Censoring and Misrepresenting Dr. King’s Dream
Today is the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington “for Jobs and Freedom” with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But, be careful not to mention the “jobs” part; otherwise you’ll be embarrassing President Obama who’s celebrating the achievements of African Americans in the last 50 years. Just say the march was for racial equality and then mention the fact that we now have a black president and cheer and applaud and say: “we’ve come a long way!”. Isn’t that what the wealthy white elites are reminding us?
And don’t ever mention that Dr. King spoke of the “moral doom” of “a nation that spends more money on its military than on social programs for its people”. And don’t remind people that he connected “bigotry” with “economic exploitation” and “economic injustice”; or that he criticized societies where “profit motives and property rights are more important than people”.
Would Obama or other carefully screened speakers mention the speech he gave in 1967 titled: “Where do we go from here?”, Where he said: “Today, we must ask the question: why are there fifty million poor people in this country? Because when you ask that question you are asking about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question you begin to question the capitalistic economy”?. Will he mention his speech talking about “individual capitalists in the West investing huge amounts of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the betterment of the countries”? Will he talk about “restructuring” “an edifice that produces beggars”, as Dr. King did? Of course, not. He’d never want to offend his corporate bosses. What would the Wall Street or Monsanto officials in his cabinet say to him if he did that?
And that’s why Dr. King would have no part in this commemoration. He would instead be marching with fast food and Walmart workers for living wages which Obama completely ignores and disregards on behalf of his corporate bosses. He would be marching against hunger which – get this – is higher now than at the time of that historic march 50 years ago. Hunger in this country is at a 52 year high.
You want to talk about racial equality? Let’s do it: 50 years ago, the unemployment among African Americans was twice as much as for whites. Today, the unemployment among African Americans is twice as much as for whites. Poverty among African Americans is a little shy of being three times as much as among whites and includes more than one out of every three blacks. Among black families with children under 18 headed by a single mother, poverty is at 46.5%. African Americans are given jail sentences that are 50% longer than whites for the same violation. And they are 30 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.
So, are we supposed to cheer and celebrate our President’s skin color or should we look at his actions and real racial and class alliances? Are we supposed to focus on rhetoric and nice sounding sound bites, or actions and results? Are we to believe our President and his liberal followers that Dr. King’s dream has come true?
Speaking of liberals, Dr. King said in 1963: “Over the past few years, I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s greatest stumbling block in his stride towards freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counsellor or the Ku-Klux-Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ’order’ than to justice, who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice”.
And I would add the biggest stumbling block the poor – black, brown and white – face is not the far right or the crazies in Republican Party or the Tea Party, but the white moderate, also known as the white liberals and their treasonous (anti)black president because it is they who use compassionate sounding words, pretend to be on the side of the working poor and minorities and deceive and lead people into numbed and bamboozled acquiescence and inaction, leaving them confused and disempowered.
But, when we say that, they retort that we’re extremists. “The question is not whether we will be extremists or not”, Dr. King answers them. “The question is what kind of extremists will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love. Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or the extension of justice?”.
What is extreme is sentencing a young whistle blower private to 35 years in prison after keeping him in solitary confinement for over a year, or a black single mother of two to 20 years for firing a rifle into the air to scare away his abusive ex-husband. What is extreme is spying on all citizens without a cause in order to preempt and stifle dissent before it even begins. What is extreme is killing 221 children with drones on the order from the President. What is extreme is locking up innocent men without a charge or trial for over a decade in Guantanamo and force feeding through their nose twice a day. What is extreme is capitalism gone wild with a black president as its staunch defender, who ignores and remains silent on what the economic system is doing to hundreds of millions of people here and abroad.
And what is hypocrisy and duplicity in the extreme is his addressing the commemoration of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom when millions, especially among blacks remain either jobless or in prison. That’s what’s extreme and as Dr. King said, it’s “extremism for hate”, not for love or for justice.
I stand for “extremism for love and justice”. I stand with “disciplined non-conformists who fight for justice”, as articulated by Dr. King. I stand with the true meaning and message of Dr. King, something the two-faced “white moderates” and their (anti)black president do not do. They pick and choose parts of his speeches, cutting out the rest, in order to pretend they love and respect him and agree with him while at the same time not letting his true message to reach and echo among the people and incite them to rise up and fight, as their beloved and fallen leader did and would continue to do.