Last year, around the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, there was an understandable restatement of the facts surrounding the event. And the obvious question addressed who killed MLK.
This TIME magazine article is typical: What We Know About Why James Earl Ray Killed Martin Luther King Jr. “Fifty years later, some questions linger about why exactly the civil rights leader was targeted and whether the shooter acted alone.”
I have no doubt WHY he was targeted: he didn’t “stay in his lane.” The Intercept noted that his activism took a turn from… “his campaign for civil rights in the American South — to a much more radical one aimed at the war in Vietnam and poverty.” As long as the issue involved castigating those Southern white people, all was well with the liberal establishment.
But Martin had the audacity to, first privately, then publicly denounce the war, and by extension Lyndon Johnson, the President who had signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
King “labeled the war an ‘enemy of the poor,’ saying that its budget was draining anti-poverty programs; he also pointed out that it was hypocritical for him to preach nonviolence to activists at home, while watching his government reject that principle abroad. But ultimately his stance came from personal moral conviction and his devoted Christian beliefs.”
Sadly, a half century, the issues have not really changed. A recent article in Common Dreams written by by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis – who I saw recently – and Lindsay Koshgarian addresses this.
The title is “Trump Wants to Give 62 Cents of Every Dollar to the Military. That’s Immoral.” Correctly, it notes: “A budget shows our values more clearly than any tweet, campaign speech, or political slogan.”
Standing against that type of immorality got Dr. King killed. He died exactly one year after his speech at Riverside Church in New York City opposing the war in Indochina.
“James Earl Ray, a career criminal who had briefly served in the U.S. Army, shot the advocate of non-violent resistance. Ray was spotted at the scene and, almost immediately after the killing, his fingerprints were found on the gun. Those prints were already among the FBI’s records for wanted individuals.
But just as Mick Jagger sang about who killed the Kennedys, America’s indifference may have slain the civil rights leader. And it may do so to ourselves.