Dr. King’s 2 minutes to you: “Silence is betrayal… speak as one who loves America”

By Carl Herman. Cross posted from Washington’s Blog.

Lambert here. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, making this anniversary post a little stale. However, “Silence is betrayal… speak as one who loves America” might be a good candidate for Naked Capitalism’s motto, were it ever to have one. And the noble purposes and courageous, collective actions of the movements in which Dr. King participated should inspire us today, especially on this holiday weekend.

* * *

A year before the US government assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King, he asked Americans to end their silence over an unlawful, treaty-violating, and lie-started war killing millions.

The month he was assassinated by the US government, Dr. King was to march for their “Occupy DC” movement (the brochure).

You face similar circumstances today: a criminal war based on lies and in Orwellian treaty violation, and a chance to support our Occupy movement.

Your unique, powerful, and beautiful self-expression is breaking the relative silence that concealed US War Crimes. Your rejection of silence is breaking Orwellian lies of corporate media. Your support of Occupy will end economic and War Crimes, redirecting trillions for public benefit.

Your demonstrating love of American ideals is building the brighter future we’re all here to realize.

* * *

Here is the audio and full text of Dr. King’s speech

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Long may she burn

    Amusing to read the comments on Herman’s examiner post regarding American ideals, now that American ideals have gone into the honey bucket of history, replaced for good by vastly superior world-standard norms with meaning and teeth,


    The comments over there rightly point out that however inspiring “American” ideals may be, they do nothing to stop the corruption and aggression of this terminally debased criminal state. Individual Americans have done a lot to define modern world-standard ideals: Eleanor Roosevelt with human rights, Virginia Gildersleeve with the UN, a succession of prewar Secretaries of State with rule of law. But this rogue state is pissing on it all and perverting what it can’t openly flout. Ideals worth preserving are no longer in any sense American. They’re human, accepted by peoples worldwide, and fought by illegitimate predator states like the USA. Face it, thanks to patriotic crime, America’s a sick joke to your intended audience, and American is an insult.

  2. Cap'n Magic

    A most interesting read. Too bad the sheeple and those in actual positions of power who can make a change have been lulled into a false sense of security which prevents them from actually taking any real significant action.

    Had there been actual significant action, Credit Unions would now hold the majority of deposits vs. the commercial banks, and we would have a third political party that would cause major grief to the current incumbents. Thanks to technology, the current incumbent power holders now have the means to neuter any resistance to the status quo.

    Here’s the bottom line-unless you’re ready and willing to engage in real sacrifice against those who oppress you, NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

    As FDR once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It took just a little more than a dozen men (who had no fear) to bring about 9/11-who in the Occupy movement are willing to take that kind of sacrifice on against the Orwellian oligarchs? As the late educator Leo Buscaglia once said: “I will believe your love when I see your love in action.”. Unfortunately, the current Occupy’s actions to the powers-that-be are nothing more than the targets of Occupy swatting at gnats, barely registering a cut, let alone enough to cause a death by a thousand cuts.

    The Occupy movement needs to coalesce against a particular media and multinational corporate target and succeed in their downfall-otherwise Occupy is nothing more than a form of mutual masturbation.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I deprecate the term “sheeple.” Not only is it a self-fulfilling prophecy for failure, it implies that people aren’t moral agents. And out of the attitude, it’s very easy to fall into to the trap of creating a vanguard that will explain to the people what they cannot express for themselves. I’ve seen that movie and I don’t like the ending much.

      1. Nathanael

        Unfortunately, psychological studies (including the most famous and horrifying ones) show that the majority of people ARE “sheep” who do what they’re told regardless of whether it makes sense or is moral.

        Most interestingly, being TOLD about this common tendency makes people LESS sheep-like and more prone to watch what they’re doing before they act like the majority people in the Milgram experiment or the Stanford Prison Experiment.

        1. Wyntunnel

          Sheeple is not really accurate. The masses are more like cats. You see, no matter how vocally up in arms people get about how they are being done in by the Kleptocracy, all the latter have to do is spin a good yarn and their subjects are mesmerized, eyes fixated, as they paw at something that is dangled just before them, oh so close, yet forever out of reach.

    2. Nathanael

      The Occupy movement is mentally working on tactics and organization right now.

      That takes time. Did you count the number of decades from the organization of al-Qaeda to its first *successful* operations? Or the years from the first complaints of the American colonists to the American Revolution?

      1. Ray Duray

        Hi Nathanael,

        Re: “Did you count the number of decades from the organization of al-Qaeda to its first *successful* operations?”

        Yes, I have studied this history. The groundwork for what eventually became known as al Qaeda (Arabic for “database”, term created by the CIA based on its database of armed Sunni Wahabbist zealots on the Saudi payroll) can be directly traced to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1950s. Adam Curtis brilliantly covers this history in “The Power of Nightmares” http://archive.org/details/ThePowerOfNightmares

        So, let’s call the starting date 1950, the year Sayyid Qutb ended a visit to Colorado where he took offense at the mores of Americans, in particular our pre-feminist era women. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sayyid_Qutb#Visit_to_America

        Al Qaeda then simmered, festered and morphed for 3 decades until the USSR fatefully invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, 1979. Over the course of the next decade, the U.S. CIA with the financial cooperation of the House of Saud funded the mujihideen movement in Afghanistan. By 1986 there was a distinct Afghan-Arab contingent in the fight, being led by Bin Laden and in 1988 it was designated al Qaeda. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/02/osama-bin-laden-timeline

        So one possible answer to your question is 38 years. Or about 4 decades in round figures.

        So if the point you are trying to make is that Occupy Wall Street is possibly a decades’ long struggle, I fully agree.

        And I’m reminded of the wisdom of Carrie Fisher who noted that “the problem with instant gratification is that it takes to long”.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think a more valid comparison might be the Egyptian events.

          IIRC, the April Sixth Movement and other, affiliated groups started out in labor organizing (triggered by Mubarak’s neo-liberal policies). It took about four years to go from there to overthrowing Mubarak (in other words, success as they defined success).

          So I don’t think 40 years is necessarily the right number.

          (I also think the Al Qaeda analogy is unfortunate, not only from the purely rhetorical standpoint, but because it’s not comparable: They seem an awful lot like an “off the shelf” covert operation, rather than a movement. They also had substantial funding, and training camps, neither of which Occupy has. Occupy will have to “live off the land,” and I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. Finally, one might view the Arab Spring as a critique of OBL and AQ. It is true that — MIHOP or LIHOP — 9/11 ruined the last shreds of Constitutional government in the United States, but it is also true that 9/11 did nothing for the Arab people as well. Another way of putting this is if the (many!) organizers of the Arab Spring thought that flying airplanes into buildings and killing thousands of civilians was a good tactic, they probably would have adopted it. AQ == #FAIL.)

      2. SidFinster

        What amazes me about revolutions is how quickly they can happen, how fast seemingly stable systems can collapse.

        In 2009, the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan regimes all seemed rock-stable. There was no real organized opposition, and fearsome secret police were watching for any sign of dissent and were quick to smash it.

        By the end of 2011, each one of these regimes was gone.

        In 1904, the Tsar’s Russia seemed eternal. In 1905 it was rocked to its foundations. By 1906 it had seemed to have recovered, but by 1917, the Tsar, too was gone forever.

        For that matter, as a small cat in 1984, I remember that responsible, respectable human intellectuals were uniformly certain that the Soviet Union would always be there, so we had to learn to live with it. In fact, the Soviet system did not have ten years left.

        To give you an idea how fast and how radically events can occur – there are people alive today who can remember a time and place when there was an Austro-Hungarian Empire, when the Divine Right of Kings was actually preached with a straight face, when Eurocountries (and Japan) jealously guarded colonial empires and were not militant pacifists.

  3. James Cole

    Cap’n Magic, apropos of Passover, are you familiar with the parable of the four sons? Why is the subject of your exhortations “the Occupy movement” and not “we”?

  4. another

    “Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 6, 1968, making this anniversary post a little stale.”

    April 4, 1968.

  5. Doug Terpstra

    Right on! Thanks for posting this.

    It’s astonishing that after the horrifying slaughter in Vietnam four decades ago, the same violent right-wing authoritarians have once again seized absolute power, and have now launched multiple ruinous wars against even less corporeal enemies. And they have found a new champion in their heinous crimes — the great pretender, one Barack Hussein Obama, a villain who dares quote MLK for his own Machiavellian ends.

  6. antigonist

    One should be careful freely quoting the ideas of MLK; the family has copyright on all his work. For every bridge a toll keeper.

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