Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Monday, January 18, 2016

Martin Luther King Day

From Salon, an interesting comparison between Dr. King and President Obama and the racial hatred directed at them by their own countrymen and women:

They’ll never escape white rage: The world embraced Obama and MLK — their countrymen would not 

 by Jason Sokol

"...a comparison of the anti-King rhetoric of 1968 with the anti-Obama rhetoric in 2016 makes for some chilling parallels. 

 Then as now, a deep racial animus underpinned much of the white hatred. It was rarely discussed yet always lurking. Even in 1968, whites understood that they had to frame their malice toward King as something other than racism. They did not oppose King because he struggled for black freedom and equality, said many whites. They detested him because he was a “rabble-rouser,” a Communist, and a law-breaker. 

It might be harder to label as simple racism today, but the opposition to Obama is often entangled with racial fear. White men account for the vast majority of Obama haters. Some are ideological conservatives who simply reject his policies. Some think that he wants their guns. For many others, a corrosive and convoluted fear drives it all: a fear of racial minorities, a fear of religions other than Christianity, a fear of immigrants with brown skins. Trump stokes these fears and plays to the idea that white workers have lost their cherished place in American life. Obama stands as the ultimate symbol of a changing nation. 

 In 1964, Ralph McGill wrote that Atlanta citizens had become “befogged by emotions and prejudices” in their attitudes toward Martin Luther King. Europeans who awarded him the Nobel prize could see more clearly – indeed, Europeans anticipated how history would remember King. In the last five decades, Americans have witnessed a stunning transformation. Martin Luther King has changed from an outlaw to a saint, from the target of enmity to the subject of a monument on the Washington Mall. He now occupies a cherished place among the nation’s heroes. We celebrate a national holiday in King’s honor, yet the controversy that dogged him is part of the not-so-distant past. It was not until the year 2000 that the state of New Hampshire finally recognized Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday. 

Today, Americans have forgotten the hatred for King. Which begs the question: How will Americans remember Obama? As a divisive leader? Or as one who broke the greatest barrier in American politics, and who left a long list of accomplishments – who rescued the economy, provided health care for the underinsured, and helped pave the way for same-sex marriage? 

Before foaming at the mouth at the mention of Obama, today’s haters might consider how we now view those who scorned Martin Luther King."

"Foaming at the mouth" is an apt description of the anti-Obama haters. In their cramped and racist minds, Mr. Obama represents all that is evil and anti-American. And why has his presidency caused them to think in such terms?  Read the entire Salon piece and discover the depressing similar attitudes their distractors held against these two men.

Thankfully, those who hold such animus toward Mr. Obama and his family, and who did so toward Dr. King as well, will be in the minority very soon. 

Dr. King's dream that the American people will judge men and women on the content of their character, not the color of their skin, will ultimately prevail.


Anonymous said...

While MLK's and PBO's messages have always been about hope and speaking to our better angels, the prevailing culture of the Tea Party has been hatred and rage towards the president and his family, doom and gloom about our countrys future, and going back to a time that never existed in this country, their idea of a 1950s paradise. It never existed.

The Tea Party message is one of depression, destruction, and hoplessness. A bad sell. No one likes people who sell only despair and that's what the Tea Party Republican candidates are selling. Donald Trump is the worst of them.

History will be good to Obama and it won't remember who the reality TV personality was.

Anonymous said...

How can they forget the hatred for King when he was assassinated?

Shaw Kenawe said...

Anon @11:09, read any of the far right news sites and blogs and all you'll see are dire predictions for the end of America (it's always the end of America as THEY would like it to be). That's why they're so depressed and despairing. America has changed and they don't like it. And voters don't like negativity. That's what Trump and Cruz and the other TPers are selling.

Anon @11:47, the conservatives are all on the praise wagon for MLK but conveniently forget that they detested him and all he stood for when he was alive. MLK was against the Vietnam war, was for reparations for Afro-Americans whose families were decimated by slavery, he was for higher wages for the working poor, better education for inner city children, and just about every liberal policy they detest. Somehow MLK has become their hero even though they've hated everything he worked for.

The last 5 states to officially recognize MLK day as a paid federal holiday were

Arizona: John McCain led the fight against it as Arizona's senator -- he later regretted it.

New Hampshire: The "Live Free or Die" state was vehemently against MLK day, led by the Manchester Union Leader's ultra-conservative editor, William Loeb. Since then, NH has become more liberal.


South Carolina

Notice that the last 5 states to recognize MLK day were not considered liberal states during the controversy over honoring Dr. King.

Some history:

"Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), charging that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. espoused "action-oriented Marxism" and other "radical political" views, yesterday temporarily blocked Senate action on a House-passed bill to create a new national holiday in memory of the slain civil rights leader.

Helms' assault on King, which prompted a scathing denunciation from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), came as the White House was putting out word that President Reagan intends to sign the measure, even though the administration once had opposed it.

The State of Virginia takes the prize for the most insulting "alternative" to allowing Dr. King a day of his own, along with Mississippi and Alabama.

In Virginia, it was known as Lee-Jackson-King Day, combining King's birthday with the established Lee-Jackson Day."

It's only recently that conservatives have been falling all over themselves to be seen as admirers of MLK. I suppose it's better late than never.

The liberal states led the way, and, as usual, the conservatives followed.

Mark Kain said...

There's nothing more repulsive than reading a bunch of white folks talking about what's wrong with the African-American community. And there's nothing more vomitous than reading those same white people stereotyping all 40 million A.A.s by the actions of a percentage of their population. How would those smug white people like to be seen as toothless, ignorant rednecks whose grandfathers took pride in murdering people with dark skin? Would all white people like to be seen as racist jackasses because a percentage white people in the US were homicidal bigots? That's the white people's heritage in the south. But I don't remember politicians or anyone else labeling all white people as criminals, rapists, and felons.

Shaw Kenawe said...

The Reverend Martin Luther King talking to his Southern Christian Leadership Council staff at a retreat in 1966.

Our society is still structured on the basis of racism. And racism says in the final analysis that a particular group is superior and another group is inferior and this is what we still confront...the ultimate logic of racism is genocide. In a sense, Hitler was one of the most honest men in history because he carried racism to its logical conclusion. The minute that he concluded that the Jewish people were inferior by nature, then he started killing Jews, and with his sick concepts and his pathological mind, and his deep racism, he ended [up] killing six million Jews. And the fact is that the ultimate logic of racism is genocide. If you say that I am not good enough to eat at a lunch counter, if you say that I am not good enough to go into a hotel or motel because of the color of my skin or my ethnic origins, then you are saying that that I do not deserve to exist. And this is what we see when we see that racism still hovering over our nation. And there is no doubt of the fact that it is still there, so we must see that during this period when we have had very dramatic victories we did not rid our society of racism..."

Mark, I agree. I've seen this many times on various blogs where white people pretend to know what causes the problems in another group's community, as though they have an inkling. I've read and heard many African-Americans state that they don't need white people to tell them what their problems are or why they choose freely to belong to the Democratic Party. It is sickeningly patronizing for non-African-Americans to suggest 98% of the 40+ million who identify as Democrats do so only because the Democratic Party gives them free stuff. That's suggesting that the 98% can't think for themselves and are easily manipulated, a very racist and insulting idea.

African-Americans identify with the Democrats because the Democrats don't patronize them with the idea that they vote Democratic only for the "free stuff." No, A.A.s stay away from the T-GOP probably because the T-GOPers believe A.A.s are incapable of making their own intelligent, free choices. Who'd want to belong to a political party that thinks so little of their intelligence?

Anonymous said...

You know if you keep picking at that scab ,it's never going to heal

Shaw Kenawe said...

@ 8:26 PM -- the usual white man's answer to facing our past -- don't look closely at it, and all its ugliness will disappear. Picking at a scab? No. It's more like exposing rot to sunlight and letting it heal.

Anonymous said...

Good you keep facing the past and the rest of us will keep moving forward......together

Anonymous Reader of TeaPublican Blogs said...

I gotcha white privilege raht hee-ah!:

"...where would all American Blacks be had their forefathers not been brought here, despite it being as slaves? They’d probably be living in poverty, like most Africans are today. Instead of complaining, they should be THANKING us for bringing them here. After all, no one alive today was a slave or owned a slave. Get over it!"

Shaw Kenawe said...

To Anon @9:36 PM 1/18:

“A nation which fails to adequately remember salient points of
its own history, is like a person with Alzheimer's. And that can be a
social disease of a most destructive nature.”

“Disregard for the past will never do us any good. Without it we cannot know truly who we are.”

Shaw Kenawe said...

Anonymous Reader of TeaPublican Blogs,

I've read that sentiment dozens of times in the comment sections of right wing news sites and blogs. It's ignorant in the extreme, and it is how a number of white Americans convince themselves that slavery was good for black people. I don't know of anyone with an IQ above 40 who believes that rot. Another piece of nonsense that these same ninnies bring up is that blacks had slaves too! That's their way of saying "They did it too! So what's the problem?" This is how 8-year olds argue.

This country was founded on the idea that "all men are created equal..." except it really wasn't, and that's why we need to never forget the shame of slavery.

Anonymous said...

good you take responsibility for it. My family did not live in the south and I am not a democrat. So it's all yours

Anonymous said...

So they not only could not forget the hatred they had for him but his acceptance by the majority has changed their hate towards him as you describe.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Anonymous @12:41, I love the way certain right wingers have adopted MLK as their hero, even suggesting that he was a Republican (ha!), but have no idea that the leading Republicans, including Ronald Reagan, were NOT in favor of a national holiday for MLK --Ronald Reagan who claim the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were an "insult to the south."

I'm glad some right wingers have come around to see how wrong they were in their condemnation of MLK, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that they championed his causes and the cause of equal rights. Even to this day, the wingers - especially the ones trying for the nomination for the presidency -- do NOT or will NOT publicly state they're for equality in marriage -- certainly not Cruz or Rubio, because that would enrage their base -- a base that was always, always on the wrong side of history.

Anonymous @ 11:45 -- my parents were born in Italy. I'm only first generation American. But as an American, I can learn about and understand the mistakes my country made in its past. You see it as taking on guilt? I don't. I see it as acknowledging that we're not perfect, but we can aspire to a more perfect union. That's what's written in our Constitution. Those who refuse to learn from history's mistakes are bound to repeat them.

IMO, only cowards are afraid to face the wrongs in their pasts.

Anonymous said...

we now it was wrong. We've been saying it for 80 years. How much longer do you want to keep saying it?

Anonymous said...

Shaw...your white quilt may consume you.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Anonymous said...

"Shaw...your white quilt may consume you."

It can't because I removed its teeth before I sewed it together.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"Anonymous said...
we now it was wrong. We've been saying it for 80 years. How much longer do you want to keep saying it?"

I agree with the Jewish Defense League's saying "Never Again."

But people who are deeply ashamed of their past always want to forget about it and "move on" as though it never happened. In the case of American slavery, I can understand that, but to not study it as history is just plain wrong.