Martin Luther King’s death disappears down the memory hole. “He was assassinated by a U.S. government conspiracy”

A Day of Service is a Disservice to the Truth of MLK’s Life, Death, and Witness

Global Research, January 16, 2017

As Martin Luther King’s birthday is celebrated with a national holiday, his death day disappears down the memory hole.  Across the country – in response to the King Holiday and Service Act passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 – people will  be encouraged to make the day one of service  (from Latin, servus = slave).  Etymological irony aside, such service does not include King’s commitment to protesting a decadent system of racial and economic injustice or non-violently resisting the warfare state that is the United States.  Government sponsored service is cultural neo-liberalism at its finest. 

The word service is a loaded word.  It connotes many things, such as military service (“Were you ever in the service?”), community service (“She was sentenced to 30 days of community service.”), being of service to others, etc.  It has also become a vogue word over the past 25 years – e.g. Service Learning (1995), etc.  Its popularity and use arose and expanded in tandem with the privatization of social life, services, and the expansion of work for free, such as unpaid internships and articles like this for which this author receives no remuneration. I see it as part of the privatization and unpaid volunteer movement engineered by the elites in recent decades.  This cult of the service volunteer is a form of social control and capitalist exploitation aimed at inducing passivity in an individualized and divided population to prevent radical social change.

Its use for MLK Day is clear: individuals are encouraged to volunteer for activities such as tutoring children, painting senior centers, or delivering meals to the elderly.  Clearly these are wonderful deeds when done on individual initiative and not through government, corporate, and institutional public relations aimed at concealing an American prophet’s radical message and his brutal assassination.

The America Association of State Colleges and Universities describes it as follows:

The MLK Day of Service is part of United We Serve, the Presidents national call to service initiative.  It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.  The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a ‘Beloved Community’.

This is sheer nonsense.  Such service is a far cry from King’s campaign to transform the institutional structures of American society.  It in no way provides solutions to “our most pressing national problems” or “creates solutions to social problems.”  But a day of such individual volunteer service once a year does make people feel good about themselves. Thus the government, corporate, and educational institutions strongly encourage it, as if Martin Luther King were born volunteering at the local food pantry and Oprah Winfrey were cheering him on.

After all, King was not assassinated because he had spent his heroic life promoting individual volunteerism.  To understand his life and death – to celebrate the man – “it is essential to realize although he is popularly depicted and perceived as a civil rights leader, he was much more than that.  A non-violent revolutionary, he personified the most powerful force for a long overdue social, political, and economic reconstruction of the nation.”  Those are the words of William Pepper, the King family lawyer, from his comprehensive and definitive study of the King assassination, The Plot to Kill King.

In other words, Martin Luther King was a transmitter of a radical non-violent spiritual and political energy so plenipotent that his very existence was a threat to an established order based on institutionalized violence, racism, and economic exploitation.  He was a very dangerous man to the U.S. government and all the institutional and deep state forces armed against him. That is why they spied on him (and his father and grandfather going back to 1917) and used dirty tricks to try to destroy him.  When he denounced the Vietnam War and announced his Poor People’s Campaign and intent to lead a massive peaceful encampment of hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C., he set off panic in the bowels of government spies and their masters. As Stokely Carmichael, co-chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, said to King in a conversation secretly recorded by Army Intelligence, “The man don’t care you call ghettos concentration camps, but when you tell him his war machine is nothing but hired killers, you got trouble.”

Revolutionaries are, of course, anathema to the power elites who, with all their might, resist such rebels’ efforts to transform society. If they can’t buy them off, they knock them off.  Forty-nine years after King’s assassination, the causes he fought for – civil rights, the end to U.S. wars of aggression, and economic justice for all – remain not only unfulfilled, but have worsened in so many respects.  And King’s message has been enervated by the sly trick of giving him a national holiday and then urging Americans to make it “a day of service.”  The vast majority of those who innocently participate in these activities have no idea who killed King, or why.  If they did, they might pause in their tracks, suspend their “service” activities, and convene a teach-in on the truth of these matters.  William Pepper would be summoned.

Because MLK repeatedly called the United States the “greatest purveyor of violence on earth,” he was universally condemned by the mass media and government that later – once he was long and safely dead and no longer a threat – praised him to the heavens.  This has continued to the present day of historical amnesia.

For the government that honors Dr. King with a national holiday killed him. This is the suppressed truth behind the highly promoted day of service.  It is what you are not supposed to know.

If you are supposed to know anything about his death day as you go about your day of service, it is the following.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at 6:01 PM as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.  He was shot in the lower right side of his face by one rifle bullet that shattered his jaw, damaged his upper spine, and came to rest below his left shoulder blade.

The U. S. government claimed the assassin was a racist loner named James Earl Ray, a petty criminal, who had escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary on April 23, 1967.  Ray was alleged to have fired the fatal shot from a second-floor bathroom window of a rooming house above the rear of Jim’s Grill across the street. Running to his rented room, Ray allegedly gathered his belongings, including the rifle, in a bedspread-wrapped bundle, rushed out the front door onto the adjoining street, and in a panic dropped the bundle in the doorway of the Canipe Amusement Company a few doors down.  He was then said to have jumped into his white Mustang and driven to Atlanta where he abandoned the car.  From there he fled to Canada and then England where he was eventually arrested at Heathrow Airport on June 8, 1968 and extradited to the U.S.  The state claims that the money Ray needed to purchase the car and for all his travel was secured through various robberies and a bank heist.  They allege that he was motivated by racism and that he was a bitter and deranged loner.

However, William Pepper’s decades-long investigation not only refutes the flimsy case against James Earl Ray, but definitively proves that King was killed by a government conspiracy led by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, Army Intelligence, and Memphis Police, assisted by southern Mafia figures.  He is right to assert that “we have probably acquired more detailed knowledge about this political assassination than we have ever had about any previous historical event.” This makes the silence around this case even more shocking.

This shock is accentuated when one is reminded (or told for the first time) that in 1999 a Memphis jury, after a thirty day trial with over seventy witnesses, found the U.S. government guilty in the killing of MLK.  The King family had brought the suit and Pepper represented them.  They were grateful that the truth was confirmed, but saddened by the way the findings were buried once again by a media in cahoots with the government.

The civil trial was the King family’s last resort to get a public hearing to disclose the truth of the assassination. They and Pepper knew, and proved, that Ray was an innocent pawn, but Ray had died in prison in 1998 after trying for thirty years to get a trial and prove his innocence (shades of Sirhan Sirhan, who still languishes in prison seeking a new trial).  During all these years, Ray had maintained that he had been manipulated by a shadowy figure named Raul, who supplied him with money and his white Mustang and coordinated all his complicated travels, including having him buy a rifle and come to Jim’s Grill and the boarding house on the day of the assassination to give it to Raul.  The government has always denied Raul existed.

Pepper refutes the government and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, through multiple witnesses, telephonic and photographic evidence, that Raul existed; that he was Ray’s U.S. intelligence handler, who provided him with money and instructions from their first meeting in the Neptune Bar in Montreal, where Ray had fled in 1967 after his prison escape, until the day of the assassination.  It was Raul who instructed Ray to return to the U.S. (an act that makes no sense for an escaped prisoner who had fled the country), gave him the money for the white Mustang, helped him attain travel documents, and moved him around the country like a pawn on a chess board.

Raul, this man who allegedly never existed, has also been tied by multiple witnesses to Jack Ruby, Lee Harvey Oswald’s killer, and therefore to the JFK assassination.   This, too, is history you are not supposed to know.

Pepper not only demolishes the government’s self-serving case with a plethora of evidence, he shows how the mainstream media, academia, and government flacks have spent years covering up the truth of MLK’s murder through lies and disinformation. Another way they have accomplished this is by convincing a gullible public that “service” is a substitute for truth.  As Douglass Valentine points out in his important new book, The CIA as Organized Crime, the symbolic transformation involved in word usage and the archetypal power of myth creation underlie the vast system of propaganda we are subjected to. And the implied power of “positive thinking” – as in “service” – is a case in point.

But service without truth is slavery. It is propaganda aimed at convincing decent people into thinking that they are serving the essence of MLK’s message while they are obeying their masters, the very government that murdered this great American hero.

It is time for a slaves’ revolt against the mind manipulation served by the MLK Day of Service.

We need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth.

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely.  He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/

This article first appeared at OpEdNews.com on January 14, 1997

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Martin Luther King: Honored by the government that shot him in the face … A “forgotten” extrajudicial political assassination

Written on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 18, 2016

Global Research, January 18, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was signed into law as a federal holiday in 1983. I do not wish to trivialize this accomplishment: it took great persistence by civil society groups and it had to conquer serious opposition. Yet what it has established is an indigestible paradox in the nation’s list of saints and heroes.

Recall that the jury in the 1999 civil trial examining the assassination reached a startling conclusion on December 8, 1999: US government agencies had conspired successfully to kill Dr. King.

Mainstream media carried little about this trial and verdict in 1999 and they persist in ignoring it to this day.

See Global Research article: 

king

Court Decision: U.S. “Government Agencies” Found Guilty in Martin Luther King’s Assassination by Carl Herman, January 18, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When challenged they tend to say that the claims were muddy and confused and vulnerable to easy refutation. Actually, the plaintiffs’ case was strong, and the jury, after sitting and listening to presentation of evidence and argument from November 15 to December 8, was quickly able to reach consensus on the verdict. The great variety of evidence presented by attorney William Pepper pointed to the impossibility of the lone assassin hypothesis (James Earl Ray) and to the conspiring of several bodies, including the local police (Memphis Police Department), the mafia (local representative Frank Liberto), and federal police, intelligence and military units. In other words, the combination of forces that carried out the murder was not very different from that which had killed President Kennedy. Such was the planning, the commitment, and the determination of the assassins that there was little chance Dr. King could have survived the day. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter onto the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

Reading the transcript of this trial takes some time (it’s about 2700 pages long), but having done so I am impressed by attorney Pepper’s persistence and skill in getting to the heart of this matter. Yet if the findings are to have political force, and if the mainstream media persist in pretending the trial never took place, it falls to active citizens to do their part to make the trial and the findings known. They should tell people about this trial, encourage people to read it, quote from it, and emphasize its importance. They should not let it be trivialized (as the current Wikipedia article on Martin King tries to do) by pretending the claims of government conspiracy were weak and have been refuted—they have not.

King was killed not just because he was a civil rights activist, but because he was planning the Poor People’s Campaign, which would have involved nonviolent disruption of business as usual in Washington on behalf of all of the nation’s poor, whatever their colour. This made the 1% uncomfortable. King was also killed because he had passionately criticized his country’s pursuance of the Vietnam War—his major denunciation of that war at Riverside Church in New York City had taken place one year to the day before he was killed. The eloquent and uncompromising talk had made everyone from President Johnson to the U.S. military and intelligence communities uncomfortable.

Far from being confused and muddy, I think the central arguments presented in 1999 have been quite well established. Moreover, there was little sophistication in the attempts to buy off and threaten James Earl Ray [Ed.: Authorities also attempted to murder him and he was subjected to inhumane conditions in prison that could be described as torture], to discourage and even kill eyewitnesses, and to pretend against all evidence that government investigations had been thorough and had found nothing to seriously question the case against Ray.

The truth is that the lone gunman theory bit the dust in 1999, and anyone who attempts to resurrect it had better be able to challenge chapter and verse of this civil trial.

For those who have not read the trial transcript, I shall end with an exemplifying segment—worth quoting to friends who might be unfamiliar with it.

This material is taken directly, with only minor omissions, from the court transcript of testimony given in mid-afternoon, November 30th, 1999.

A former Memphis Yellow Cab driver, Louis Ward, is on the stand answering questions put to him by attorney William Pepper. Ward describes what a fellow cab driver, Paul Butler, saw and reported as an eyewitness to the assassination and its aftermath. Why Butler himself was not on the stand will eventually become clear.

Some of these details were reported by Butler via car radio right after the assassination, while Ward heard other details face-to-face from Butler a bit later in the day.

 “…as I raised up and looked, that rifle 
popped — it didn’t sound like a rifle, it sounded like two boards clapped together. And he said, I seen his jaw and part of his neck blowed away. It was like he had a stick of dynamite in his mouth. He said, as I wheeled and looked, I seen a cluster of smoke coming up out of the bushes, and then I seen the guy come running up. He didn’t have no rifle. But he said, I know that he is the one that had to shoot him. And then he
 headed towards the — headed north towards 
the squad car.
 And, of course, we thought the 
police had picked him up. Because it was a
 black and white squad car… 

Q. So he’s telling you that after the
 shot he saw a man come out of the bushes –


A. Yes, sir.


Q. — run up north on Mulberry Street –


A. Yes, sir.


Q. — and get into a squad car — a 
traffic –


A. Traffic squad car, black and white,
mm-hum.


Q. Which was parked where?


A. He said about a half a block north of 
the motel.


Q. And then what happened to that car?


A. Well, he said they headed north. We thought he picked — well, he come back on the radio and said the police has picked him up and they headed north with him. You could hear the tires were squealing. So we thought the police had already picked up the guy that done the shooting.


Q. I see. So both you and Mr. Butler 
had thought that the police had apprehended the shooter.


A. Yes.


Q. What happened next? Did any police 
come out to the airport?


A. Yes. While I’m standing there
 talking, a squad car drove up with a
 lieutenant and a patrolman…And the lieutenant wrote the report down that he [Butler] had and told him that they would be back in contact with him. So they got in the squad car and left after they got the report.


Q. So they took a report from Mr. Butler 
and they — they left. Where were you standing when that report was being taken? 

A. Oh, probably — when they came up, I 
was standing up next to him. When they came up, I backed away, probably 3 or 4 feet out of their way, where they would have plenty of clearance. But I was close enough that he gave them the same report that he gave me. 

Q. You overheard this report being given?


A. Yes, sir.


Q. All right. Then what happened next?


A. Well, they called — the dispatcher 
called him to come in to the headquarters. We have a headquarters. Said he was wanted down there. Well, later on that night, not 
too much later, I was in town and drove by
 the cab company and there was several squad
 cars down there. And I figured that they 
were, you know, taking some more reports.
And then I found out later that he was
supposed to be at court at 9 o’clock the next
morning.


Q. He was supposed to give a
 statement –


A. Yes, sir.


Q. — the next morning? And how many
 squad cars were around Yellow’s offices that 
night?


A. There were several. I would say
 seven or eight. Might have been more, might 
have been five or six. But I just noticed 
there were several squad cars sitting there.
I didn’t count them.


Q. Seven or eight Memphis Police Department cars around Yellow’s headquarters that night?


A. Yes, sir.


[Two weeks then pass before Ward goes back to Yellow’s headquarters, when the following takes place.]

Q. When was the next time you actually 
went into the offices and –

A. Oh, it was — well, I went into the
 office when I first came back to work. I 
went in then. That’s when I — I asked him
 about Mr. Butler.


Q. Who did you ask about Mr. Butler?


A. There was four or five cab drivers 
standing around talking. And I just asked 
them. And that’s when they told me — I
 don’t even remember which one told me. But he said he had been throwed out of a high-speed automobile between Memphis and West Memphis. And they found him about 10 o’clock the next day.
[April 5, 1968]

Q. They said he was thrown out of a 
high-speed automobile. When was he thrown out of that automobile?


A. The next — the next morning. They 
said they found his body about 10 o’clock or 10:30 the next morning. He was supposed to 
have been in court at 9 o’clock that morning 

and he wasn’t there. They found his car
 there at the cab company. And — but he 
wasn’t — he wasn’t — never made it to
court. But then about 10:30 they said they 
found his body between Memphis and West 
Memphis.

[Ed.: Mr. Ward further testified that he went through the local newspapers and never found anything in the papers about Mr. Butler’s death.]

And so it is that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, finding its way into the nation’s calendar of saints and heroes, has the potential to shake this calendar of myths and fibs into pieces.

April 4, 1968 — the execution of Martin Luther King

Today marks the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee.

This amazing man, whose legacy continues in his words and deeds, was murdered as he prepared to lead a march on Washington, DC.

In 1999, the King Family finally succeeded in having the evidence heard in court which showed King was assassinated by a collaboration of the United States government with Mafia members. James Earl Ray was a “patsy” – set up to take the blame. He had nothing to do with it. He was not a racist.

Many of the American perpetrators are still with us. Certainly, the US government and the agencies that committed this deed thrive and continue working domestically and in other countries.

Daylight exposes. Tell people. Don’t rely on the internet. Talk to people, face to face. Tell your officials. Demand public recognition and response to these crimes by the U.S. government.

The transcript of the trial is here: http://www.thekingcenter.org/civil-case-king-family-versus-jowers It is also available in book form: The 13th Juror – The Official Transcript of the Martin Luther King Assassination Conspiracy Trial (ISBN 978-1442112155)

Dr. William Pepper, the attorney for the King family, wrote An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King (ISBN 978-1844672851) It includes additional and updated evidence.

This is the speech that Martin Luther King gave opposing the Vietnam War and American foreign policy, which set the clock ticking against him. He delivered it exactly one year before he was murdered:
http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_beyond_vietnam/
Beyond Vietnam

Dr. King said:
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

Don’t be silent. Be a friend to peace, equality, harmony, and to people everywhere.

Excerpt from “Beyond Vietnam”:

… They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1954-in 1945 rather-after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China-for whom the Vietnamese have no great love-but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva Agreement. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords, and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. The peasants watched as all of this was presided over by United States influence and then by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men.

Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call “fortified hamlets.” The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers.

… The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

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.

Martin Luther King: “Now that he is safely dead, let us praise him”

From Global Research, January 21, 2015
By Dr. Gary G. Kohls

Now that he is safely dead let us praise him,
build monuments to his glory,
sing hosannas to his name.

Dead men make such convenient heroes.
They cannot rise to challenge the images
we would fashion from their lives.

And besides, it is easier to build monuments
than to make a better world.,” — Carl Wendell Hines

Excerpt:

Purging the Prophets

Both ancient and modern powers-that-be recognize dangerous whistle-blowers when they see them, and they usually don’t waste much time making contingency plans for the “silencing”. That is the function of the national security apparatus of all states and, in King’s era, it was a major function of J. Edgar Hoover, the racist FBI head who was a sworn enemy of King and all that he stood for.

Usually whistle-blowing prophets are ignored early on, but then, if the rabble-rouser doesn’t go away, he is more actively opposed and eventually brought down, by hook or by crook.

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer proclaimed that all great truths are dealt with in three ways: firstly they are ignored, secondly, they are violently opposed and thirdly they are accepted as self-evident.

In our more complicated era where bullies, paid informers, spies, lobbyists, the mass media, megacorporations and politicians use hidden persuasion (propaganda), fear and gun violence to silence the truth-tellers, the first two parts of Schopenhauer’s dictum still hold. But these days there are more sophisticated ways to discredit or silence the prophets and whistle-blowers seem to be delaying the third part. The enemies of truth seem to have perfected the use of dirty tricks, smear campaigns, rumor-mongering, “honey traps”, psy-ops, intimidation, infiltration of the prophet’s movement by agents provocateur, death (or job loss) threats to the whistle-blower (or his family]) the use of right-wing think tanks to spread disinformation and even the arranging of murders that look like accidents or suicides.

A Vocation of Agony

And so it goes. Being a prophet is hazardous duty. King called it “a vocation of agony”.

Whistle-blowers such as King know very well that they are going to pay a heavy price for their refusal to bow down to authority. They know that they will have to endure character assassination and eventually physical assassination if they don’t shut up.

“I Have a Dream” vs “Beyond Vietnam”: A World of Difference

Over the decades we Americans have been indoctrinated in the belief that the essence of King was his “I Have A Dream” speech. The ruling elites allow the repeated airing of that worthy speech but have successfully kept hidden his more powerful anti-war “Beyond Vietnam” speech.[1] They have managed to virtually erase from the history of the civil rights movement the antiwar activism of King’s maturing years and the unshakable commitment to gospel nonviolence that he had had from the beginning.

King’s commitment that “black lives matter” came out of his understanding of the life, mission and gospel ethics of what most Americans were briefly exposed to in Sunday School. King’s commitment to nonviolent societal transformation mirrored the politics, theology and the ethics of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

A testament to the deep truth of King’s message and the likelihood of the success of King’s nonviolent tactics is the fact that his institutional enemies had to conspire to assassinate him in order to stop the movement.

And it was King’s willingness to come out against the dirty war in Vietnam in his “Beyond Vietnam” speech that unleashed the final assassination plot (by hired assassins other than the patsy James Earl Ray) in order to permanently silence him (or so they thought) with a single bullet to the head exactly one year to the day after that speech.. (For the documentation proving the innocence of Ray,listen to Dr William Pepper’s speech at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24-ALnvr4kM or read Pepper’s book – “An Act of State” – that tells.about the Memphis jury trial that exonerated Ray in 1999.) [2]

“The Greatest Purveyor of Violence in the World Today is my Own Government”

William Pepper, in 1967 a free-lance journalist just back from Vietnam, met with King that year and told him the stories and showed him the photos he had taken that proved the truth about the alleged American war crimes, atrocities, torturing and murdering of innocent Vietnamese civilians in that war. King had wept with Pepper over the information; and thus began the new reality for King. He had struggled for months with what he knew was his calling to speak out against the atrocities that deceived American soldiers were perpetrating in Vietnam. Ultimately he realized that he had no choice but to exercise his duty to warn others about what his government had been up to in the fog of war.

He said: 

“As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But, they asked, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.”

King saw the connections between the financial, spiritual and psychological costs of participation in the human slaughter in Vietnam and the racial and economic violence that was preventing poor blacks from attaining justice in America. King knew a nation couldn’t adequately fund both “guns and butter” (the notion that a nation can pay for war and simultaneously provide for its people’s basic human needs simultaneously). They have to make a choice between the two, and America’s politicians, as usual, easily made the choice, and they voted massive funds for the guns and a pittance for the butter.

“Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”

The funding was predictably going to go to the war and not the poverty and injustice. Pouring scarce resources into war-making automatically sabotages programs that provide impoverished, suffering people with the basic necessities of life.

President Johnson’s “war on poverty” was lost because American war profiteers and warmongers chose to fight Johnson’s war in Vietnam instead. King understood the incongruities and spoke out about them. He knew that the war in Vietnam trumped freedom for the oppressed back home especially if the uber-patriotic white racists and militarists who controlled Congress had anything to say about it.

Many historians believe that King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech was equivalent to the signing of his own death warrant. The war profiteers, the pro-war pseudo-patriots, the national security state apparatus, the weapons-industry-funded politicians and most of the others in positions of power at the time absolutely could not tolerate and antiwar activism that might interfere with the “golden goose” and “cash cow” that was the Vietnam War. Continue reading