Here is Jim Douglass’s “Letter to the American People,” which is good to read today on the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was one of only three journalists who attended the whole four week trial in 1999, which found that MLK was murdered as the result of a conspiracy that involved the U.S. government.
“What I experienced in that courtroom ranged from inspiration at the courage of the Kings, their lawyer-investigator William F. Pepper, and the witnesses, to amazement at the government’s carefully interwoven plot to kill Dr. King. The seriousness with which U.S. intelligence agencies planned the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. speaks eloquently of the threat Kingian nonviolence represented to the powers that be in the spring of 1968…Thirty-two years after Memphis, we know that the government that now honors Dr. King with a national holiday also killed him. As will once again become evident when the Justice Department releases the findings of its ‘limited re-investigation’ into King’s death, the government (as a footsoldier of corporate power) is continuing its cover-up – just as it continues to do in the closely related murders of John and Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X.”
For the speech: click here Martin Luther King, Jr. Who is your God_-1
I delivered at 6 P.M. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN on April 4, 1993, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. at 6 P.M. at the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968. The talk was an attempt to reverse what had become a prominent trend when discussing Martin Luther King, Jr. over the previous decade, namely, the systematic minimizing, downplaying, ignoring and disparaging of the absolute centrality of nonviolence in his life and work. It was as if, even those devoted to him and his work, as well as those who desired him to be a patron saint of their peace and justice cause, wanted no part of the essential dimension that nonviolence held in all his programs and pursuits of peace and justice. In this amnesia inducing process, Dr. King’s historical memory was beginning to mirror the historical memory of Jesus, that is, he was becoming a person with a multitude of admirers and fans, most of whom wanted no part the nonviolent love of friends and enemies that was axial to his whole existence. However, Martin Luther King, Jr. without his total and unreserved commitment to nonviolence to the very end of his life is not Martin Luther King, Jr., any more than Jesus is Jesus without His total and unreserved commitment to nonviolence to the very end of His life.
My address at the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968, seemingly had no effect in stopping the systematic presentation of Dr. King with little or no reference to the all encompassing place nonviolence actually held in his life and in his social justice efforts. Yet, here are the words of Martin himself:
“In recent months several people have said to me: ‘Since violence is the new cry, isn’t there a danger you will lose touch with the people and be out of step with the times if you don’t change your views on nonviolence?’ My answer is always the same. Occasionally in life one develops a conviction so precious and meaningful that he will stand on it till the end. That is what I have found in nonviolence. I’m committed to nonviolence absolutely. I am just not going to kill anybody, whether it’s in Vietnam or here…The stage of history is replete with the chants and choruses of the conquerors who came killing in pursuit of peace.”
A violence endorsing Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is as absurd as a violence endorsing Jesus. Fundamental human integrity, decency and honesty insist that a truth for which Martin and Jesus daily and ultimately laid down their lives should not be calculatingly bracketed out of the memory of their lives by those who are the institutional gatekeepers for preserving the remembrance of them. But if the gatekeepers of their memory are self-serving deceivers via deliberate omission, then the individual person must speak clearly the truth, that nonviolence was pivotal to and irremovable from each of their lives. He or she may not have the bull horns that an institution has at it disposal. But he or she has power. The power of saying that 1+1= 2 to those who are trying to double cross humanity by saying 1+1= 5. They have the power of truth.
Take a moment and consider the attached reflection on Martin Luther King, Jr. from twenty-five years ago on this day. It might be helpful in clarifying the place of nonviolence in some life and death matters that are universal to humanity—including you and me.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
Oftentimes, when people ask me about my thoughts on abortion, they phrase it as a hypothetical situation. This is from a recent email that someone wrote to me:
To use an extreme example, a woman is raped, the doctor knows the
child will have severe down syndrome. The state, whatever state, is
unlikely to care of the child. Should that woman not be allowed to
have an abortion?
Or a single woman of no resources is to produce a child in an african
country with no reasonable expectation of adoptability and will be
prevented from having the education that might allow her to prosper.
Should that woman not be allowed to have an abortion?
Do not think that I am making fun of these questions, as they are fair and serious and should be taken seriously. Most importantly, they were asked with goodwill.
However, I can’t help but notice the same pattern of questioning when people in the Christian Just War / Just Defense camp ask me about what they call “pacifism.” This is a tongue-and-cheek video that does a good job of showing (though not explaining) what is wrong with logic that is based on hypotheticals: It’s not really logic at all.
How to have “the talk” with your kid.
Dear CAM Friends,
Below is a copy of a message that I have sent to my U.S. Senators urging them to support S.J. Res. 54. I urge you to look into this matter and consider contacting your Senators also. In most cases you can’t email them directly but you can fill out a form on their website to send them a message. This is a remarkable bipartisan effort and has support from both left and right on the internet which is amazing in this time of a sharply divided America. Just having this debate would be beneficial in my opinion. Here are some links that provide background information.
Dear Senator _________
I strongly urge you to support S.J.Res. 54, introduced by Senators Lee (R-UT) and Sanders (I-VT), along with Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). This important legislation invokes section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to require a debate and vote on ending unauthorized U.S. military involvement in Yemen’s civil war. U.S. participation in the Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE)-led coalition’s military operations in Yemen has not been authorized by either a congressional declaration of war nor a specific statute. Further, by providing technical, logistical and other military support for the Saudi and UAE-led coalition in Yemen, the U.S. has facilitated numerous violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen and the creation of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. It is imperative that the Senate reasserts Congress’ constitutional authority as the sole body that can declare war by passing S.J.Res. 54. I urge you to take the first step in reasserting Congress’ authority by co-sponsoring the resolution and voting for it when it comes to the Senate floor.
Military spending is the Sacred Cow of present-day America.
It makes no difference who the President is or which party has a Congressional majority. There can be heated debate about whether there is enough money for healthcare or education or infrastructure maintenance but there is to be no consideration whatsoever to the idea of reducing defense spending in order to allocate those funds to other purposes. This Sacred Cow must be fully insulated from all critical thinking and examination. Its virtues are assumed to be self-evident and are not to be questioned.
We must not question or criticize the Military-Industrial Complex or any of its supporters. Instead we must keep repeating the National Mantra of “Support the troops”. We must always remember to say “Thank you for your service” when speaking to someone who is or has been in the military. Beyond this point of social etiquette there are to be no serious discussions about the actual merits of the Multiple Wars that America is currently engaged in. Or how much this costs us. Asking veterans how they actually feel about their time in uniform and really listening to what they say is not part of our protocol.
When we thank a veteran for their service to our country we need to remember that this person has chosen to risk their life on our behalf. This willingness to make the Ultimate Sacrifice deserves the greatest respect. If we are being fully honest, however, there is more appreciation that we need to express to every veteran that we acknowledge in this way. Not only must we thank them for their willingness to die on our behalf, we must also thank them for their willingness to kill on our behalf. The truth is that every member of the armed services is making a contribution, directly or indirectly, to the death of the designated enemy. They risk being killed by strangers while they try to kill those same strangers.
Why do so many veterans struggle with their return to civilian life? Is it improper ask why so many in the military are committing suicide every day during and after their time in uniform? Can we ignore the meaning of “moral injury” sustained by the men and women who have served in our military? Should we seriously investigate the extent to which soldiers during and after their time in the service are suffering from PTSD and CTE? Posing such questions will make people too uncomfortable.
Another uncomfortable question to avoid is the matter of why the most powerful military force in human history has not been able to “win” the War on Terror after 16 years of fighting. Don’t ask that one.
We must certainly not inquire about who in our society has benefitted financially from so many years of continuous warfare. That sort of question is unwelcome in polite society. That sort of question might suggest that the “War on Terror” is not actually meant to be won but rather is meant to go on indefinitely so that certain groups of people can become exceedingly wealthy. It is not appropriate for us to think about these possibilities.
It is in poor taste to question if, as a nation, we are doing what is right as we intervene around the world. It is improper to ask whether or not spending millions of dollars per day for the past 16 years to pay for these wars has been money well spent.
We certainly should not wonder if this Sacred Cow is just a Cash Cow in disguise.
The never-ending quest for “National Security” ends up being the worshiping of a kind of false god. We go to great lengths to convince ourselves that if we have enough weapons we will finally be safe. We may imagine that our legitimate desire to feel safe can only be accomplished by making others sufficiently afraid of us. As we have come to believe that this is true, we have made a modern-day Golden Calf in the shape of a Pentagon. In various ways we have been taught to worship this false god as if it the source of our salvation.
What if real security does not flow out of the Department of Defense? What if our safety does not depend on threatening someone else with superior firepower?
What if we actually consider embracing the radical idea that real safety and security comes from God?
Imagine a group of children placed in a very large playroom. Almost immediately they discover that it’s full of Legos that they can use to build whatever they want. They quickly start building all sorts of things. We notice that some of the children seem to like each other and play well together and others do not. The children start to arrange themselves and the playroom accordingly. They form groups and try to create ways to feel safe in the playroom. They fortify their territories, develop defense strategies and build various Lego weapons because they feel unsafe with the “other children” who are part of other groups in the playroom. Every group is fearful to some degree that if they are not strong enough and careful enough the others will quickly act to take or destroy the little societies they have created.
This is the situation we find ourselves in.
Here is an experiment to attempt to answer the question about where our true security can be found.
Imagine having a private audience with Jesus. Imagine being face to face with him. You look him in the eye and tell him that his teachings are wrong. Tell him that he is wrong about teaching us to have faith in God. Wrong in how he taught us about God’s love for us. Wrong in what he taught us about who we really are as human beings.
Tell him how wrong he was for teaching us to love each other the way he loves us.
Can you imagine doing this without hesitation or is there something inside you that doesn’t want to allow such a confrontation? If there is something inside you that doesn’t want to let you go through with the experiment, what do you suppose it might be?
So we come back to the central question: How can we trust God for our security?
The problem with this question lies in our desire to answer it in accordance with the rules we have established for ourselves in the Lego World we have created in the playroom. We assume that our rules, based on our perceptions, are the correct ones. We make the assumption that the playroom is ours because we created everything in it out of the Legos. We “forget” that our playroom is just one of a great many such rooms in an incredibly expansive House.
The real Builder and Master of the House must not be confused with the sacred cows and false gods fantasized by some of the children in the playroom.
We need to be clear about what trusting our security to God actually means and what it does not mean. It does not mean that we have some sort of mystical permission to behave recklessly. We still need to look both ways before crossing busy streets. It does not mean that we wash our hands of personal responsibility. What we choose to do matters and has consequences.
It does mean that we need to remember whose House we’re living in and that we have a responsibility to be good guests in that House.
“…the widespread connection is rarely acknowledged: A mounting number of mass shooters have ties to the military, including Nikolas Cruz, who was a member of his school’s military prep organization, JROTC (Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps).”
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s 2017 documentary The Vietnam War is a brilliant antiwar film that humanizes the enemy and laments the brutal slaughter of roughly three million soldiers and civilians for absolutely nothing. It is also a ringing indictment of those American presidents who waged the war, consistently lied to the American public about how they were waging it, and sent tens of thousands of young American soldiers to fight knowing it could not be won. As such, it also offers an urgent warning about the nature of the wars we continue to wage.
Yet The Vietnam War has some blind spots…
A panel discussing the life of Dorothy Day.