The Warfare Comes Home

The recent killings in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas recall the racial violence of the 1960s which also occurred against a backdrop of U.S. warfare, a parallel that ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes.

By Ray McGovern

In 1967, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. faced a painful dilemma. How could he tell oppressed young blacks and police to shun violence on the streets of our country, but rather to behave nonviolently, when the entire country watched state-sanctioned violence in Vietnam on evening TV?

What Dr. King chose to do then needs to happen again – NOW. Against the “practical” advice of virtually all his Realpolitik associates, King asked one of his closest advisers, Vincent Harding, to draft a speech, Beyond Vietnam, in the dangerous prophetic tradition of speaking truth to power. (Thirty-five years later, I studied under the late Dr. Harding at Word and World, a timely workshop in Greensboro, North Carolina, aimed at making faith relevant by closing the gaping gaps between Seminary, Sanctuary, and Street.)

Martin Luther King Jr. meeting with President Lyndon Johnson at the White House in 1966.

Martin Luther King Jr. meeting with President Lyndon Johnson at the White House in 1966.

In that momentous Vietnam speech before 3,000 people at Riverside Church in New York, Dr. King broke multiple taboos by making unmistakably clear and explicit the organic connection between violence at home and abroad. The date of the speech was April 4, 1967; King was murdered exactly a year later.

But who will be today’s Dr. King? Who will have the courage of Harding and King to tell it like it is – to draw the connections between 15 years of state-sanctioned violence abroad and what is happening in our streets at home? Are there no prophets left?

I edged toward this key issue in an article that I wrote last year, which dusted off from the archives and posted again in the wake of the despicable, but – I would suggest – largely explainable violence in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas.

35 comments for “The Warfare Comes Home

  1. Jan Slakov
    July 14, 2016 at 09:46

    For prophets and leaders, I would include Bob Koehler ( ). There is the Leap Manifesto and Naomi Klein (eg. ) , My MP, Elizabeth May (who grew up at the heart of US anti-nuclear efforts and whose family moved to Canada in the early ’70s) is a leader, an exemplar of nonviolent leadership in Canada, but even the world: . People associated with the Fellowship of Reconciliation in the US, and you, Ray, are among those I look to for leadership as well. I want to remember Leonard Peltier too.

    I see a comparison: In the lead up to WW II and during the war, there were some amazing leaders in resistance to Nazi death culture. Examples: Irena Sendler, Jacques Lusseyran. I guess it is like that now, with resistance speckled throughout the world. I think of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish (author of I Shall Not Hate) for instance…

  2. J'hon Doe II
    July 13, 2016 at 14:47

    7/7/16 – an ab-original on originalism –
    (17 min. audio)

  3. J'hon Doe II
    July 13, 2016 at 14:24

    Scalia was a big fan of “originalism”
    Thank You, Zachary Smith

  4. J'hon Doe II
    July 13, 2016 at 13:41

    Or the poetic/philosophical Phil Rockstroh on Truthout.

  5. July 12, 2016 at 06:51

    Nobody has mentioned the eloquent prophet William Rivers Pitt.

  6. July 12, 2016 at 06:50

    Has nobody mentioned William Rivers Pitt as an eloquent voice for sanity?

  7. Zachary Smith
    July 10, 2016 at 23:42

    There is a new essay by Paul Craig Roberts about the Dallas event.

    The real problem is that public authorities do not protect the public from gratuitous violence. Therefore, hatred and disrespect for the police are growing. Routine murders by police–several each day, almost all of which go unpunished–are generating the kind of anger that causes people to snap and to reply to violence with violence.

    This is correct. If possible, the thing will never go past the police stating that they did what they had to do. If the event is beyond that, trust a prosecutor to do something nice for them. Possibly he’ll set up a Grand Jury which absolutely will not indict the police. Or if forced to a trial, the prosecutor will “play to lose.” He may overcharge the cops to ensure a jury won’t convict. Or he may present a pitifully weak case. It’s a fixed game, and black people are beginning to “snap”. The cycle must be broken somewhere.

    I’d say that military veterans ought to be given special scrutiny on account of their training to treat foreigners as “gooks”, “chinks”, or “slopes” whose lives were essentially worthless. Israeli firms are teaching US Police to treat all of us, but especially blacks (for now) as Palestinians. This needs to be stopped – pronto. A policeman’s life is precious, but no more so than mine or the guy living down at the homeless shelter. If they can’t stand the heat, then they need fo get another job.

  8. Del
    July 10, 2016 at 15:31

    Big scope here. While the connection between American foreign policy and violence within its borders can certainly be made, the latter in the wider view, distracts from the former, and at other times, the former from the latter.
    It is nearly analogous to a famous magician marketing a performance with the promise of revealing his tricks; an audience compromised of younger apprentices swearing to keep knowledge safe, resulting in the magician meeting Dr. King.

  9. J'hon Doe II
    July 10, 2016 at 14:47
  10. J'hon Doe II
    July 10, 2016 at 11:58

    Along with the three words thrown out to mollify the dominant race, “Vicious, Calculated and Despicable,” Obama ought to’ve questioned why this hadn’t happened sooner or more often. What with the National Shame of executioner police having a free hand to murder citizens-of-color, out of hatred or fear, with no threat of reprisal or punishment other than 30 days on paid administrative leave.

    Vicious, calculated and despicable describes the deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Gardner, Sandra Bland, Sean Bell, Amado Diallo and too many others whose lives apparently Don’t Matter to some police officers,commissioners, judges and legislators.

    Micah Johnson wrongly took the law into his own hands. Witnessing the broadcasts of consecutive police executions in Louisiana and Minnesota were catalysts for his volcanic eruption. There are, I’m sure, hundreds more seething black and brown men and women furious over blatant police deadly acts with no accountability.

    Civil Rights groups like Black Lives Matter are the peaceful alternative to taking up arms against the obvious injustice of consistent ongoing police murder of civilians of color. Micah Johnson reached a breaking point. Hopefully his retaliatory action will tilt the scales of justice toward ending the injustice of Jim Crow era absolution of killer police. Hopefully, Johnson’s spontaneous combustion won’t be a trigger for more outbursts from fed-up commandos who’d see Johnson as a symbol of resistance, not afraid to die… .

    The militarization of US police departments is foreboding. I suggest a reading of the 1988 book, Agents of Repression, by Ward Churchill. — A view from the past of our fast approaching Authoritarian Police State.


  11. F. G. Sanford
    July 10, 2016 at 07:46

    Doubt undefined plagues the reasonable mind when events contradict expectation.
    Exhortation to reason is blush on the rose and the sunrise’s answer to dew.
    Few now recall or were living at all when she passed with that lovely bouquet.
    A fray of confusion amidst the perfusion of witnesses certain they knew what they’d seen,
    Philistine attitudes compromised doubt and the press never qualified any misquote.
    A scapegoat in custody wouldn’t confess but made calls with elusive objectives,
    Detectives so sure that their lies would endure never interviewed any dissenters.
    Presenters intoned an imperious drone of deceit to deflect any whiff of collusion,
    Confusion would gather enshrouding the crime, malefaction safeguarding the lie,
    Why else would authorities seem unconcerned when that shot killed the key to the crime?
    Time has elapsed and officials insist that the notes from their interview vanished.
    Banished to marginal fringe skepticism, the doubters were garrisoned prey for derision.
    Revision denies that the patsy retained in his billfold a number assigned to the law,
    A flaw in the argument mitigates guilt the accuser inflicts on the victim of justice,
    “Trust us,” the pompous abusers all preach, “We deserve your respect and demand you obey.”
    Say what you will as the pendulum swings, the bell tolls in synchrony, never abates,
    Fates coincide intertwined in deception, but justice still bends to the arc specified,
    Alongside the route anxious crowds were elated, the pink-suited lady inspired their cheers,
    Tears would soon follow in gathering horror, the roses bequeathed to a dark epitaph.
    Half of the crowd heard the shots from the knoll, but not one policeman recorded the facts,
    Acts of deception and subterfuge blossom, witnesses cower and some disappear,
    Revered public figures entrusted with justice surrender to perfidy prompted by fear,
    Clear indications of justice obstructed, dismissed based on faith in a fairytale myth.
    With deceit comes precise execration of merit, subduing objection to subsequent deeds,
    Needs would insist that corruption enhances, emboldened by primeval silence endured,
    Inured to atrocity based on the lies which compound the incentive to falsify blame,
    Shame is imposed to engender compliance and never to tolerate outrageous thoughts.
    Dots may connect to reveal an odd pattern, rational minds may indulge to arrange,
    Strange fruit bears the tree of precise attribution, but faith in a myth is a comforting dream,
    A theme that ignores why the secrets are kept after faith intercedes with a bankrupt reply:
    Why should believers not praise retribution they sought to relinquish to destiny’s whim?
    Slim are the prospects that truth will impose the religion of doubters which justice applauds,
    Frauds invoke certainty’s dubious cloud, arrogation of process serves pretexts of power.
    Dour the reasoning mind may appear when events contradict explanation.
    Abrogation stripped bloom from the roses in Dallas…it seems that the petals have fallen again.

  12. Dennis Merwood
    July 9, 2016 at 21:08

    Ol’ Hippy, surely you omitted Plan Item 4. Enact sane gun control .
    These police are scared sh*tless because the people they stop for minor traffic offenses are armed and dangerous.
    Don’t you think that things would work out better, if everybody was not packing heat?
    I know…I know… the 2nd amendment! Sigh
    The rest of your post is spot on.

    • July 10, 2016 at 01:00

      2A does not exist to protect hunting rights. It exists so the citizenry can oppose tyranny. Without it we’d be… Greece.

    • Eddie
      July 10, 2016 at 10:34

      DM – Exactly right, as regards police stops and the possibility of shooting from BOTH sides. If we were to get rid of the wide access to guns and ammunition, police would only have to fear hand-weapons (knives, clubs, etc) which are obviously a hell of a lot easier to avoid and a lot less lethal. That in turn would reduce the heightened apprehension of these encounters and make it easier to prosecute policemen who DID resort to unneeded violence.
      The 2nd Amendment needs to be restored to it’s historically correct interpretation that had been unanimously held since it first came up in the courts after the Civil War (i.e.; that it related to states having militias and didn’t have anything to do with private firearm ownership), but was recently perverted by Scalia (an avid hunter who wasn’t above ‘canned-hunts’) and fellow Conservative justices as a crass pandering move to their rabid base of ‘social-issues’ Republicans who want to believe that it somehow relates to private ownership.

    • Zachary Smith
      July 10, 2016 at 21:25

      Enact sane gun control

      You’re right, but little will that matter. The Second Amendment spoke specifically of the “militias”. The Slave States held out for that because they needed a guarantee slave rebellions could be managed without Federal assistance – which might or might not come. Scalia was a big fan of “originalism”, so do it that way. Every citizen can own as many single shot weapons as he feels he needs. Breech-loaders had already been invented, so modern single shots would qualify. Allowing anything besides black powder would be something the courts (or lawmakers) would have to decide, for smokeless powder came much later than the Second Amendment. This will serve to fight “tyranny” as well as anything else for all but the most dedicated of Red Dawn fans.

      If the nation’s police had a bit of sense, they’d start demanding that the rotten and mush-brained and easily panicked members of their forces be weeded out. Those who got by the sweep must be put on trial just like everybody else when they rob or bully or murder. The Dallas killings were murder, but they were also blowback against the unending tales of the murders of blacks by police.

      The NRA instantly springs into action with every news report of a homeowner defending his home with a gun or when police are shot at, but that lobby is always mighty quiet about the police (and other) executions of blacks by firearms.

      Black Lives Matter and So Do Their Gun Rights: Where’s the NRA on Philando Castile?

      Gun Rights have always been about protecting or coddling White People. Blacks were never in the equation at all except as targets, and in the minds of the heroes at the NRA, they still aren’t.

      • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
        July 13, 2016 at 18:02

        No citizen needs more than one gun. Also, if it was really “originalism”, there would only be one gun for each citizen, as I find it hard to believe that there was more than one gun in the family – except families with a son or sons.

  13. Ol' Hippy
    July 9, 2016 at 20:15

    A large portion of American citizenry don’t see the connection of the domestic violence with the international violence by direct and indirect actions by The US government. The civilians are sometimes treated as hostile enemy forces instead of citizens in some form of crisis. The police have a tough job because there are criminals that are armed and hostile toward authority and the law. This is given. However’ when someone is gunned down on a traffic stop by, most likely a targeted ‘hassle stop’,(a ‘hassle stop’ is what I called them as a youth when cops had it in for hippies and would stop, write a ticket and stern “encouragement” to get a haircut and a turn signal or license plate light citation for good measure along with making you late for work!), we have a major problem. Problems include; 1.) a most violent federal government here and abroad, 2.) a violent culture; people who resort to violence instead of civilized discussions or negotiations to solve problems. This seems to be getting worse with digitized screens instead of face to face talking., 3.) the police themselves; that resolve confrontations with force instead of negotiation. Sometimes stepping back and giving some time will let folks ‘cool off’, too many times they seem to want to end things as fast as possible when a few moments could save lives.
    So here’s a small part of a plan to help all citizens survive to live another day. 1.Stop starting so many needless wars., 2.) Have the police treat people as citizens instead of enemy combatants.,3.) Citizens need to have respect and decency to those that have tough jobs to keep us safe. There are ‘bad guys’ out there we need to get out of the hustle bustle of our busy lives. There are lots of problems to solve and maybe a few of these suggestions just might help.

  14. Dennis Merwood
    July 9, 2016 at 18:18

    Now I’m getting all wound up! How many times have we ever seen the above named individuals on the Sunday morning talk shows? How about, never! But John “Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCain, his sidekick that Graham sleaze bag, and Newt seem to be on every second weekend. Grrrrrr.

    • Drew Hunkins
      July 10, 2016 at 15:56

      I’m with you Mr. Merwood. I’m wound up with you.

  15. Dennis Merwood
    July 9, 2016 at 18:12

    And Glen Greenwald, and Chelsea Manning, and Julian Assange, and Bernie Sanders, and Edward Snowden and David Stockman,……you are right Drew. America is awash in genuine prophet-like intellectuals…but sadly they are never given one minute on the TV stations that the 99% watch, or the newspapers they read. Quite the opposite. They are marginalized as being conspiracy theory nuts.

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      July 13, 2016 at 17:57

      Juts because Manning and Assange are whistleblowers doesn’t mean they are intellectuals.

      • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
        July 13, 2016 at 17:57

        Sorry, I meant “just”, not “juts”.

  16. Dennis Merwood
    July 9, 2016 at 18:06

    And John Pilger.

    • Drew Hunkins
      July 10, 2016 at 15:54

      Pilger is excellent but he’s Australian. I thought of throwing him on the list and probably should have, with the caveat that he’s from down under.

  17. Drew Hunkins
    July 9, 2016 at 16:57

    “But who will be today’s Dr. King? Are there no prophets left?”

    There are myriad truth tellers out there, it’s just that they’re getting short shrift by the corporate-owned, Zionist occupied, military driven establishment media. (Or if they’re lucky enough to appear on television they’re sandwiched between scores of commercials, and they’re devoid of the background assumptions; so they have perhaps 5 minutes to deliver analyses while rightwingers and centrist apologists step all over them.)

    I would argue that right now America is awash in genuine prophet-like intellectuals, probably more so now than at anytime in its history: James Petras, Paul Craig Roberts, Cornel West, Michael Parenti, Adolph Reed, Norman Finkelstein, Robert Parry, Jeffrey St. Clair, Diana Johnstone (okay France), Noam Chomsky, Jill Stein, Ralph Nader, and the relatively recently deceased Gore Vidal and Alexander Cockburn and of course others who I’m ignorant of. These folks are dynamite writers and thinkers and many of them are also tremendous speakers.

    The problem is that much of the rest of the U.S. population has little familiarity with the great thinkers and essayists their own nation has to offer. This is all by design of course.

    • Drew Hunkins
      July 9, 2016 at 17:04

      Forgot Chris Hedges. Thousand lashes.

    • Khalid Talaat
      July 10, 2016 at 16:36

      Money used to deliberately to corrupt our political process comes from Zionist organizations such as AIPAC, the ADL and others. 2% of our population is Jewish and 10% of them are Zionists. The Zionist 0.2% of our population is contributing 50% of all political financing. This Zionist 0.2% of our population has strong ties to the Likudists in Tel Aviv. That is saying a mouthful. They take the billions we send them and send it back to corrupt our polical system. We send our taxes to empower them to genocide the true semites and they send it back to destroy our culture and society through fostering the race revolts of the 60s and the sexual revolution of today, using African Anericans and homosexuals as the avant guard for the destruction of the fabric of our society, only to be discarded later. Although most will agree the fabric does need mending. The Zionist find the natural propensities of our people as if finding a hole in the fabric to tear it open. The Zionist enticement towards increasing the violence in our country is conducted exyernally with overseas violence against non belligerent countries and against minorities internally, now and in the 60s. In addition it is programmed in our youth and culture through Zionist controlled Hollywood.

      The most amazing thing about Dallas is that not one media outlet called it an act of terrorism. Not even Congress managed to call it an act of terrorism. Scores of policeman crouched behind thin sheet metal scared and wondering if they will live to see their loved ones at the end of the day, five did not, and the Zionist controlled media and Zionist controlled congress could not call it what it is, pure terror. If our political institutions and Press were truly free of influence, I would say that we as a nation are projecting our inner evil on darker skinned people but this is not the case. Our political discourse and Press are controlled to reserve the label terrorists and their destruction for Muslims for the sole purpose of justifying violence against Arabs as in the 67 war when Israel attacked Egypt and falsed flagged the USS Liberty to blame it on Egypt. You see it is a method of triangulation that goes like this. All Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims. The majority of Muslims are Arabs and Palestinians are Arabs and if Palestinians are Arabs then they are Muslims and if Palestinians are Muslims then they are terrorist. There you have it. Palestinians are terrorists. America kills terrorists who are Muslims and Arabs, so why can’t Israel kill the Arab Muslim Palestinian who then must be terrorist.

      America does not need a prophet, America needs another Kennedy. But first we must bring to justice those who conducted the coup against Kennedy and 911. Then after we send the message to those who killed Kennedy and did 911 we can protect our second chance at a Kennedy. Should he survive long enough to register AIPAC and all the Zionist 5th column as a foreign lobbies and bring about a law prohibiting senators and congressmen from prostituting themsrlves with pledges of alligence to Israel in return for campain financing. He might even outlaw Zionism as a hate group. The Zionists are psychopaths and they will cause the psychopaths in our society to rise to the top in service to them, if they already haven’t. God bless America for the power of good she can be in our planet, God bless her.

      • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
        July 13, 2016 at 17:54

        Jewish-controlled Hollywood? 50% of contributions being by Zionists? Pure anti-Semitism. Also, “Jewish Hollywood” and “Hollywood values” is just propaganda of the right. I’ve already mentioned this to you before, right-wing idiot. Hollywood is racist and sexist – although it is militaristic, like I said so last time.

        • Finuch Momo
          July 14, 2016 at 23:20

          Anti-Semitic? Not really … more like a reality check.

          Hollywood movers-and-shakers: Jerry Weintraub, Jon Peters, Barbra Streisand, Merv Adelson, Steven Speilberg, David Geffen, Charlie Feldman, Louis B. Mayer, Sue Mengers, Barry Diller, Stuart Rosenberg, Bernie Donenfeld, Jud Kinberg, Peter Guber, Barbara Walters … not to mention the PNAC neocons: Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Ken Adelman, Robert Bernstein, David Epstein, Richard Perle and others too numerous to mention, and Chicago’s union-buster and Israel-supporter mayor, Rahm Emanuel. The list of jews in position of power is endless.

  18. peon d. rich
    July 9, 2016 at 15:21

    The chickens coming home to roost. Malcolm, later, the Panthers, had it clearly in view: there is no trusting white do-gooders and liberals to end racism and institutional systemic violence against Black people (not African Americans because blacks were/are only granted second class status, they don’t get to be fully ‘American’ – I say, lucky them on THIS count). Self-determination of the Black community, the African diaspora, may be the only viable path left to racial justice. Just as self-determination of all peoples, nations and races globally is the only solution. OCCUPATION, whether overtly or systemically breeds righteous resistance, the hate that hate makes. End ALL occupations now, from Afghanistan to Gaza and the West Bank, to 800+ military bases, to our racist brutal policing of the poor and people of color.

  19. David G
    July 9, 2016 at 13:06

    Our political and media figures never recognize that the violence committed by our government, and local authorities, has anything to do with violence which manifests from unofficial sources.

    It was ironic, though also tiresomely predictable, to hear Obama in Warsaw lament about how wrong violence is, with respect to the shootings in Dallas, while leading meetings laying the groundwork for starting a possible world war.

    In the Michael Moore film “Bowling for Columbine”, I recall musician Marilyn Manson—who has been held somehow responsible for the 1999 Columbine high school massacre because his songs and persona are insufficiently wholesome in some eyes—noting that the killings took place during NATO’s savage bombing of Serbia, and wondering whether that might have been a more salient example of the supposed virtuousness of violence to the young gunmen than this or that singer.

      July 9, 2016 at 14:54

      Also, we must not ignore all the violence in our “entertainment”, especially movies, TV & cable shows, and video & Internet games. Repeated exposure to these simulated acts of violence eventually desensitize many people to real-life violence as well as encouraging the belief that violence, especially gun violence, is the solution to complex problems.

      Such a violent culture as ours, inflamed by class and racist anger and hostility, much of it justified, then saturated with easily-available firearms, especially assault weapons, will inevitably explode into acts of armed violence.

      • David G
        July 10, 2016 at 13:01

        I don’t deny that violent entertainment can have an effect as you say. But I have no use for political leaders who rail against the danger of first-person shooter games, or Marilyn Manson, while presiding over the routine brutality of state power in the U.S., from serially starting wars abroad to relentlessly, racistly over-policing and over-imprisoning at home.

    • PAUL
      July 12, 2016 at 09:57

      Recommended Youtube Viewing:


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