Sunday, January 20, 2013

Obama and MLK: A strange juxtaposition in-deed

As others are pointing out: a coincidence or synchronicity of  history in the making  has set President Obama’s second Inaugural Address for January 21, the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.

"Count on lofty rhetoric from the Inaugural podium. The spirit of Dr. King will be elsewhere."
Norman Soloman

Like King, Obama traveled to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet in the president's speech in Norway, there was deep disrespect implied for Gandhi, MLK and for the wisdom of other great writers and leaders who have spoken through the centuries for the non-violence and caution needed -- along with justice.

In fact, there has been a steady escalation of war.  “U.S. use of drones has soared during Obama’s time in office, with the White House authorizing attacks in at least four countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia," the Guardian has recently reported -- adding to the studies of a number of human rights and investigative groups world-wide.

A  former member of Obama’s “counter-terrorism group” during the 2008 campaign, Michael Boyle, (according to the Guardian) says that the White House is now understating the number of civilian deaths due to the drone strikes, with loosened standards for when and where to attack.

Boyle adds, according to the UK newspaper, that “The consequences can be seen in the targeting of mosques or funeral processions that kill non-combatants and tear at the social fabric of the regions where they occur. No one really knows the number of deaths caused by drones in these distant, sometimes ungoverned, lands.”

More than 50,000 Americans have signed a petition to Ban Weaponized Drones from the World. The petition says that “weaponized drones are no more acceptable than land mines, cluster bombs or chemical weapons.” It asks President Obama “to abandon the use of weaponized drones, and to abandon his ‘kill list’.

How can we turn a blind eye and a deaf ear?

While I have neither the time nor the ability to put together an Op Ed today, I can't let this time in history go by -- with all the MLK and Obama events side-by-side celebrating quite different legacies (so far anyway).

Waking early, I marked significant events or works by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which called -- and still call -- for justice with non-violence. (Quite a few for such a short life lived in the face of all the injustice and violence going on all around him.) -- one man calling for forgiveness along with justice -- the other justifying more and more killing.

MLK Time-Line for Peace

1959 (February 2- March 10) Dr. and Mrs. King spend several weeks in India studying Gandhi's nonviolent techniques.

1961 (May) "Freedom Riders" is organized by Congress of Racial Equality(CORE) to test court desegregation ruling with MLK's major principle of resistance standing firm on non-violence.

1963 (April 16) King writes "Letter from Birmingham City Jail" while in prison for his witness.
         (June)  King's small book "Strength to Love" is published.

1964 (December 10) MLK receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

1966 (May 16) An anti-war statement is read by Dr. King at a large Washington rally to protest the war in Vietnam.

1967 (April 4) King delibers "Beyond vietnam" speech at Riverside Church, New York City, denouncing US policy in Vietnam.

1968 (April 3) Dr. King's last speech, entitled "I've Been to the Mountain-top" is delivered in Memphis.
         (April 9) Words from King's last sermon played to the crowd: "Say that I was a drum major for peace,
         for righteousness."

1 comment:

CN said...

You may also want to see a related post that I do: