Cornel West: MLK Had a Dream; ‘Barack Obama’s Got Drones’

By Melanie Arter | September 5, 2013 | 11:39am EDT

Dr. Cornel West, liberal activist and professor at Union Theological Seminary, (AP Photo)

( – Liberal activist and scholar Dr. Cornel West last week pointed out the contradiction between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and President Barack Obama’s push for U.S. military intervention in Syria.

“Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. Barack Obama’s got drones. Martin Luther King Jr. had prophetic missions. Barack Obama’s got deadly missiles that he’s ready to use,” West said on the “Smiley & West” show last week while discussing Obama’s speech at the 50th anniversary celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“I ask myself how is that we honor Martin today with our words in Washington as we prepare to dishonor him tomorrow with our deeds in Syria? How do you connect those two things?” co-host Tavis Smiley asked West.

“No, well you don’t connect them at all. You see they clash,” West said, drawing a contrast between Obama’s use of drones and “the militarism that Martin Luther King Jr., was willing to live and die for.

Smiley said as he watched Obama speak in the same spot where the civil rights leader –  “our greatest peacemaker” and “prophet of non-violence” – stood 50 years ago, Smiley thought about how Obama “has to go back to the White House and get back to planning for a military engagement in Syria.”

“What did you make specifically of the president’s speech?” Smiley asked West.

“It was pretty words that hide ugly deeds,” West said.

As reported on July 29, West said King wouldn’t have even been invited to speak at the 50th anniversary celebration of his own speech, because the civil rights leader would have wanted to speak against Obama’s use of drones.

“And you know what the irony is, Sister Amy? Brother Martin would not be invited to the very march in his name, because he would talk about drones,” West told Amy Goodman in a July 22 interview on “Democracy Now!”

West, a professor at Union Theological Seminary, also taught at Harvard University and Princeton University. In 1960, he became the first African-American to graduate from Princeton with PhD in philosophy. West is also co-host of the “Smiley & West” show. West is the author of numerous books, including one written with Smiley called, “The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto.”

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