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Posted on Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

People must remember, follow non-violent example set by Martin Luther King

By Letters to the Editor


Martin Luther King gives a lecture at Hill Auditorium in 1962 during a visit to the University of Michigan.

University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library

As a father, grandfather and a Vietnam veteran, I believe that Dr. Martin Luther King’s most powerful speech was on April 4, 1967. “Beyond Vietnam” directed our attention to the trifecta causes of the moral and financial poverty in the U. S. - militarism, materialism, and racism.

As I look around with mature eyes I see torture being justified, drones killing civilians, assassinations being legalized, hatred for “those people”, massive gun violence, loyalty oaths to governments that engage in genocide, invasions and occupations, songs about bombing countries, war planes being cheered as they fly over sports stadiums, violence showcased on TV and movies and video games. All of these set examples.

In the 1960’s Dr. King asked those in the cities to stop using violence to solve problems. “They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems." Dr. King concluded that, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government”.

Yes, there are good things about America, but there are many areas of silence. Dr. King said “the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak," and “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

On the only national holiday that recognizes a person who worked for peace and justice, read “Beyond Vietnam." Dr. King studied and practiced non-violent conflict resolution. We, as a nation, need to do the same.

Arnold Stieber

Grass Lake


Bill Wilson

Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

@ Mark H, You're as wrong as rain, sir. A letter resides in MLK's file (@ Stanford, I believe) that acknowledges the man's plagiarism. We've heard from the Rev. Abernathy about MLK: the man had very few rules in private. I'm sorry, but despite the good he did, as a man, he didn't believe a word that he said.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

"People must remember, follow non-violent example set by Martin Luther King" - is Mr. Stieber's premise. I doubt anyone can reasonably disagree. It has nothing to do with Dr. King's borrowing a principle to teach it: there's no wrong in that. None at all. Selfish human motivations, however, seem devoted to "debunking" any principle which is good for humans. It's all too common, for example, to see principles (like non-violence) being converted into ideology, which is used to make the ideologue the "interpreter" of principle. So that: eventually, ideologic principle comes to mean "whatever we say it means." Before our very eyes today: we see so-called political leaders re-defining the human right to self defense. They're telling us that self defense actions automatically become wild, dangerous actions which do more harm than good. So it is that political ambition on the part of a few motivates them to lead others to continue the perversion of this principle with unreasoning (and illegal) restraints on anyone who attempts to prepare to defend innocent human life. I guess we'll have to make do with spoons, if this keeps up. Meanwhile: Dr. King is gone; like Abraham, Martin and John. Would that we could have defended them all before turning their principles upside down. Thanks, Mr. Stieber, for the reminder.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

Your letter is fantastic, Mr. Stieber. The death and destruction the US brings on a daily basis to the world is almost unbearable to think about. We as citizens are supporting all of it by being silent. Here are some facts:


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

Even Dr. Martin Luther King owned a gun for self protection.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

Did he? I honestly don't know - but it's interesting if true. Of course, use of a gun for self protection is non-violent since it does not violate the core moral edict: Never - initiate - the use of force or fraud. So there's no hypocrisy involved on MLK's part since he and everyone knew his life was under threat.

Mark H

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

Thank you Mr Stieber for your wise letter, which calls our attention to King's great speech "Beyond Vietnam," given at Riverside Church in NYC in 1967. It still challenges the logic and morality of the American military machine, which creates enemies for the US more than it solves problems. This speech of King's was written mostly by one of his close aides, Vincent Harding, who is still living today. Some other comment on your letter claims that King's words were somehow plagiarized, but that is most certainly NOT true of his famous and important speeches. It is established that he did copy large sections of his doctoral dissertation; but that cheating was in something that nobody reads and that did not influence the world or make Rev. King famous. Many of his books and speeches in later years were written in collaboration with people like the great Vincent Harding and Bayard Rustin, but that is collaborative process of writing is not uncommon not is it cheating. Read "Beyond Vietnam" and you'll see an indictment of American militarism as valid in 2013 with Obama's drones killing innocents as it was in 1967 when King spoke those words courageously and was isolated by the press and political establishment for daring to oppose the horrid war in Vietnam.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:28 a.m.

from Wikipedia: "Keith Miller, in Voice of Deliverance: The Language of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Its Sources and elsewhere,[19] argues that such "borrowing", which he terms "voice merging", follows in a long tradition of folk preaching, particularly in the African-American church, and should not necessarily be termed plagiarism. On the contrary, he views King's skillful combination of language from different sources as a major oratorical skill."


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 4:24 a.m.

Never heard of Keith Miller.

Dog Guy

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

In 1967, I read that MLK speech in The Michigan Chronicle, it was the first time I had seen a public statement of USA's postwar perfidy toward Vietnam. My awareness of that betrayal of our ally (since December 1940, when Vietnam set up alternate airfields for our Flying Tigers attacking Japan) began with a 1954 newsreel on television: the Légion étrangère was marching (safe conduct under arms) from Dien Bien Phu singing Lili Marleen in German. The troops were Wehrmacht released from Eisenhower's DEF death camps for a ten-year hitch using American materiel to re-colonize French Indochina. The betrayal included using Japanese POW's as "peacekeepers" until the French could return in force. MLK was first with the guts to go public on this history.

Top Cat

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

On an international level, mind our own business - Yes. March our troops out of foreign countries - Yes. Let our government disarm us - Never!


Tue, Jan 29, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

The government is not taking your guns Top Cat. FOX News and the right have created a delusional subset of Americans....Paranoia sells more guns...a win/win for GOP and the NRA!

David Briegel

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

What govt wants to disarm you? Why would anyone believe such nonsense?


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:27 a.m.

Peace abroad. Violence at home, then?

Bill Wilson

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

Great words by MLK... yes... but very few were actually his. Large sections of his works he plagiarized, copying entire paragraphs into his many works. King was indeed a man of extremes.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:25 a.m.

It occurs to me that "men of the cloth" aren't really known for originality, are they?


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:24 a.m.

Iconoclastic statement, that.


Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 10:52 p.m.

Arnold, I very much appreciate your letter, and agree with you on the importance of this speech and on it's applicability to the world of today. US intervention abroad is complex but, as King said: "When the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on." You, in writing this letter have in King's words, "chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history." Time to end these wars for good.

David Briegel

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

Thank you for your wise words. While America chooses to arm the world, conservatives bemoan the fact of our inability to lead the world while failing to see the correlation. And conservative blame our spiritual death on liberals while claiming we are a "Christian" nation. America creates tomorrows "terrorists" one innocent death after another. Our smart drones aren't as selective as we are led to believe. The killing of innocents and the creation of the next generation of terrorists is good for "business". Is the perpetual war business good for America?


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 4:13 a.m.

David mentions "conservative" twice and "liberal" zero times. I didn't miss the point of his post, though he may have missed the point of the original letter.

Jake C

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 4:01 a.m.

@a2ciizen: By today's political standards, LBJ would be a communist and Reagan would be a Socialist. That said, you seem to be completely missing the point of the original letter and David's post. It doesn't matter whether the current president claims to be "liberal" or "conservative". As long as our foreign policy is one of unilateral aggression (not to mention our domestic policy) we're not living up to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Sun, Jan 27, 2013 : 3:20 a.m.

In 1967, was the president "conservative"?