Racism is Alive and Well in America and in the Northland, But So Are Militarism and Economic Oppression (per MLK)

Gary G. Kohls, MD

Progressive Northland residents were shocked this week by the negative internet comments (received from people all across the nation, including locally) that were directed against the worthy Unfair Campaign (www.unfaircampaign.org) that was launched last week by a coalition of progressive organizations as another attempt to address white racism. 

The campaign was designed—very professionally, by the way—to raise the level of awareness about the reality of “white privilege,” which leads to, among other things, unappreciated economic and educational advantages for the 90 percent of Northlanders who are Caucasian. 

Martin Luther King would have approved of the Unfair effort, for he spoke again and again about racism, one of the “triple evils” that were imperiling his nation and the world.

Those triple evils were Racism, Militarism, and Materialism (economic oppression). Being a black activist for peace and justice, Racism and Economic Oppression were at the top of his initial agenda for most of his doomed life as a prophetic voice. 

He worked tirelessly against discrimination, racism, segregation, joblessness, and poverty.  Then towards the end of his shortened life, he learned about the crimes against humanity that were being perpetrated against non-white people and their land in Vietnam. Those crimes were perpetrated at the hands of American soldiers and Marines who were both white and black, but who were taking orders to kill from white political elites in Washington, DC. King, seeing the racist evil in the conduct of most wars, felt compelled to speak out against American militarism. He now had the complete package. 

King’s powerful indictment against American militarism is best understood by reading and studying his Beyond Vietnam homily, which he delivered at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, precisely one year to the day before his assassination.

King’s decision to speak out about the body, brain, and soul destruction of all sides in that undeclared war was like writing his own death warrant, for, after that speech, secret agents of a much larger, more hidden agenda than we will ever be allowed to know began planning the details of his assassination, which included the publicly palatable, classical “lone gunman” theory that is used to explain political assassinations of prominent figures. (In the MLK case, the patsy James Earl Ray was given the role as the fingered shooter.) 

 

American militarism is considered by the economic and political ruling elite to be too big to fail and thus must be supported as, at the very least, a make-work jobs program to keep employed the researchers, developers, manufacturers, deployers and soldiers of the most lethal and expensive arsenal in the history of the world, bar none. The Pentagon is one of the largest employers in the world. So what would we ever do with the many disabled and thus unemployable veterans if we actually brought all the troops home to a country with a 15-20 percent (actual) unemployment rate?

 

It should be mentioned that the Pentagon and its subsidiaries are also the worst polluters in the world, with military toxins and nuclear and chemical warfare waste already poisoning to death and disability unknown millions of innocent living things from here to eternity. There will probably be lots of jobs mopping up, by healthcare professionals, the devastating results of our sickened vets, who will number in the tens of millions, not to mention the costs of the eventual poor mental and physical health of their disadvantaged families.

 

The public is finally becoming aware of the likely permanent poisoning and traumatizing of the bodies, brains, and spirits of soldiers in every war zone since warfare began, causing high incidences of suicides, homicides, rapes, sexual harassment, psychopathic personalities, criminality, drug use, PTSD, violence, parenting problems, marital dissolution, etc., in both the active duty military as well as veterans. That is what violence does to its participants or observers of combat.

 

King was totally justified in his assessment and the interconnections between his triple evils. 

 

What turned him around from just focusing on racism was listening to young blacks who objected to his practical and ultimately successful strategy of using nonviolent resistance techniques in his campaign against racial and economic oppression. These young men were pointing to their own nation’s violence in America’s involvement in Vietnam. And so, as prophets can’t help themselves from doing, King was compelled to speak out. 

 

King proclaimed, “As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems, I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But, they asked, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I know that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today—my own government.”