Friday, January 20, 2012

The Assassins In Our Midst

A few random thoughts and an assortment of quotations in honor of MLK, whose 'feast day' was this week.


Here are quotes from theologian Jim Douglas on the only trial ever conducted on the assassination of MLK, held in Memphis, 1999. Never heard of it, you say? You would not be alone. Apart from Jim Douglas, only one other reporter covered the trial, and in the final days a correspondent for a Lisbon newspaper. The US mainstream media? Ignored it completely, too busy with 'the trial of the century,' the trial of O.J. Simpson.  Jim's  full report can be found here.


According to a Memphis jury's verdict on December 8, 1999, in the wrongful death lawsuit of the King family versus Loyd Jowers "and other unknown co-conspirators," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a conspiracy that included agencies of his own government. Almost 32 years after King's murder at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, a court extended the circle of responsibility for the assassination beyond the late scapegoat James Earl Ray to the United States government.


I can hardly believe the fact that, apart from the courtroom participants, only Memphis TV reporter Wendell Stacy and I attended from beginning to end this historic three-and-one-half week trial. Because of journalistic neglect scarcely anyone else in this land of ours even knows what went on in it. After critical testimony was given in the trial's second week before an almost empty gallery, Barbara Reis, U.S. correspondent for the Lisbon daily Publico who was there several days, turned to me and said, "Everything in the U.S. is the trial of the century. O.J. Simpson's trial was the trial of the century. Clinton's trial was the trial of the century. But this is the trial of the century, and who's here?"...

What I experienced in that courtroom ranged from inspiration at the courage of the Kings, their lawyer-investigator William F. Pepper, and the witnesses, to amazement at the government's carefully interwoven plot to kill Dr. King. The seriousness with which U.S. intelligence agencies planned the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. speaks eloquently of the threat Kingian nonviolence represented to the powers that be in the spring of 1968....

Hatred and fear of King deepened, Lawson said, in response to his plan to hold the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.C. King wanted to shut down the nation's capital in the spring of 1968 through massive civil disobedience until the government agreed to abolish poverty. King saw the Memphis sanitation workers' strike as the beginning of a nonviolent revolution that would redistribute income. "I have no doubt," Lawson said, "that the government viewed all this seriously enough to plan his assassination."...

Maynard Stiles, who in 1968 was a senior official in the Memphis Sanitation Department, confirmed in his testimony that the bushes near the rooming house were cut down. At about 7:00 a.m. on April 5, Stiles told the jury, he received a call from MPD Inspector Sam Evans "requesting assistance in clearing brush and debris from a vacant lot in the vicinity of the assassination. . . . They went to that site, and under the direction of the police department, whoever was in charge there, proceeded with the clean-up in a slow, methodical, meticulous manner." . . . Within hours of King's assassination, the crime scene that witnesses were identifying to the Memphis police as a cover for the shooter had been sanitized by orders of the police....

Pepper went a step beyond saying government agencies were responsible for the assassination. To whom in turn were those murderous agencies responsible? Not so much to government officials per se, Pepper asserted, as to the economic power holders they represented who stood in the even deeper shadows behind the FBI, Army Intelligence, and their affiliates in covert action. By 1968, Pepper told the jury, "And today it is much worse in my view" -- "the decision-making processes in the United States were the representatives, the foot soldiers of the very economic interests that were going to suffer as a result of these times of changes [being actived by King]."
        To say that U.S. government agencies killed Martin Luther King on the verge of the Poor People's Campaign is a way into the deeper truth that the economic powers that be (which dictate the policies of those agencies) killed him. In the Memphis prelude to the Washington campaign, King posed a threat to those powers of a non-violent revolutionary force. Just how determined they were to stop him before he reached Washington was revealed in the trial by the size and complexity of the plot to kill him....

Perhaps the lesson of the King assassination is that our government understands the power of nonviolence better than we do, or better than we want to. In the spring of 1968, when Martin King was marching (and Robert Kennedy was campaigning), King was determined that massive, nonviolent civil disobedience would end the domination of democracy by corporate and military power. The powers that be took Martin Luther King seriously. They dealt with him in Memphis.
        Thirty-two years after Memphis, we know that the government that now honors Dr. King with a national holiday also killed him. As will once again become evident when the Justice Department releases the findings of its "limited re-investigation" into King's death, the government (as a foot soldier of corporate power) is continuing its cover-up -- just as it continues to do in the closely related murders of John and Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X....

As a complement to these sobering thoughts, here are more quotes from the distinguished poet and researcher, Peter Dale Scott, taken from his recent book, American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan

Elsewhere I have written of civilization as "a great conspiracy of organized denial." I mean by this the creation of a partly illusory mental space in which unpleasant facts, such as that all Western empires have been established through major atrocities, are conveniently suppressed....

.....deep events: events that are systematically ignored, suppressed, or falsified in public (and even internal) government, military, and intelligence documents as well as in the main stream media and public consciousness. Underlying them is frequently the involvement of deep forces linked either to the drug traffic or to agencies of surveillance (or to both together) whose activities are extremely difficult to discern or document. ...

A clearly defined deep event will combine both internal features- evidence, such as a discernible cover-up, that aspects are being suppressed - and external features-a ongoing and perhaps irresoluble controversy as to what happened. Some deep events - the 1968 assassinations, the Tonkin Gulf incident and 9/11 - clearly have both features. ...

In my experience, deep events are better understood collectively than in isolation. When looked at together, they constitute a larger pattern, that of deep history. For some years, beginning before 9/11, I have noted that from time to time  America's recorded or archival history has been disrupted by deep events, such as the John F. Kennedy assassination. These events are attributed publicly to marginal and unthreatening agents-like Lee Harvey Oswald. But cumulatively, the historical succession of deep events-such as Dallas, Watergate, 911 - have impacted more and more profoundly on America's political situation....


Many Americans are at least dimly aware that we have had a number of similar deep events involving this form of sanctioned violence in the past half century. Some of these, including the murders of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy, have had significant structural influence on the subsequent evolution of American political history. I have argued in the Road to 9/11 that we should consider the attack of 9/11 as yet another example of a deep event, another chapter in our nation's deep history....

The problem of illegally sanctioned and protected violence-violence regularly suppressed from our consciousness- is not necessarily attributable to the state as we normally think of it. We do not know in any state was directly involved in the recent unexplained murder of an Italian banker, Roberto Calvi, related to scandals at the Vatican Bank and it has even been argued that Pope John Paul I was murdered by those involved in these same scandals. But where there is cover-up, as in the Calvi case, the murderers have profited from a state connection. 

What is a Christian to make of all of this and what is she to do? Firstly, we must honor the memory of our own assassinated Master, dispatched by a murky coalition of unsavory forces in his own society who have never been properly identified, apart from the horrifically unhistorical designation "The Jews."  What elements in his own society were so threatened by his presence and his teachings that they joined forces to do away with him. We must remember that we follow not so much a martyred god figure as an outspoken prophet, who went knowingly to his death, trusting in "the Father" to redeem his suffering and death and turn it into good. From this faith, we must then ask for the courage to display the same fearlessness in face of the forces of evil in our world, forces just as devious and deceptive now as they were two thousand years ago. From our faith we must also find the hope that evil does not ultimately triumph, that - as Gandhi said- Truth is God, and that if we are fearless in confronting the forces of disinformation and denial in our culture, truth will win out in the end, provided we are fearless in confronting and exposing this deceit, both within our own indoctrinated selves as well as in the world at large. We in America in particular inhabit a culture of massive psychological denial at this point in history. The first call of the Spirit must be to the Truth and to the exposure of its denial. There can be no justice, no peace, no virtue in a culture of willingly embracing lies and deceptions. The truth will indeed make us free.

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