Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. These are revolutionary times. Exactly one year before his assassination, on April 4, 1967, Rev. This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1954. Perhaps only his 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 hundred, or rather, eight thousand miles away from its shores. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. , In 2010, PBS commentator Tavis Smiley said that the speech was the most controversial speech of King's career, and the one he "labored over the most".. In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. King, “ Beyond Vietnam, ” 4 April 1967, NNRC. How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent communist, and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and dealt death and corruption in Vietnam. Could we blame them for such thoughts? They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace. “Beyond Vietnam”, Silence is Betrayal: Martin Luther King’s Historic 1967 Speech Introduction by Michel Chossudovsky. complaining of what he described as a double standard that applauded his nonviolence at home, but deplored it when applied "toward little brown Vietnamese children. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people?” they ask. Many of us can recite segments of his dream or his mountaintop vision. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. As Arnold Toynbee says: “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote: Each day the war goes on the hatred increased in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. . We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. His speech "Beyond Vietnam" was condemned by many civil rights leaders who thought it hurt their cause. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. " Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. " He stated that North Vietnam "did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had arrived in the tens of thousands", and accused the U.S. of having killed a million Vietnamese, "mostly children. King spoke strongly against the U.S.'s role in the war, arguing that the U.S. was in Vietnam "to occupy it as an American colony" and calling the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. King contemplated but ultimately decided against the proposal on the grounds that he felt uneasy with politics and considered himself better suited for his morally unambiguous role as an activist.. Exactly one year later, King was assassinated in Memphis. Dr. King’s purpose is to make the church leaders he is speaking to aware that the time has come for them to speak out loudly in … This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. MLK Beyond Vietnam – Excerpts from Speech “Beyond Vietnam – A Time To Break Silence” was delivered in New York City’s Riverside Church on April 4th, 1967, one year to the day before Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. The Uncompromising Anti-Capitalism of Martin Luther King Jr. "Why Martin Luther King Didn't Run for President", "The Story Of King's 'Beyond Vietnam' Speech", "Dragons, legos, and solitary: Ai Weiwei's transformative Alcatraz exhibition", Full transcript of the speech from Commondreams.org. Now there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. [applause] Moreover, I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. We must move past indecision to action. Life magazine called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi", and The Washington Post declared that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people. Through his use of imagery, diction, and parallel structure, Martin Luther King Jr associates the war in Vietnam with injustice in his famous speech, “Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence.” Martin Luther King Jr. applies imagery throughout his speech in order to illustrate the horrors of the war to arouse anger at its atrocities and injustice. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. But we must move on. It was known as “Beyond Vietnam“. , In a 1952 letter to Coretta Scott, he said: "I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic ..." In one speech, he stated that "something is wrong with capitalism" and claimed, "There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.  [sustained applause]. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. Now let us begin. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. He held this speech in Manhattan's Riverside Church. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.” Unquote. In Hanoi are the men who led this nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French Commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? ", The "Beyond Vietnam" speech reflected King's evolving political advocacy in his later years, which paralleled the teachings of the progressive Highlander Research and Education Center, with which he was affiliated. On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King delivered his first major public statement against the Vietnam War, entitled "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence." This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. They remind us that they did not begin to send troops in large numbers and even supplies into the South until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands. Exactly one year before his assassination, on April 4, 1967, Rev. [sustained applause]. And of course it’s always good to come back to Riverside Church. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church—the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate—leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight. We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. MLK: Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence 1967 Riverside Church Published on Jul 6, 2015 In this speech, he opposes violence and militarism, particularly the war in Vietnam… What of the National Liberation front, that strangely anonymous group we call “VC” or “communists”? " He connected the war with economic injustice, arguing that the country needed serious moral change: A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. Obery M. Hendricks Jr., Ph.D. (January 20, 2014). Their questions are frighteningly relevant. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. ", King also criticized American opposition to North Vietnam's land reforms. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. [sustained applause] So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God. Rev. In his speech on the meaninglessness of the Vietnam war and to persuade the audience to listen to its own conscience rather than to conform to the idea of war in the name of patriotism, King Jr draws from the realms of economy, society, polity as well as religion and philosophy. What must they think of the United States of America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem, which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the South? Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. © Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305. , King's stance on Vietnam encouraged Allard K. Lowenstein, William Sloane Coffin and Norman Thomas, with the support of anti-war Democrats, to attempt to persuade King to run against President Johnson in the 1968 United States presidential election.  At the urging of SCLC's former Director of Direct Action and now the head of the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, James Bevel, and inspired by the outspokenness of Muhammad Ali, King eventually agreed to publicly oppose the war as opposition was growing among the American public.. Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? [applause]. "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence", also referred as the Riverside Church speech, is an anti–Vietnam War and pro–social justice speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he was assassinated. Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. The peasants watched and cringed and Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords, and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war. How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of “aggression from the North” as if there was nothing more essential to the war? Excerpts from this speech are used in the songs "Together" and "Spirit" by Nordic Giants. On April 15, 1967, King participated and spoke at an anti-war march from Manhattan's Central Park to the United Nations. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony. Five: Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them, the only real party in real touch with the peasants. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. He guarded his language in public to avoid being linked to communism by his enemies, but in private he sometimes spoke of his support for democratic socialism. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. [sustained applause]. Rhetorical Devices In Beyond Vietnam Speech 736 Words3 Pages All they wanted was “to save the soul of America” (King, Beyond, 42). What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Is it among these voiceless ones? On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke from the pulpit of the Riverside Church in New York City and called for an end to the Vietnam War. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam. Finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. It is also a much more dangerous and disturbing speech, which is … " At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. We must not engage in a negative anticommunism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy [applause], realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice.