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Coalition ties military spending to crises of climate change, poverty and violence.
Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. denounced the triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism, a coalition of racial, social, economic and gender justice groups is condemning Donald Trump’s proposal to dramatically increase funding for the greatest purveyor of violence in the world: the U.S. military.
“We and the movements we are part of face multiple crises,” reads a joint statement signed by Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, and representatives of a broad swath of social movements, including Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, U.S. Labor Against the War and CodePink.
The statement takes aim at Donald Trump’s proposed $54 billion increase to the U.S war budget, proclaiming, “Military and climate wars are destroying lives and environments, threatening the planet and creating enormous flows of desperate refugees. Violent racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and other hatreds are rising, encouraged by the most powerful voices in Washington DC.”
According to an announcement emailed to AlterNet by organizers, the statement of principle is part of a “broad-based #No$54BillionforWar Campaign, which includes city-based resolutions against increased military spending.”
Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies, told AlterNet, “Fifty years ago, Dr. King taught us about the evil triplets of racism, poverty and militarism. He said that ‘a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.’”
“I think that the lesson from his ‘Beyond Vietnam’ speech is precisely his recognition of the necessity of building the links, understanding you cannot separate racism from war, poverty from racism or war from poverty,” Bennis continued.
Inspired by Dr. King, the initiative is in good company. A new coalition called the Majority is also launching a campaign from April 4 to May Day to build a “multi-racial, cross-movement fight for justice, freedom and the right to live fully, with dignity and respect. The 50-organization-strong initiative includes the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Mijente, Fight for $15, Indigenous Environmental Network and many more organizations. The effort draws from broad legacies of the Black Freedom movement in the United States.
In its statement, the coalition notes, “Washington’s militarized foreign policy comes home as domestic law enforcement agencies acquire military equipment and training from the Pentagon and from military allies abroad. Impoverished communities of color see and face the power of this equipment regularly, in the on-going domestic wars on drugs and immigrants. This military-grade equipment is distributed and used by many of the same private companies that profit from mass incarceration and mass deportation.”
“Our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent,” the statement continues. “We need to transform our economy, our politics, our policies and our priorities to reflect that reality. That means reversing the flow of our tax dollars, away from war and militarism, and towards funding human and environmental needs, and demanding support for that reversal from all our political leaders at the local, state and national levels.”