45 Years ‘Beyond Vietnam’

Long time antiwar activist Phil Restino of Central Florida Veterans For Peace sent us this letter on the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination:

Hello All,

It was 45 years ago today on 4 April 1967 at the Riverside Community Church in Harlem, NYC that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his powerful speech condemning the U.S. government’s illegal and immoral war of aggression in Vietnam. The speech was entitled “Beyond Vietnam – A Time To Break Silence” and some believe that it sealed his fate as far as being murdered in Memphis a year to the day later on 4 April 1968.

To read the entire speech as well as access the audio recording of the speech, go to [here] and please share it with others.

It was members of Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam who were hosting Dr. King and it was from their promotions that Dr. King borrowed the statement “There comes a time when silence is betrayal”, which has been repeated and used by activists ever since. However, the second half of the statement added by Dr. King was “and that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam” making very clear that the betrayal of silence in regards to the American people, and in particular the religious and civil rights leaders, not strongly speaking out against the United States’ war on Vietnam.

Somewhat early into the speech, Dr. King was relating his experiences of traveling the United States over the past 2-3 years and visiting the ghettos of various cities and how it was some young disadvantaged black men who questioned him as to why he wasn’t speaking out about the violent war of aggression our government was inflicting on the poor people of Vietnam. The following is how Dr. King related the experience to the audience that day:

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 ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask 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 knew 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. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

It was this quote from Dr. King that inspired myself and weekly columnist for The Black Commentator and veteran of the Black Panther Party, Larry Pinkney, to name our new monthly radio program We Cannot be Silent: with Phil Restino and Larry Pinkney. It was only fitting that our first broadcast of “We cannot be silent” was on 15 January 2012, the actual birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., and that part of our discussion was on Larry Pinkney’s recent column tying together the first Black American President’s signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on 31 December 2011 which would give the President the legal authority to turn the U.S. military on the people of the United States with Dr. King’s bold condemnation of President Johnson’s use of the U.S. military in an aggressive war on the people of Vietnam.

Second Chance to Prevent Indefinite Detention of Americans

Reposted with permission from Campaign for Liberty’s Michael Ostrolenk:

A vote could occur today on two amendments introduced to prevent the indefinite detention of American citizens as currently written into the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 1867.

Senate Amendment (SA) 1126 would “clarify” Section 1031 to explicitly state within the section that the authority of the military to detain persons without trial until the end of hostilities does not apply to American citizens.

SA 1125 would limit the mandatory detention provision in Section 1032 to persons captured abroad, not in America.

While there are certainly still problems with the indefinite detention of any persons without trial in a seemingly endless “war on terror,” both of these amendments will remove the worst offending provisions against American citizens and prevent turning America into a battlefield.

Contact your senators ASAP at 202-224-3121 to demand they support SA 1125 & 1126 to the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 1867 to prevent the indefinite detention of American citizens.

Below is a list of senators C4L has identified as targets for these amendments, if you live in their state, definitely make sure you contact them immediately!

Corker (TN) 202-224-3344
Murkowski (AK) 202-224-6665
Johnson (WI) 202-224-5323
Heller (NV) 202-224-6244
Snowe (ME) 202-224-5344
Toomey (PA) 202-224-4254
Lugar (IN) 202-224-4814
Rubio (FL) 202-224-3041

Join Ralph Nader and Lawrence Wilkerson on US Government Reactions to 9/11

On Monday, September 12, 2011 at 12:30pm at Busboys & Poets, 2021 14th St NW; (14th and V St NW), Washington, D.C. Free and open to the public.

Ralph Nader and Busboys & Poets will host a thought-provoking roundtable discussion on Monday, September 12, 2011. Looking at the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in a forthright way that promotes forward thinking.

Roundtable participants will include:

Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Mike German, policy counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy at the ACLU and former FBI agent.

Bruce Fein, adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and former executive editor of World Intelligence Review.

Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and people’s lawyer.

(HT: Matthew Zawisky)

“Come Home America” Message Was Clear Winner at Iowa Straw Poll

Come Home America Ames Message
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W.A.R: Wasted American Resources

The Des Moines news reporter who noted our anti-war message at the entrance of yesterday’s Republican Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa, was not present with us long enough to see the real story. Our banners actually got an amazingly good reception! Our group of sign holders were all surprised how many of the thousands of straw poll attendees, even Pawlenty and Santorum t-shirted fans, were responding positively to the “Come Home America” message and banners warning that “Endless War = Endless Debt” and “War IS Taxing”: The anti-war enthusiasm also manifested itself as people from all political (conservative, libertarian, and socially progressive) backgrounds stopped to talk, with many even giving up an hour or two to help us hold the banners.

Endless War: Endless Death
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Endless War: Endless Death

Attendees seemed genuinely interested when we encouraged them to sign our recent “Dear Obama” letter and told them we were part of a non-partisan effort to focus on the most important ISSUES of the day, instead of the promises, slogans, cute winks and other crazy antics of any particular political candidate.

Remember the Constitution
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Remember the Constitution

The truth is that progressives who support social safety nets, funding of public education, and who are opposed to the widening disparity between the wealthiest and the poor in the United States cannot possibly see their goals realized without the US government making a clean break from the last decade of destructive and costly wars.

Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan
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Libertarians will not see a return to adherence to the Constitution, civil liberties and away from national security policing and “War Presidency” empowerment. “Greens” will not see more funding and research diverted to sustainable and environmentally clean energy technologies. And fiscal conservatives cannot possibly get the small, decentralized government they long for while the United States seeks costly world empire and military superpower status.

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All the people’s worthwhile goals are connected by money and are antithetical to the US’ spending on runaway militarism. If the American government continues to be controlled by the military-industrial-congressional-media complex, in defiance of this popular consensus, throwing trillions of hard-earned and increasingly scarce taxpayer dollars on bombs, drone technology, armoring tanks, and outright corporate contractor fraud, none of these other popular group objectives are possible.

Come Home America at Ames
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While the hundreds of national media in Iowa covered the actual, close straw poll finish (near tie) of Michele Bachmann only beating Ron Paul by 152 votes, they did not seem to care or cover the enormous outpouring we witnessed from people of different political backgrounds and loyalties—confirmed by numerous national polls–showing consensus for ending the wars and runaway militarism. Perhaps the “Come Home America” kick-off bannering at the early Iowa Straw Poll event revealed the unique moment we’re in, watching a perfect storm of various rationales coming together.

Stop War at Ames, Iowa
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In any event, look for our Come Home America initiative to represent this convergence and strengthening consensus outside many of Obama’s upcoming speeches as well as other major political events throughout the nation. We hope to mount banners as in the photos of yesterday’s event in Iowa. While politicos and horse race bettors constantly talk of making their selections using the “lesser of two evils”, one thing is clear: It is the issues more than the political personalities that matter and WAR is not the lesser of two evils! It is THE EVIL that poisons and contaminates everything else.

Endless War and Endless Debt
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Endless War and Endless Debt

Has your Congressional Rep signed Out-of-Iraq letter?

If your representative has not signed Lee-Jones letter on Iraq, please call his or her office now. The Capitol Hill Switchboard line is 202-225-3121.

The list of current signers to “Bring all U.S. Troops and Military Contractors in Iraq Home by Dec. 31, 2011” is below.

Current Cosigners (80, in addition to Lee & Jones): Baldwin, Bass (CA-33), Braley, Capps, Capuano, Chu, Cicilline, Clark (MI-13), Clarke (NY-11), Cleaver, Clyburn, Cohen, Conyers, Costello, Davis (IL-7), DeFazio, Doggett, Duncan (TN-2), Ellison, Farr, Filner, Frank, Fudge, Garamendi, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Hanabusa, Hastings (FL-23), Heinrich, Hirono, Honda, Jackson Jr. (IL-2), Jackson-Lee, Johnson (TX-30), Johnson (IL-15), Kaptur, Kucinich, Lewis (GA-5), Loebsack, Lofgren, Lujan, Maloney, Matsui, McDermott, McGovern, Michaud, Miller (CA-7), Moore, Nadler, Napolitano, Norton, Olver, Paul, Payne, Rangel, Richardson, Rush, Sanchez (CA-47), Schakowsky, Schrader, Scott (VA-3), Serrano, Sewell, Slaughter, Speier, Stark, Thompson (CA-1), Tonko, Towns, Tsongas, Waters, Watt, Welch, Wilson (FL-17), Woolsey, Yarmuth

Please send any feedback from Congressional offices to hiscze@aol.com. For member of Congress to sign on to this bipartisan letter or for more information, please contact Teddy Miller in Rep. Lee’s office (teddy.miller@mail.house.gov or 5.2661) or Ray Celeste in Rep. Jones’ office (raymond.celeste@mail.house.gov or 6.5241).

Text of Letter:

July 22, 2011
The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to urge you to hold to our nation’s Status of Forces Agreement with the government of Iraq that commits our nation to bringing all of our troops and military contractors home at the end of this calendar year.

The American people have made it clear that the war in Iraq must end. By wide and overwhelming margins, Americans approve of your plan to remove all the troops from Iraq by the end of this year.

We are deeply concerned to learn that your Administration is considering plans to keep potentially thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the end of this year. Extending our presence in Iraq is counterproductive – the Iraqi people do not support our continued occupation. Remaining in Iraq would only further strengthen the perception that we are an occupying force with no intention of leaving Iraq.

Leaving troops and military contractors in Iraq beyond the deadline is not in our nation’s security interests, it is not in our nation’s strategic interests, and it is not in our nation’s economic interests.

Mr. President, we look forward to working with you in maintaining our nation’s Status of Forces Agreement with the government of Iraq and bringing all of our troops and military contractors home at the end of this year.

Sincerely,
Barbara Lee
Member of Congress

Walter B. Jones
Member of Congress