Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 20:36:34 -0600 (CST)
Don't Let them steal King's Day
Workers World, Editorial, 21 January 1999
The U.S. ruling class has an odd and infuriating way of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s memory. It orders the Pentagon to launch bombing raids on Iraq. This happened for the first time in 1991 when then-President George Bush first named Jan. 15 as the day the attack would begin and then held off only a day because of bad weather. Now it may happen again as Clinton again threatens Iraq with a new round of bombing raids.
If the U.S. government were to carry out these brutal raids on George Washington's birthday, it would be more in line with his record. After all, he was a general and a slaveowner. Or on Columbus Day, since Columbus opened a series of events that meant genocide of the Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. Or on Memorial Day or Veterans Day, which already celebrate the reactionary, imperialist wars of this century.
But to associate Martin Luther King Jr. with a predatory war against an oppressed people--a people of color, too--is not only an injury to his memory, it is an insult to everyone who respects his contribution to the struggle for civil rights.
King was associated with a struggle for freedom, for the rights of African American people. While he restricted his tactics to non-violent actions, he nevertheless moved millions of people into real struggle. Before his assassination in 1968 he joined the fight against the Vietnam War and for the U.S. working class and poor. And in order to fight for his principles he was willing to break even with those in the government whom he hoped would be allies in that struggle, and to risk and eventually lose his life for those principles.
In 1967 King had come out completely in opposition to the U.S. war against Vietnam, although this brought him in direct conflict with the Lyndon Johnson administration, and in conflict with imperialist liberals who refused to break with the U.S. war policy.
It took a long, hard battle to win this day as a paid holiday celebrating a great African American leader. The ruling class would like to turn that leader into a harmless icon. Don't let the criminals in the White House, the Hill and the Pentagon steal this holiday back by soiling it with a new war.
In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.: U.S. hands off Iraq!
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