Let me preface this post by saying that I strongly support the gay rights movement and applaud their effective and aggressive activism. Their willingness to confront issues, organize, passionately advocate their rights, and engage in activism to move a political agenda is inspiring and should serve as a model for other communities. The recent Trenton demonstration and lobby effort is impressive and truly inspiring.
But, I am deeply troubled about our current politics and priorities.
On Tuesday of this week, we all know that President Obama announced the escalation of the Afghanistan war.
Outraged by this decision, I felt compelled to act. Old enough to remember that US campuses erupted in protest in the wake of Nixon’s escalation of the Vietnam war, and hoping for some kind of similar spontaneous outpouring of concern, I went to the belly of the beast, West Point.
But apparently only 275 or so of my fellow citizens felt so moved and joined a candlelight vigil and protest there. There must be 10 million people within a reasonable driving distance of West Point, so that small of a turnout is an indication of something deeply wrong in our politics. http://www.lohud.com/article/2…
The next evening, I joined an even smaller candlelight vigil in Princeton. Although it was raining and cold, I would guess there were only about 30 people or so. Where were the Princeton students? Where was Dr. Cornel West and other prominent Princeton faculty? Where was the clergy and progressive communities of faith and goodwill? http://www.nj.com/mercer/index…
So, in the wake of these disappointments, the huge 700+ turnout to Trenton to advocate for marriage equality led me to think of Dr. King’s famous 1967 speech, where he came out against the Vietnam War and joined a burgeoning anti-war movement.
Many in the civil rights movement opposed King’s linking of the war with domestic issues and civil rights:
Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?” “Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” “Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,” they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.
So, I ask, is it time yet to break silence?
Where is the anti-war movement?
Why can progressive communities turn out 700+ people to lobby Trenton for marriage equality, but virtually none to oppose an immoral and unjust war?