For Immediate Release
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
MLK vs. Obama
WASHINGTON - GLEN FORD, glen.ford at blackagendareport.com
Executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com, Ford said today: “The organizers of the 50th anniversary commemoration [of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom] are committing a sacrilege.
“The most appropriate question to ask on this occasion is: What would Dr. King say, if he had such a podium, today? Would he denounce the Obama administration as the ‘greatest perpetrator of violence in the world?’ What contemporary actors would he condemn for perpetuating the ‘giant triplets’ of militarism, racism, and materialism? And, would he even participate in an event of such symbolic importance in which the Commander-in-Chief of the United States was an honored guest?”
JARED BALL, [in D.C.] imixwhatilike at gmail.com
Associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University and author of I MiX What I Like: A MiXtape Manifesto and A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X, Ball said today: “Those who say that Dr. King would not be invited by those convening this coming 50th anniversary March on Washington are correct. Similarly, those saying Barack Obama is disingenuous when, as is again happening, he tries to assume, symbolically, the position held by King.
But these points themselves are insufficient; neither King’s false heirs nor the presidency of false hopes would exist at all without first the assassination of King and then the perennial abuse of his history and image. These replacement events and leaders are fraudulent stand-ins for a movement so well represented by King’s focused stances against the intransigence of white supremacy, the violence of capitalism at home and the imperialism it fosters abroad.
“Instead, rather than a peaceful world governed by open redistributive policies, a world in which the United States is not, as King said, ‘the greatest purveyor of violence,’ Obama militarizes the African continent with AFRICOM, kills by drone strike with impunity and revels in murdering without trial those deemed ‘terrorists.’
“At home, instead of King’s call for bringing ‘about the unconditional surrender of forces dedicated to the creation and maintenance of slums,’ Obama appoints slumlord Penny Pritzker to Secretary of Commerce and lies to labor about supporting The Employee Free Choice Act.
“And instead of calling into question support of unjust laws, as was also the call of Dr. King, Obama’s response to the police/state killings of Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Troy Davis and Trayvon Martin — and the laws that ultimately protected only the killers – has been to uncritically uphold the virtues of those decisions by saying we are a ‘nation of laws,’ and that we are governed by ‘the rule of law.’
“And rather than King’s poignant comments about silence being ‘betrayal’ in the face of injustice, Obama has gone back on his campaign promise of defending a free and open Internet and become the man presiding over that medium becoming mechanism number one for turning the world into a privately controlled and monitored domain where no one has privacy or is free from persecution. The coming March on Washington, its leadership and their slavish devotion to a soft, liberal Democratic party make King himself, alive or in honest memory, fully incompatible and incapable of coexistence with the the ignoble alliance of those involved in organizing the coming march or the continuing presidency. For more we invite readers to hear this year’s commemoration of the 45th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination convened at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.”
Listen to the full speech commonly called the “I Have a Dream Speech” by King at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: “Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’ … This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off, or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. …
“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. … We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote, and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”
Also see King’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” a few months before the March, in which he wrote: “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council or the Ku Klux Klan, 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; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. … I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities.”
Also, see the Institute for Public Accuracy news release: “Martin Luther King and the Decline of Black Politics” which contains audio and text of some of King’s later key speeches and writings:
“Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. …
“I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. … There is something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that would praise you when you say, ‘Be nonviolent toward [segregationist Selma, Ala. sheriff] Jim Clark!’ but will curse and damn you when you say, ‘Be nonviolent toward little brown Vietnamese children!’ There is something wrong with that press! …
“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. … 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. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. …
“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, ‘This is not just.’ It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, ‘This is not just.’ The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.” [YouTube]
This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.
Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do.
A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.