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Monday, 15 January 2018


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Martin Luther King, Jr. is widely praised by mainstream pundits from the safe distance of 40 years; he is often peddled as the noble image of non-violent resistance. Who could seriously make an argument that civil rights and racial justice were not moral imperatives? It goes without saying. It's the safe mainstream position.
But in 1968 Dr. King was a lot less popular than he is now with liberal whites, much less enthusiastically embraced, because he dared to make an uncomfortable point. He noted that economic justice, addressing the enduring, crushing economic legacy of slavery in the form of African American poverty, would require active redress from white America. Not just the right to vote without interference from fire-hoses and police dogs, but active investment in education, infrastructure and communities to begin undoing centuries of brutality. It would be an understatement to point out this was not popular even with well-intentioned liberal whites.
It still isn't. Just google 'reparations'.

I hold a belief that a majority of voters is driven by a desire to be fashionable. For many decades after WWII, "liberalism" has been the most fashionable ideology in most elections in Western countries. The Reagan/Thatcher years were the most enduring exception.

Being a Reality TV star, Trump neutralises the fashionable advantage of Democratic candidates, thus his electoral victory. To paraphrase the old SNL sketch, that's my theory and I am sticking to it.

To be clear, by liberalism I mean agnostic, inteventionist and socially minded. I know other people use the term in different ways and I think that's fine.

A man or woman can always be killed, that's easy enough to do. Killing truth is much harder. It can be slowed down for a time, stymied temporarily, but not stopped. Once in the wild, the truth resides in all of us, and they can't kill us all. MLK is dead as a doornail, but the truth he stood for lives on, despite any hopes to the contrary. It may take awhile, but truth will prevail. Never doubt it. Martin Luther King matters more now than he ever did, and tomorrow he will matter even more.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -MLK

In Menand's article, the context of MLK's assassination as a political event was the rioting and civil disorder resulting from it. Many Americans became more fearful about the perceived breakdown in "law and order". Nixon was able to exploit this fear to help himself win the election in 1968.

Another good rememberance

While there's no doubt King had a profound effect on the country, it would have been better to call his holiday Civil Rights Day, thus also acknowledging the many other civil rights leaders. Holidays should commemorate events in American history, not individuals. That's why it's called Labor Day, not Samual Gompers Day.

"Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride"

They got the time of day wrong, but that part is not the important one. For me, the moment of standing in a stadium singing those words with 50,000 others was an affirmation of everything good that we can be in his memory.

It's easier now when he isn't here poking liberal and conservative alike; when his personal life can be pretended to have been perfect (but no saint was ever easy to live with, I'll bet a $100 on that).

Instead where we live in a nation where the politician praise him with one side of their mouths while stealing the liberties he fought for all to have from anyone darker hued than a Scandinavian sun tan. My son is from Vietnam; damn right I'm fighting mad.

MLK Jr & Dietrich Bonhoeffer are the sign posts that any one who dares think of themselves as American right now should be following.

"I wish Martin Luther King Jr. mattered more right now. I'm not saying he's been marginalized, but we seem to see him now from a great distance, as if from far off in the gauzy clouds, or as if he's become legendary, like the murdered dragon-slayer Siegfried in the Song of the Nibelungs."

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.

(PS:I trust I do not offend anyone's religious sentiments if I quote a phrase from a 400 year old book written by a committee.)

Sorry that this is a day late but the MLK message must be repeated often and more ... and the widely seen video by Valerie Kaur, the Sikh-American lawyer, is an excellent contemporary iteration.
Some might think it impertinent for a Brit-Canadian to comment on an essentially US issue but, of course, this is far wider than 'an American' issue. It is a world wide moral issue made pertinent and urgent for us all by the potentially global practical and even existential influence and power that the USA exerts.
I am now in my 80th year but wish that I had my youth and energy again to play a more active role than merely commenting from a desk.
In my twenties I seriously believed that this would be one of those issues that I would live to be able to look back on and wonder only why it had taken so long to be dealt with ... not only in the USA but in my own country and elsewhere.
Sad how the naivety of the young so often leads to the despond of old age ! My Grandsons are now the generation in their twenties and have similar views to mine at that age ... I hope fervently that they will not need to feel similarly in their eighth decade.

"it's illegal to quote more than a few paragraphs of someone else's work."
Cite precisely the law that makes it illegal. Define "work"
in the law and in your eyes. Define "quote" Define "a few
paragraphs" What number of paragraphs?

[Title 17 of the United States Code, Section 107, U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. There are four factors the courts look at when determining whether use is Fair Use or infringement, explained here:



1968 wore me out. It was a pivotal year for me, I changed from conservative by heritage to progressive by experience and conviction.

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