Martin Luther King Jr.’s Riverside speech exactly one year before his death was one of his best. It was a powerful statement against US militarism and the war in Vietnam. From Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon at antiwar.com:
The anniversary of his assassination always brings a flood of tributes to Martin Luther King Jr., and this Sunday will surely be no exception. But those tributes – including from countless organizations calling themselves progressive – are routinely evasive about the anti-militarist ideals that King passionately expressed during the final year of his life.
You could call it evasion by omission.
The standard liberal canon waxes fondly nostalgic about King’s “I have a dream” speech in 1963 and his efforts against racial segregation. But in memory lane, the Dr. King who lived his last year is persona non grata.
The pattern is positively Orwellian. King explicitly condemned what he called “the madness of militarism.” And by any reasonable standard, that madness can be diagnosed as pervading U.S. foreign policy in 2021. But today, almost all politicians and mainstream media commentators act as though King never said such things, or if he did then those observations have little to do with today.
But they have everything to do with the USA now in its twentieth year of continuous warfare. The Pentagon’s constant bombing in the Middle East and elsewhere is the scarcely noticed wallpaper in the US media’s echo chamber.
What compounds the madness of militarism in the present day is the silence that stretches eerily and lethally across almost the entire US political spectrum, including the bulk of progressive organizations doing excellent work to challenge economic injustice and institutionalized racism here at home.