I HAD a dream

A chat with Martin Luther King


I HAD a dream
by Ari Siletz

There was still plenty of abgoosht and vodka left when Martin Luther King’s ghost crashed our party a couple of nights ago. His holiday wasn’t until today, but he showed up early because he overheard our debate about US-Iran relations. The subject: does criticism of Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Falluja, Blackwater, and the Patriot Act somehow excuse or legitimize human rights violations of the Islamic Republic? After all, if it is legal in America to torture in the name of national security, why pick on Iran for doing the same thing?

Immediately, MLK jumped in with his famous quote, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” I took it he was in no mood for letting Iran off the hook, just because America does something. He agreed to be interviewed, and my first question had to do with him being dead.

AS: Dr. King, what can you tell us about the other world?

MLK: The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.

AS: So you think it’s OK for us to protest US human rights violations?

MLK: There comes a time when silence is betrayal.

AS: But the IRI oppresses women. It threatens other countries in the region. Makes a sham of democracy, disqualifying perfectly good political candidates. I can’t tell you how frustrated, desperate, and angry we are about all this. Shouldn’t we hold back our gripes against America until after she has bombed this regime out of power?

MLK: As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

AS: Um...sir, the Vietnam war was over years ago; Don’t you mean Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran?

[MLK just stared. Ghosts do that. All the ones I’ve met never use words beyond what they have said when they were still alive.]

AS: OK, so why do you oppose the war in, er… , Vietnam?

MLK: I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart. Above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country to stand as a moral example to the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. I am disappointed with our failure to deal positively and deal forthrightly with the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism. We are presently moving down a dead-end road that can lead to national disaster. America has strayed to the far country of racism and militarism. America has strayed away, this unnatural excursion has brought only confusion and bewilderment. It has left hearts aching with guilt and minds distorted with irrationality. It is time for all people of conscience to call upon America to come back home.

AS: Well, I too am deeply disappointed in America. But it is not my “beloved country.” These days people like me are called America haters.

MLK. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.

AS: Gosh, I suppose I do have a slight crush on America. Hard to admit though. Maybe, its just that I wasn’t born here, like you were.

MLK: We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.

AS: We’re agreed on that, Dr. King.

MLK. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

AS: But many Americans don’t agree with our protest. They support a warlike president, Republicans and Democrats alike, and these folks may even elect a new President that will continue this war, even extend it.

MLK: Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world.

AS: Isn’t it the very job of writers and artists in a free society not to be conformists. Why do you think our best and brightest are so afraid to speak up?

MLK. Now of course one of the difficulties in speaking out today grows out of the fact that there are those who are seeking to equate dissent with disloyalty. It is a dark day in our nation when high level authorities will seek to use every method to silence dissent.

AS: Yet we have the noisiest non-dissent I have ever heard. Do you get FOX news in the other world, or the New York Times?

MLK: In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

AS: Gol Gofti!

MLK: History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

AS: Speaking of strident clamor, how do you stand on the “support our troops,” issue?

MLK: I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

AS: Aren’t the troops defending us against terrorists who hate us?

MLK: Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism

AS: With so many people hating us, and this War On Terror, you’d expect Hell to be full of fighting men these days.

MLK: [shaking his head] Conscientious objectors!

AS: Hell is full of conscientious objectors?

MLK: Conscientious objectors in the war against poverty.

AS: I see.

MLK: I come by here to say that America too is going to Hell, if we don't use her wealth. If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty, to make it possible for all of God's children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to Hell. I will hear America through her historians years and years to come saying, "We built gigantic buildings to kiss the sky. We build gargantuan bridges to span the seas. Through our spaceships we were able to carve highways through the stratosphere. Through our airplanes we were able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. Through our submarines we were able to penetrate oceanic depths."

But it seems that I can hear the God of the universe saying, "even though you've done all of that, I was hungry and you fed me not. I was naked and ye clothed me not. The children of my sons and daughters were in need of economic security, and you didn't provide for them. So you cannot enter the kingdom of greatness.

AS: Isn’t that condemnation a bit extreme?

MLK: The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

[The conversation dangerously drifting towards Homeland Security territory, I moved on to a much lighter subject]

AS: What do you think of George Bush?

MLK: Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

AS: And on a slightly more serious topic, what do you think of the abgoosht?

MLK: Divine!

To hear what Dr. King sounded like that ghostly night, check out this youtube link. Also, here are some great MLK quotes , in case he appears to anyone else who may wish to interview him.


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Anonymous-Patriot, let me

by Farhad Kashani (not verified) on

Anonymous-Patriot, let me tell you when Americans stood up against prejudism and injustice,,when MLK stood up for it. Or maybe you don’t consider him “American” ? Maybe you consider him “African” only? MLK was a true American. He loved this country and believed it can be better than what it was. He believed in the ideas of this country. He perfected the American democracy. Just because some rapper comes out and thinks he’s a “soldier” in the “oppressed people” revolution against “white men”, doesn’t mean in any shape or form that MLK believed in that. These guys are a disgrace to MLK’s legacy, but I guess these guys managed to convince some of us that Iranians that “the war against the system which oppresses us (and I guess Iranians are part of “us” also , according to you guys), is on”!!!!


I wonder what MLK would say about this

by . (not verified) on


Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

by ... (not verified) on

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi interview talking about the Jewish lobby:



Shah's statement against big

by nr (not verified) on

Shah's statement against big oil companies.



To Avareh Los Angeles

by The Unassoicated Press (not verified) on

Excellent, you said it short and precise. Please continue.


As Gandhi said: "I have

by I have a nightmere (not verified) on

As Gandhi said: "I have admitted my mistake. I thought our struggle was based on non-violence, whereas in reality it was no more than passive resistance, which is essentially a weapon of the weak."

I have a nightmare

To liken Barack Obama to Martin Luther King does him no favours: non-violence failed us

Jonathan Farley
Thursday January 17, 2008
The Guardian

As America prepares to celebrate Martin Luther King Day next week, black presidential candidate Barack Obama stands in a strong position to become the country's 44th president. Some view Obama's remarkable popularity as the realisation of King's dream, the final victory of the civil rights movement. Others view it, their respect for Obama notwithstanding, as a testament to its remarkable failure.
Both the aims and the character of the civil rights movement were flawed. One aim was clearly desegregration. But the movement should never have been about integration. It should have been about demanding the respect that is due to free human beings; about ending the physical, spiritual and economic violence that had been perpetrated against African-Americans since the end of the American civil war. What's the value in begging for the right to spend money in a store owned by a racist who would rather kill you than serve you?

Article continues



Lest we forget, integration was the death knell for black teachers and principals. Thousands lost their jobs. "The movement" moved us from the back of the bus into the unemployment line.
Almost 40 years after King's death, we still haven't reached the promised land. King lamented that, in 1963, only 9% of black students attended integrated schools. But, to give just one example, Atlanta's Grove Park elementary school is now 99.99% black.

King complains in Why We Can't Wait that "there were two and one-half times as many jobless Negroes as whites in 1963, and their median income was half that of the white man". Black median income in 2003 was 62% that of whites, and the black unemployment rate in 2004 was 10.8%, 2.3 times the white rate. The numbers have barely changed.

Following Mahatma Gandhi, the chief characteristic of the civil rights movement was non-violence. In order to combat violent racists, King speaks of meeting "physical force with soul force". One wonders how well it would work against, say, Hitler's Panzer divisions. Civil rights marchers had to pledge to "observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy", promising to "refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart". Said King: "Remember always that the non-violent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation - not victory." Not victory? Whose side was King on?

The riots that occurred in a hundred cities after King's death were the ultimate testament to his failure. Black people never believed in non-violence after all. Despite our love affair with King, African-Americans are not a non-violent people. Black Americans kill 5,000 other black people every year. (Instead of urging us to love our enemies, King should have taught us to love ourselves.)

And despite our absolute hatred and fear of groups such as the Black Panther party because they refused to espouse non-violence, we have no problem honouring "heroes" such as General Colin Powell, who may have killed as many as 100,000 Iraqis during the Gulf war. Apparently it is evil to take up arms in defence of black people, as the Panthers did, but perfectly Christian behaviour to take up arms in defence of oil companies' profits.

King's many worshippers are fond of Gandhian quotes such as "If blood be shed, let it be our blood". Which is fine if you are merely sacrificing yourself. But King was sending out women, children and old people to be beaten and blown up. Even at the time, as King notes, there were many who viewed this as monstrous. When those little girls were murdered in Birmingham, why should black people not have booted King out and hunted the killers down, like al-Qaida? As King himself said: "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it."

King also needs a history lesson. He writes, in The Sword That Heals, that "non-violence in the form of boycotts and protests had confounded the British monarchy and laid the basis for freeing the colonies from unjust domination". Yes, that, and colonial minutemen with rifles.

Which brings us to Obama, a black candidate who refuses even to say whether he supports reparations for slavery. One of the worst aspects of the King legacy is that, thanks to him, no African-American today is allowed to bring up racism, even in the most objective fashion, without severe repercussions. You will be instantly labelled a radical, a Black Panther (a bad thing), or a Mau Mau (a very bad thing) who wants to kill the white man. King has eliminated the possibility of other black people speaking out, people with other philosophies, who do not necessarily want to hug racists. Obama can succeed only insofar as he makes it plain that, like the British trade unionist Bill Morris, he is "not the black candidate", that he can be counted on neither to be a champion for, nor to defend the rights of, black people.

Our love for King notwithstanding, if we are honest we will concede that King built nothing, and taught us only how to take a beating. As Gandhi said: "I have admitted my mistake. I thought our struggle was based on non-violence, whereas in reality it was no more than passive resistance, which is essentially a weapon of the weak."

It is time we all admitted our mistake. A black King did not redeem us. And neither will a black president.

· Jonathan David Farley is a former Martin Luther King Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology lattice@caltech.edu



Ari Agha, go back to Tel Aviv

by Ari Nabashid (not verified) on

That is where you belong with your nonsensical writings. You will have plenty of company there, most of them of course blood suckers.


IRAN is Germany

by avareh Los Angeles (not verified) on

Ari Joon

There is new book out called IRAN, ISRAEL, and USA the Secret Alliance. It talks about the deals behind closed doors to keep IRI in power. IRAN is not threat. GERMANY was not a threat either. The whole point of the IRI REVOLUTION was to protect the Gulf from the SOVIETS. The AYATOLLAH was trained by British spies in Najaf, Iraq, when SHAH was drinking wine with his wife at Golestan Palace and he attacked the Zionist lobby in his speech for being the superpower of the region. History repeats itself. VIETNAM was a much more difficult conflict because they were and still are communists.


Wow, You love America thus

by Anonymous9 (not verified) on

Wow, You love America thus you're inclined to voice your dissent. Then you must hate Iran by refusing to the same...eh?



by dude (not verified) on



Well Done Ari!!!

by Anonymous-Patriot (not verified) on

I enjoyed your piece very much. When will Americans stand up to the militiarism, prejudice and exploitation "Dr. King" spoke of? Perhaps never, but we need to speak out just the same. You have done that so well. Thank you.