Happy Birthday MLK- Mitchell Cohen

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

January 15, 2012 would be Dr. King's 83rd birthday. The airwaves are filled with timid and nostalgic tributes to the great man. Except for WBAI and other non-commercial stations, only Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech ‚- and even there but a tiny snippet of it -‚ makes it onto the airwaves.

Nothing about Dr. King's analysis in which he castigates the United States as being "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

Nothing about Dr. King's brilliant and courageous insights into the social and economic calamities of capitalism and the congruence of the oppression of people in Vietnam with that of people of color in the United States.

And, nothing about what it really means to be "Non-Violent". Dr. King castigates those who praised him and the Civil Rights movement for being non-violent in the face of white supremacists in the South but who condemned him for calling on his country to be non-violent in its dealings with the rest of the world.

"In international conflicts the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for our superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the Truth. Ye shall know the Truth, says Jesus, and the Truth shall set you free.

"Now I ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam today because I agree with Dante that the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence is betrayal."

Ever hear any of that on mainstream corporate radio?

All of that placed -‚ and continue to place -‚ Dr. King at odds with many of his key advisers in the Civil Rights movement, and with the President of the United States -‚ then & and now.

His life -‚ and keep in mind that he was assassinated when he was just 39 years old! ‚- is thus relegated more-or-less "safe," for those in power. The hallowed if troubling days happened back then, which (they say) no longer exist. And so, Dr. King s complex analysis is distorted and rendered almost meaningless today, and offered in a sense as a paean to "Isn t America great? Look at how far we have come." Who now hears the entirety of any of Dr. King s speeches? What insights could this ancient man actually hold for us today, and for our own movements for freedom?

Three years ago, on January 15, 2009, I broadcast Steal This Radio #67 over NYTalkRadio.net. That show included:

  • A Letter from Lori Berenson from jail in Peru
  • A perspective on the Pirates of Somalia. (Who knew that the "pirates" were defending the waters from the U.S. and Europe s dumping of nuclear wastes off the coast of Somalia?)
  • Mitchel Cohen s pained and outraged denunciation of Israel's invasion of Gaza
  • The entirety of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech, "Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam."

I've decided to rebroadcast here that entire show ‚- rather than to excerpt only Dr. King s segment ‚- because Dr. King's great orations are simply not "over and done with". They took place in a context of historical forces that are every bit as powerful today as they were back then.

So here, then, is Steal This Radio #67, which includes Dr. King's speech in full, delivered at Manhattan's Riverside Cathedral on April 4, 1967 ‚- exactly one year to the day before he was assassinated. (Forgotten from history is that on the same day, Dr. King also addressed a giant anti-war rally in New York City, the largest rally I'd ever been at, until that point.) This speech in my estimation is simply one of the most profound and greatest speeches of all time.

I've broken the show into six segments (because the requirements of this site prevent the uploading of any files greater than 10 mb). Please click on each of the segments in sequence. As always, your comments are welcome.

Happy 83rd birthday, Dr. King!

(Please go to mitchelcohen.com and click on Steal This Radio #67 posted there.)

Mitchel Cohen

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Mitchel Cohen is the Chair of the WBAI (99.5 FM - NYC) Local Station Board*

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