Steven Zilberg
Dr. Martin Luther King Speech Reflection
Why I am Opposed to the War in Vietnam

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech is widely known and accepted by the U.S government and media outlets (NBC, MSNBC, etc.) as his greatest televised speech. Why is that? Was it because Dr. King in this particular speech played it ‘safe’? In his own words, “the hottest place in hell is reserved for people who are in moral crisis and maintain neutrality”. Dr. King’s stance in regards to the Vietnam war and presumably if he was alive today would have been similar if we were discussing Desert Storm, Iraq War, etc.

He knew that it is not easy to oppose your own government. Citizens are in an unstable emotional state during a time of war as well as young people are enlisting and are given up their lives for a cause which may or may not be justified. Worst part about dissent is that it is equated with disloyalty. If you oppose government restrictions, foreign policies, or local legislation your loyalty is questioned.

Why is any of this important? Dr. King’s speech was over 50 years ago. When he gave his ‘Why I am Opposed to the War in Vietnam’ speech, the average military spending to kill an enemy soldier was 500,000 dollars compared to just 53 dollars to take care of an American citizen who was living below the poverty line. In 2017, these numbers haven’t changed much besides for military spending rising. While military spending rises so does the massive doses of violence the U.S government uses to solve problems. If I praise the way Black Lives Matter protesters handle modern Jim Crow laws (non-violently) newspapers and other media outlets will cheer and support me. If I use the same logic and say that we should use non-violence against Arab or African children the same media outlets will curse me. This is a sign that something is wrong with our press.

Dr. King was trying to get this message out before he was murdered by the U.S government and local authorities. Once Dr. King brought up class and foreign policy, he became just as dangerous as the Black Panthers had when Fred Hampton opened up the Chicago Black Panther Party for Self-Defense chapter. Our government would rather support generals and dictators whose greatest hero is Hitler instead of revolutionaries who are trying to uplift humanity and create brotherhood based on love not skin color.

The fact is we have become a materialistic society and Dr. King knew it. We need to become a person oriented society. Within this speech, three topics were discussed that would bring about total darkness and chaos if not questioned. They were racism, militarism, and economic exploitation. Only a true revolution of values will cause us to question many of our policies (both federally and locally).

The old way of torturing our enemy and burning bodies with napalm just because we can have to stop. We are sending children home with physical and mental handicaps which they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. While the U.S government spends billions on military programs such as advanced drones and stealth jets, our veterans are receiving the lowest quality of care. Instead of spending billions on military programs (which lead us to our spiritual death) we should be concentrating on uplifting individuals who are oppressed. Only where love exists can we produce great disappointment. If I learned anything from this particular speech it was that God stands before all nations and did not endorse or declare us the police sergeant of the world. Nations should stand together instead of stacked up upon one each other based on military capabilities.


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