After getting to know the Martin Luther King family in the 1960s, it is special just to type in his name at the head of my blog. Besides the many great contributions of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., I have trumpeted for over 40 years the fact that someone, someday is going to recognize the impact "Daddy King" had on his son's life. Not many people know that the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. was also a special man in the tradition of a proud, poor Baptist preacher who held firmly to moral and ethical principles. If you knew the family, you also would recognize the impact the elder Martin Luther King had on his son.
In this time slot each year Martin Luther King Day is being celebrated, and many people will compose treatises far better than I about his legacy. Only sick white supremicists would deny King's greatness. But his legacy has been commercialized, prostituted and made more comfortably "white."
It is amazing to me that in recent years, three of the greatest change-agents among the world's cultures have been Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. None of them had an army. None of them had a huge "Pentagon" behind them. Modern weaponry played no role in their success, only to try and stop them. They fought without weapons against the greatest military powers in the world, and won!
I don't want to draw sweeping conclusions about these accomplishments. I don't want to exaggerate their significance. But what they accomplished in the 20th century are things that the greatest armies in the world not only could not accomplish, but those armies were involved in preventing the changes from happening. There are historically significant lessons to be learned from these men. Their impacts are obvious.
However since then, the great armies of the world and the selfish war economies have organized to turn back the clock on their accomplishments. Do I have to spell out how the poor that they represented so well, are not improving? In the U.S. the chasm between the rich and the poor is growing. We are told of the "sacredness" of war and plutocratic capitalism. We are told that it is more important that our war corporations make profits than that our society holds to moral and ethical standards. Many in the American middle class are joining the poor with their hands out, seeking jobs and seeking help. As the profits of war corporations soar, the American dream for the majority is fading.
Our solution? Americans voted for the very people and institutions that caused the immoral and unethical mess. Instead of an American dream, we now have a return to greed and war profiteering, plutocracy, and preserving quality education and jobs for the few. Using tax money to fight illegal wars is seen as good. Providing "benefits" for the poor is considered not good. Helping Wall Street greed is OK, helping an unemployed parent is bad. Tax money to save banks is good, allowing banks to illegally harrass veterans is OK. Feeding children is bad. Whose fault is it? Who did you vote for?
The glorious platitudes about Martin Luther King, Jr. ring hollow. Dr. King fought for jobs. Dr. King fought for quality education for all. Dr. King fought for the poor. Dr. King voiced his opinion against the American colonial war in Vietnam. And J. Edgar Hoover had FBI agents follow Dr. King and secretly bug his phones and observe his every activity. Meanwhile an FBI agent in Minneapolis warned President Bush about Arab men learning only to take off with airplanes, with no interest in landing them ...was something harrowing about this scenario?, a FBI agent asked before the 9/11 terrorist attack. In other words, be very suspicious of a non-violent leader and follow him carefully, but pay no attention to an FBI agent warning of a terrorist attack.
Do you think that just maybe we have our values twisted?