Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’

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Dr. King was murdered in a conspiracy. He was under complete surveillance, every aspect of his life under the microscope. The 1999 Civil Suit determined that James Earl Ray did not kill Dr. King, and it was a setup, a fraud, a frame-up.
 

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by STEVEN JONAS

Weren’t the valiant, courageous actions of civil rights advocates a triumph for social justice? Did it not lead to further advances in that struggle? And if you are referring to the movie, is it not a triumph as well, getting a film that portrays one of the signal struggles of the Movement during the 60s with such searing honesty, no holds barred in dealing with the “Which side are you on?” question, applied to this event?

Well, yes, the Selma March was a triumph for the civil rights movement. It played a very important role in getting Lyndon Johnson to support what became the Voting Rights Act. It did lead to further advances in that struggle. The movie is a triumph as well, a brilliantly staged and acted docudrama which, among other things, uses the real Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, as the setting for the re-creation of the real march that took place across it in 1965.

Ironically enough, the bridge is named for a Confederate Brigadier General, who later, operating out of his law office [!], became the leader of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan in Selma, and then went on to become a U.S. Senator from Alabama. This is particularly ironic in the context of the Voting Rights Act and the struggle to enact it. The Ku Klux Klan was founded very shortly after the end of the civil war by an association of ex-Confederate generals, planters, certain Democratic politicians, and other white leadership who wanted to return the civil society in the South as much as possible to what it had been before the Civil War, with the exception of not having the institution of chattel slavery in place.

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MLK with LBJ. Recreating history—truth (l) and simulation (r). How close did the two come in Selma, the film? (Photomontage for Slate Magazine)

One of the principal objectives of the Klan, from the earliest days of its founding, was to prevent the newly freed slaves from exercising the right to vote that had been granted to them by the 14th (1868) and 15th (1870) Amendments to the Constitution. The language of the latter is particularly instructive: “1. the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

But with the power first of the Klan, with the ever-spreading denial of the vote to African-Americans, and then with the institution over a period of some years of what was called the “Jim Crow” laws by the Democratic Party in the South, African-Americans were indeed systematically denied the right to that had being guaranteed to them by the 15th amendment.

The reality that casts a shadow over Selma is that it did not end the struggle for civil and voting rights for people of color in the United States. As I pointed out in recent column, except for the literal abolition of chattel slavery, in terms of its central goals, the South essentially won the Civil War. One the many tragedies of Selma is that one of the two major U.S. political parties still runs in part on racism, just as the old Southern Democratic Party of the time did. The story of how Nixon took the “Southern Strategy” that had been originally invented, but not in a formal way, by Barry Goldwater, and broadly implemented it for the GOP, and how Ronald Reagan cemented it in place need not be re-told here.

Indeed it is also a tragedy that the Voting Rights Act for which so many whites and African-Americans had fought so hard for so many years has been recently been gutted by the Republican Supreme Court. (That is the same Republican Court that may be on its way to gutting the Fair Housing Act as well.) It is a tragedy that indeed Martin Luther King’s words 50 years ago, about segregation and discrimination, about racism, about the lack of economic justice for non-whites (and now, of course, increasingly for many whites as well) still, as the Southern Poverty Law Center points out, cry out for justice to this day. Dr. King’s vision of a civil rights-labor alliance, which has never been achieved, echo down to us today as well. It is a tragedy that off-duty black police officers need to fear white cops just as black young men who “don’t look right,” like New York Times columnist Charles Blows’ son at Yale, do.

It is a tragedy that voter suppression, aimed at African-Americans and other population groups who tend to vote for Democrats, has become an official policy of the Republican Party, under the guise of “battling voter fraud” (which happens to be virtually non-existent, and even if it weren’t could easily be dealt with by offering free, easy-to-obtain voter ID cards). It is a tragedy that lynching, a major tool of black-suppression in the Jim Crow South, which was dying out by the time of “Selma,” has returned to this country in the form of white police officers killing black young men at an astounding rate.

Now let us turn briefly to Selma, the movie. First, of course is the fact that when it came to Academy Award nominations (not the awards themselves), while the movie itself did receive one for Best Picture, the Director, Ava DuVernay, and the lead actor, David Yellow, who had received awards and nominations elsewhere were completely shut out. That is itself a legacy of racism, given the excellence of the film.

Second, in much of the mainstream media discussion of the issues of the movie and how the primary ones remain with us down to this very day because of the policies and politics of one of our two leading parties, got glossed over. They were actually submerged, is more like it, by the flap over whether or not the movie and its writers/director gave credit where credit was due to the role of Lyndon Johnson in bringing forth the Voting rights Act and was a fair representation of the relationship between the President and Doctor King. To me, as my regular readers will know well, this is largely irrelevant. Where exactly LBJ was in the time-line pales before the fact that he did bring the Voting rights Act forward, that he did send federal troops to defend the Selma marchers against the local police/sheriffs. And that he did stand down the racists J. Edgar Hoover and George Wallace.

The bottom line, which really has been lost, is that the South did win the Civil War and one of our two major political parties runs openly and shamelessly on racism (as well as religious authoritarianism and the demonization of various “others”). These are two of the major issues facing this country now just as they were back at the time of Selma. That is the principal tragedy of the movie.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Senior Editor Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition to being a columnist for The Greanville Post, he also serves in the same capacity at BuzzFlash/Truthout (http://www.buzzflash.com, http://www.truth-out.org/), and he is the Managing Editor of and a Contributing Author to TPJmagazine.net.

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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