Essay on How Dr. Martin Luther King Would Respond to September 11

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Martin Luther King's teachings stand at the core of the strong foundation of America. Today, terrorism, war and recession are seeping in, cracking that foundation and eroding civil rights and civil liberties. And while the teachings of Dr. King came many years ago, they are especially relevant to us today as we struggle with painful losses and difficult questions about the future of America.

President Bush announces almost daily that the U.S.-led attacks on Afghanistan will lead to justice. Although there may be no other realistic options at this stage of this particular conflict, Dr. King¹s teachings encouraging non-violence give us an idea of what lies ahead if our leaders aren¹t especially careful in managing the war and its
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Yes, this may sound unrealistic, even ridiculous, to the cynical or to those who have experienced the most tragic of losses at the hand of those America is attacking. But tolerance, if not love, is the only way that anyone can move beyond desperate reincarnations of violence. America is far from foreign policy nirvana, but that does not mean that our leaders should shy away from trying to attain it. Only the seemingly impossible goals are truly worth reaching.

Some politicians are even using recent events as a way to make civil liberties selectively available. The application of military tribunals to cases involving foreigners suspected of terrorism caused the Spanish government to refuse to extradite a suspect in the September 11 attacks unless the United States agreed to a civilian trial. Clearly, other countries are skeptical of America¹s new policies that Mr. Ashcroft claims are necessary to fight terrorism.

This is not to say that the answer is to become more isolationist. Indeed, long before globalization became part of popular parlance, Dr. King recognized that just as people are dependent upon each other, so are countries, peace and the world¹s future. He told churchgoers at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia on Christmas Eve, 1967 that, ³Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone; no

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