work whether we have access to health care or not. Those little patronizing gems are supposed to convince us that the elites actually care about those of us at the bottom of the pyramid of wealth accumulation. 

You know that COVID pandemic thing that’s “over” according to President Biden? The billionaires at Davos see the threat of the coronavirus in a completely different way: 

From The billionaires at Davos protect themselves from COVID-19, while declaring the pandemic “over” for working people

...State-of-the-art ventilation and HEPA air cleaners have been made available in common spaces and private rooms and the over 3,000 attendants will ensure these areas are cleaned and disinfected several times a day. Free access to N95s and respirators was provided because the participants, who have called such measures useless (for working people), know very well that they work. In fact, meeting organizers said that on “Forum-provided official transport,” the requirement is for “all drivers (chauffeurs) [to] wear masks at all times.”

And if this wasn’t enough, there have been reports that Upper Room Ultraviolet Disinfection systems and Far-UVC lights have been installed to disinfect the spaces and remove any virus that gains unauthorized access to the meeting.

The rich elites won't be missing any ski parties from coming down with a nasty virus, will they? 
Why does this handful of billionaires get to dictate terms to billions of other human beings? Why do they force workers back into the workplace when they themselves know that the pandemic is still raging, killing and crippling workers daily around the world? Why do they get to use the expressway over the Great Divide while the rest of us have to crawl through the dust on our bare hands and knees? Think about it. You know why.

Capitalism is the magic socioeconomic system that cures all ills, according to our masters at the WEF. Two thousand hoarders of wealth and power get to tell us, the other 8 billion inhabitants of Earth, what’s what. And the truth of the matter is that we of the bottom 8 billion don’t count in their big picture. We’re just here to provide them the wealth that our labors generate.  

The Great Divide is essential for capitalism to exist because if all of us had adequate food, shelter, and health care—or even an access to the “bridge”—then how would the billionaires ever “motivate” (read: frighten, scare, threaten) us into working for them in the first place?

Someone has got to drive the billionaires around, clean their toilets, cook their food, sew their designer clothes, manufacture their fancy cars, fly their private jets, perform their facelifts, etc. If we’re content simply to take care of ourselves and our neighbors, we’d never take care of those at the top, or so they fear. We might even ignore them until they become as poor as we workers are—and that can’t be allowed! (Read Why Are the Rich So Scared of Socialism for more answers.) 

So, what's the real reason why the rich can't become like the workers? Look at their last names again. That’s why. 

Because there’s no real reason why any human being should hoard wealth at the obscene rate these handful of billionaires (and their close friends the multi-millionaires) have done. We are all equals under the sun or in the eyes of God (if that’s your belief). Equals don't allow equals to starve just for the sake of showing off vast hoards of material wealth and flaunting their power over others. 

Capitalism as an socioeconomic system is a perversion of how to organize work and community for the benefit of all. It’s totally lacking in a sense of community for starters. Capitalists intentionally divide workers into different groups so these factions can be manipulated into spending time and energy hating other factions so much that they don’t have time to actually see it’s the capitalists who have forced them into this untenable situation in order to control them. 

The next time someone tells you that certain people (Gays, Muslims, Blacks, Asians, etc.) are "inferior" to you stop and think. Who told me to hate people from this group? What reasons do they have to make me hate others? What control do they exert over me? 

We the workers must get past the “othering” we’ve been brainwashed into doing. There's no time for it. Our planet is in the grips of a climate emergency:

Over the longer term, the greatest existential risk the world faces is climate breakdown. The last eight years were the hottest ever recorded, with 2016 being the warmest. Extreme weather events that once took place every several hundred years are now taking place annually.

We have already started to approach the tipping points that will rapidly and unpredictably accelerate the processes causing the climate breakdown. The oceans are becoming acidified, arctic ice and permafrost are melting, and forests are being lost at a devastating rate. (...)

The greatest risk the world faces comes from the class currently assembled at Davos. If they really wanted to save the world, they’d hand over their wealth and power to their workers—the only class with the ability and the incentive to deal with the challenges the world currently faces. --From Davos Elites Can’t Solve The Problems They Create 

If it’s freedom to choose the bridge over the Great Divide you’re looking for, then look no further than a system such as socialism that rewards the workers for their labor and gives them an equal vote in deciding how to run things. Americans in particular have been duped to think “capitalism equals democracy” when, in fact, it’s the opposite. Capitalism equals rich people telling working people what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, punishing us when we the workers don’t or can’t do it. That isn't democracy. It's oligarchy.

Why are we of the 8 billion strong allowing a handful of capitalists rule over us? It’s time for us to organize and fight back. A new organization forming called Workers Strike Back could help lead the way in the US. American workers should check them out. 

Remember: We the workers have the power. We certainly have the numbers. Now is the time for us to take control of our future. Our children and our planet are counting on us.

Related Links:


Survival of the Richest (Oxfam report) https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/survival-richest   

The Billionaires at Davos Protect Themselves from COVID-19, While Declaring the Pandemic "Over" for Working People https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/01/21/gkzt-j21.html 


Davos Elites Can't Solve the Problems They Create https://popularresistance.org/davos-elites-cant-solve-the-problems 
Over 1 MILLION Protest in France Against Macron’s Pension Plan https://youtu.be/H4gqRU94v6U
Political crisis emerges within leadership of Democratic Socialists of America https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/01/20/dsac-j20.html

Share of Workers in Unions Hit Low in 2022, But Number of Unionized Workers Grew https://truthout.org/articles/share-of-workers-in-unions-hit-low-in-2022-but-number-of-unionized-workers-grew/
The WEF's Diabolical Plans To Control Your Life (video)
World Economic Forum’s global risk report: A devastating picture of the capitalist crisis https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/01/19/gwug-j19.html
How Title Lenders Trap Poor Americans in Debt With Triple-Digit Interest Rates  https://www.propublica.org/article/title-lenders-trap-georgia-residents-in-debt

Richest 1% Took 2/3rds of Global Wealth Since 2020 – Twice as Much as 99% of Population Earned  https://scheerpost.com/2023/01/19/richest-1-took-2-3rds-of-global-wealth-since-2020-twice-as-much-as-99-of-population-earned/

True Priorities of the Global Elite https://popular.info/p/the-true-priorities-of-the-global

Oxfam report documents “explosion of inequality” during pandemic  https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/01/17/mufg-j17.html

Oxfam: Social inequality and poverty soaring in Australia

As Income Inequality Skyrockets, the Rich Are Paying Less Into Social Security  https://truthout.org/articles/as-income-inequality-skyrockets-the-rich-are-paying-less-into-social-security
Economic Justice Coalition Launches ‘Full Employment For All’ Campaign https://popularresistance.org/economic-justice-coalition-launches-full-employment-for-all-campaign-on-mlk-day/


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Monday, January 16, 2023

Protesting Evil (Be The Peace)

Protesting Evil 

(Be The Peace)

by C.A. Matthews

The greatest purveyor of violence in the world is my own government. I cannot be silent. —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1967

It’s time to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this week/month in the US. What that really means to our non-American readers is that we’ve decided to take a decent human being who spoke out boldly and straightforwardly against our corrupt socio-economic system, our endless wars for profit, and the bloodthirsty quest for Western world domination, and instead turned him into a kindly, saint-like person without teeth in order to make him totally acceptable to the rich (that is, white) and powerful elites who actually run this country. (See last week’s blog Who’s Really In Charge to see what I mean about who are actually running things. They’re probably running things in your country as well. Sorry.)

Let’s listen to Dr. King’s own words rather than the words of others who might want to “tone him down” so his legacy becomes more palatable to the powerful elites who wanted King dead (and possibly even pulled the trigger on him) in the first place. 

First off, Dr. King didn’t approve of war in any way, shape, or form. Conventional and nuclear warfare were both not to his liking, so I feel certain that he wouldn’t approve of our current $858 billion military budget. He wouldn’t have approved of the ridiculous warmongering propaganda we’re all being subjected to day and night by corporation-owned journalists, either. The following excerpts are what MLK said then and would say to us again today.

From Beyond Vietnam—A Time To Break Silence (April 4, 1967) https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm

To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I'm speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the One who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this One? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Some of you are shaking your heads at this point. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t hate the Communists and love his country, right or wrong, more than he hated the war in Vietnam? He didn’t patriotically rally the troops to go off to their deaths so the military industrial complex could make more profits? It seems not. MLK also said in the same speech:

Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them… This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

I’m going to step out on a limb here (because I’m fairly certain some propagandist will try to link MLK to promoting the Ukraine War) and say that Dr. King most certainly wouldn’t have approved of the US and NATO violating the Minsk Agreements and vilifying the Russian-speaking peoples of the Donbass region and their wish for independence. He would have been supportive of a negotiated peace. His words say it clearly: 

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition. (...)

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak of the -- for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.

Dr. King even ties together how war costs not only the country being bombed and shelled, but it also costs the poor of the country doing the bombing, in this case the US. Poor Americans were being actively drafted into the military in the 1960s and nowadays are enticed into joining in order to provide for themselves and their families. Sixty years on, nothing much has changed as many Americans are forced into becoming soldiers for purely economic reasons. For the poor it’s either risk death killing strangers abroad or risk death by starvation at home. MLK didn’t believe either choice was a good or moral one. 

Dr. King also states in no uncertain terms that the initiative to stop war is ours. It’s ours—not another country’s choice. We can’t keep acting like cowards. The US can tell NATO that it’s time to halt the violence in Ukraine and help all those concerned to sit down at the negotiation table and work toward a peace deal acceptable to all. The US can stop funding coups d’etats and CIA plots to overthrow governments who aren’t “friendly enough” to our corporations and billionaire businessmen. In other words, MLK  wouldn’t have recognized the non-elected Juan Guaido or approved of the CIA's help to overthrow Peru’s Pedro Castillo. Dr. King supported revolutionaries in search of peace and a better life for the oppressed:

In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years, we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.

Decades have passed and the same countries are still being used for ill by the US. Dr. King certainly didn’t approve of cultural chauvinism and America’s “economic hitmen”:

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." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

All this being said, Dr. King actually thought more highly of Americans and what they could do than we think of ourselves:

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

So, why does the US celebrate a man of peace each January, a man who strongly spoke out against the immorality of war and poverty, if we don’t believe in his vision for America and the world? Why would our so-called leaders think Dr. King would support their continuing covert and overt conflicts throughout the world simply for the sake of making arms manufacturers, bankers, Big Oil CEOs, and other related parasites even wealthier? MLK thought Americans were much better than this, much more capable of acting nobly rather than simply acting like profit-chasing narcissists:

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.

Substitute "Ukraine" for "Vietnam" and re-read this paragraph.

Americans really need to ask ourselves some deep questions. Either we truly believe and agree with what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said or we don’t. If we do, we’ll stop all the horrible violence we perpetuate in the world and defund our military and our militarized police forces forthwith. We’ll dismantle our nuclear warheads and offer recompense to those we have harmed, both at home and abroad.

If we don’t believe in what Dr. King said, then we need to stop sullying the shining memory of such a great man with this charade of a national holiday. We don’t deserve him as a cultural icon. RIP Martin.

Where do you stand? Are you protesting the evil you see in the world as Dr. King instructed or are you cooperating with it? Let MLK’s words touch your heart and motivate you toward a positive direction. 

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. (…)

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when "justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Which side are you on? Which side should you be on? Move there. Today. Be the peace.

Related links:

The Forgotten Socialist History of Martin Luther King Jr. https://inthesetimes.com/article/martin-luther-king-jr-day-socialism-capitalism

The 11 Most Anti-Capitalist Quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. https://scheerpost.com/2023/01/16/the-11-most-anti-capitalist-quotes-from-martin-luther-king-jr/

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