Martin Luther King Jr. the Lost Speech - The Casualties of the Vietnam WarMay 04, 2020
Messrs. star oh mr. McWilliams, other distinguished guests on the platform, ladies and gentlemen, I don't need to pause to say how delighted I am to be here this afternoon and to be privileged to be a part of this very important conference and I want to express my deepest gratitude at the outset. personal feeling. Thanks to my friend Robert Vaughn for these kind and gracious words of introduction. It's always good to be in California and renew old friendships and camaraderie. I'm happy to share the platform with friends I've known all this time. Seeds Action is here with us today and they've been very supportive of our work at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, they know it's a great fundraiser and one day we were having a one night fundraiser at the house of Burt Lancaster and when he I have to make the appeal.
My associate Valve Abernathy said you sound like a good Baptist preacher, so whenever I talk to you about money, you better keep your wallet close. yes, but we have to be here with all these friends and of course whenever I come to California, especially when I take the flight from New York or Chicago, I am always happy to be on the ground because the flight over the Rocky Mountains I know that it is usually very turbulent and after a turbulent flight I am always happy to land. I don't want to give anyone here the impression that I don't have faith in God and it's just that I've had more experience with him on the ground let me briefly say how happy I am to be here under the auspices of Nation magazine through your integrity journalism and its genuine liberalism and suddenly this magazine has carved out an enduring niche in the annals of our nation's journalistic history and I know those of us who are readers and subscribers to Nation magazine are deeply indebted to her for all she has done. has done to make the discussion of the vital issues of our days and age a reality.
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martin luther king jr the lost speech the casualties of the vietnam war...
I think we can all say that I'm sure the nation would. appreciate that round of applause you are about to give the ha ha certainly in these days of emotional stress when the world's problems are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail there is no greater need than for sober thin
kinghealth fair debate creative dissent and discussion enlightened and I think that is why this particular symposium is so important and this afternoon I would like to speak to you candidly and I sincerely hope about our ongoing involvement in Vietnam and I have chosen
casualtiesof war as the topic to talk about. in
vietnamcertainly we are all aware of the terrible physical
casualtiesof this war, we see them in our living rooms and all those tragic dimensions on television screens and we read about them on our subway and bus rides and in the daily newspaper to tell We see the rice fields of a small Asian country being trampled at will and burned at will We see grieving mothers with crying babies clutched tightly in their arms as they watch their lights go on Huts burst into flames We see the fields and valleys of battle being painted with the blood of humanity we see the mangled bodies lying prostrate in innumerable fields the most tragic of all is the list of casualties among the children it is estimated that around 1 million Vietnamese children have been victims of this brutal war war in which the children are incinerated by napalm in which molten US soldiers die in increasing numbers while others American soldiers, according to press reports, unbridled hatred shoots the wounded enemy as he lies on the ground Here is a wall that mutilates the conscience These casualties are enough to make all men rise up in righteous indignation and oppose nature itself of this wicked war but the physical casualties of the war and Vietnam are not only the catastrophe the casualties of principles and values are equally disastrous and harmful if the casualty is a principle and the physical casualties do not subside, one of the first victims of the war in Vietnam was a charter of the United Nations by ta
kingarmed action against Vietnam are the Vietcong and North Vietnam the United States clearly violated the UN Charter which states in Chapter 1 article 2 that all members shall abstain in their international relations of the threat or use of force against territorial integrity our political independence from any state or in any other way incompatible with the purposes of the United Nations and in Chapter 7 establishes that the Security Council will determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression and thus make recommendations or decide what measures will be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security, it is very obvious that our government flagrantly violated its obligation under the UN Charter to present to the Security Council its accusation of a major aggression against North Vietnam, instead, we unilaterally launched an all-out war against Asia On the ground, in the process, we have undermined the purpose of the UN and caused its effectiveness on many points too completely.
We have also placed our nation in the position of being morally and politically isolated, with even America's former allies outright refusing to join. our government in this ugly war as Americans and lovers of democracy we must carefully reflect on the consequences of our nation's declining moral status in the world the second casualty of the war in
vietnamis a principle of self-determination in entering a war that is Little more than internal civil war, the United States has ended up supporting a new form of colonialism cloaked in subtleties of complexity. Whether we realize it or not, our involvement in the Vietnam War is an ominous expression of our lack of sympathy for the oppressed. , our anti-communist paranoia our inability to feel the pain and anguish of the dispossessed reveals our willingness to continue to participate in the neo-colonialist adventure ow a brief look at the background history of this war reveals with brutal clarity the ugliness of our politics the people Vietnamese proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after the combined French and Japanese occupation and prior to the communist revolution in China were led by the now well-known Ho Chi Minh even though they quoted the US Declaration of Independence and his own freedom document we refuse to acknowledge him in their Instead we decided to support France in reconquering its farmer colony.
President Truman felt that then the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long with that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government that sought self-determination and the government that had been established not by China for whom the Vietnamese people have no great love but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists for nine years after 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam Vietnam the right to independence for nine years ap let us strongly hear the french in their failed effort to recolonize vietnam before the end of the war we came together 80% of the french left even before the french were defeated in de and being deceived they began to despair at their reckless action, but we didn't, we encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they
lostthe wheel during this period, US government officials began to brainwash. the American public John Foster Dulles assiduously sought to prove that Indochina was essential to our security against a Chinese communist danger when a negotiated settlement of the war was reached in 1954 through the Geneva Agreement, it was done against our will after making everything possible to sabotage the planning of the geneva record we finally refused to sign him soon after this we have installed première diem we support We saw him in his betrayal of geneva and his refusal to have the promise of the 1956 elections we watched him approvingly as he participated in a ruthless and bloody pursuit of all opposition forces when their nefarious actions eventually led to the formation of the National Liberation Front. the American public was duped into believing that the civil rebellion was being waged by puppets from Hanoi, wrote Douglas Pike, and the hideous Americans watched helplessly as they tore at the fabric of Vietnamese society more effectively than the communists ever could. act of his entire career since dm's death we have actively supported dozens of other military dictatorships all in the name of the fight for freedom when it became apparent that these regimes could not defeat the vietcong we began to steadily increase our forces by calling in their military advisers instead of soldiers today we are waging total war undeclared by Congress, we have over 300,000 military Americans fighting in that belated and unhappy country American planes are bombing the territory of another country and we are committing atrocities equal to those perpetrated by the vietcong.
This is the third largest war in the history of the United States. All this reveals that we are in a morally untenable position. and politically we remain standing before the world saturated by our own barbarism. We are engaged in a war that seeks to turn back the clock of history and perpetuate white colonialism. The greatest irony and tragedy of all this is that our nation, which started so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world, is now cast in the mold of being an arch-revolutionary, a third casualty of the war in Vietnam, is a great society, this confused war has wreaked havoc on our domestic destinies despite feeble protests to the contrary the promises of the Great Society have been shot down on the battlefields of Vietnam, the pursuit of this expanded war now has a domestic welfare program s to make whites and Blacks are poor with the heaviest burdens, both at the front and at home, while the anti-poverty program is cautiously launched, closely monitored, and evaluated for immediate results.
Billions are liberally spent on this ill-considered war. of the war budget amounts to ten billion dollars for a single year this mistake alone is more than five times the amount committed to anti-poverty programs the security we profess to seek in foreign adventures we will lose in our decaying cities the bombs in vietnam blow up at home destroy hopes and chances for a decent america reverse investment and give the military an anti-poverty budget generals could be forgiven if they walked off the battlefield disgusted poverty poverty urban problems and the Social progress is generally ignored when the weapons of war become a national obsession when it is not our security that is at stake but a questionable and vague commitment to reactionary regimes values disintegrate into silly and adolescent slogans we are estimated to spend three hundred twenty-two thousand dollars for each enemy that m we tie up as we spend on so-called warm poverty in america only about fifty-three dollars for every person classified as poor we have escalated the war in vietnam and de-escalated the skirmish on poverty it defies the imagination to contemplate what lives we could transform if we stopped killing in this At this moment in history, it is irrefutable that our world prestige is pathetically fragile.
Our war policy arouses pronounced contempt and aversion practically everywhere, even when some national governments, for reasons of economic and diplomatic interests, do not condemn us. Their peoples have made it surprisingly clear that do not share official policy we are isolated in our false values in a world demanding social and economic justice we must undergo a vigorous reordering of our national priorities to f The fourth casualty of the war in Vietnam is our nation's humility through steadfast determination scientific and technological progress and dazzling achievements America has become the richest and most powerful nation in the world we have built thinking machines and instruments appear in the unfathomable ranges of interstellar space we have built gigantic bridges to cross the zeig seeds and buildings Anik to kiss the skies through our planes and spaceships we have a dwarf distance in time in chains and through our submarines we have penetrated the ocean depths this year our gross national product will reach a staggering seven hundred and eighty billion dollars , all of this is an amazing picture of our great power, but honesty forces me to admit that our power has often made us arrogant as a nation, we feel that our money can do anything, arrogantly we feel that we have everything to teach others nations and nothing to learn from them, we often feel We arrogantly believe that we have some divine messianic mission to police the entire world, we are not going to allow theyoung nations go through the same growing pains turbulence and revolution that characterized our history we reaffirm that we have a sacred mission to protect people from totalitarian rule while making little use of our power to end the evils of South Africa and Rhodesia and , while in fact we support dictatorships with guns and money under the guise of fighting communism, we are arrogant in claiming that we care about the freedom of foreign nations without setting up our own house so that many of our senators and congressmen happily vote to allocate thousands millions of dollars for the war in Vietnam. they are black soldiers to kill on foreign battlefields, but very little protection for their family members from beatings and murders in ou In our own South we are willing to make the black 100 percent citizen in war, but reduce it to 50 percent of a citizen on US soil.
Of all the good things in life, black has about half of what white has of bad. has twice as much as whites, therefore half of all blacks live in substandard housing and has half the income of whites when we turn to the negative life experiences blacks have. a double proportion there is twice as unemployed the infant mortality rate among blacks is twice that of whites there were twice as many blacks in combat in Vietnam in early 1967 and twice as many killed in action in proportion to their number in the population is white all this reveals that our nation has yet to use its vast resources of power to end the long night of poverty, racism and inhumanity of man to man. correct use of force if our nation's force is not used responsibly and in moderation it will be in accordance with Lord Acton's ruling power that tends to corrupt and power that corrupts and absolute power that corrupts absolutely our American arrogance may be our undoing may bring down the curtain on our national drama, ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation, in these turbulent days we are challenged to use our power to hasten the day when every valley will be lifted up and every mountain and hill will be brought down. crooked places will be straightened and rough places will claim a fifth casualty of the war in Vietnam is the beginning of dissent An ugly repressive sentiment to silence PC curves represent advocates of immediate negotiation under the terms of the Geneva agreement and people who they call for the cessation of the bombing in the north as quasi-traitorous fools Aveeno enemies of our soldiers es and institutions free
speechand the privilege to dissent and debate our rights being shut down by bombers in Vietnam and those who advocate peace are so reviled that it is time to consider where we are going and whether free
speechhas not become a of the main victims of the war.
Patel's free speech men rationalize on the grounds that a more compelling American tradition forbids criticism of government when the nation has been at war for over a century and we wanted a state of war dressed in Mexico a first-class congressman. term by the name Abraham Lincoln stood in the halls of Congress and fearlessly denounced the war Congressman Abraham Lincoln of Illinois had not heard of this tradition, was unwilling to respect it, now had Thoreau and Emerson and many others philosophers who shaped our democratic principles nothing can be more destructive of our fundamental democratic traditions than the vicious effort to silence dissidents six victims of the war in vietnam are humanity's prospects for survival this war has created the climate for a increased weaponry and further expansion of destructive nuclear power one of the most persistent and gra ndes.
What we are faced with is that everyone is talking about peace as a goal, yet it does not take a very sophisticated person to discern that while everyone is talking about peace, peace has become practically nobody's business among the world. power that is exercised, call it the role of those who sing the good news of peace and the ears will be surprised with the response sounds of the heads of all nations it is a clarion call for peace but these determinants of destiny are accompanied by a band and brigade of national choristers eat barren drawn swords instead of olive branches the settings of history are replete with the songs and choruses of the conquerors of yore who came killing in search of peace by alexander ganga may julio caesar principal in napoleon the akin to akane in the search for a peaceful world, a world created according to selfish conceptions of an ideal existence, each sought a world at peace that he would embody those selfish dreams even within the lifetimes of most of us another megalomaniac walked across the stage of history sent his troops burning all over Europe wreaking havoc and the Holocaust in its weight that's a grave irony in the fact that Hitler could go out following the neck idli aggressive expansion spies he revealed and mine come and do everything in the name of peace so when I see on this day the leaders of nations talking about peace in a similar way while preparing Sounds like war I make a appalling pause and i see our country stepping in today and what is basically a civil war destroying hundreds of thousands of vietnamese children and adults with napalm and sending home half the men mentally and physically maimed when i see the unwillingness recalcitrant of our government. to create the atmosphere for a negotiated solution to this terrible conflict by stopping the bombing in the north and agreeing to finish off the Vietcong and all this in the name of pursuing the goal of peace.
I tremble for our world. From yesterday's wall-inflicted nightmares, but also from the terrible realization of today's potential nuclear destructiveness and tomorrow's even more dire prospects, the past is prescient, saying aloud that walls are bad chisels to carve peaceful mornings one day we must come to see that peace is not merely the distant goal we seek, but a means by which we reach that goal which we must pursue for peaceful ends through peaceful means how much longer must we play how much longer must we play deadly war games before we heed the clearest pleas of the countless dead and maimed beyond the walls why can't we grow up one last time and take off the blindfolds? we taught new courses we put our hands on the helm and set sail to the far destination the port city of peace President John F.
Kennedy once said mankind must end war a war will end mankind how true it is this wisdom born Experience should tell us that war is obsolete. There may have been a time when the war served as a negative goodbye. It prevented the spread and growth of an evil force, but the destructive power of modern weapons eliminates even the possibility that war could serve as a negative goodbye. well if we assume life is worth living and man has the right to survive then we must find an alternative to war on a day when vehicles hurtle through outer space and ballistic guided missiles carve highways of death across the stratosphere no nation can claim victory in war so-called limited warfare will leave little more than a calamitous legacy of human suffering political turmoil and spiritual disillusionment a world war God forbid it will leave only smoldering ashes as a mute testimony of a human being race whose father inexorably led to the ultimate death of modern man continues to flirt unhesitatingly with war will transform his earthly habitat into a hellish one that even Dante's mind could not imagine I do not wish to minimize the complexity of the need to confront and could achieve on disarmament and peace, but I believe it is a fact that we will not have the will, the co rage and insight to address such matters unless in this field we are prepared to undergo a spiritual, mental reassessment and change of focus. which will allow us to see that the things that seem most real and powerful now are really unreal and under sentence of death, we need to make a supreme effort to generate the willingness to actually enter the new world that is now possible not we will build a peaceful world by following a negative path it is not enough to say that we should not make war it is necessary to love peace and sacrifice in case we should focus not only on the negative expulsion of war but on the positive affirmation of peace which is a small fascinating story that is preserved for us in the Greek literature about Ulysses and the sirens the sirens had the ability to sing so sweetly that the sailors could not resist heading towards that island, many ships were attracted by the rocks and men forgot their duty and the honor of home as they threw themselves into the sea to be embraced by the arms that dragged them to death.
Ulises decided not to be attracted by the sirens. to tie himself tightly to his ship's mast and its cruel thing to wax his ears but eventually he and his crew learned a better way to save themselves and took on board the obvious beautiful singing whose melodies were sweeter than the music of sirens and obviously sang who bothered to listen to the sirens so we must fix our vision not only on the negative expulsion of the wall but on the positive affirmation of peace we must see that the piece represents a sweeter music a cosmic melody that is far superior to we discordants of war must somehow transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative no-one-can-win nuclear arms race to positive competition the creative genius of honest man for the purpose of making peace and prosperity be a reality for all the nations of the inner world we must move from the arms race to a peace race if we have the will and the determination order to mount such a peace offensive we will open the hitherto hermetically closed doors of hope and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism let me finally say that i oppose the war in vietnam because i love america i speak against it not in anger but with anxiety and sadness in my heart and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country be a moral example to the world I speak out against this war because I am disappointed in America there can be no great disappointment where there is no great love with which I am disappointed in our failure to deal positively and directly with the triple evils of racism, extreme materialism and militarism, we are currently moving down a dead end road that can lead to national disaster Jesus once told a parable of a young man who left home and wandered into a far country where adventure after adventure and sensation after sensation he sought life but he never found it he only found frustration and bewilderment the more he moved from his father's house the closer he got to the house of despair the more he did what he liked the less he liked what he did after the boy had wasted all the time famine developed in the land and he ended up looking for food in a pig trough but the story doesn't end there he goes on to say that in this state of blinding disappointment frustration and longing the boy came to and said i will get up and go to my father and say father I have sinned against heaven and before you the prodigal son was not himself when he left his father's house when he dreamed that pleasure was the end of life only when he made the decision to go home and become a son again did he return in himself the parable ends with the report the child returns home to find the loving father waiting with arms outstretched and a heart filled with indescribable joy this is an analogy for what america and Faced today like all human analogies it is imperfect but it does suggest some parallels worth considering America has strayed into the far country of racism and militarism the home many Americans left behind was solidly structured idealistically their pillows were solidly founded on the intuitions of our Judeo-Christian heritage all men are made in the image of God all men are brothers all men are created equal each man is heir to a legacy of dignity and worth each man has rights that are not state-given or state-given god of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of his what a wonderful foundation for any home, what a glorious and wholesome place to dwell, but America right away and this unnatural excursion has brought only confusion and bewilderment, it has brought left hearts full of guilt and minds distorted with irrationality, it is wisdom thrown from its sacred throne for so long. and the stay in the far country insensitive to racism and militarism has brought a moral and spiritual famine to the nation. nation engages in one of the most cruel and senseless wars in history, the United States must continue to have a company during these days of human sufferingof creative dissidents we need them because the thunder of their fearless voices will be the only sound louder than the explosions of bombs and the clamor of war hysteria those of us who love peace must organize effectively as war hawks while disseminating propaganda to war we must spread peace propaganda we must combine the fervor of the civil rights movement with the peace movement we must demonstrate teach and preach until the very foundations of our nation are shaken we must work ceaselessly to elevate this nation we love to a higher destiny I have tried to be honest today to be honest is to confront the truth to be honest is to realize that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands at moments of convenience and moments of comfort, but where are you in moments of challenge in moments of controversy, for unpleasant and inconvenient as the truth may be, I think we must expose it and confront it if we are to achieve a better quality of American life the other day the distinguished American historian Henry Steele Commons across the Senate pledged and I quote Justice Holmes used to say that the first The lesson a judge had to learn was that he was not God, we do 10 maybe more than other nations transferring our wars into crusades our current involvement in Vietnam becomes more and more of a moral mole I have a feeling we don't have the intellectual or moral material resources to be at the same time an american power, a european power and an asian power i according to mr. cummings and i would suggest that it is another type of power that america canden should be it is a moral power a power channeled in the service of peace and human beings not an inhumane power launched against defenseless people everyone knows that america is a great military power we don't need to be diligent in trying to prove it now we must show the world our moral might that is an element of urgency in our redirection of american power now we are faced with the fact that tomorrow is today we are faced with the fierce urgency of now in this conundrum that life unfolds in history there is such a thing as being too late procrastination is still the thief of time life often leaves us standing BAM naked and despondent with a missed opportunity the tide in the affairs of men does not remain awash weeds that we can desperately scream for time to pause in its passage, but time is inflexible in every plea that is presented cipita on the bleached bones and the remains of the credit of the credit of numerous civilizations mounted on the pathetic words too late there is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance are our negligence the moving finger writes and the writing moves we still have a choice today nonviolent coexistence a violent correlation history will record the choice we make it is still not too late to make the right choice we must decide to become a moral powerhouse we will be able to transform the jangling discords of this world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood yes we make the wise decision we will be able to transform our pending national and cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace this will be a glorious day as only we will make it hasten the day and all of god's children, black men and white men, jews and gentiles , Protestants and Catholics, Eastern and Western, po They will join and sing in t The words of the spiritual old black free at last free at last thank God Almighty we are free at last
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