News Release

Obama: I Have a Drone vs MLK: I have a Dream


While many are drawing parallels between Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama, some activists and analysts state that many of Obama’s policies run totally counter to King’s activism.

The group RootsAction states: “Meticulous researchers have documented that U.S. drones are killing many innocent civilians in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. Drones are making the world less stable and creating new enemies. Their remoteness provides those responsible with a sense of immunity.”

The Washington Peace Center has a list of protests and other events around the inauguration.

In King’s 1967 book Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? he wrote: “When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.” That same year In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech [see text and audio], King said: “What of the National Liberation Front, that strangely anonymous group we call ‘VC’ or ‘communists’? … Surely we must understand their feelings, even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

“I’m convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. … When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. …

“With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, ‘This is not just.’ It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, ‘This is not just.’ The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

“Perhaps his [Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh] sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of ‘aggression’ as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. … True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation.”

LEAH BOLGER, [email]
President of Veterans for Peace, Bolger said today: “King’s legacy is not upheld by increasing troops in Afghanistan and killing in so many other countries as the administration has done — it is violated. Obama put Social Security on the fiscal chopping block instead of the military budget. The main advocate of drone killings, John Brennan, was just nominated by Obama to be head of the CIA. We must clearly judge politicians by the content of their policies, not the effectiveness of their delivery.”

JARED BALL, [email]
Associate professor of journalism and mass communication at Morgan State University and author of I MiX What I Like: A MiXtape Manifesto, Ball said today: “Not even the Hollywood distortions of Lincoln and Django out-perform the political myths being planned for this week’s inauguration. One hundred and fifty years since the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the March on Washington, Barack Obama will use both the bibles of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. as part of a ceremony that is as much about obscuring or preventing progressive change as were the real politics of Lincoln and those falsely ascribed to King. It is as doubtful that Lincoln meant by colonization [of blacks back to Africa] the eventual return of Africans to sit in this country’s highest offices as it is that King meant to fight for an equality that would allow black people the same right to perform drone strikes. Lincoln and King represent important dialectical, hostile and very unequal political opposites. Obama’s symbolic merging of the two in fact works to impose a false unity to what each represented and disrespectfully aligns King with a political tradition he was killed trying to eradicate.”