"Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on."
From Martin Luther King's speech Beyond Vietnam, delivered in New York City on April 4, 1967
King was assassinated one year to the day after making that speech, which means the 40th anniversary of his death will be marked in the media next week with the usual bland genuflection. You probably won't hear a lot of references to his antiwar stance, though the situation in Iraq may inspire a few. You definitely won't hear anything about his radical connection between racism, war and poverty, which is beautifully outlined in the speech, and in the agenda of the Poor People's Campaign. I encourage you to click here** to read all of Beyond Vietnam. As you read, replace "Vietnam" with "Iraq," "communism" with "terrorism" and "Marxism" with "radical Islam"--I find it works eerily well. The speech is not short, but it's worth the time it takes to read, and it'll give you some food for thought when the platitudes are being mouthed next Friday.
And since I'm in political mode, I'll also recommend that you go here to see John Pilger's The War on Democracy, a film about our long history of murderous intervention in Latin America. This movie has seen theatrical release in Britain and Australia, but is only available on DVD here. Heaven forbid people should be reminded that Bush's war in Iraq is really just business as usual.
**There is another text of the speech here that includes an mp3 file, but be warned, the site has annoying pop-ups. Also, go here for an interview on Democracy Now! with Dr. Vincent Harding, who wrote the speech.