Monday, January 15, 2018

Martin Luther King Jr.'s principled nonviolent stand and rejection of Che Guevara's guerrilla warfare

"Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." - Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964

 Martin Luther King Jr. marching in Memphis, Tennessee., March 28, 1968.
Martin Luther King Jr. was born 89 years ago today on January 15, 1929 and assassinated 50 years ago this year on April 4, 1968. On the eve of his death he gave a prophetic speech that was also a call to nonviolent action and foreshadowing of his own death hours later. Nevertheless, until the very end Reverend King advocated for nonviolence, noncooperation and dialogue as instruments to push for positive change.
We don't have to argue with anybody. We don't have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don't need any bricks and bottles. We don't need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say,

"God sent us by here, to say to you that you're not treating his children right. And we've come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God's children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you."
And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy -- what is the other bread? -- Wonder Bread.
No one controlled Martin Luther King Jr. and it bothered many 
Reverend King's nonviolent posture was not convenient for those who wanted bloody chaos and violence in the United States.

The world has been made well aware of the FBI’s wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr. on the orders of then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and monitoring of the Civil Rights Movement, but what was only learned decades later was that a campaign had been waged against Martin Luther King Jr. by the Soviet Intelligence agency known as the KGB.

In 1992 a high ranking Russian intelligence officer defected to the United Kingdom and brought with him notes and transcripts compiled over the previous thirty years as he moved entire foreign intelligence archives to a new headquarters just outside of Moscow. The Russian intelligence officer’s name was Vasili Mitrokhin and the information he gathered became known as The Mitrokhin Archive. In the groundbreaking book, The Sword and the The Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin published in 1999 details were obtained from The Mitrokhin Archive on Soviet efforts to replace Martin Luther King Jr. with a “more radical and malleable leader” such as Stokely Carmichael to provoke a race war in the United States.

KGB carried out active measures campaign against Martin Luther King Jr.
 KGB Campaign to discredit MLK
Pages 237 and 238 of The Sword and the Shield book, partially excerpted below, detail elements of the campaign waged by Soviet intelligence and the active measures arrayed against the civil rights leader:
In August 1967 the Centre approved an operational plan by the deputy head of Service A, Yuri Modin, former controller of the Magnificent Five, to discredit King and his chief lieutenants by placing articles in the African press, which could then be reprinted in American newspapers, portraying King as an “Uncle Tom” who was secretly receiving government subsidies to tame the civil rights movement and prevent it threatening the Johnson administration.
Urban guerilla warfare
Prior to King's death the attempt to ignite urban guerrilla warfare was already underway. The Black Panther Party was founded on October 15, 1966 in Oakland, California and was heavily influenced by Robert F. Williams, a black militant nationalist who fled to Cuba in 1961 and was still there in 1966. Members of the Black Panther Party were also reading Che Guevara's books on Guerrilla Warfare and applying it on the streets of America to deadly effectThe Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee on November 1, 1967 made public these statistics.

The call for guerrilla warfare in the streets of American cities generated an escalation in violence, lives lost, injuries, and hundreds of millions in material losses in an effort to overthrow the United States government with a violent revolution. The Central Intelligence Agency issued a report "DISSIDENT ACTIVITY: January 1966 through January 1973" that was approved for release on June 19, 2003 that documents the situation in 1967 explaining that "[a]lthough severe racial rioting had occurred in U.S. cities in previous summers, it never had been as widespread or as intense as it became in 1967. In the two cities hardest hit, Newark (26 dead) and Detroit (43 dead), conditions of near-insurrection developed in ghetto areas, and police and National Guardsmen responded with volleys of automatic weapons fire."

KGB wanted to replace MLK Jr. with Stokely Carmichael
Martin Luther King Jr. rejected guerrilla warfare and Che Guevara
Martin Luther King Jr. rejected this approach and was a voice for radical, but nonviolent change.  In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. found his nonviolent posture challenged by a black power movement that instead of accelerating change in areas of social and economic justice brought it to a halt through their political violence. Reverend King warned black activists not to take the way of Castro and Guevara:

“Riots just don’t pay off,” said King. He pronounced them an objective failure beyond morals or faith. “For if we say that power is the ability to effect change, or the ability to achieve purpose,” he said, “then it is not powerful to engage in an act that does not do that–no matter how loud you are, and no matter how much you burn.” Likewise, he exhorted the staff to combat the “romantic illusion” of guerrilla warfare in the style of Che Guevara. No “black” version of the Cuban revolution could succeed without widespread political sympathy, he asserted, and only a handful of the black minority itself favored insurrection. King extolled the discipline of civil disobedience instead, which he defined not as a right but a personal homage to untapped democratic energy. The staff must “bring to bear all of the power of nonviolence on the economic problem,” he urged, even though nothing in the Constitution promised a roof or a meal. “I say all of these things because I want us to know the hardness of the task,” King concluded, breaking off with his most basic plea: “We must not be intimidated by those who are laughing at nonviolence now.”
These words remain as true today as when he uttered them a half century ago. Reverend King's legacy continues to inspire activists from around the world. This Baptist minister who risked all for the freedom of all African Americans and the redemption of the United States through the fulfillment of its creed that all men are created equal. 

Mugshot of Martin Luther King Jr. taken in 1963 in Birmingham Alabama

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