Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’

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by Jeff Cohen

While the U.S. media has some spirited debate over politics and social issues – i.e. Fox News vs. MSNBC – there remains a broad consensus about foreign adversaries whose behavior is almost always cast in the harshest light, a reality that colors how America reacts to the world.

I spent years as a political pundit on mainstream TV – at CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. I was outnumbered, outshouted, red-baited and finally terminated. Inside mainstream media, I saw that major issues were not only dodged, but sometimes not even acknowledged to exist.

Katy Perry during the children's concert at the Washington Convention Center in celebration of military families
Today there’s an elephant in the room: a huge, yet ignored, issue that largely explains why Social Security is now on the chopping block. And why other industrialized countries have free college education and universal healthcare, but we don’t. It’s arguably our country’s biggest problem – a problem that Martin Luther King Jr. focused on before he was assassinated 45 years ago, and has only worsened since then (which was the height of the Vietnam War).

Image: The Daily Show host Jon Stewart is one of the few voices on American television who occasionally breaks with the national security consensus.

That problem is U.S. militarism and perpetual war.

In 1967, King called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” – and said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Nowadays MSNBC hosts yell at Fox News hosts, and vice versa, about all sorts of issues – but when the Obama administration expanded the bloody war in Afghanistan, the shouting heads at both channels went almost silent. When Obama’s drone war expanded, there was little shouting. Not at MSNBC, not at Fox. Nor at CNN, CBS, ABC or so-called public broadcasting.
We can have raging debates in mainstream media about issues like gun control and gay marriage and minimum wage, but when the elites of both parties agree on military intervention – as they so often do – debate is nearly nonexistent. Anyone in the mainstream who goes out on a limb to loudly question this oversized creature in the middle of the room known as militarism or interventionism is likely to disappear faster than you can say “Phil Donahue.”

doc506b5edf440875155838331I know something about mainstream journalists being silenced for questioning bipartisan military adventures because I worked with Phil Donahue at MSNBC in 2002/03 when Bush was revving up the Iraq invasion with the support of Democratic leaders like Joe Biden, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid. That’s when MSNBC terminated us for the crime of JWI. Not DWI, but JWI – Journalism duringWartime while Independent.

JWI may be a crime in mainstream media, but it’s exactly the kind of unauthorized, unofficial coverage you get from quality independent media today and from un-embedded journalists like Jeremy Scahill, Dahr Jamail and Glenn Greenwald.

Unfortunately, many liberal journalists who were vocal about war, human rights and civil liberties during the Bush era lost their voices as Obama continued and, in some cases, expanded Bush’s “War on Terror” policies. It says something about the lack of serious national debate on so-called national security that last month one of the loudest mainstream TV news questioners of the president’s right to assassinate Americans was Sean Hannity on Fox. That’s obscene.

And it says something about mainstream TV that the toughest, most consistent questioners of militarism and defenders of civil liberties are not on a news channel – they’re on the comedy channel. A few weeks ago, I watched a passionate Jon Stewart taking on the U.S. military budget: “We already spend more on defense than the next 12 countries combined, including China, including Russia. We’re like the lady on Jerry Springer who can’t stop getting breast implants.” (On screen was a photo of the Springer guest.)
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What our mainstream media so obediently call the “War on Terror” is experienced in other countries as a U.S. war OF terror – kidnappings, night raids, torture, drone strikes, killing and maiming of innocent civilians – that creates new enemies for our country. Interestingly, you can easily find that reality in mainstream media of allied countries in Europe, but not in the mainstream media of our country. Needless to say, it’s our country that’s waging this global perpetual war.

In a democracy, war must be subjected to questioning and debate. And not just on the comedy channel.

 

Jeff Cohen is founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and an associate professor of journalism there. His latest book is Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He founded the media watch group FAIR in 1986. This column is adapted from remarks made April 6 at the National Conference on Media Reform in Denver.

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Americans from childhood are fed a diet of bullshit that carries on into adulthood. One of these bullshit myths concerns Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated by the US government, and not by a lone gunman, on April 4th of 1968.

Exactly one year to the day prior to that event, April 4th of 1967, Dr. King gave the most political and controversial speech of his life. Lashing out at the war in Vietnam, the mass murder, billions squandered, the imperialist machinations of the US government, Dr. King essentially signed his own death warrant by stating point blank:

“Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

Full Text: Beyond Vietnam, A Time to Break Silence

I believe that section of the quite lengthy speech is contained in this clip:


  
Dr. King reveals US meddling prior to US involvement in the war:

“After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which could have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again”

He reveals clear war propaganda lies by the United States:

“Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made.”

Dr. King was labeled one of the most dangerous “national security” threats in America several months before his liquidation. Statements like these directly challenged the legitimacy of the war, the draft and the government in Washington:

“Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak of the — for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam.”

Professor Jared Ball discusses the whitewashing of Dr. King’s actual struggle, and his revolutionary stances against poverty and militarism as well as racism.


  
Lastly, a civil trial took place in 1999 which ruled that there was a conspiracy to kill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the morning of April 4th 1968. I highly suggest that those who are interested research the evidence brought out during that trial.

The rifle which was claimed to have killed Dr. King, and said to belong to James Earl Ray could not have done so. The sight was completely off. What’s more, the rifle itself was deposited in an alley beside an arcade company 10 minutes prior to the actual shooting. It was planted by an unknown figure, and clearly not in the possession of James Earl Ray when Dr. King was shot. Numerous other anomalies surround the case, and the jury came to a verdict in a very short amount of time.

Dr. Martin Luther King was not about nostalgia, feel good photo opportunities or homogenized, sanitized history. He was a fighter who chose non-violent, and quite risky confrontation. His legacy should be taught and remembered for what it actually was, and not for what white corporate Amerika would like it to be.

Judge Arthur Haynes testified that he was, of course, James Earl Ray’s first lawyer along with his father, and he testified that in the course of their early on-the-scene investigation, they talked to Guy Canipe, who owned the amusement shop in front of which was found the bundle which contained, amongst other things, the rifle. He said Canipe told them very early on, before anyone else apparently had done any kind of tampering with him, told him very early on that that bundle was dropped some minutes before the actual shooting. Imagine that, that the bundle, the murder weapon, the rifle in evidence, was dropped minutes before the actual shooting.”(Civil Case: King Family versus Jowers)

Happy Martin Luther King Day.

 

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One day,

Youngsters will learn words they will not understand,

Children from India will ask: “What is hunger?”

Children from Alabama will ask: “What is racial segregation?”

Children from Hiroshima will ask: “What is the atomic bomb?”

Children at school will ask: “What is war?”

You will answer them, you will tell them: “Those are words not used any more,

Like ‘stage-coaches’, ‘galleys’ or ‘slavery’,

Martin Luther King