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17 January 2005

Martin Luther King's warning to America

Tonight I watched a BBC special on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As is usual for me, I was in or near tears through much of the show, not simply because of the emotional power of the message of Dr. King, but also, I am ashamed to say, through a sort of self-indulgent nostalgia. The civil rights struggle dominated my childhood to such an extent that merely watching a documentary on it is like a visit back home. I was stunned by a segment that was shown of a speech given in 1967 against the Vietnam War. The documentary led one to believe that it was part of the historic Riverside Baptist Church "Beyond Vietnam" speech of April 1967. But when I googled that speech, the segment was not in it. So then I googled just King's name and a short segment of the excerpt, and found it listed as "attributed" on Wikipedia. Well, I think they can correct that "attributed" because I just saw and heard him saying it. To read the words here will not have one tenth the power of hearing him say it, so I urge you to see if either BBC Four in the UK or The American Experience in the US have a clip of it on a website somewhere. But here are the words:

Don't let anybody make you think God chose America as his divine messianic force to be - a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with justice and it seems I can hear God saying to America "you are too arrogant, and if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I will place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name. Be still and know that I am God."
George W. Bush, you can have that one for free.

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