MLK posting about Osama bin Laden on Facebook? Not so fast

Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, everyone with an opinion has stated it. Including Martin Luther King Jr., 43 years after his death.

Facebook and Twitter have been humming with a “quote” from King that alludes to bin Laden’s death.

“‎I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, 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." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.”

The problem with the quote is that it is only partially correct. The part of the quote that begins with “Returning hate for hate…” was indeed said by King and can be found in his “Loving Your Enemies” sermon from his 1963 book, "Strength to Love."

But that sermon does not contain the first sentence, about the “loss of thousands of precious lives.”

Some people have questioned whether it is appropriate to celebrate bin Laden's death, even though he was responsible for thousands of deaths, including 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.

Steve Klein, a spokesman for the King Center, said the first part of the quote is actually similar, but not exact, to some things King has said.

For example, in a 1960 letter to the Montgomery Improvement Association, King actually quoted 17th-century poet John Donne’s “Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

A woman who claimed to be the first person to send the post on Facebook later posted an image of her page showing that the first part of the quote consisted of her words, but that in the repostings, her words were thrown into King’s quote.

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