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Dr. ML King's Observations Still Relevant in 2012

By Mohammed Khaku

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 18, 2012

In 1967, at the height of the civil rights struggle, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a concise, yet penetrating, assessment of his times in an essay, "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?"

At the end his reflections, Dr. King penned the sobering words: "We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. This may well be mankind's last chance to choose between chaos or community."

However, the reflection given by Dr. King is even more pertinent today than when it was first voiced. If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would probably be leading the demonstrations against some of the policies of America's first elected African-American president.

The United States had unleashed death and destruction on the developing countries of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya by fighting a war in those nations. America, the uncontrollable super power, is creating worldwide chaos, while remaining silent on the human rights violations in Bahrain by the King Hamad al Khalifa.

As we celebrate the birthday of Dr. King on Monday, people remember his famous "I have a dream" speech of 1963.

However, his speech of April 4, 1967, "Silence is Betrayal," was an open and courageous criticism of the administration's pursuit of the Vietnam War. The message of that speech was critical of American militarism. Dr. King proceeded to strengthen his analysis of oppressive American policies abroad by linking them to unacceptable political and social conditions at home. There is no difference today. Dr. King's legacy was an uncompromising struggle against the evil triplets of militarism, racism and poverty.

Over the years, U.S. military spending, including handing out military aid to foreign nations and maintaining more than an estimated 700 military bases, has continued to rise, costing hundreds of billions of dollars, while unemployment, foreclosure filings and the national debt have risen to unacceptable or record levels. Where is the justification of the military spending?

If the United States is to comply with equality and justice, it must declare a never-ending war to eliminate poverty, cut the military spending and stop occupying foreign nations, don't start new wars, such as in Iran, or support oppressive regimes like those in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Today, the words of Dr. King in his Vietnam War speech resonates but many imams, clergy and lawmakers are not willing to speak up because they will be characterized as unpatriotic.

However, when America does wrong and does not live up to her ideals of justice and freedom, we must speak up. That is one of the greatest forms of patriotism. Criticizing our country is not being un-American, and those who say that only foment division. However, we should not let disagreement be degenerated into hatred of our fellow citizens. Nevertheless, we cannot claim to love America and what she stands for and remain silent whenever she does wrong.

The success of Dr. King's mission was due to his confidence that he was doing God's work, with his trust in God and his refusal to hate his opponents.

Muslims should be heir to the mission of Dr. King because it is a community that has been described in the Holy Quran as "ummatan wasatan" which implies a community of people who are balanced, well-behaved, persevering, and away from the danger of extremes for the service of humanity.

To my Muslim brethren in America, it is our moral duty that we collectively recognize and embrace the fact that we have an unquestionable part to play in helping to chart the way forward for peace, justice and freedom. This is a sacred duty.

Now, almost 45 years after Dr. King's essay about where we go from here, we can say with even greater certainty: "This may well be mankind's last chance between chaos or community." We must choose cooperation and community.

To quote Thomas Jefferson: "I tremble for my country when I reflect, God is just; His justice cannot sleep forever."

Mohammed Khaku lives in Upper Macungie Township and is active in the Islamic community of the Lehigh Valley.

This article was published first published in the following site before submitting it for publication at Al-Jazeerah.,0,7836509.story




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