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  •  MLK called the U.S. the . . . (4.00)
    "greatest purveyor of violence" on the face of the earth.

    However, for most Americans, and for many people on this website, I have a feeling that this statement doesn't jive with Americans' image of their own country.

    •  Some links to explore that (none)
      There is, in my mind, no substitute for reading and dwelling on the words of Dr. King.

      Here is a Common Dreams article about the speech the quote you cite comes from and how it affected one listener...

      and here is the speech itself

      Like Letter from Birmingham Jail, and I Have a Dream - his words strengthen, explain, and inspire my involvement.

      Conservatives think America is a Christian nation... Liberals think America ought to act like one.

      by its simple IF you ignore the complexity on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:44:53 PM PDT

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    •  Most Americans (4.00)
      Most Americans don't know their own history.  Most Americans are in denial of their present circumstances. Most Americans don't wish to face the truth about our mischief making throughout the world.  We are a delusional people.

      American mantra...Ignorance is bliss.

      The opposite of war is not peace, it's creation. --Jonathan Larson

      by pacifica on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:52:23 PM PDT

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      •  So true... (none)
        I hear people all the time say things like "America has never started a war" or "America would never commit such atrocities..we're different," etc.  It's very strange:  an empire that denies it's an empire; a country founded in violence which denies it is violent; an aggressive country which claims it's not aggressive; a proselytizing nation (for Democracy, Capitalism, Globalization, whatever) which claims it just wants everyone to be free to live as they want to live.  I could go on and on.

        As far as Guatemala is concerned, my wife and I spent 3 weeks studying Spanish there and living with a local family back in 1997.  We both absolutely fell in love with that breathtakingly beautiful country which has suffered so much over the past few decades.  Sad but true:  the United States was largely responsible for much of the terror that engulfed Guatemala -- and El Salvador (and Colombia, and Nicaragua, and Cambodia, and...).  How many Americans have any clue?  How many Americans WANT to have any clue?  And we wonder how George W. Bush can be supported by 45% (or more) of Americans?

        "Despite all your rage, you're still just a rat in a cage."

        by lowkell on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:43:53 PM PDT

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        •  We are now (none)
          committing the the greatest moral and geopolitical failure in a generation.

          Whoops.  We did it again.

        •  Another contradiction: (none)
          As Mort Sahl once observed, it is amazing that a nation that celebrates the fact that it was born of a revolution, denies people in other nations the right to have their own revolutions.

          But what is it Townsend said?  "Meet the new boss--same as the old boss."

          It seems to be the human condition that when people are down and oppressed and threatened they struggle to be free.  And, once liberated, end up oppressing others.

          Thus, the ancient Athenians (along with their fellow Greeks) fought off the attempts by the Persians to conquer and enslave them  . . . only to eventually subjugate the various city-states in the Aegean Sea into their own empire, and then attempt to subjugate the whole island of Sicily into it as well.

          Human beings can really suck.

      •  unfortunately, you are right (4.00)
        and some of the worst  have been our elected officials.

        Breaking of signed and ratified treaties unilaterally which do not have opt out provisions is considered a violation of international law.   The U.S. has done so more often than any other country.

        Before you go ballistic, remember that when we signed treaties with "Indian" tribes, they were considered Indian "nations" and the treaties were treated as such  --  and ratified treaties are, according to Article VI, the Supreme Law of the Land.

        And yet, the U.S. time and again broke such treaties, whenever it became to the advantage of the Anglos.  Gold (such as in the Black Hills) was often a proximate cause, but it was not the only one.

        We have a history of massacres that goes back to before we were a nation, including wiping out many of the New England natives in what we euphemistically have called "King Phillip's War."   Our history of intervention into the affairs of other nations outside the Continental US is also fairly atrocious -  Smedley Butler's famous remarks only addressed our interventions in this hemisphere, and all of these were before that in Guatemala referenced in this thread.    

        We interfered with the accords from 1954 in "Indochina"  because Ho Chi MInh would have won any fair election, and we wound up with war lasting another 2 decades.  

        We overthrew a popular government in Iran to restore the "shah" [remember, his father was an army sergeant who had seized power with the approval of the British], and then compounded the problem when after his ejection from the country we allowed him to come to the U.S. for treatment.

        We were intimately involved in the overthorw and death of Allende in Chile, and we got the rather brutal Pinochet government as a result.

        We were responsible for the several decades of abuse of Mobutu, whom we continued to prop up because he delacred himself an anticommunist.

        I could go on and on.

        As a society we espouse noble principles.  I know, I teach them to my 9th graders.  And I hope beyond hope that at least a few of them as they grow up will demand of our leaders that we honor them in act and not merely by lip-service.

        Last night 60 minutes revisited My Lai.  Over 500 men, women and children died in that village, slaughtered by American soldiers of the Americal Division .   The slaughter was covered up within the army, for years, until Sy Hersch finally did his story.  And for all those death?  3 people were sentenced, Calley to life, but he got out after only 3 years.  No one higher than a lieutenant, even though we had executed a Japanese general because his troops had commited atrocities -=- we executed him not because he orderd it, because he hadn't, but because  he failed in his command to maintain the necerssary discipline of his troops.   By that standard, at least the brigade commander in the Americal division was culpable, but one officer who investigated basically whitewashed it, an officer named Colin Powell.

        We are hearing how troops are taught to disobey unlawful orders, and that they can be held to account for following an illegal order.  Right  --  when people who report wrongdoing get isolated and have their careers often cut short, or worse.  The attempted fragging of the Michael J. Fox character in Casualties of War is not just movie hype. -- a soldier or other military person who reports wrongdoing often puts himself at risk.  We know similar things happen in other organizations, say in the police --  think of Frank Serpico in NY City.

        The most politically conservative student I teach has two parents who are retired army officers, each with more than 22 years of service.  His father, NRA member, very conservative Republican, is absolutely livid over what has happened, and thinks Rumsfeld should be fired, and probably Sanchez and Abizaed as well.  Everyone involved should be punished.  This is a man who saw his own career suffer because he spoke out when he saw things that were wrong.  He is passionate about the military, and does not want to see it dishonored.

        Santayana warned us that those who do not learn history were doomed to repeat it.  This is different than My Lai.  Not as many people died in the prison incidents.  But in many ways this was worse, because this was official policy, and the half-truths and outgright lies told since the story broke last week are even more sickening.    That Miller is in charge of 'fixing" the Iraqi situation when in so many ways he waas at least partially responsible for creating it makes me want to vomit.

        I apologize for my anger.  This has done perhaps irrevocable damage to our national interest.   it has placed Americans all over the world at risk.  It is the greatest recruiting tool ever for Osama bin Laden.

        Anyone who knew in advance is a war criminal by any standard in general acceptance.  To allow them to continue in their positions taints any one in power who does so with the guilt of accomplice after the fact.  But, hye, this is small potatoes compared to our protecting former SS after WW II because we wanted to use them against the Soviets.

        I am angry.  I am ashamed for my country.   And I really wish that those who taught history would teach it all.  There is much that is honorable  --  we have accepted after the fact many of the wrongs we as a nation have done, such as our payment to the Japanese Americans who were interned.  We are as a nation often quite generous, as shown by our generosity to other nations int heir times of crisis, most especially in the generosity of the Marshall Plan.  We have often (not always) welcomed those who have fled tryanny of any sort to come to our shores.  And we as a poeple have greatly benefitted from our resulting diversity.

        S Africa under Mandela and with the spiritual and moral leadership of Desmond Tutu did not seek retribution, but truth and reconciliation.   The latter can only happen we we take responsibility for full disclosure of the former.  I hope and pray that the members of Congress of both parties will use this occasion to work for the truthg, without which there can be no reconciliation, and that they will not worry about office, partisan advantage, or anything else.  Otherwise we maybe  lost as a nation.

        i m a teacher & proud of it

        by teacherken on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:10:07 PM PDT

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        •  Very nicely done ... your students are lucky ... (none)
          ...Just one quibble. My Lai was not covered up for years. It occurred in March 1968 and Hersh reported it in November 1969. Had he been able to find a mainstream media venue, he would have reported it far earlier.

          Something you don't have to worry about: mad carrot disease

          by Meteor Blades on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:28:45 PM PDT

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    •  Yeah... (none)
      many people on Kos don't know about American violence.

      "Calmer than you are, dude."

      by Sheffield on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:43:17 PM PDT

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    •  MLK Said It All (none)
      As an agnostic, the words of Reverend King and his ultimate sacrifice speak volumes beyond the Christian bible.

      "In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects." -J. W. Fulbright

      by Seacrest Out on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:08:27 PM PDT

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    •  Yeah (none)
      We're just as bad as Saddam and his sons -- no question.

      I mean, we constantly feed people who oppose our government into wood chippers, and gas our own citizens...

      What am I doing on DailyKos? I'm Running for the Right...

      by RFTR on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:45:38 PM PDT

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      •  I agree (none)
        America is not nearly as bad as Stalin, Saddam, Fidel, etc.

        But we look bad when we claim to be freeing the Iraqi people, yet we're torturing them at the same time.

        Plus, don't forget less than 50 yrs. ago, the U.S. government denied syphilis and fed radioactive isotopes to developmentally challenged people.

        So there is definitely a disconnect between rhetoric and reality.

        Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? -- G. W. Bush

        by Unstable Isotope on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:58:36 PM PDT

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        •  oops (none)
          ...denied syphilis treatment to African American servicemen...

          Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? -- G. W. Bush

          by Unstable Isotope on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:04:33 PM PDT

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        •  Yes (4.00)
          these terrible things have been done, and by our government.  But to call the US the greatest purveyor of violence on the face of the Earth at any time in its history is pure fiction.  We're not the most peaceful, but we're certainly not the most violent, either.

          What am I doing on DailyKos? I'm Running for the Right...

          by RFTR on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:06:15 PM PDT

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          •  Agree with you there (none)
            that was MLK's quote.  Part of America's greatness is its self-correcting nature.  It may be slow (look at Jim Crow), but it happens.  I hope we can show the world this nature in regards to the Abu Ghraib scandal.

            Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? -- G. W. Bush

            by Unstable Isotope on Mon May 10, 2004 at 05:09:58 PM PDT

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            •  It is. (none)
              And it's at testament to the American people who came before us, and the American people now that the self-improvement continues to come.

              Did you read Bill Safire's column in today's NYT?  Read especially the last few paragraphs... I like that he says:

              The United States shows the world its values by investigating and prosecuting wrongdoers high and low.

              Let's just hope that through diligence we can drive our government to hold responsible everyone who is responsible.

              What am I doing on DailyKos? I'm Running for the Right...

              by RFTR on Mon May 10, 2004 at 07:21:15 PM PDT

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          •  Hypocrisy (none)
            But to call the US the greatest purveyor of violence on the face of the Earth at any time in its history is pure fiction.  

            Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The wholesale slaughter of aboriginal Americans. Conquest of portions of Mexico. Internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Tuskeegee. How many deaths in South America, Central America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East? All the fault of Americans. Perhaps the difference between the US and other monsters of history is less one of kind and more of degree.

            Also the hypocrisy sits ill with me. We invade a sovereign nation in the name of human rights, while we violate those rights, and violate sixty year old international law in order to do so. Never were so many bald lies told in support of something supposedly so righteous.

            Add a teaspoon of wine to a barrel of sewage, and you have a barrel of sewage. Add a teaspoon of sewage to a barrel of wine, and you have a barrel of sewage.

      •  It's not so much that we're worse... (none)
        We aren't, of course.  It's that we've gotten to the point that we have to defend our actions with, "Saddam's torture was worse!"  The fact that we need to compare ourselves to the previous regime in Iraq to look good is a failure in of itself.
      •  Why does anybody (none)
        take RFTR seriously? From his blog :

        "It should be pointed out that the prisoners at Abu Ghraib are not Boy Scouts rounded up for jaywalking. These are bad guys who either blew up or shot a coalition member; or were caught assembling an explosive device; or were caught in a place where the makings of explosive devices were found; or were caught with a cache of weapons. See the pattern here?
        In short they were trying to kill me and others like me. And if they succeeded in doing that, they were going to come over here and try to kill you.
        Ugly thought? You bet. But that is the kind of prisoner being held in the terrorist section at Abu Ghraib."

        He was there. Maybe we should listen to what he has to say.

        Didn't I hear somewhere  that 70-90% of Abu Ghraib prisoners had been arrested by mistake?

        Folks, this guy is a troll.  Please don't encourage him.

    •  I am no pollyanna when it comes to ... (none)
      ...America's history of violence and imperialism. As an enrolled Seminole, I know full well what racism combined with a philosophy of Manifest Destiny can achieve. And I know how propagandists can falsely equate American ideals with American reality.
      However, with all due respect to Dr. King, I don't accept his 1967 statement. Let's not forget, to offer just one example, that the Chinese Cultural Revolution began the year before King made that speech, and millions were murdered in Mao's name for that cause.

      The U.S. is just one of many nations that have engaged in and continue to engage in violence to extend the reach of their ruling classes. Historically, the ruling class of America has been exceedingly violent - but not nearly so violent as the ruling classes of the Arabian caliphs, the Ottoman rulers, the Spanish Conquistadors, the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, the Maoist Chinese.

      The issue is not how violent the U.S. is, but rather the hypocrisy of those who say that the U.S. is rarely violent, and then, only defensively. That simply isn't true. But to say that the U.S. is the most violent also isn't true. Employing such hyperbole weakens our argument when we challenge neo-imperialism of our current rulers.

      Something you don't have to worry about: mad carrot disease

      by Meteor Blades on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:50:20 PM PDT

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