A Nation of Cowards

Ugh:


If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, would he understand why the United States is at war? Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department's general counsel, posed that question at today's Pentagon commemoration of King's legacy. 

In the final year of his life, King became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, Johnson told a packed auditorium. 

However, he added, today's wars are not out of line with the iconic Nobel Peace Prize winner's teachings. "I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation's military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack," he said....

Deeply cynical, deeply ignorant, and deeply instructive for those of us who believe that raising the dead to fight our moral battles for us is confined to South Carolina.

And again, the argument by proxy--King symbolizes everything right. King would support the war in Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan must be right. Again, not the thing (Is the war right?) but shoe-horned, and essentially, dishonest substitute (King would support us, so we must be right.)

It's wrong on several levels--Martin Luther King is not the God of morality. He may well have supported the War, and still been wrong. But we can't know that because he was killed. That's why it's tragic. Adam has some citations from King, but I don't want to even award that level of respect. It's a fundamentally dishonest tactic, and really creepy way of honoring one of the fathers of modern America.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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