Take a look at these two pictures.
I hate to break it to you, but you just told yourself more or less exactly what you’d think of Martin Luther King Jr. if he were still alive, or (having just had his 86th birthday, after all) if he’d been allowed to live a normal human lifespan and was no longer with us.
No, he wasn’t different. Look at the things white people were saying about Martin Luther King Jr. when he was alive. People say the exact same things about Jackson and Sharpton. Word for goddamn word.
Publicity hound? Outside agitator? Stuck his nose in where it didn’t belong? Communist? White people said all that shit about King, and white people say all that shit about Jackson and Sharpton now. (Okay, Al Sharpton to my knowledge has never been accused of Communism. But Jackson has.) Do you happen to know what King was doing in Memphis when he was killed? Supporting a sanitation workers’ strike. Hardly a national issue, right? He’s just preening for the cameras. Just likes the attention.
Same. Exact. Shit.
Oh, but <insert ethics thing here>?
King was a notorious womanizer who plagiarized much of his doctoral dissertation. These assertions are facts; they aren’t even controversial. Had he not been assassinated, there’s every chance that Coretta would have divorced him eventually. And he’d have had an extra forty-some-odd years for either the press to dig up more dirt or to make more mistakes in his life, depending on how charitable you feel like being about it.
This is not to denigrate King’s legacy. That is unassailable– and, in fact, part of the reason King’s legacy is unassailable is precisely because he was killed. I am trying to point something out that should be obvious: Martin Luther King, Jr. was. a. PERSON.
He was not Jesus.
Hell, Jesus wasn’t even Jesus, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
He was a man, and white people hated him. Murdered him, in fact.
You are not different by virtue of the fact that you’re alive nearly fifty years after he was shot. If anything, King was more of a leftist than Jackson and Sharpton are now, and given where his rhetoric and politics were going at the time he was killed, maybe I should have included a third picture up there:
(Went ahead and gave y’all a caption, because I know you don’t know what Jeremiah Wright looks like.)
I’m not sure what in particular got on my last nerve about this year’s MLK Day, but… damn. Learn something, y’all. Read some of what this dude had to say– and not just the I Have a Dream speech. Look at what he had to say about Vietnam; muse on the fact that he was calling America “a sick society” as early as 1963 if not before that. King was alive in the sixties, and most white people hated him. If King was still alive in the 2010s, most white people would still hate him. I hate to break it to y’all, but it’s true.
This is Martin Luther King Jr, white people:
An extended quote:
The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support and all the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps, where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go, primarily women, and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the towns and see thousands of thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the United Buddhist Church. This is a role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolutions impossible but refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that comes from the immense profits of overseas investments. I’m 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, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.
What do you think this guy would have had to say about the Middle East? About, really, any aspect of current American foreign policy? In a country where people think Barack Obama is a socialist?
There’s something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, Be non-violent toward Jim Clark, but will curse and damn you when you say, “Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children.”
Go ahead. Replace “Vietnamese” with “Muslim.” And think about how white America would be treating this man if he were still alive.