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Form Without Substance



The Department of Defense is a leader in equal opportunity for all patriots seeking to serve this great nation. . . The vigilant warriors in AFGSC understand they are all equal and unified in purpose to provide a safe, secure and effective deterrent force for the United States. . .

Dr. King would be proud to see our Global Strike team – comprised of Airmen, civilians and contractors from every race, creed, background and religion – standing side-by-side ensuring the most powerful weapons in the U.S. arsenal remain the credible bedrock of our national defense. . . Our team must overlook our differences to ensure perfection as we maintain and operate our weapon systems. . . Maintaining our commitment to our Global Strike team, our families and our nation is a fitting tribute to Dr. King as we celebrate his legacy.

As Gizmodo points out, Dr. King’s presumed pleasure at the diversity of the USAF’s nuclear weapons teams could have been qualified by his pacifist views on nuclear weapons. I should note that this represents an almost perfect distillation of the conservative understanding of MLK ; an advocate of formal legal equality without any other ideological views.

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  • Irony is dead and its corpse has been buried in a shallow grave behind the tool shed.

  • Patrick Pine

    You are exactly right. Both Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez were passionately nonviolent. Many do not know that both King and Chavez rejected violence from some of their supporters as a response to violence – even losing some of their initial supporters due to their insistence on pacifism and nonviolence.

  • wjts

    Well, I happen to have Dr. King right here:

    “Recent events have vividly reminded us that nations are not reducing but rather increasing their arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. The best brains in the highly developed nations of the world are devoted to military technology. The proliferation of nuclear weapons has not been halted, in spite of the Limited Test Ban Treaty. On the contrary, the detonation of an atomic device by the first nonwhite, non- Western, and so-called underdeveloped power, namely the Chinese People’s Republic, opens new vistas of exposure of vast multitudes, the whole of humanity, to insidious terrorization by the ever-present threat of annihilation. The fact that most of the time human beings put the truth about the nature and risks of the nuclear war out of their minds because it is too painful and therefore not ‘acceptable’, does not alter the nature and risks of such war.”

  • wengler

    If MLK woulda been carryin’ a gun he wouldn’t be dead!

    • Cody

      Like those kids at Lone Star University.

  • Ken

    Look on the bright side. Presidents’ Day has become an excuse for sales of mattresses and tires. At least Dr. King has not been reduced to the level of Washington and Lincoln.


    • DocAmazing

      Seems to me that sales of sheets increase around his birthday…

    • Just Dropping By

      It’s starting. I got a spam e-mail last week from Bachrach, a men’s wear company, advertising their MLK day sale.

  • justaguy

    “So we have been repeatedly faced with a cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same school room. So we watch them in brutal solidarity, burning the huts of a poor village. But we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago or Atlanta. Now, I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.”

    -Why I am Opposed to the War in Vietnam

    The Army was integrated when he was alive…

  • Linnaeus

    Guided missiles and misguided men.

  • jon

    Secular saints can be appropriated to any purpose. Hi there, Apple, Benneton!

    That said, King would have ripped the Air Force a new butthole for that one. In an open, loving and nonviolent way, of course.

    • Desert Rat

      Secular Secular and religious saints can be appropriated to any purpose.

      This also captures Republican Jesus pretty well.

      • Linnaeus

        Well, the devil can cite scripture for his purpose, no?

    • Well, if King were around you can bet he wouldn’t be universally praised like he is today. People on the right would dismiss him as a radical and bring up any personal issue they could find about him. Then they’d hold up someone who was safely dead as a role-model, someone who’s message has been safely sterilized and refined by time.

      I assume most of you are familiar with Phil Och’s Crucifixion?

      • Joshua

        Do you have Facebook? If you do, check out a few big corporate pages (Amazon, Target) that posted some boilerplate benign MLK quotes on Monday.

        Plenty of people hate him and he is far from universally praised. Sure, old white men in Congress don’t say anything now, but that’s after they got killed for opposing the holiday. Wait until a few younger teabags get a bit more emboldened and a bit more radical.

  • montag2

    “Dr. King would be proud to see our Global Strike team….”

    Funny… Terry Southern left that scene out of “Dr. Strangelove.”

  • Manju

    Look, same shit happens with Gandhi. Indians revere him because he was to colonialism what King was to Jim Crow. That’s it. Lots of Indians don’t give 2-shits about non-violence, agrarianism, or celibacy. Did I mention we don’t like celibacy?

    Now, just like here, every relevant holiday the Gandhi scolds get up everyones ass, cluck clucking that we’ve betrayed the cause. We all act dutifully ashamed, then go about our ways by ordering some lamb curry after hiding the baloney for the last 3 hours.

    I concede the point: King was a progressive, just as surely as Segregationists were moderates who leaned left. But both King and his enemies are defined by Civil Rights, not by any of their “other ideological views”. Demanding we embrace the rest of King because we honor him for civil rights is as absurd as me asking you to drop the New Deal because you dishonor Wallace, Faubus, Long, Gore, Byrd, Fullbright, etc. Capice?

    At the end of the day, MLK plucked from MKG stuff that he liked and left the stuff that he didn’t. We’re just plucking him back.

    • The Dark Avenger

      Yes, Manju, let’s not talk about MLK, Jr. and his efforts against poverty and war because you can’t support them and still remain a conservative.

    • witless chum

      That’s a false analogy, Manju.

      People don’t go around saying “Orvall Fabus! What a guy! He voted for the New Deal!” (I’m assuming he did? I barely know who the guy was.) They say “I like the New Deal,” which doesn’t say that everyone who participated in making happen was a great guy. If you want to celebrate the Civil Rights movement, by all means do, but MLK was a specific person who was who he was and participated in that movement for the reasons he did. If you’re going to celebrate a specific person, you kind of have to take the good with the bad. And note that MLK probably wouldn’t have thought he deserved to be celebrated for his work on Civil Rights but not for his work on poverty or against warfare.

      I know about as much as the average American about Ghandi, but were all these whacky views really wrapped up in his views that India should be an independent country? Because MLK seemed like he thought his views on social democracy, civil rights and war all came from the same place.

      I’m pretty comfortable embracing King despite the fact that I think we’d disagree a bit on whether there’s a god or not. You’ll be fine.

      • witless chum

        And can we agree that, whatever you and I might do, the Department of Defense needs to shut the fuck up about this at least twice?

        • Manju

          And can we agree that, whatever you and I might do, the Department of Defense needs to shut the fuck up about this at least twice?

          Well yeah. I mean I wouldn’t open a steakhouse in honor of Gandhi. I’d eat at one. But open? No.

          • witless chum

            Have an internet Manju. I really, really can’t explain why I’m laughing at work on this one.

          • I’d eat at one. But open? No.


      • ajay

        I know about as much as the average American about Gandhi, but were all these whacky views really wrapped up in his views that India should be an independent country?

        Pretty much. His vision of India was emphatically not just “Raj India, plus democracy, minus Brits”. Raj India was a military-industrial powerhouse; it had the largest all-volunteer army in history, it had factories, arsenals, shipyards, railways, stock exchanges, international merchant banks and so forth. Gandhi didn’t want that to continue under new management – he wanted a complete overhaul of Indian society and culture. You could call it a cultural revolution if that didn’t have unfortunate connotations.

    • There’s a problem with this argument, Manju: non-violence wasn’t just a tactic or philosophy that King brought to his desegregation efforts.

      He was also strongly anti-war, anti-military, and anti-nuke.

  • He doesn’t mean “Martin Luther King.” He means “Teddy Bear Martin Luther King.”

    Teddy Bear Martin Luther King was an amiable fellow who used to travel around America giving speeches full of patriotic imagery and telling black people not to be violent.

    Teddy Bear Martin Luther King, one of the most beloved icons of conservative America, would clearly be thrilled by the integration of the nuclear weapons force.

  • Arcinian

    While I agree with the substance of the post 100% I object to the title. The integration of the armed forces or the nuclear weapons force in particular is not “form” but IMO “substantive”. It’s not all the substance but it is a substance.

  • Mojo

    Commander Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, “Dr. King was a man of nonviolence, committed to peace. We deter war when we build partnerships, maintain readiness and operate forward. We believe a strong and properly resourced Navy can deter aggression and preserve peace. Make no mistake: Dr. King was a tough, ready and engaged problem solver. So is our Navy.”

  • ajay

    “Unlike Condoleezza Rice, Dr King would have recognised that, sometimes, you do need the 101st Airborne to escort children to school.”

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