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Air Force Uses Martin Luther King Jr. to Promote Nuclear Warfare

Illustration for article titled Air Force Uses Martin Luther King Jr. to Promote Nuclear Warfare

The USAF has done a lot of borderline insane things in its time, but appropriating the legacy of MLK Jr. on MLK Day might take the Crazy Cake: the government now says King would be proud of our nuclear arsenal.


In a short post titled, insanely, "Dr. King's Dream for the Global Strike Team," the Air Force Global Strike Command ignores virtually every single facet of MLK's life, career, ideals, work, beliefs, concerns, thoughts, speeches, and writings. Nevermind that King was perhaps the world's greatest icon of non-violence. Nevermind that he spoke out explicitly against nuclear weapons. Nevermind any of that. He talked about black people, and there are black people in the Air Force, so, uh, pro-nuke MLK QED?

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.


No. He wouldn't be proud. He'd be disgusted, ashamed, and terrified. "Maintaining our commitment to our Global Strike team" isn't a "fitting tribute to Dr. King," it's an affront to him. This is the opposite of reality.—a reality in which Dr. King warned that "mankind faces the threat of being plunged into the abyss of nuclear annihilation," wrote of "my hatred for this most colossal of all evils," and "a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation."

To be clear, Air Force, read this:

It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. And the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.

An inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine. That is what MLK was afraid of, and that is what your existence provides the possibility of. [USAF via Spencer Ackerman]

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I hate to be the one to point this out to you, but Dr. King was kind of wrong. We didn't disarm, we didn't strengthen the UN, and we still have nuclear testing in the world. Yet here we still are standing a few decades later. The idea of nonviolence is great and all but you can only really sustain it if the enemy allows you. And it's naive to think most of our enemies would allow us the luxury of non violence.