Saturday, April 5, 2008

Musings: He Had a Dream

I Was listening to Democracy Now! yesterday — the 40th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — and heard a speaker remind us that Dr. King had warned America needs to deal with the triple evils: racism, materialism and militarism.

And it struck me, here we are, 40 years later, and it’s the same old, same old.

We’re out of Vietnam and into Afghanistan and Iraq.

We’re more enamored than ever of all stuff big and bling, and our massive consumer debt proves it.

And we’ve found a new group to dehumanize and hate: Muslims.

Sure, we’ve got laws on affirmative action and desegregation, but how much progress have we really made with that old evil, racism? Finally, a black man is running for president, but there’s still talk of what folks will really do in the privacy of the voting booth. And some wonder if he’ll even make it that far — if you know what I'm saying, and I don’t want to give any of it the power of words.

Yes, there have been some changes, but has anything really changed?

I mean, other than that the system, after killing the man, perversely co-opted his movement?

Now the poor people who might stir up trouble are serving in prison and the military, or strung out on drugs. The rest have been bought off with cheap stuff, cheap jobs and subprime mortgages.

Dr. King had a dream — and many of us still do — but it seems no closer to being realized. In fact, within this dank recess known as the Bush-Cheney years, the daily dish is more akin to a nightmare.

To use a lyric from Rage Against the Machine: Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This is not to suggest that everything is just fine, but the distance that we've come since the days of Martin Luther King. Jr. is amazing. Rather than complain about the lack of progress, we need to continue to build on what we've accomplished--the difference between Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama.
I don't recall MLK fighting the fight against materialism/ consumerism, so I think it's a little hard to complain that we haven't come very far in that regard. I don't think that most Americans have thought much about consumerism being a problem. We need someone who can inspire us, like MLK, just to make the point that continuous consumer expansion will be our downfall. That, too will take a while. A long while!!

Andy Parx said...

"(T)he distance that we've come since the days of Martin Luther King. Jr. is amazing..."

Spoken like a beneficiary of white privilege.

If King were alive today he would be saying exactly what Jeremiah Wright is saying and condemning all the presidential candidates for their support for the war.

The reason you don't recall King saying anything about many things is that they were censored in the press then and now.

Here's a good article on the subject titled
40 Years Later, Martin Luther King Is Still Silenced
by Jeff Cohen

Anonymous said...

The distance that black people have come since the days of Martin Luther King. Jr. is amazing

Larry said...

"A Black male born in 1991 (today’s 7th grade student) has a 29 percent chance of spending time in prison at some point in his life. The figure for Hispanic males is 16 percent, and for White males is 4 percent."

One could go on. The war on drugs is a racist war designed enable the above. There's a lot more. How far have we really progressed?

The coming election may be painful. The Democrats are assuming that this country is ready for either a black president or a woman president. It's a theory. The test may be disappointing to those who have not experienced the American South in 2008. Or the North, probably. We'll just have to see. I do think it's amazing that both are gaining votes in primaries and maybe I'm an old pessimist, though I thought I was an optimist.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sane voices. As I understand it, statistics show that the quality of life gap between whites and people of color in the US is widening, not closing. It's a fantasy to say that racism is not a central issue in defining life in the US. Sure, certain types of openly racist behavior are not as easily tolerated in the mainstream, but few real changes have been made to result in greater access to resources and social privileges. We are sentencing children of color to life in prison in the US. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and our prison population is overwhelmingly black and latino.
I could go on.

And yes, MKL jr DID say things similar to Rev. Wright - and he was HATED for it by the mainstream. Read the article linked by Andy.