Monday, January 18, 2010

What Would MLK Say?

Martin Luther King, Jr., addressing the results of our disastrous foreign policy in Vietnam, said,
Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.

Almost forty-two years later, these words ring as accurate as to how the people of Afghanistan regard Americans, as they were true when Martin first spoke them about the Vietnamese.

Sadly, Obama's continuation - actually his expansion - of Bush's disastrous policies, both foreign and domestic, make our President complicit in the fact that this is where we now find ourselves:

... forcing even our friends into becoming our enemies...
I am dismayed, appalled, angered, and in despair at this utterly unexpected result of Obama's failure to lead our nation in the paths that his soaring campaign rhetoric inspired and promised.

In the interest of fairness I have to acknowledge that no other president in our history has ever been confronted on Day One with such a multitude of intractable economic, military, legal, and ethical issues: two ongoing wars, fought in lands far from our shores, costing us precious blood and treasure we cannot afford, and a multitude of thorny and complicated problems, tied in Gordian knots, threatening our nation's very survival as a democracy, and as a (once-respected) member of the international community of nations.

Cleverly, Bush-eney and cohorts bequeathed these knotty problems to Obama believing them impossible to ever untangle, thus ensuring Obama's certain failure as President.

Obama's political party, true to its reputation of "eating its own", lived down to its characterization, especially in the United States Senate, increasing the likelihood that Obama will fail to implement his worthy goals.

And, the coup de gras turns out to be President Barack Hussein Obama himself. It seems that his personality, perfected over the years he worked as a Community Organizer, will not allow him to see, integrate, and accept the reality that is today's Republicant party - a party whose only objective is to regain political power in Washington in order to resume their demolition of our democratic Republic.

The Repubs, aided and abetted by Faux "News" and a largely AWOL "Third Estate", spins its fabricated lies with impunity. Meanwhile, Obama has expended all of his 'political capital' pandering to these hypocritical Republicants who want only to obstruct and who have no intention of working together for the good of the country.

How sad it is that he seems to have no one in his inner circle who seems willing or able to remind him that he promised those of us who voted for him that, together, we could take back our country - because he had inspired us and filled us with hope - we were "All Fired Up and Ready to Go!"

Where is that man who spoke those words with such vigor and conviction as a candidate?

Obama needs some of Martin's backbone.


  1. Emily, thanks for this contribution! Hopefully, it'll be just the first of many in my remodeled pages!

  2. IMO, It is under-acknowledged by many on the liberal side, how little Rev. King's Life and politics conformed to American traditions, culture and values. Nonviolence, even at the pragmatic level, went against the frontier tradition of standing tall with your fists or your Winchester, and blasting away at every enemy coming at you. That was really the point why conservatives like McCain and Reagan objected to the holiday.

    Jesse Helms criticized King's opposition to the Vietnam War and accused him of espousing "action-oriented Marxism". Cheney had voted against it in 1978. McCain initially voted against it saying that he heard about the killing of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy while he was a POW, but his captives never informed him of the really "important news" like the moon landing.

    There have also been conservative writers who argue that the national observance of his birthday actually domesticates his message. They suggest that honoring him enables the American people to forget how subversive King really was.

    Tellingly, one place outside the United States where Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed with equal importance is in the Japanese city of Hiroshima under mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, who holds a special banquet at the mayor's office as an act of unifying his city's call for peace with King's message of human rights.

  3. I think if the great Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he would be both happy and sad at the state of this country 42 years later. He would be happy to see that we had elected an African-American as President, but he would be very disappointed to see that Obama has in many ways gone down the same mistaken path as LBJ did. King would also be glad to see that institutionalized racism and segregation has been eradicated, but he would be pained to see that social and cultural racism still exists. He would be very upset to see that we had engaged in officially-sanctioned torture and that Gitmo still exists. He would be unhappy with the rising disparity in incomes. And I think he would be most unhappy to see that our government has been devoured by corporatism and that it has become the tool of, rather than the regulator of, big business and the wealthy.

  4. "... a largely AWOL 'Third Estate' ..."
    Did you mean to say "fourth estate," as in the press? The third estate is commoners, who are more aptly described as apathetic (for reasons that, for brevity's sake, we'd best not go into right now) than AWOL.

    As Jack said, the election of an African-American prez was a milestone in race relations. But BHO has indeed disappointed.

  5. My compliments to the three comments above.

    I'm of a mind that says it's a bit cheeky to be comparing Obama with Dr. King. Both won the Nobel Peace Prize, but King won it without being saddled with the responsibilities of public office: in fact the responsibilities of the most powerful of all public offices. More can be said in behalf of Dr. King.

    But I want to move on to Emily's bottom line: We are all grateful that Barack Obama is our 44th president. But when it comes to back bone, I have always wishing that Harry Truman could have spared some vertebrae or maybe frozen DNA for future Democratic presidents. When BHO tells the truth, Republicants laugh; when HST gave out the truth, Republicants thought they had been given Hell. There's soft truth (Barry's), and then there's hard TRUTH (Harry's).

  6. I'd settle for some of HST's backbone. MLK's is just too much for me even to wish for.

  7. Oh Stimpson! You are correct - I definitely meant to write the "fourth estate". Thanks for catching and correcting that mis-statement!

  8. Coup de' grace for the President? For the Democrats? Actually, I don't question the man's backbone...that would be to say he is not actually the policy maker nor the force of change that has been affected. "Backbone" indicates, in most society, the quality of character...a stamina of conviction and a dedication to purpose and so I wonder again; coup de' grace for the progressives, liberals... for Barry? I'm listening to the news feed behind me that is really a fair amount of Democrat eating it's own Boston and I see the point clearly, I always have. I think that the majority of Democrats (and those Independents who lean left) are more leader than follower and there lies the trouble: loads of Chefs, not too many cooks. Yet; I am prone to flocking (birds of a feather...) with kindred. Aren't we all? Republicans and right leaning Independents tend to like someone who barks a loud, consumptive populism ... and historically, Democrats and liberals (in the last century and now) have made the strongest, best changes in the country. Certainly I am not in line with all of my Presidents' policies. Yet; Obama's character is miles in difference than most who have filled that office in so long. Comparative to MLK? I would wager that experiencing this man, this man neither black or white nor frog green, MLK's heart would burst for glory in the man... not because of his color but for 'the content of his character'. I suppose you are thinking I don't agree with this talk of about his backbone, and you would have it. I don't. Just as I don't agree with all the choices he has made so far.... I doubly agree with the load more he has accomplished in just one year under some of the most difficult circumstances. Backbone? I think he has exhibited outstanding character. And I think he has made really bad policy choices, too. I have had disappointments too, Emily. REally disappointed. But I ain't chucked the sonofabee over board. Vig, I think Truman's stamina, integrity and follow through are sterling representations of Presidential character. I allow that Obama will shine just as brightly one day. I still HOPE so. :-)
    And Jack - LBJ was a sonofabitch. More of Truman here than LBJ... character wise. y'all can blast me with the hailer.

  9. Great post Emily,
    Obama is certainly no Dr King. In many respects he's not even Obama, at least the Obama many people thought they had voted for.

    I've seen long lists of the man's accomplishments thus far.I'm not knowledgeable enough to say if they are an extraordinary amount of positives or merely typical. I honestly don't know.

    I do see the big things,two wars and a bad economy and needed healthcare reform. No change in Iraq,Afghanistan worsening with a commitment of more troops. Occasional tough talk on "fatcat bankers" but nothing of substance.A health insurer friendly reform package which will be pointed to with pride by both his supporters and the health insurers themselves.

    I know,I know, sorry he's great and we shouldn't criticize him because he's a Democrat and he's not Bush.

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  11. Thanks for "getting" my points, Oso, and for your kind words.

    I agree that, given the complexity, the severity, and the sheer number of manure piles which Bush-eney left for Obama to fix, there are positive steps he has taken, and "accomplishments" to which he could point.

    However, I really feel that he has not shown much actual leadership on any of the currently contentious and divisive topics, such as healthcare reform, with which our nation must wrestle.

    And, that concerns me and saddens me.