On very few occasions do I deviate from the subject matter here, but today is a day that warrants the discussion of issues outside the purview of minor league football in the midwest- today is a day to honor the true history of the greatest American of the 20th Century.
Of great concern to me on this day of the commemoration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is what I consider to be the great watering down of his legacy. For me, King was always a man ready to challenge our most fundementally held assumptions, and to challenge injustice- whatever the cost. My Martin was a radical. Though he rightly advocated non-violence, he was a vigorous and often selfless advocate of confrontation of injustice. He did not fear the act of speaking truth to power- but embraced it. By the end of his short life, King began to focus on the inseperable character of race and class in the United States. It was only then that he was taken from all of us. It was only then that we were denied his leadership when we most needed it. It was only then - in the absence of his voice- that Americans turned to reactionary conservatism and Richard Nixon.
Today, King’s words are perhaps more valuable than when he spoke them nearly 40 years ago. Below are some excerpts from an address in 1967 commonly known as “Beyond Vietnam”. Martin’s radical voice is speaking to us from afar- and we would all be well served to listen:
"....There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.
Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.
……..Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies…. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just."
Tru that preach on sups
You know what the best thing is about Dr. King? All political stances can agree on his message. Equality regardless of race color or creed. A universal message indeed.
Very well stated, as usual. I still have some hope that one day this nation will someday be... "all that it can be".
Right now Corporate America seems to be calling all the shots. That's NOT good in my humble opinion.
By the way... Thanks for the pic. Now I better quit before someone calls the... WAHmbulance on me.
(Hopefully you do know that - though I would like to take credit, I got that from a Bruce Willis line in the movie "The Kid")
Without a doubt my Favorite American! If we only had more people like him today.