Every few years I re-read the "Letter From A Birmingham Jail" by Dr. King and today I read it again. It is one of those pieces of writing that are worth revisiting periodically and I do recommend those who have never read to take time to read it. I suspect that nobody will agree with it totally. The value of the piece is not so much in the answers but in the questions that it raises as we reflect on the context.
Twitter, like most of the more popular Social Media platforms, can be a useful tool or a great time sink. For me the value derives in following people on Twitter who either tweet useful comments or point to useful information or both. Jesse Walker @notjessewalker is one who often does both. Today in a tweet
Jesse pointed to a specific instance of someone attempting to use MLK to justify a position that one would not expect MLK would support. Jesse referenced the article he wrote in Reason about this:
In the article Jesse Walker describes a particularly egregious example of someone attempting to use a historical figure such as MLK, Lincoln or JFK very much out of character to support a position instead of sound and coherent reasoning. My experience has been that usually the more an argument relies on appeals to historical figures the weaker the argument.
Near the end of the article Jesse Walker quotes from King's Nobel Prize speech and one of sentences that I had forgotten grabbed my attention. The sentence that struck me was: "A so-called limited war will leave little more than a calamitous legacy of human suffering, political turmoil, and spiritual disillusionment." That sentence is from the Viet Nam War era; yet I wonder how things might be different today if Bush and Cheney had spent more time in serious contemplation of the sentence from Dr. King and less time being deceptive, foolish and mendacious in arguing for an invasion of Iraq.
The military involvement into Viet Nam was a terrible catastrophe. Decades later the military invasion of Iraq was a terrible catastrophe. When will people start to learn the lessons?