Boeing’s Dr. King, Our Dr. King

by Mark Chmiel

You remember your Dr. King
We remember ours

You believe that in these times
Dr. King would like diversity and inclusion

You cite his “content of their character”
“rather than the color of their skin”

Diversity is alive and well at Boeing
Everybody’s welcome to work there

On bombers and bunker busters
If you’ve got the skills

You can make the big bucks
At the company that thrives on war

That makes generous contributions
To the D.C. Dr. King memorial

But others around the world and in the U.S.
Remember a Dr. King you don’t know

Like survivors of the U.S. assault on Vietnam
The people Dr. King spoke out for in 1967-1968

“I knew that I could never again raise my voice 
against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos 

without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence
in the world today  — my own government”

“If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned
part of the autopsy must read: Vietnam”

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, 
are considered more important than people, 

the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, 
and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Your Dr. King would applaud
The Boeing Company

Our Dr. King spoke out against
The U.S. destruction of Vietnamese human beings

And would have spoken out against
The U.S. destruction of Iraqi human beings

And would be disturbing the peace
Because of U.S. drone attacks on Afghan human beings

Your Dr. King would pat you on the back
Our Dr. King reminds us of “the fierce urgency of now

Your Dr. King would not raise his voice
Our Dr. King would be standing amidst the rubble of Gaza with Palestinian human beings

Your Dr. King would have nothing to say
About the ever-escalating war budget

Our Dr. King would have been on the boats bound for Gaza
With Alice Walker, Hedy Epstein and friends

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense 
than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

This is a familiar story
Honor the prophets when they are safely and long dead

Build them memorials
Praise them in national liturgies

While counting all those fantastic profits
From daily dealing in the machinery of death, dismemberment, and disintegration

Your Dr. King
At home in the military-industrial-corporate complex

Our Dr. King
At home with the sanitation workers, orphaned Vietnamese children, and Iraqi refugees

Your building on
Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech

Our building on
Dr. King’s words Our only hope today lies in our ability 

To recapture the revolutionary spirit 
and go out into a sometimes hostile world 

declaring eternal hostility 
to poverty, racism, and militarism.”

 

Passages in italics from Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence” (4.4.1967)

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