George W. Bush, 1/16/06:
Martin Luther King lived on that admonition to call our country to a higher calling, and today we celebrate the life of an American who called Americans to account when we didn’t live up to our ideals.
On Martin Luther King Day, it’s important to remember his whole legacy — not just the parts that are politically convenient. MLK Jr. was an anti-war activist. He spoke out against the right-wing using war as a pretext to grab power. He spoke out against Congress for lavishly funding a war while ignoring the nation’s poor.
From Martin Luther King Jr.’s November 1967 speech at the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace:
Now what are some of the domestic consequences of the war in Vietnam? It has made the Great Society a myth and replaced it with a troubled and confused society…It has given the extreme right, the anti-labor, anti-Negro, and anti-humanistic forces a weapon of spurious patriotism to galvanize its supporters into reaching for power, right up to the White House. It hopes to use national frustration to take control and restore the America of social insecurity and power for the privileged.
…It is disgraceful that a Congress that can vote upwards of $35 billion a year for a senseless immoral war in Vietnam cannot vote a weak $2 billion dollars to carry on our all too feeble efforts to bind up the wound of our nations 35 million poor. This is nothing short of a Congress engaging in political guerilla warfare against the defenseless poor of our nation.
When I first decided to take a firm stand against the war in Vietnam, I was subjected to the most bitter criticism, by the press, by individuals, and even by some fellow civil rights leaders. There were those who said that I should stay in my place, that these two issues did not mix and I should stick with civil rights. Well I had only one answer for that and it was simply the fact that I have struggled too long and too hard now to get rid of segregation in public accommodations to end up at this point in my life segregating my moral concerns.
These words are as relevant today as the day they were spoken. We shouldn’t segregate our celebration of MLK Jr. from his actual beliefs.