MLK on Violence and Peace

January 16th, 2024 - by Coleen Rowley /

Don’t Forget What Dr. King Taught
– That Violence Begets Violence
Coleen Rowley /

(January 14, 2024) — There’s nothing more important on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day than to remember our nation’s preeminent civil rights hero’s greatest but possibly most ignored insight (at least since the US launched its series of post 9-11 “wars on terror”):

Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love…

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it… Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Most recently, we not only witness the most egregious and tragic descending spiral of violence begetting violence dynamic in Israel’s opportunistic seizing upon the Hamas breakout and attacks in October, over 3 months ago, to launch their horribly disproportionate slaughter of over 24,000 Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children and total destruction of the Gaza Strip.

Unlike the Nazi Holocaust, the world not only sees in real time the bodies of dead babies and children piled up in what is now charged as “genocide” in both US federal court as well as the International Court of Justice, but we also watch as this genocide leads to extremely dangerous regional war breaking out all over the area, in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, the West Bank and elsewhere.

Secretary of State Blinken and other US officials have appeared to keep regional war from erupting through continual shuttle-diplomacy type meetings, buttheir complicity in the siege of Gaza via funding and arming of Israel’s extensive bombing and the US veto to the immediate ceasefires called for by an overriding majority of countries in the United Nations, dooms US efforts to counter the regional war which has already begun.

Administration officials need only consult the Pentagon if they don’t  understand how our own military war games almost always prove MLK’s warning of how violence always begets violence, how tit for tat ratcheting up of military force, most especially when one side (like Israel) ignores the law of war to use disproportionate force.n

Because the Pentagon is only “playing,” the escalation involved in their military “games” always stops just short of the use of nuclear force.  But in the real world, it will almost certainly not be possible to stop a terrible genocide from becoming regional war, then world war and finally, potentially nuclear Armageddon.

This brings up another of Dr. King’s famous insights, the one about the “fierce urgency” of today as the world sits perched on the verge of the greatest evil, an ever worsening genocide that, if it cannot be stopped, will serve to erase international law in favor of might makes right, obviously erasing human civilization in the process:

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.

Coleen Rowley. whisteblower.

I’ve long learned how few people are prepared to listen to someone like myself with a really unfortunate Cassandra track record of facing harsh reality despite being proven sadly correct beginning way back in 2002 (when, as an FBI whistleblower, I revealed that the 9-11 attacks could have been prevented if information had been properly shared), then warning a year later that the Bush Administration’s launching its unjustified war on Iraq would prove counterproductive and finally now explaining how the genocide of Palestinians needs to be stopped to prevent the erasing of international law in favor of lawless “might makes right” (aka “total war”) which in turn risks erasing our entire human civilization.

But at least on the day dedicated to memorializing Martin Luther King’s immense contributions to civilization, we should all take the positive action of reminding ourselves and others of his most important teachings.  It’s not too late but time is of the essence to turn away from the abyss.

Coleen Rowley, Apple Valley, MN (retired FBI agent and former Minneapolis Legal Counsel who wrote a whistleblower memo to the 9-11 Joint Intelligence Committee, then testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Inspector General of the Department of Justice re FBI failures that helped enable the 9-11 attacks).