by James Douglass
“Perhaps the lesson of the King assassination is that our government understands the power of nonviolence better than we do, or better than we want to. In the spring of 1968, when Martin King was marching (and Robert Kennedy was campaigning), King was determined that massive, nonviolent civil disobedience would end the domination of democracy by corporate and military power. The powers that be took Martin Luther King seriously. They dealt with him in Memphis.
Thirty-two years after Memphis, we know that the government that now honors Dr. King with a national holiday also killed him. As will once again become evident when the Justice Department releases the findings of its “limited re-investigation” into King’s death, the government (as a footsoldier of corporate power) is continuing its cover-up – just as it continues to do in the closely related murders of John and Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X.
The faithful in a nonviolent movement that hopes to change the distribution of wealth and power in the U.S.A. – as Dr. King’s vision, if made real, would have done in 1968 – should be willing to receive the same kind of reward that King did in Memphis. As each of our religious traditions has affirmed from the beginning, that recurring story of martyrdom (“witness”) is one of ultimate transformation and cosmic good news.”
James Douglass is the author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.
Maryknoll Orbis Books: JFK and the Unspeakable Why He Died and Why It Matters
Thomas Merton: Raids on the Unspeakable (Google eBook)