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Obama vs. Martin Luther King?
WASHINGTON - March 31 - Tonight, "Tavis Smiley Reports" on PBS airs "MLK: A Call to Conscience."
In a recent interview, Smiley stated about King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech: "If you replace the words 'Iraq' for 'Vietnam,' 'Afghanistan' for 'Vietnam,' 'Pakistan' for 'Vietnam,' this speech is so relevant today. ...
"One of the pieces that comes out in this special on Wednesday night that ... I think will shock most Americans is that even though King had almost three-quarters ... of the American people turned against him, 55 percent of his own people [African Americans] turned against him, one of the last calls -- we lay this out in the special Wednesday night -- one of the last calls ... he made from Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, where he was staying, as we know, in Memphis ... was back to his church in Atlanta, Ebenezer, which he co-pastored, as you know, with his father, Daddy King, and King told his father that when he got home Sunday from Memphis, so they could type it in the Sunday morning church bulletin, King told his father that his sermon topic was going to be, had he lived, 'Why America May Go to Hell.'"
Martin Luther King Jr. from his "Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence" address, delivered at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, a year to the day before his assassination -- full audio and text:
"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 continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. ...
"A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, 'This way of settling differences is not just.' This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. ...
"Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores ... A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind."
Executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com, Ford regularly produces audio commentaries and articles. His latest piece is "MLK’s Televised Challenge to Obama," which states: "Since the onset of the Obama phenomenon, Dr. Martin Luther King’s birth and death days have been 'polluted' by false and ahistorical comparisons between Obama and MLK. The two men represent opposite political poles: one, a radical opponent of imperial war and concentrated economic power, the other, an ally of Wall Street and commander-in-chief of 'the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.' In focusing on King, the man of peace, Tavis Smiley’s PBS special corrects a history that has been distorted, sometimes beyond recognition."