Rev. Martin Luther King - Beyond Vietnam

I was driving home from the gym and they were playing Rev. King's speech, Beyond Vietnam. The speech was given April 4, 1967. Exactly one year before his assassination. I never heard of the speech but it was absolutely fascinating. Basically, you could replace reference to Iraq in place of Vietnam and the speech in many aspects, become as relevant today as it was 19 years ago.

It is a very long speech so it may take a couple of days to read, but I recommend it. The follow is not in order but will give you an idea of the content of the speech.

...but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this
ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those
who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them?...

...And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 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...

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 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 or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged.

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.



3 Responses to Rev. Martin Luther King - Beyond Vietnam

  1. Anonymous Says:
    That was a great speech by MLK but to compare it to Iraq is totally off base. The VC never attacked US soil and were not terrorist.
  2. Cynthia Says:
    I agree with your analysis especially since Iraq were innocent victims condemned because of a web of lies.
  3. Shavonne Says:

    Iraqis never attacked the U.S. on U.S. soil nor were they terrorist. Remember it was Bin Laden and and a bunch of Saudis that are responsible for 9/11 not Saddam and the people of Iraq. Or do you not know the difference. So it is very correct to compare Iraq to Vietnam.