Interview with Jon Wiener on KPFK 90.7 FM (followed by Tavis Smiley on MLK’s Anti-Militarism)

Following my NYT piece last month, I did an interview with Jon Wiener of KPFK radio, a noncommercial, listener-sponsored radio station operating out of Los Angeles, California. In this interview, which aired on Wednesday, February 4th, I addressed some of the questions and challenges that I didn’t have a chance to address directly in the Op Ed. My interview is 14 minutes long, and I talk a bit more about some of the societal elements of refusal, the 8200 Veterans letter and share a few of my thoughts on the upcoming elections and my take on the one-or-two-state debate these days. You can listen directly on the website, or download the file to listen to it as a podcast. This link should bring you there directly (if not, just go to this one and search “Moriel” in the archives).

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I’d also strongly recommend listening to the whole episode. After our conversation, Jon spoke with Tavis Smiley, a widely renowned author and political commentator, who recently wrote a book about the final year of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life, a year which Smiley claims was “hell” for Dr. King, in large part due to his fierce opposition to the Vietnam War. The interview begins with Smiley talking about one of King’s most controversial speeches, the 1967 Riverside Speech against the Vietnam War, in which he called the US “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” and castigated those Americans who would call on Blacks to seek their rights nonviolently while cheering on the violent American war machine in Vietnam.

King’s Riverside speech has long been a reference point of mine when critiquing the view that says that Palestinians should struggle nonviolently, while simultaneously supporting the IDF and its actions. (Toward the end of this recent post, I wrote about King, Malcom X and James Baldwin, and their respective -and complementary- takes on violence, nonviolence, and the need for a much higher degree of moral consistency). Tavis Smiley’s perspectives on King’s final year before he was murdered are completely illuminating and breathtaking:

“As long as he’s talking about Civil and Human Rights, America says, “Negro, we’ll tolerate you. This is the lane, black man, that you’re gonna run in. But ain’t nobody asked your opinion about foreign policy. Nobody’s asking you about racism and poverty and militarism. Stay in the lane that we’ve ascribed.” And Martin would not be boxed in. Because he would not be boxed in, he gives this speech, and when he got out of that box, all hell broke lose…”

Take the extra half-hour to listen to the whole interview.

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