Fighting For King’s Dream

And yet why is this national disgrace being ignored? The Iraq war has killed nearly 4,000 American soldiers, and one million Iraqis. Is there any question that if Dr. King was alive today that he would condemn this war, like he did the Vietnam War?

[Speaking Truth To Power]

Today, we pay homage to the life of one of America’s greatest patriots: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

But, as the nation sinks deeper into war and economic recession—in a presidential election year, where we are again being showered with convenient promises for our votes—we the people must fight harder to fulfill his “Dream” for America.

Forty years ago the traitors of true democracy assassinated the moral conscience of America; seeking to silence the message of hope, tolerance and equal rights and justice, embodied in Dr. King. But bullets can’t kill the spirit of great ideas.

To this day those involved in this conspiracy against a real American hero are still at-large and somewhat unknown. Does anyone really believe James Earl Ray was anything more than a patsy?

For the last couple of weeks, we have witnessed a part of Dr. King’s dream coming to fruition in the now historic Iowa victory of Senator Barack Obama and his run at, possibly, being the first Black president.

This is probably part of what Dr. King thought his “Rainbow Revolution” across racial lines could accomplish. He would no doubt be pleased that some segments of white America now see an African American as a viable choice for the White House.

However, Dr. King would assuredly be distressed with this White House’s nepotistic usurpation of a trillion dollars of taxpayer money to fight an abominable war in Iraq, lining the pockets of cronies at Bechtel and Halliburton with no-bid contracts, while 37 million Americans live in poverty in this country.

Please keep in mind, that in America the Census Bureau defines poverty as individuals earning $9,393 a year, or, a family of three that earns $14, 680 per year. Given that paltry sum, compared to America’s cost of living, the true scope of poverty is a much larger problem.

And yet why is this national disgrace being ignored? The Iraq war has killed nearly 4,000 American soldiers, and one million Iraqis. Is there any question that if Dr. King was alive today that he would condemn this war, like he did the Vietnam War?

On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, at the Riverside Church here in New York, Dr. King said: “There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both Black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings.

Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continue to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destruction suction tube. So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

For the past few days, pundits and economists have quibbled over the semantic technicalities regarding recession, and whether we are now in one. Do they think regular Americans facing foreclosures, in an economy where job growth and wages are stagnant, as oil and gas prices are continually raised give a damn about their petty academic arguments?

Why aren’t they talking about how this war has bankrupted the country? But then why should we expect the “mainstream” media to speak coherently and comprehensively of the real issues facing America?

Dr. King critique’s of the Vietnam War is just as relevant to the Iraq war. For this war continues to “draw men and skills and money” away from fighting poverty in this country. But poverty isn’t something that’s a priority in Washington. Beyond superficial speeches, politicians give us very little specifics about how they will stop poverty.

Time and again we hear the powers that be in Washington complain about how they can’t find the requisite funding to strengthen our schools, and to provide quality jobs, health-care and housing.

But why is it that they can always seem to find funding for war and prisons? Of the two million people locked away in America’s prison’s one million are Black men. Would Dr. King be pleased that America is increasingly spending more money to expand the prison industrial complex to the detriment of our schools and universities?

Today, politicians will give lip-service to Dr. King. As always, they will attempt to neuter and co-opt his message and vision of America, for their selfish ambitions. It’s our duty to stop and lead them toward fulfillment of his great vision. For, unlike Dr. King, America hasn’t yet reached the “mountaintop.”

Benjamin is a member of The Black Star News’s Editorial Board



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