The full text of the speech is here but there's one part that struck me tonight, the part that spoke of the American malady. King could be speaking of current events, his prescience is profound.
First he implores the US to cease its aggression in Vietnam saying:
"If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative that to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people."Later he states that there Vietnam is a tragic symptom of an American malady, that if the lessons of the 60s aren't learned, the mistakes will be made again and again. He says:
"The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organising "clergy and laymen concerned" committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy..."King urges us to protest, however we feel we might saying "Every man of man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that suits his convictions, but we must all protest".
Thinking about the debate about the invasion of Iraq and the war on terror, it is impossible not to see the parallels with Vietnam and to wonder what might have been had the advice of King been heeded.