The celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is here again as the United States prepares to enter Black History month. The normal expectation is for citizens across the country to celebrate and honor the man for giving birth to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.
But I cannot bring myself to view the man with the same sense of awe and respect as others do.
Much of what inspires people about King is his rhetoric, the dream of universal brotherhood for whites and blacks, and his insistence on peaceful disobedience to achieve his ends. These are notable ideas and achievements worthy of mention.
However, couched within the rhetoric there was an idea that ran parallel to the “dream” and became a driving force behind the Civil Rights movement. While the masses looked for the brotherhood, the architects of social engineering found inspiration in something else King said.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check … This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness … Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
The Civil Rights movement could easily grasp the idea of universal brotherhood, but it also could and did grasp the idea that white America was in debt to blacks. This debt was never fully quantified and never laid out with a measurable limit so that at one point, America could be said to have paid back the “bad check.”
The debt is now defined as one of wealth and power, not of opportunity, and it is a debt to be paid through transfer and redistribution from those who have to those who have not. Any inequality between whites and blacks, real or perceived, gives proof to the claim that the dream is not achieved and further redistribution is necessary. And this debt has been expanded to include all minorities, women and any who feel disenfranchised.
King had a vision and utopian visions serve no function other than to pacify the masses. The reality is that blacks in 1963 wanted access to the same material opportunities whites had. The evidence now says they have it and still America is said to have a long way to go. King’s dream reminds whites of their “debt” while at the same time convincing the masses that utopia has been achieved.
His dream was only that and the rise of a socialist system for the sake of paying that “bad check” America owes is the practical reality birthed by the Civil Rights movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. is now the face of justification for a Socialist America, universal equality for all Americans. When America elected her first black president, Newsweek openly announced on the cover of its magazine, “We Are All Socialists Now.” King was the face of the beginning of American Socialism and President Obama is its fulfillment. There will be equality, but it will be equality of lower middle class existence and stunted liberty.
Maybe King did not envision a Socialist America, nor did the masses have such an end in mind, but others did. His speeches and achievements do not mark a period of greatness, but rather the emergence of King’s America and the end of Jefferson’s America.