When a frack-quake cracks the Washington monument just as a memorial for civil rights and anti-war organizer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is about to be unveiled in the nation’s capital, we hope vacationing members of Congress take note. The military industrial complex that Dr. King and President Eisenhower warned us about has captured all branches of the federal government, in league with for-profit energy corporations scrambling after dwindling fossil fuel resources at the peril of the very planet we live upon. Add a complicit information control industry to the toxic mix, and you have some very deep structural damage to our national foundation.
Dr. King is of course best known for his work to realize a dream where his children would be judged by their character rather than by the color of their skin. He did not live to see an African-American First Family in the White House. As we now know, Dr. King was assassinated after years of FBI surveillance and harassment. His death followed an historic speech at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967 on “Why I Am Opposed To The War In Vietnam.”
There is…a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed that there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, and new beginnings. Then came the build-up in Vietnam. And I watched the program broken as if it was some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money, like some demonic, destructive suction tube.
“Money for war, but can’t feed the poor” is a slogan still chanted in the streets of U.S. cities devastated by recession, high unemployment, police brutality, and failure to invest in public education. The victims of a Congress that allocates over 50% of its discretionary budget to military expenditures are disproportionately Black, Latino and indigenous people. A recent study of women’s net worth found the median for white women was $41,000 as compared with $100 (yup, that’s one hundred dollars) for African-Americans and $120 for Latinas. When the U.S. Conference of Mayors met this summer in Baltimore – a city with 24% of residents receiving SNAP (food stamps) – they sent a message to Washington DC: stop funding wars and bring the money home to provide urban areas with essential services and infrastructure.
But Washington doesn’t appear to be listening. President Obama is golfing in Martha’s Vineyard, and eighty-one members of Congress are being wined and dined in Israel by an AIPAC affiliate. A so-called “Super Committee” of twelve legislators is tasked with making budget decisions on behalf of our elected representatives, but all twelve are deep in the pockets of corporations who profit from military contracts. Indications are that Obama will rely more heavily on Wall St. financing for his re-election campaign. What happened to government of, by, and for the people?
Dr. King would no doubt be appalled to see the country he fought so hard to improve galloping toward epic failure. U.S. military “Special Forces” now operate in 70 countries, we have 800+ military bases in other countries, and we’re bombing Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and occupying Iraq. We use depleted uranium weapons, and along with Israel we’re in the vanguard of using drones and other robots to kill innocent civilians.
Dr. King warned that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” His voice has now been silenced. It’s up to the rest of us to restore the voice of the people to the national helm. The common good must take priority over private profit, else spiritual death may be followed swiftly by environmental collapse, and the end of life on Earth. Time to repair the cracks in the nation’s foundation and rein in the military industrial complex now – before it’s too late.
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