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Martin Luther King Essay

1499 words - 6 pages

In this article, the author Adam Fairclough interprets one aspect of King’s career: King’s opposition to America’s involvement in Vietnam. The article has an explicit thesis statement: a focus on the successes of Martin Luther King Junior by examining the nature of his organizational base, his relationship with the wider black movement, and the national political context . The author has illustrated his thesis by providing King’s views on the war, attempting to provide an explanation on how he acquired those views. The author has further illustrated the significance of King and his organization in the peace movement.
Summary and analysis
Condemnation for the war against Vietnam was ...view middle of the document...

A close cross-examination of King’s actions perfectly describes him as an advocate of non-violence. Just like other civil rights activists, King made moves in the political world and was in most cases coerced to request compromises, on pragmatic basis, in the light of situation. I concur with the writer that contrary to his friends; Lawson and Rustin, King was not a stringent pacifist. This could partly be attributed to the teachings of Niebuhr who convinced King that violence can at certain instances be justified as the only way of resisting tyranny. Considering his statement “These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the earth are rising up as never before.” This clearly illustrates the fact that King’s opposition to the American role in Vietnam went far beyond a pacifist condemnation of war. However, it is astounding that king took more than two years that is from 1965 to 1967 to comment on the ongoing war despite the bombings of the North Vietnam. This is despite other civil right activists such as senators and student’s organizations had condemned these actions. This indeed justifies the fact that King was a latecomer to the peace movement, a fact which underlines the futility of attempting to interpret his actions individually in terms of non-violence. As explained by the author a key distracting reason behind such a silence could be based on the idea that most black people who participated in the war as soldiers and as such demonstrated their loyalty to the government. Such loyalty to the federal government was perceived by black leaders to be an indication of progress towards attaining racial equality which in most cases Martin Luther King Junior feared to compromise. King could not give voice to his escalating radicalism without estranging a significant portion of his followers and further, he could not indulge in criticisms of American foreign policy without jeopardizing his personal relationship with the federal government. In 1965, King advocated for non-violence by advocating for a negotiated settlement with the Viet Cong.
The then incumbent government of the United States of America lacked confidence and as such did not find sense in utterances made by black activists like King. For instance after meeting the United Nations ambassador, King asserts, “They told me I wasn’t an expert on foreign affairs, and they were all experts. I knew only civil rights and should stick to that.” This was not only a setback to King’s moves, but it clearly expressed substantial elements of racial discrimination. The existing situation worsened and with whichever warning, King could not tolerate anymore the issue of war since the attacks apparently appeared to go against underlying principles of democracy and free speech. Among such injustices...

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