17 January 2011

What MLK would see today

I am writing this on the third Monday of January - Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S. It is a day set aside each year to honor the birth, life, and legacy of the great civil rights leader.

And, on this day, I wonder how the Reverend Dr. King would feel about today's American politics if he were still alive.

Surely he would be delighted by the fact that an African-American family now occupies the White House. This is something I didn't think I'd see even in my own lifetime.

But surely, too, he would see the backlash.

He would see the racism on display at tea party gatherings, with signs sporting slogans such as:

"Obama's Plan White Slavery"


"Obama-nomics: Monkey See, Monkey Spend!"


"Obama - What you Talkin' about Willis! Spend My Money?"


"Stand Idle While Some Kenyan Tries To Destroy America? Wap!! I Don't Think So!!! Homey Don't Play Dat!!!"

He would hear Glenn Beck of Fox News accuse President Obama of being a reverse racist with "a deep-seated hatred for white people" - despite the inconvenient little detail that Obama's own beloved mother was white.

He would hear right-wing blowhard Rush Limbaugh say things like:

"[I]n Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering."


"How do you get promoted in a Barack Obama administration? By hating white people or even saying you do."


"[T]hey're finally hearing me. 'He's an angry black guy.' I do believe that about the president. I do believe he's angry. I think his wife is angry."

Dr. King would hear Limbaugh entertaining his radio listeners with a tune called "Barack The Magic Negro".

He would see the rampant xenophobia exposed by Arizona's draconian new immigration law, nicknamed the "Show Your Papers" law.

He would see even more rampant xenophobia at play in that same state with the recent prohibition of ethnic studies classes in Arizona schools.

He would see the rampant xenophobia exposed by the protests against a proposed Islamic Community Center in lower Manhattan.

And he would hear the right-wing ignorati refer to the president as "Barack HUSSEIN Obama", always with a strong emphasis on the Muslim-sounding middle name.

Every step forward for racial justice is to be commended, like the election of President Obama. But clearly we still have a lot of work to do before people will truly be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

And surely Dr. King would want us to keep fighting the good fight.

Someday, I believe, we shall overcome.

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