Saturday, January 24, 2009

Say Hello To

CR10: Ten Years and Counting.

A win for the Left-Green Movement in Iceland's future?

That may very well be the outcome later this year, according to Tim at Green Left Infoasis:
Iceland is set to hold early parliamentary elections on May 9 after a severe economic crisis spurred mass demonstrations calling for the resignation of the government, officials at the central bank, and the Financial Supervisory Authority. I have been reading that the Left-Green Movement is likely to come out winning. According to wikipedia:
The Left-Green Movement (Vinstrihreyfingin - grænt framboð) is a left-wing, socialist, environmentalist, feminist and eco-socialist political party in Iceland.

It was founded in 1999 by a few members of Alþingi that did not approve of the planned merger of the left parties in Iceland that resulted in the founding of the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin). The Left-Green Movement focuses on socialistic values, feminism and environmentalism, as well as increased democracy and direct involvement of the people in the administration of the country. The party opposes Iceland's involvement in NATO and also the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The party rejects membership of the EU and supports the Palestinian cause in the Middle East. It supports the mutual adaptation and integration of immigrants and Icelandic society is necessary.
You can learn more about the Left-Green Movement at its official website. Iceland's economy is in an extreme state of crisis brought on by the implosion of the banking industry worldwide - the blog Iceland banking crisis video and more 2008 and 2009 has been documenting some of the fallout in the form of public protests since the proverbial wheels fell off last fall. Crises such as these can resolve in numerous ways - some leading to fascist authoritarian regimes, some leading to something more along leftist lines. If Tim is correct, the Icelanders will probably avoid the former fate. The free-wheeling days of the credit boom are gone for good - better to replace it with something humanitarian than for some form of despotic hell.

Quotable on pacifism

Ward Churchill sez:
“the outright lie that I have actively sought to incite ‘violent revolution.’ I have done no such thing. To the contrary, what I have consistently advocated over the years is the rule of law.”

“I would vastly prefer that this happen through nonviolent means. However, I cannot say that nonviolence is the only legitimate response to systemic violence.”

Reminds me a bit of some of the words of Malcom X:

"Concerning nonviolence: It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself, when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. It is legal and lawful to own a shotgun or a rifle. We believe in obeying the law."

[...]

"It doesn't mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time, I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don't call it violence when it's self-defense, I call it intelligence."

There is much in common with both Churchill and Malcom X and such voices as Frantz Fanon and Subcomandante Marcos with regard to the subject of violence and nonviolence. None of these cats glorify violence. Rather, they are keenly and painfully aware of the violence - interpersonal, organizational, structural, and intrapersonal - afflicting themselves and their people on an ongoing basis. In each of these activists' words is a preference for using nonviolent means of action (the Zapatista slogan along the lines of "our word is our weapon" should give a hint), but also in each of these activists' words is an admonition against a doctrinaire knee-jerk pacifism.

High value "terrorist" targets: children



h/t Cernig at Newshoggers. Meet the new boss - same as the old boss in so many ways, including bombing kids into oblivion. As for the pwogs who will chafe at such suggestions, they can suck on it.

Gaza: whole villages wiped off the map



h/t P U L S E.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Quotable: Margaret Kimberley

As I point out in my column this week, the over the top celebration for Wall Street grand theft and endless war should not be seen as a defeat, but as a call for determined resistance. It is time to resurrect the dead language of movement politics and put it front and center. Celebrations for the status quo, even if they are carried out by millions of people, are no reason to give up. There are millions of people unimpressed with the barrage of media propaganda, people who are desperately trying to find kindred spirits who need to know that they exist.

January 20th was a day for celebration. It is day to celebrate the beginning of determined dissent and uncompromised truth telling.
Over at her blog, Freedom Rider.

Accidental comedy

H/t Jesus' General. Someone should remind the folks at the NRCC that not only is the economy not smokin', but their reality check bounced.

On the contrary

Some may think that Keith Olbermann should change his sign-off, but I say keep it as is. Just because there has been a change of presidents in the White House doesn't mean that the Iraq War and Occupation is suddenly over, nor does this president get absolved of whatever role he may have played as a Senator in playing along while the human rights abuses and death toll continue to mount. If anything, the American public needs a daily reminder of what has been done and claimed in their names until they demand - and the ruling elites capitulate - a true end to the bloodbath.

Welcome to the future

Interesting:

Aptera Motors has rolled out the first pre-production model of the 2e, an all-electric three-wheeled two-seater that gets the equivalent of 200 mpg and goes 100 miles on a charge. It's a significant milestone for the Southern California startup, which plans to put the first cars in driveways by Halloween and looks like a contender to win the $10 million Progressive Automotive X Prize.

"Everything is progressing nicely as we ramp up for full production of the 2e beginning in October," says chief marketing officer Marques McCammon. "We're still on target to build an ultra-efficient, high-mileage vehicle without sacrificing comfort and safety, and once Californians get behind the wheel this fall, we expect to change the world of commuter transportation."

In recent months, it has become clear that automakers big and small are focusing on electric vehicles as the next evolution of the automobile. If Aptera manages delivering its superstreamlined cars nine months from now, the 2e will be among the first mass-market, relatively affordable (at $25,000 to $45,000) EVs on the road.

That's a bit rich for my blood, I live in the wrong state, and really need something that can lug around three kids and assorted household livestock. But hey, it's a belated good start. For folks who are getting a bit giddy about oil at $40-something per barrel, and gasoline at $1.75 per gallon, the appeal of this vehicle won't be immediately apparent. For the rest of us who consider the current prices to be the proverbial eye of the hurricane, auto manufacturers can't get electric vehicles on the market a moment too soon. Y'all need to do something about those vehicle prices, though, for those of us who aren't privileged with six-figure incomes. Just sayin'.

Also, on the off chance that any policy maker might read this blog, study the rail systems in Western Europe. Those cats are down with some seriously rapid and relatively green mass transit that makes automobiles unnecessary in many circumstances - a good thing if we wish to make the most of our dwindling resources.

Quotable

Aaron McGruder sez:
"I did say I was cautiously pessimistic about Obama's Presidency - but this is simply acknowledging the reality of an American Empire that is out of control and on the verge of collapse. Let us not forget that on the eve of the election, we witnessed a near-trillion dollar robbery of the US treasury. That robbery is still taking place. I do not blame President Obama, but I do not believe the financial and corporate interests that own and control this country will fold so easily. I do not question the integrity of the man as much as the power of his office - which I believe has greatly diminished over the years. I believe the Federal Reserve Bank, the Military Industrial Complex, and the massive corporate interests that run this country have more power than our new President. I hope I am wrong.

"After 9/11, I witnessed most of this country become obsessed with squashing dissent and silencing critics. I hope this election does not turn Black America towards this same, fascist mind state; but already I am starting to see it, and it saddens me greatly. I absolutely wish our new President and his family success and safety. But after all I have witnessed in my lifetime, and especially in the last eight years, I am not ready to lay down my skepticism or my outrage for this government. To do so would be unwise and, ironically enough, anti-American."
I loved The Boondocks comic strip, and am a fan of the TV series that currently runs on Cartoon Network (season 3 cannot get here quick enough). McGruder was a rarity among the syndicated comic strip writers - a genuinely leftist voice (and no, I don't consider Doonsbury leftist, although there are plenty of poseurs out there who do). His work has been one of pop culture's lights in a very dark time. My personal favorite episodes are both from season 1: Riley Wuz Here, and The Return of the King - catch either one of those two and you'll have some idea of what McGruder is about.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Landscapes of Occupation in Palestine



Interesting video, h/t P U L S E. A brief description:
Ex-Communicated tells the story of Israeli occupation in Palestine through the genre of landscape and the perspective of a camera lens. In his series of remarkable photographs, Gary Fields, a professor of communication at the University of California, San Diego takes us behind the walls, gates, and fences of this deliberately fragmented geography in revealing Palestinian life under Israeli military rule. What he shows in these images is how the forces of occupation use the landscape as an instrument of control over Palestinians and a mechanism for dispossessing them of land and property. Much of this story is untold and largely unseen. These photos convey forcefully how the process of enclosure on the landscape has “ex-communicated” Palestinians, immobilizing them into ever-diminishing spaces, while at the same time inspiring them into heroic acts of peaceful resistance.
When discussing genocide, much of what is presented in the video will be quite helpful. There is little doubt that the ultimate aim by disrupting economic and agricultural patterns by changing the very landscape (along with of course the usual bombings and such) is to leave the Palestinian diaspora natally alienated and socially dead.

Yech

The overtly heinous treatment of the people of Gaza by the Israeli government has led to a resurgence in all manner of pro-Israeli propaganda.

Consequences of sorts

Juan Cole sez:

Israeli politicians and military commanders are being urged to consult counsel before they travel in Europe, where some courts assert universal jurisdiction and where war crimes cases are being filed against Israeli leaders. In 1998, a London court ordered the arrest of Chilean dictator Gen. Augustino Pinochet, who had butchered thousands of community activists, asserting universal jurisdiction. Governments have attempted to reduce the prerogative of courts in this regard, but apparently there are loopholes in the current British legislation that would allow an Israeli leader or officer to be arrested if they journey to the UK. Ynet observes, "The Israeli. . . claim that Hamas has been using women and children as human shields never really took, said a source. Whenever it was used the response was the same: If you know that . . . women and children [were] there – hold your fire."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak is setting up a legal defense of Israeli troops from potential war crimes prosecutions. Barak pledged that Israeli soldiers would not have to worry about prosecution: "The soldiers did not embark on a private operation . . .We will give them out full support." It is ironic that an Israeli defense minister seems unaware that the Nuremberg trials established the principle that following orders is no defense for a soldier charged with atrocities.

Even as Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni visited Brussels, human rights organizations in Belgium were (wholly unrealistically) petitioning a court to have her arrested. However impractical the legal move, it was a humiliation for Tzipi.
Reminds me that there are also some US war criminals who would do wise to remain out of Europe, as at bare minimum they can end up feeling mighty uncomfortable. As I stated previously regarding the architects of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am not one to hold out much hope that the architects of the war crimes against the people of Gaza will really be held accountable. If nothing else, they can get the message that it is simply too "hot" outside of the confines of Israel and the US, and avoid places where they risk arrest.

One small step in the right direction

Obama Overturns Bush Records Secrecy Order:

American presidents and their staff work for the American people, they are not monarchs with an inner court of priviliged nobles. President Obama has reminded all his predecessors of that simple fact, living up to a campaign promise to "nullify attempts to make the timely release of presidential records more difficult."

President Barack Obama, in his first full day in office, revoked a controversial executive order signed by President Bush in 2001 that limited release of former presidents’ records.

The new order could expand public access to records of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in the years to come as well as other past leaders, said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. …

Under Bush’s order, former presidents had broad ability to claim executive privilege and could designate others including family members who survive them to exercise executive privilege on their behalf.

Obama’s new order gives ex-presidents less leeway to withhold records, Aftergood said, and takes away the ability of presidents’ survivors to designate that privilege.

Separately, an Obama memorandum issued Wednesday also appears to effectively rescind a 2001 memo by President Bush’s then-Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft giving agencies broad legal cover to reject public disclosure requests.

Over at MoJo blog, they quote CREW chief counsel Anne Weismann as explaining:

"[Obama]'s putting former presidents on notice that if you want to continue a claim of executive privilege that [Obama] doesn't think is well-placed, you're going to have to go to court."

Even Ed Morrissey at Hot Air is impressed, writing "On Inauguration Day, I promised to offer praise for Barack Obama when he pursued good policy, and it didn’t take long." At least one other conservative thinks this executive order is "nothing more than him throwing a meaty bone to his constituency who hopes to be able to find out “The Truth” about the Bush administration’s alleged plans to turn this nation into a dictatorial theocracy." That's simply mean-spirited hyperbole, hiding an implied argument. Who would really want to argue, out there in plain words, that stopping Bush's bosses (the American people) from finding out what's in millions of his administration's emails is a good thing?

Not bad. Hopefully the results will be more than symbolic.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Easily the safest bet

Let me make this prediction: Obama will be as unprincipled as Bill Clinton--and maybe worse.
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Human consequences of using white phosphorus: An example in Gaza

Blind and burnt: Mahmoud, 14, young victim of banned white phosphorus shelling
Israel's three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip may be over but Mahmoud Mattar, 14, will not be able to sense the quiet that has descended on his home town of Jabalya.

Blinded in both eyes, with third-degree burns over much of his torso, Mahmoud lies unconscious in the Sheikh Zayid Hospital on the outskirts of Cairo. He has said little since January 6, when an Israeli attack on his village in northern Gaza left him nearly dead on the street outside his mosque. Doctors say that he will never see again — and that the burns on his body were caused by white phosphorus, a controversial incendiary weapon that Israel originally denied using.

“He was walking to the mosque when the attack started,” his uncle, Nahad Mattar, said. “Two of his friends who were walking with him were killed instantly. Their bodies are in pieces. He was hit by something and his body began to burn.

“There were bits of blood and skin all over him. We couldn't tell what was his and what was other people.”
h/t Chris Floyd

Curious about how Icelanders are weathering the economic storm?

Check out Iceland banking crisis video and more 2008 and 2009. What started as a photography hobbyist's blog has turned into something of a street-level photo and video journalism project covering the numerous protests and gatherings that have emerged in the wake of Iceland's economic meltdown.

Bad idea

The notion of Obama pardoning Bush & Cheney seems like something that would amount to little more than gamesmanship. Might make a few pwogs feel good for a short while, but that's hardly much of a recommendation. More than likely, Obama, and the rest of the Dem leadership, will end up trying to sweep the last eight years under the rug and hope the American public promptly forgets. It's understandable enough, as the Dems' hands are generally pretty dirty with regard to torture, continued funding of two wars of aggression that are still on-going, and for setting some fairly ugly precedents during the Clinton years. We would be wise to bear in mind that the differences between the new regime and the regime that has just now ended are quantitative rather than qualitative.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fred Hampton - Education Program

Check out the video clip:


Video h/t Dennis Perrin who sez:
Another Chicago-based African American activist, who didn't live to see this day, emphasizes the importance of political education. Had Richard Daley's death squads -- err, the Chicago Police Department, not assassinated Fred Hampton in his bed, one wonders how he would assess President Obama. Anything's possible, but note what Hampton says toward the end of the clip, especially the last words uttered. Remind you of anyone?
Back in the day when change was not CHANGE®...

Say Hello To

P U L S E, and I'll just let the cats who dropped this joint give you the 411:

Welcome to P U L S E, a joint political weblog bringing together a number of like-minded activists, academics and web 2.0 collaborators.

P U L S E was originally conceived by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad (The Fanonite) and Ann El Khoury (PeoplesGeography) to synergise their efforts and energies in managing their established blogs in tandem with research demands. They are joined by fellow editors David Thomson (ISB) and Robin Yassin-Kassab (Qunfuz). Individual contributions are welcome and contributors may contact us by email or by using the Contact form here.

Like the assault on Lebanon in 2006 that spurred our respective blogs to take to task officialdom and the media’s derogation of duty in both that crime and Iraq, the genocidal assault on Gaza by Israel has once again prompted us to recommence our efforts toward the cause of justice.

Here, we hope to combine and pool our efforts in the service of greater efficacy and coverage. It is also a tribute to our loyal and appreciated readers from our respective original blogs whose responses have encouraged us to forge ahead.

P U L S E combines original writing with a unique aggregation of hand-picked writing from various activists and alternative and mainstream press. In time, we may migrate to a more ambitious self-hosted site but in the interim, the P U L S E virtual community resides here. Thank you for visiting, and do come by again.

h/t Ten Percent. The blog is already off to a great start.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Oscar Zeta Acosta - Rare Video Clip

This is a nearly half hour clip of Acosta reading from his book Revolt of the Cockroach People. It's cool to hear the voice behind the palabras - he sounds much as I had imagined he would.



h/t Totally Gonzo

Conform or be cast out?

Found this over at Correntewire:

Shorter science: non-conformists are fucked.

"Our results also show that social conformity is based on mechanisms that comply with reinforcement learning and is reinforced by the neural error-monitoring activity which signals what is probably the most fundamental social mistake—that of being too different from others."

(via)

There are so many implications to this. For one thing, if you don't want to be the bunny, make sure you urinate on an officially approved schedule.

Like with any line of research, I imagine that anything remotely resembling the whole story has yet to be told, including neural mechanisms involved in nonconforming behavior - we are already aware of the social and cultural factors that influence conformity and nonconformity. In the meantime, this iconoclast continues to march to beat of his own drummer.

A friendly reminder

Word on the street is that Israel is up to a newish form of psy-ops: recruiting an "army" of trolls to target websites and blogs critical of its policies and actions. Just in case any are tempted to troll here, have a cup - my treat.

Not so fast

Sometimes there are wide chasms between what is perceived and what is real. Keep an eye on what's real.

Martin Luther King, Jr: Struggling Not to Lose Him



h/t Mickey Z. Consider this a follow-up to my post from Sunday.

Visualizing the destruction of human life in Gaza

H/t Lenin's Tomb

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Some poetry

Not mine, but that of Agustín Palacios, the cat who runs the most excellent blog, i exist. aquí. contigo.:
On January 20th, Obama will be crowned new King
With an Oath and a Pledge
to steer the sinking ship, the Empire
out of the waters of economic depression
and the sucking whirlpool where once sank Rome
but this new King, is no Martin Luther.
Now is a good time to remember
James Baldwin’s words
“Who wants to integrate a burning house?”
The house slave now owns the house,
and the Lords of Money grin
even when they lose they win,
they have put a Black man in the White house,
a sad irony, symbolic revolution with symbolic gains.
Word.

Similarities between US and Israel national psychologies

I'm going to share an extended quote from Arthur Silber's most recent essay (and this is just a small portion of the entire piece) because it fits in with a theme of this blog:
Since all States are founded upon and rely on force and coercion (for much more on this subject, see this essay), all States must periodically remind their subject-citizens of the meaning of State power, and of the fact that when the State targets you, there is precious little you have to offer by way of defense. Within this general principle, a narrower principle may also be identified: one particular kind of State is especially prone to fits of aggression, just as any bully is driven to demonstrate regularly that you (and anyone else) cross the bully at your own peril. The psychology of the bully is one that lies at the core of the American national identity, to the extent such a phenomenon can be identified. I discussed these issues at length in two essays in particular: "Bullied, Terrorized and Targeted for Destruction: Our Children Have Learned Well," and "Let the Victims Speak."

What is true of America in this respect is also true of Israel, for their national narratives and their histories contain striking similarities. Chris Floyd recently described this as follows:
[W]hat we have been witnessing in Palestine over the past several decades is a remarkable echo of the dispossession and destruction of the Native American nations by the United States. There are myriad differences, of course, but the broad outline is basically the same: a people denigrated as primitive and inferior are being stripped of their land, driven into poverty and desperation, and killed in large numbers by another people who believe that their "manifest destiny" and moral superiority justify violent conquest and repression. Any violent resistance to the conquest is treated as barbaric terrorism -- and another justification for yet more repression, for even harsher tactics to grind down the conquered, secure "the frontier" and make it safe for "settlers" and the "civilization" they bring.

One reason that Israel persists in its harsh policies of decimation and destruction against the Palestinians is that such methods very often work: you can dispossess another people, destroy all but an ineffective remnant of their society and colonize their land to your own lasting profit and advantage. And you can do it in such a thoroughgoing manner that there will be no realistic possibility of the conquered people ever rising again to take back what was theirs. This is the example that the United States has set for Israel. It is unlikely to work in the same way or with the same degree of success for Israel in 21st century, for a number of reasons. In fact, it can -- and probably will -- end in disaster. But it is not an irrational policy; it does have many successful historical precedents -- including the history of Israel's chief benefactor.
And in "Why Most People Won't Fight," I discussed Uri Avnery's analysis of the same point:
Avnery discusses the profound similarities to be found in the national narratives of the United States and of Israel: how "Israel is a small America, the USA is a huge Israel"; how the "Mayflower passengers, much as the Zionists of the first and second aliya (immigration wave), fled from Europe, carrying in their hearts a messianic vision, either religious or utopian"; how "Both suffered a great deal in their new country. Both saw themselves as 'pioneers' who made the wilderness bloom, a 'people without land in a land without people.' Both completely ignored the rights of the indigenous people, whom they considered subhuman savages and murderers. Both saw the natural resistance of the local peoples as evidence of their innately murderous character, which justified even the worst atrocities." And then Avnery writes:
How is it that a man like Obama, the son of an African father, identifies so completely with the actions of former generations of American whites? It shows again the power of a myth to become rooted in the consciousness of a person, so that he identifies 100 percent with the imagined national narrative. To this may be added the unconscious urge to belong to the victors, if possible.

Therefore, I do not accept without reservation the speculation: "Well, he must talk like this in order to get elected. Once in the White House, he will return to himself."

I am not so sure about that. It may well turn out that these things have a surprisingly strong hold on his mental world.
These are very important insights. That Obama "identifies so completely with the actions of former generations of American whites" folds into my current series, "The Triumph of the White, Male Ruling Class" -- a class to which Obama belongs fully and completely in every way that matters, philosophically, politically, and ideologically. Avnery provides yet another aspect of Obama's identification with the white, male rulers of America, the rulers who have held almost all power from the founding of this nation (and before) through and including today -- and into tomorrow. And Avnery's observations about the power of myth track completely with my writings about that power, and about the power of narrative. As but one example, see "Why the Stories We Tell Matter So Much."
For the argument here, the crucial aspect of these very similar national narratives and histories is this: the founding and development of both America and Israel required the large-scale, even genocidal, destruction of indigenous peoples. To further that destruction, and to provide moral "justification," the indigenous peoples first had to be condemned and demonized. And because force and violence are necessary to the continuation of the State, such demonization must continue into the future, especially since additional acts of destruction will be necessary for the maintenance and consolidation of State power.
I've identified myself as an indigenist, and as such am painfully aware of my own national history as well as the parallels between America's history and that of other frontier settler nations such as South Africa and Israel. In the case of Israel, it appears that its rulers are set - as they have been from the beginning - on creating their own version of the American Holocaust. How the story ends for Israel is unclear - it may indeed well indeed end in disaster for someone other than the indigenous Palestinians. What is clear is the type of exceptionalism and manifest destiny that is driving the Israeli government's actions is not different in kind from that of the American Zeitgeist.

Blast from the past: Commemorating MLK, Jr.

What follows is a recycling of a post from last year - slightly updated:
When Dr. King spoke out against the war in 1968, and when he called out the US as a malignant and imperial power, and when he connected the racism that underwrote Jim Crow and its de facto correlatives in the oh-so-innocent North to the racism that allowed America to sleep soundly while Vietnamese men, women, and children were being slaughtered wholesale... then he was beyond the pale. The mainstream press -- far from embracing King -- fell all over themselves to denounce and marginalize him. [This] includes all the so-called "liberal" sheets that still tell the rest of the media what is and is not "news."

Dr. King had the courage to tell us then that every bomb dropped in Vietnam exploded over Harlem. When I hear that kind of truth-telling from either of the pre-anointed Democrats, instead of their relentless phrase-mongering and dressed-up equivocations, then we can take them seriously. Right now all we see are smooth-talking politicians.

With Martin Luther King Day right around the corner, expect plenty more of this disgusting mis-attribution to promote political careers.
Nerdified link; tip o' the hat to Marisacat.
On a related note, from Ahmed Shawki's excellent book Black Liberation and Socialism(pp. 200-204):

King began to see the connections much more clearly between racism at home and racism abroad, in particular between the economic inequities at home and the war budget. King also started to rethink his understanding of violence. He was keenly aware that the growing urban unrest in the North was an expression of the frustration and impatience that existed among Blacks - and a corresponding sympathy and openness to more radical solutions. After the Watts riots, King declared, "It was a class revolt of the under-privileged against the privileged." In 1967, he concluded, "after Selma and the voting rights bill we moved into an era which must be an era of revolution.... The whole structure of American life must be changed."

King now made clear that there was a great deal of difference between the violence of the U.S. state and the violence of those rioting in urban centers across the country, and he began to use a different vocabulary to describe his tactics, referring to "massive nonviolence," "aggressive nonviolence," and even "nonviolent sabotage."

Trying to overcome the collapse of the coalition he built to challenge Southern segregation, the apparent failure of the movement in the North, and the growing impatience among Black activists and Blacks more generally, King formulated a new strategy:
Nonviolence must be adapted to urban conditions and urban moods. Non-violent protest must now mature to a new level, to correspond to heightened Black impatience and stiffened white resistance. This high level is mass civil disobedience. There must be more than a statement to the larger society, there must be a force that interrupts its functioning at some key point.... To dislocate the functioning of a city without destroying it can be more effective than a riot because it can be longer lasting, costly to the larger society, but not wantonly destructive. It is a device of social action that is more difficult for a government to quell by superior force.... It is militant and defiant, not destructive.
King's most powerful indictment of the war came on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he was murdered. In a speech at New York City's Riverside Church, aptly titled "A Time to Break Silence: Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam," King declared:
Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the 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. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. 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. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

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. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.
These kinds of views were not welcome by many of the liberals who had previously praised King in the struggle to end Jim Crow. As [Michael Eric] Dyson observes:
King's assault on America as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" elicited a predictably furious reaction from the White House. The news media was even harsher.... Richard Lentz notes that Time magazine had, early in King's opposition to the war, characterized him as a "drawling bumpkin, so ignorant that he had not read a newspaper in years, who had wandered out of his native haunts and away from his natural calling." Newsweek columnist Kenneth Crawford attacked King for his "demagoguery" and "reckless distortion of the facts." The Washington Post said that King's Riverside speech was a "grave injury" to the civil rights struggle and that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, to his country, and to his people." The New York Times editorialized that King's speech was a "fusing of two public problems that are distinct and separate" and that King had done a "disservice to both."
As I remarked in April 2007, once King began to attack a war that many "respectable" liberals had deemed necessary, he became public enemy number one among the establishment PC police of the day. Not too surprisingly, the White House, along with the elite media organs of the day began a smear campaign against their former ally.

Some relevant audiovisual info:



The full text of the above speech can be read here.

Also check out the text to his speech, Beyond Vietnam. A portion of that speech, juxtaposed with some very contemporary imagery, is available on Youtube:

But will anyone actually do it?

Binding U.S. law requires prosecutions for those who authorize torture