RSS FeedFacebookSearch
Gary Younge
Time to break silence

This Martin Luther King day it is time to break with tradition. Rather than endlessly replay his most famous speech - I have a dream - it might make more sense to concentrate on his most pertinent for our era - Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.

King's views on racial harmony and how to achieve it remain key and his speech at the March on Washington - arguably one of the best ever delivered in the English language - remains vintage. But Americans have always found it easier to co-opt his views on racial equality - in principle although clearly not in practice - than they ever have his take on US imperialism.

After he spoke out against the war in Vietnam in 1967 his then deputy Andrew Young described the response thus:

"Nationally, the reaction was like a torrent of hate and venom. This man who had been respected worldwide as a Nobel Prize winner and as the only person in America who was advocating change without violence, suddenly applied his nonviolence ethic and practice to the realm of foreign policy. And no, people said, it's all right for black people to be nonviolent when they're dealing with white people, but white people don't need to be nonviolent when they're dealing with brown people. As a Nobel Prize winner we expected people not to agree with it, but to take it seriously. We didn't get that. We got an emotional outburst attacking his right to have an opinion."

Iraq is not Vietnam. But there are many clear parallels. Change China for Iran in this quote from King's speech delivered at the Riverside Church in New York on April 4 1967 and those parallels become clear.

"If we continue there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people in Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play."

© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc
Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
 follow on twitter
RT @thefreedomi: 🚨 NEW: Saudi women’s rights activist & academic Salma al-Shehab was sentenced to 34 years in prison + 34 year travel ban f…
RT @LRB: #DawnFosterForever! On Thursday 15 September at the @LRBbookshop, @BizK1, @piercepenniless, Lynsey Hanley and @garyyounge will d…
RT @ShowunmiV: This is how we support Black women and girls https://t.co/8YmgV21zHo
RT @sonikkalogan: It's #DataPoint Pod Thursday! In this week's episode, I talk to @noraneus, @garyyounge and @Casey_J_Wooten about the U.S.…
RT @bgnoiseuk: Next month, @LRBbookshop will host an event to celebrate the life and work of Dawn Foster with @BizK1, @piercepenniless, Lyn…
Help me Twitter. The quote: ""You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming." is most commonly… https://t.co/Xs7JkiOEd5
RT @the_hindu: #DataPoint | This Thursday, @sonikkalogan takes a look at the #US gun violence epidemic, as mass shootings continue to grow…
City workers get double-digit wage rises while lowest-paid see 1% increase - “Them’s the breaks” https://t.co/XeVyG72iA5
RT @LRBbookshop: On 15 Sept we'll host an evening celebrating the life and work of Dawn Foster, with @BizK1, @piercepenniless, Lynsey Hanle…
© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc