Open letter to Dr. Martin Luther King -

Open letter to Dr. Martin Luther King


Dear Dr. King,

Last weekend’s tragic events in Tucson, Arizona, just few days before the National Holiday commemorating your work and achievements reminded me of the power of words. So I went back and reread Letters from a Birmingham Jail and your speech, “I Have a Dream.”

I realized that your work to achieve change through non-violent means had a lot to do with boycotts, marches, and sit-ins. But there was much more. It also had everything to do with tone, manner, and words.

Many analysts and the politicians who commented on the horrible tragedy in Tucson that took the lives of six people and injured 14 others, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, were quick to blame the current political climate in the United States for encouraging to such violence. We are all tempted to blame someone or one side for engaging in the kind of overheated rhetoric that leads deranged people, or potential plotters, to use violent means for their ends. Unfortunately, there are no such simple answers.

Gun control, greater security for elected officials, and the shunning of overheated rhetoric have become the main subjects of the post-Arizona discourse. In truth, we should all address these issues—and not just in America. While my country, Canada, hasn’t seen much in the way of political violence, no society is immune to it. What we need, Dr.King, is to reflect on the legacy you left us and understand that you lead the most successful social and political revolution of my day, and you did it by employing non-violence and the power of words. In “Letters,” you told us, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In “I Have a Dream,” you expressed the hope that all should be judged “by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.” Powerful words that should still guide us.


John Parisella

January 12, 2011

ADDENDUM: Last night’s address by  President Obama struck a unifying tone very much in the spirit of Dr. King. The current political class, including the Republican leadership, seems to be on the same page as Obama in recent days, with some minor exceptions. In deference to the current lowering of the volume and especially for the respect of the victims and their families, it is so much more constructive to seize this moment for introspection and reflexion. There is a lesson for all, even beyond the borders of the United States.

[John Parisella is currently serving as Quebec’s Delegate-General in New York City.]


Open letter to Dr. Martin Luther King

  1. Oddly enough, Dr King seems to have had more of an influence on Canada than he did on the US.

    We went out of our way to ensure equality, to prevent discrimination, to be politically correct, and to prevent the formation of a gun culture.

    Americans tried all of them, with varying results….but failed utterly on the last one.

  2. MLK @Parisella:

    I was careful in choosing words for productive protest but still noticed when others were being dishonest, self-serving + destructive. Do you?

  3. The bankster class rules, rapes, and pillages America, and finances both sides of a phoney war between the so-called progressives and the so-called conservatives.. Obama, like Bush before him, and Clinton, and Herbert Walker before him, are all just tools of and useful stooges for the banksters.

    Obama can give a good speech, but he still sold out to the banksters. Obama hasn't prosecuted a single banker. Just like Glass-Steagal was repealed and CDS allowed to be unregulated under Clinton. Just like the mortgage fraud, and the securitization fraud that occurred under Bush, Obama is turning a blind eye to the foreclosure fraud that the banksters are now perpetrating under his watch.

    America is JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. The President, whoever he is, is their puppet. Tuscon is the theatre the banksters created to keep the people distracted from the fact that they have lost their democracy.

    • Leftwing conspiracy theory.

    • Ping

  4. You are an embarrassment.

    • Says the purple hippo in a cheap suit.

      • It´s a serious topic so please no personal offense.

  5. Palin stood for principle and the liberal,left socialists in the press attack her . What dou think about that ,Martin luther King ?

    • What principle was she standing for again ? And who is bankrolling her?

      • free speech,buddy.

        • With free speech comes the responsibility of what you say in the public record.

          Though Palin has to be admired for her ability to rally a group of loyal followers, you have to question whether what she stands for is actually beneficial for the United States. If she got what she wanted (essentially the status quo from the George W Bus era, from what I gather), would the US recover from their weakened economic and political stance they now face? Would unregulated free market and restricted social freedoms help the United States?

          I would argue that free markets require the people participating in it to be completely honest and not attempt to take more than they deserve. I might get chewed out for this, but this is what Ayn Rand proposed in her writings. The fact that the Tea Party movement have used her writing as a sort of bible really shows their lack of understanding for what objectivist theory really stands for.

          As for the issue at hand here, I agree that promoting further violence does nothing. Violence begets violence. The best democratic advances in Canada (as well as other western nations) have come through non-violent means, whether by mass non-violent protest or change in government. I think King could look back now and see that he did accomplish 80-90% of what he set out to achieve. The culture in the US has never truly left its revolutionary past behind them, and I don't think it ever will fully. However, I don't entirely think it is a bad idea that the rhetoric has a more violent tone than in Canada – I think it is just a cultural difference (Canada was founded based on defense).

          • That's the first intelligent thing I've ever heard said about Ayn Rand on any chatsite. Thank you!

          • ditto.

          • Sunday shows show media bias against sarah .