A Reflection on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” Speech

One of Martin Luther King Jr.’s lesser known yet equally impactful speeches, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” condemns the violence and atrocities committed by the U.S against the Vietnamese in their foolish bid to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. He highlights the intricacies and parallels of the war waged in Vietnam and against the poor in the U.S as one reflected in the interactions between the three threats facing democracy — racism, classism, and militarism. The world’s strongest and largest military claiming aggression from a poor small country on the other side of the world and their continuous assault of defenseless Vietnamese villagers reads as bleak irony. He goes as far as to declare the U.S government as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, with such anti-American and anti-military sentiments later eroding his reputation and receiving widespread criticism, accusations of communist affiliation, and even mental instability.

He spoke to the hypocrisy of the American government; a nation defined by its commitment to freedom and independence yet contradictory in its support of France’s quest to reclaim their former colony. He emphasizes the imbalance of casualties felt by either side of the war, citing hospitals in Vietnam overcrowded with those injured from American firepower rather than the enemy Viet Cong, or National Liberation Front. Questioning the morality of sustaining an unjust war, he called for a unilateral ceasefire from all fronts and a massive upheaval of the American values praising the cause for war.

Giving a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam as well as the often ignored American poor even at the risk of losing most of his popular support struck a chord with me. In calling out the contradictory actions of his own government, he exposed flaws within what we as Americans prioritize over livable wages, universal healthcare, affordable housing, and equal opportunity transcending class, race, and gender. His condemnation of the ever-expanding military industrial complex rings true, especially in today’s political climate with President Trump’s proposed $54 billion increase to military spending at the expense of the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department, and numerous welfare and aid programs. Beyond Vietnam and continuing today, Martin Luther King’s urgent call to action for social change through nonviolence lives on.

by Kira Nemeth

Penny Poll Results

More than 350 people participated in this year’s Penny Poll. Thanks to members of the Burlington Chapter of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom for tabling with us and to all who join in this activity! It was a beautiful day to talk about the national discretionary budget and what people think are meaningful ways that the National Discretionary Budget can reflect our priorities and values as a country.

Below are the numbers that are reported on by National Priorities Project.

 

 

 

Democracy Now!: Covering the Movements Changing America – An Evening with Amy Goodman

Join award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, at the Burlington stop of North American tour: Democracy Now!: Covering the Movements Changing America. The event will take place Thursday, April 27 at 7:00 pm at the UU Society, Burlington.

Goodman will speak about increased threats to freedom of the press and the importance of independent media to hold those in power accountable. With over 20 years of reporting, Democracy Now! has covered the social movements that are now forming the groundswell of opposition to the Trump administration; movements long ignored by corporate media, but central to Democracy Now!’s daily journalism.

Amy will be introduced by her brother and co-author, journalist David Goodman, host of the WDEV radio show “The Vermont Conversation.” Their latest New York Times bestseller is now available in paperback, and will be available for sale, with a book signing to follow the talk.

Tickets will be $5.00 at the door. No one will be turned away for the lack of funds. The event is sponsored by the Peace & Justice Center and the First UU Society of Burlington.

See National Bird with VT PBS this April

The Peace & Justice Center is delighted to share screenings being hosted in various places throughout Vermont next month. Each screening will be followed by a panel and/or Q&A. VT PBS, local communities and the PJC are coming together to do this. We are excited to help make connections to members of the Will Miller Chapter of Green Mountain Veteran’s for Peace, and others who have work with us and on their own, to expose realities of drone weaponry. Understanding drone warfare is an important aspect of exploring the military industrial complex and how it is changing. We think this film is full of heart and we love that it spotlights the courage of whistleblowers who dare to do what is right. We hope that is moves individuals and communities throughout the state and disrupts misinformation that is shared about these weapons.

We hope to see Peace & Justice Center folks at some of these Vermont screenings hosted by VT PBS and local community partners.

  • Thursday, April 13 at 6:30pm at The Art House Gallery, Studio & School, 67 S Craftsbury Rd, Craftsbury. In partnership with VT PBS, the Art House, Sterling College, and the Peace & Justice Center.
  • Tuesday, April 18 at 7pm at Johnson State College in Johnson. In partnership with VT PBS, Johnson State College, and the Peace & Justice Center.
  • Thursday, April 20 at 7pm at Manchester Community Library, 138 Cemetery Ave, Manchester Center. In partnership with VT PBS, the Manchester Community Library, and the Peace & Justice Center.
  • Wednesday, April 26 at 7pm at Catamount Arts, 115 Eastern Ave, St Johnsbury. In partnership with VT PBS, Catamount Arts, and the Peace & Justice Center.
  • DATE MOVED! From Tuesday, April 25 to THURSDAY, MAY 18th at 7pm at Kellogg-Hubbard Library, 135 Main St, Montpelier. In partnership with VT PBS, the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, and the Peace & Justice Center.

Description from nationalbirdfilm.com:

National Bird follows the dramatic journey of three whistleblowers who are determined to break the silence around one of the most controversial current affairs issues of our time: the secret U.S. drone war. At the center of the film are three U.S. military veterans. Plagued by guilt over participating in the killing of faceless people in foreign countries, they decide to speak out publicly, despite the possible consequences.

Their stories take dramatic turns, leading one of the protagonists to Afghanistan where she learns about a horrendous incident. But her journey also gives hope for peace and redemption. National Bird gives rare insight into the U.S. drone program through the eyes of veterans and survivors, connecting their stories as never seen before in a documentary. Its images haunt the audience and bring a faraway issue close to home.

Director, Sonia Kenneback, shares more about the film in her director’s statement. Below is just an excerpt. For the full statement click here.

National Bird is an investigative political documentary that explores the complex issue of drone warfare from a human perspective. Through this film, I hope to enliven the public debate not just by enriching the existing discourse with a balanced portrait of the U.S. drone program, but more importantly by illuminating the impact this program has on the people – veterans and survivors – the human side of this war. Like previous advancements in military technology, combat drones have transformed warfare, outpacing the ability of legal and moral frameworks to adapt and address these developments. A broad, immersive, and thoroughly public discourse is critical to understanding the social cost of drone warfare.

From the day I met my first source in rural Pennsylvania to that moment in Kabul where I sat on a wooden bench opposite a maimed man and his son, this project has grown far beyond my expectations. The protagonists have given me intimate access to their stories and lives to educate the public about a weapons program with global implications. I greatly respect their courage and thoughtfulness, but most of all their humanity.

Fair Trade Banana Presentation- Come Learn More!

Please join us Saturday May 6th from 3-4pm at the Peace and Justice Center (60 Lake Street Suite 1C Burlington, VT 05401) to learn about the oppressive banana industry and fair trade.

This talk is designed to educate, brainstorm solutions and create tangible action steps that fit each participant.

This is the first time this presentation is being offered to the public. Amanda Morelli will be leading this program.

We are committed to including the Deaf community and others who need language interpretation, if you need ASL or other language interpretation, please let us know ASAP and we will work to make that happen.

We hope to see you then!