Civil Rights - But Not the Demand for Peace?

Whatever happened to Dr. King's demand for "world peace"? I attended the March on Washington last Wednesday, August 28, 2013, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

During the March on Washington in 1963, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. The speech and the March in 1963 were instrumental in the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

In attending the event my hope was to lend support to efforts which could overturn the recent shameful decision by the Supreme Court to eviscerate the Voting Rights Act. I was disappointed at the event because I heard little from the celebrity speakers to inspire working people to fight for legislation to overturn the Supreme Court decision.

Although I must concede that several speakers spoke about the Voting Rights Act, their rhetoric was lackluster and did little to convince working people that this is an issue worth fighting for. The current US President, also a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said little or nothing about the issue. When Barack Obama was elected President, I wept with tears of joy in 2008. Now I weep with tears of sorrow at what he is doing and threatens to do.

I spoke with one African-American PhD college professor who did not even know about the Supreme Court decision. So instead of honoring the glorious memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I'm afraid the event disrespected him and all the others who fought and died for the Voting Rights Act.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also fought for and died for many other social justice causes. He died while supporting sanitation workers' rights in Memphis, Tennessee. He also called for an end to the Vietnam War and was a champion for world peace and nonviolence.

The speakers at last Wednesday's event could have honored Dr. King by applying his thinking to the current situation with which we are faced in the world today.

At least one of the speakers could have called for new legislation to reinstate the Voting Rights Act and perhaps even take it a step further. Someone could have called for legislation which would make all forms of discrimination illegal in the United States with severe penalties for offenders.

Although racial injustice is a serious problem in the United States today, other forms of discrimination also make working people's lives unnecessarily miserable. Recently, there has been some recognition that women are systematically paid less than men for the same work. Educational and health care resources are not equally distributed among African-Americans and Caucasians.

These are but a couple of examples of the rampant discrimination institutionalized in this country. At least one speaker could have spoken out boldly about the horrors of war as Dr. King did.

Instead, the Nobel Peace Prize winning President has been hypocritically calling for a new US slaughter, this time in Syria.

Somebody could have spoken to the potential catastrophe that would result from a new US imperialist military intervention. It seems to me, and some may think this simpleminded, that currently the Syrian government is killing working people in Syria and the US backed "rebels" (some may call them "mercenaries") are killing working people in Syria. If the US military starts killing working people in Syria, this will just mean that more Syrians will die.

No one in the world doubts the murderous efficiency of the US military. Ultimately, such an intervention would be extraordinarily expensive in terms of loss of life as well as loss of military equipment, seriously injured military personnel and loss of US credibility. It is worth noting that the potential slaughter by the US in Syria does not have the support of the people of the US.

Nor does imperialist military intervention have the support of traditional US allies to include the UK. It is even reported that the Polish government has refused to allow American bombers to cross their airspace to carry out their grim duties.

Countless world peace organizations have spoken out in opposition to US military intervention in Syria. This writer does not in any way support the government of Syria. However, it should be recognized that Syria is a sovereign nation and should be allowed to settle its internal affairs without foreign intervention.

It is certainly a good thing that President Obama is putting the issue of military intervention in Syria before the US Congress. He is, by doing this, giving working people a chance to speak out on the issue. There are only a few precious days left before the Congress starts its debate on September 9. It would be better if the President and Congress would focus on the problems facing the people of the US and not on imperialist distractions in Syria.

Let's honor Dr. King and show the world that he did not die in vain.

Working people must fight for their rights and for a better life for everyone.

We must not let the hypocritical warmongers win!

We must not let the destructive racists win on the Voting Rights Act!

We must not let the wealthy elite destroy our educational system and health-care system!

We must not be complacent and allowed the clock to be turned back on so many issues important to working people.

Celebrate Labor Day and honor Dr. King tomorrow by contacting your members of Congress and voice your opinion on the direction the US government is taking.

September 3, 2013

Houston, Texas

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