Monday, January 15, 2018

King's lofty words ring hollow on his day in 2018



      "I have a dream," Martin Luther King Jr. told that enormous crowd at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963, "that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character ...."
     No. King's soaring words ring hollow this Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018. In an America squirming under a president elected on a platform of barely concealed bigotry. With a president who, last Thursday, stood in the Oval Office and obscenely demanded our country accept fewer immigrants from black- and brown-majority countries and more from white ones, King's dream of tolerance seems as far away as ever.
     What did King do? What victory did he achieve? Won the right of black people to dine at luncheonettes that aren't in business anymore? To ride at the front of rickety buses bouncing along broken up roads in America's dying cities?
     Prejudice is like water. It finds a way. Blocked from one path, it pushes to another. If your faith doesn't permit you to keep blacks from sitting in your restaurant — a legal argument used in King's time — then maybe it allows you to refuse to bake a cake for gay weddings.
     That doesn't seem much improvement in half a century. The 50-year anniversary of King's assassination, America's reward for his struggle to lead our nation away from hatred, is April 4. Expect more lofty words echoing against deaf ears, sliding unfelt through hardened hearts.


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7 comments:

  1. I remember reading that slavery certainly degraded the slaves, but it also degraded their owners, because the owners treated the slaves like shit & that also was done to the poor white sharecroppers that they rented land to.

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  2. I believe there are strong economic arguments against a slave-based economy, especially the lack of incentives from top to bottom. Pro slavery advocates were quick to critique the "wage-slavery" of the 19th century. They make interesting reading these days.

    john

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    1. Washington owned slaves but wasn't wealthy. He had to borrow money for a trip to New York to begin his presidency.

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    2. To those old southerners who thought wage slavery was bad, and it was, maybe they forgot the factory bossed didn't whip the workers or sell their kids or spouses.

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  3. Almost 5 years ago, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts gutted the Voting Right Act. His rationale was that racism was no longer enough of a problem to justify the Act.

    Many of us were furious at Robert's decision, but even we were naive as to the depth of the problem. The Trump era has shown us that fully one third of Americans are on board with racist lunacy that should have died of atrophy 150 years ago. At least it's good to know the lay of the land. And it's good to know that this article can appear in a major American newspaper at a time when journalism is under attack. Bravo.

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  4. Some conservatives have fallen into the annoying habit of interpreting that "not by the color of their skin" line as an excuse to oppose affirmative action, or any policy or practice that takes race into account in college admissions, voting rights, etc. Apparently, after centuries of discrimination, taking notice of race in any way is not allowed. This attitude had its purest expression when Stephen Colbert announced, in his role as a fatuous conservative, "I don't see race." They call this "colorblindness"; the rest of us call it "blindness."

    Some of them have gone so far as to say, based on that one line and very little else, that King himself was a "conservative"--an idea that he probably would have found a very unfunny joke.

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  5. "He is a symptom, not a cause."

    I am not sure I agree. At the very least, it is not enough to say that. Trump is an enabler. He is the "leader" (shudder) of this country, so his racist words and actions enable and encourage others do say and do the same.

    "If the president does it, then it must be ok. Finally, someone is saying what we are all thinking!"

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