United for Peace and Justice is launching the "Beyond War, A New Economy Is Possible: Yes We Can" campaign this weekend as the nation honors the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. From January 17-19, the MLK Holiday weekend, there will be hundreds of events celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. all over the nation.
The following is the text of the leaflet for the campaign:
Our nation is on the eve of one the most important moments in our history: the inauguration of the first Black president of the U.S. There is great excitement and hope, here and around the world.
At the same time, the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on: the death tolls mount and the financial costs are staggering, draining resources from our cash strapped communities and contributing to the current economic crisis. The “war on terror” has other costs, too, as our rights - especially the rights of the most vulnerable - have been systematically undermined.
We have been here before. More than forty years ago, a senseless war raged in Vietnam. The result: 58,000 young Americans and more than three million Vietnamese dead; a society broken and scarred; illegal assaults on our civil liberties, all in the name of patriotism. Today we are in the midst of an endless “war on terrorism” that has included invasions and occupations, and sweeping erosions in everyone’s basic human rights, particularly in communities of color.
In April 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at New York’s Riverside Church about what Vietnam meant for the United States. His words remind us of the choices we face in 2009, and how urgent it is that we change current U.S. policies—in Iraq, in the Middle East, around the world, and here at home.
“I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.
“It became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the young black men who had been crippled in our society and sending them 8000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem.
“I knew 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.
“The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves ... marching and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy....
“[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profit and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.... A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Forty-two years later, Dr. King’s challenge to us remains. Our country can make a change, a turn towards humanity and law and decency. Or we can continue down the road of deepening social injustice and permanent war. It’s time for our government to turn to the values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — take action to make that change.
What We Stand For
The Communist Party of Indiana CPUSA struggles for socialism: to better the lives of Indiana's working families, to protect and extend labor's ability to organize, for the needs of women, children, immigrants (documented and undocumented), the disabled, LGBT, and all people who strive for affordable quality health care, housing, and education. We stand against racism in all its forms. We stand for jobs for all. We stand for peace. We support all who struggle world wide for the dignity and self-determination of the majority of their nation's people and against imperialism, occupation, and exploitation for private profit.