OF PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS - The Pentagon's Good Samaritans


By Tony Russell

Sign on door of our granddaughter's preschool: "In honor of Martin Luther King's birthday, let us be kind to one another."

We were all sitting in the living room. I was studying the sports page, Patty was reading the front section of the paper, and Kevin was doing his homework. Patty gets fascinated by something she's reading and just has to share it with you, so it was no surprise when she looked up and said, "Did you see this? The general counsel for the Pentagon implied in a speech that Martin Luther King would have supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because 'we live in a complicated world,' and King would have recognized that 'our Nation's military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack.'"

"No, I didn't see it. It wasn't on the sports page," I said. "Who was the speaker?"

She skimmed down the story. "His name is Jeh Johnson. (I don't know how you pronounce J-E-H.) He graduated from Martin Luther King's college, Morehouse. He was a classmate of Martin Luther King III, and says King's son was his study partner in college and has been a friend of his for almost thirty-five years."

"So he has some credentials to speak on the subject," I said. "What does he base his claim on?"

Patty said, "That's the peculiar part. Actually, he doesn't make much of a case for it, after making such a big deal about how he's a King family insider. He says, 'Today, at the Defense Department, how do we honor and respect Dr. King's message and legacy and reconcile it with our mission?' Then all he does is talk about Dr. King's use of the parable of the Good Samaritan to show why he was in Memphis helping striking sanitation workers."

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