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Remembering the Politics of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Age of Obama

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by Danny Haiphong

Barack Obama took his presidential oath on Dr. King’s bible, but has spent every day in office fighting against MLK’s legacy. “If King were alive today, he would be on the streets opposing each and every one of Obama’s neo-liberal economic policies and imperialist wars.”

 

Remembering the Politics of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Age of Obama

by Danny Haiphong

He ended his life embracing a radical vision of US society that included an end to US war-mongering, racism, and poverty and the beginning of a truly egalitarian society.”

Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 85 this year. King’s birthday passes each year with most people in this country lacking a more complete understanding of King’s political significance. A proper celebration of King’s birthday is the continuation of the struggle against war, poverty, and racism. However, we cannot apply King’s vision to our historical moment without correctly studying King’s politics beyond what we are taught by the US corporate media, government, and school system.

The US government was indicted of murdering Martin Luther King in his family’s civil case in 1999. What made the US government do it? King was one of many Black activists targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations in the 60’s and 70’s. King’s opposition to US militarism, as well as his solidarity with poor and working class Black people, grew out of favor with the Johnson Administration. In the two years before he was assassinated, King’s speeches moved away from calling for Black integration within a system ruled by white and toward a struggle against what he called the three evils of militarism, materialism, and racism. King opposed the Vietnam War and questioned his own his position of non-violence in the wake of US savagery in Vietnam and the racist police violence poor Black youth experienced in US cities.

Martin Luther King went from shaking hands with US politicians to being murdered by them. When he was shot that faithful day in Memphis, King was preparing to stand in solidarity with striking sanitation workers. He was raising critical questions about the US capitalist economy and proposed radical policies such as a universal income and full employment. Although Martin Luther King did not endorse violent revolutionary upheaval, he ended his life embracing a radical vision of US society that included an end to US war-mongering, racism, and poverty and the beginning of a truly egalitarian society.

The sanitization and domestication of King’s politics lends legitimacy to the US ruling circle.”

Remembering the radical Dr. King is critical in the age of Obama. US imperialism has washed away King’s radicalism in its ideological war against Black anti-establishment politics. Those who hated King when he was alive now romantically praise him as a champion of white forgiveness and Black pragmatism. Mainstream conversations about King rarely deviate from fond memories of his “I Have A Dream” speech and his great love for all people, even his oppressors. The sanitization and domestication of King’s politics lends legitimacy to the US ruling circle as it continues to exploit humanity and Black people in particular.

For the US imperialist system, revising King’s legacy is a useful weapon against the oppressed. In January of 2013, millions watched as Barack Obama was sworn into his second term on Martin Luther King’s bible. This symbolic act by the commander-in-chief of US empire linked the ascendency of Barack Obama to the heroic struggle of Martin Luther King. For four-plus years, the ruling classes have constructed the idea that Martin Luther King Jr’s “dream” was accomplished through the election of Barack Hussein Obama. But If King were alive today, he would be on the streets opposing each and every one of Obama’s neo-liberal economic policies and imperialist wars. Indeed, King’s belief that the US government was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” would remain unchanged fifty plus years later. It is this King we need to revive in both mind and spirit as we continue the struggle for justice he gave his life for.

Danny Haiphong is an activist and case manager in the Greater Boston area. You can contact Danny at: wakeupriseup1990@gmail.com. 

 

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Sharpton

Sharpton wasn't around King, Shartpon was just starting High School when King died.

RE CounterPunch Article: Did the Elites Have MLK Killed?

I could NOT post my response @ CounterPunch [see www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/24/did-the-elites-have-rev-martin-luther-king-jr-killed/ ]- So since this BAR article covers the same basic topic, here seems like a good alternative to respond.

First this CounterPunch article starts off talking about why its authors feel the power Elites had NO motive to have JFK & RFK killed- because Kennedys Bros were from an elite family themselves & thus the US' power elites were in-fact their peers. While on the surface this argument seems true & logical, when you scratch below the surface its actually rather dismissively shallow. The articles' authors even briefly brought up Fidel Castro to emphasize their point- but apparently they have NOT bothered to analyze Castro's [little talked about] Nov 23, 1963 [IE: the very next day after the JFK hit] speech where he comes to basically the opposite conclusion that these authors [& Chomsky] have RE: the JFK hit. So does that mean Castro should also be dismissed as a 'wacky' 'conspiracy theorist' & irrational JFK apologist? I DON'T Think SO!!!

But after their opening paragraph the authors do get the subject at hand- MLK's assassination. And they do bring up some important points IE: How the US Gov't Army Intel had both MLK Sr & Jr under surveillance for years, starting w MLK Jr when he was just 18 yrs old. They also mention at that time army sniper units had 30.06s & that the Memphis police snipers unit also had 30.06s- FYI: MLK was killed w a 30.06. And they briefly mentioned that MLK famous anti Vietnam War speech was given exactly one yr before his assassination [but they failed to give many details of exactly what MLK said in that NOT very often published speech]. And they go into in the fact that in the immediate wake of MLK's assassination, Gay Edgar Hoover's FBI unleashed a murderous [COINTELPRO] assault on the Black Panther Party [BPP] IE: the execution of Fred Hampton & Mark Clark by the Chicago PD in combo w the FBI on Dec 4, 1969. 

BUT... First these authors say: 'James Earl Ray, a white man, was convicted of killing [MLK] and sentenced to 99 yearsRay Was CERTAINLY the Gunman'... - This declaration [absent any qualifiers] IMO effectively hamstrings or even negates these authors' entire premise- & falls lock-step w the official line [LIE] re MLK's assassination [& dove-tails neatly w the official line re: the assassinations of Malcolm, JFK & RFK]. Thus the authors failed to say that- In a 1999 civil trail by the King family vs Loyd Jowers, the conclusion was that MLK was indeed killed based on a hi-level conspiracy & that JE.Ray [like LH.Oswald] was basically a patsy [FYI: back in 1978 the HSCA basically admitted more or less the same thing RE both the assassinations of MLK & JFK]. Nor that this case found that MLK's real killer was most likely Memphis PD's 'best' sharp-shooter in 1968. Nor that Ray's alleged 'sniper's rifle' has NEVER been PROVEN to indeed be the weapon used to murder MLK. Nor that the package w the alleged sniper's rifle along w other items that seem to implicate JE.Ray- was actually dropped on the sidewalk a few minutes BEFORE MLK was shot & that the guy that left it did NOT fit Ray's description. Nor that MLK [like in the case of JFK] was systematically stripped of his security- while Army Intel units were present in a fire-house across the street from the Loraine Motel on April 3 & 4, 1968! Nor did they say that the first person to reach MLK after he was shot, who's in that famous photographed kneeling over MLK as he lay dying [Merrell McCullough], was a Memphis police / FBI informant who went on to work for the CIA. Nor did they explain how accused MLK killer JE.Ray could some how get out of the US all the way to Europe via Canada for 2 months- before finally [& curiously] being arrested just 2 days after RFK was killed on June 5-6, 1968 by yet another 'Oswald / Ray' type 'crazed lone-gunman' [Sirhan Sirhan]. And these authors certainly do NOT talk about the implications of that notorious Gay Edgar Hoover 'Stop the Rise of a Black Messiah' memo- where he insists that the militant Black freedom movement of the 1960s must be stopped by any means necessary, & named MLK, [posthumously Malcolm X], Stokely Carmichael [aka Kwame' Toure'], & the BPP as his chief targets to be 'neutralized' [Hoover also named Elijah Muhammed but said that due to his age & failing health they should just wait for 'nature to take its course'] !!!

Plus the authors FAILED to explain who JE.Ray's sponsors may have been, or would they have us believe that a 2-bit thief like Ray would escape from jail in 1967, go all to way to Canada, & then return to kill MLK exactly 1 Yr to the Day after MLK's anti Vietnam War speech where he indicted the US Gov't [= LBJ's regime] as 'The Greatest purveyor of violence in the World'??? 

Thus IMO this CounterPunch article definitely falls short of making its case Re its alleged premise -OR- Is it possibly a case of 'limited hang-out'???

RE CounterPunch Article: Did the Elites Have MLK Killed?

I could NOT post my response @ CounterPunch [see www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/24/did-the-elites-have-rev-martin-luther-king-jr-killed/ ]- So since this BAR article covers the same basic topic, here seems like a good alternative to respond.

First this CounterPunch article starts off talking about why its authors feel the power Elites had NO motive to have JFK & RFK killed- because Kennedys Bros were from an elite family themselves & thus the US' power elites were in-fact their peers. While on the surface this argument seems true & logical, when you scratch below the surface its actually quite shallow & dismissive. The articles' author even briefly brought up Fidel Castro to emphasize their point- but apparently they have NOT bothered to analyze Castro's [little talked about] Nov 23, 1963 [IE: the very next day after the JFK hit] speech where he comes to basically the opposite conclusion that these authors [& Chomsky] have RE: the JFK hit. So does that mean Castro should also be dismissed as a 'wacky' 'conspiracy theorist' & irrational JFK apologist? I DON'T Think SO!!!

But after their opening paragraph the authors do get the subject at hand- MLK's assassination. And they do bring up some important points IE: How the US Gov't Army Intel had both MLK Sr & Jr under surveillance for years, starting w MLK Jr when he was just 18 yrs old. They also mention something about army sniper units had 30.06s & that the Memphis police snipers unit also had 30.06s- FYI: MLK was killed by a 30.06. And they briefly mentioned that MLK famous anti Vietnam War speech was given exactly one yr before his assassination [but they failed to give many details of exactly what MLK said in that not very often published speech]. And they go into in the wake of MLK's assassination the FBI murderous COINTELPRO assault on the Black Panther Party [BPP] IE: the execution of Fred Hampton & Mark Clark by the Chicago PD in combo w the FBI on Dec 4, 1969. 

BUT... First these authors say: 'James Earl Ray, a white man, was convicted of killing [MLK] and sentenced to 99 yearsRay Was CERTAINLY the Gunman'... - This declaration [absent any qualifiers] IMO effectively hamstrings or even negates these authors' entire premise- & falls lock-step w the official line [LIE] re MLK's assassination [& dove-tail neatly w the official line re: the assassinations of Malcolm, JFK & RFK]. Thus the authors failed to say that- In a 1999 civil trail by the King family vs Loyd Jowers, the conclusion was that MLK was indeed killed based on a hi-level conspiracy & that JE.Ray like LHO was basically a patsy [FTI: the HSCA basically concluded the same thing RE both the assassinations of MLK & JFK in 1978]. Or that this case found that MLK's real killer was Memphis PD's 'best' sharp-shooter, & that Ray's alleged 'snipers rifle' has NEVER been PROVEN to indeed be the weapon used to murder MLK. Or that MLK [like in the case of JFK] was systematically stripped of his security- while Army Intel units were present in a fire-house across the street from the Loraine Motel on April 3 & 4, 1968! Or how accused MLK killer JE.Ray some how escaped out of the US all the way to Europe via Canada for 2 months- & then finally [& curiously] being arrested around the same day that RFK was killed [June 5-6, 1968]. And these authors certainly do NOT talk about the implications of that notorious Gay Edgar Hoover 'Stop the Rise of a Black Messiah' memo- where he insists that the militant Black freedom movement of the 1960s must be stopped by any means necessary, & named MLK, [posthumously Malcolm X], the NOI, Stokely Carmichael [aka Kwame' Toure'], & the BPP as his chief targets to be 'neutralized'!!!

Plus the authors FAIL to explain who JE.Ray's sponsors may have been, or are would they have us believe that a 2-bit thief like Ray would escape from jail in 1967 go all to way to Canada, & then return to kill MLK exactly 1 Yr to the day after MLK's anti Vietnam War speech where he indicted the US Gov't [= LBJ's regime] as 'The Greatest purveyor of violence in the World'??? 

Thus IMO this CounterPunch article definitely fails short of making its case Re its alleged premise -OR- Is it possibly a case of 'limited hang-out'???

EXCELLENT analysis of the

EXCELLENT analysis of the Counterpunch article.

Like the 911 and Warren commissions, the object of the congressional inquiry into MLK's murder had nothing to do with truth seeking but all to do with creating a tidy storyline for public consumption.  Last I heard, the MLK commission's papers are sealed until 2028.  The fact that these papers are sealed at all proves the govt is hiding its and its corporate paymasters' knee deep involvement in the murder.  I'm convinced that the govt also had help from more than one Judas in MLK's camp.  Late political researcher Steve Cokely's investigative articles that implicate a couple of folks in MLK's camp can't be dismissed as whacko theories.  My suspicions are further raised by a comment made by a BAR reader a year or so ago.  I don't remember the article where this reader left his/her comment.  Said reader either worked for King Center or had friend who did.  Either way, the one of the comments left was that Mrs. King never trusted Jesse.  Given Jesse's opportunistic smearing of MLK's blood on his shirt and lie that King died in his arms along with Cokely's investigative articles, I have strong suspicions that a few of MLK's "trusted" right hand men have less than clean hands in the matter.  We know Sharpton was (and still is) a govt informant.  Who else surrounding MLK was (and still is) on the take?

Apparently Jowers' Trial Didn't Specifically Implicate Jesse

It did name Merrell McCullough, & Memphis PD's top 'sharp shooter in 1968 named Earl Clark. And Rev Billy Kyles apparently made some rather curious statements that seem to implicate himself. And of course Memphis' FBI office was over-joyed & literally celebrated upon hearing the news of MLK's murder.

IMO Rev Jesse [JJ] being the opportunist that he is, w the whole smearing MLK's blood on himself stunt, in his [successful PR] effort to leap-frog past Ralph Abernathy as MLK's heir apparent- has rubbed many the wrong way & attracted a-lot of suspicion to himself. It was Tom Porter who knew both Coretta & Jesse who said that according to Coretta:  'Martin never trusted Jesse.'

Progressive Commentary Hour

Progressive Commentary Hour did a long piece on the conspiracy to kill MLK.  It's worth a listen.  Factual info, not mere speculation.  Go to prn.fm, click Our Shows, click Progressive Commentary Hour and hit radio button to listen to 1/20/14 broadcast.

Bev, Thanks for Tip RE PNR Pepper's Interview on MLK

Most of what Bill Peppers said I'm familiar w, but he did put out a little tid-bit on Jesse I hadn't heard before RE events leading up-to MLK's assassination- IE: That one of the ex-Invaders told him that it was Jesse who told them that Martin wanted them to leave only about 10 to 15 minutes before Martin was shot. Though this info IMO ain't quite as incriminating as that which Pepper's said came out in the Jowers Trial against Rev Kyles- It Is 'Interesting'



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