I decided to get busy with the e-mail tonight. Let’s see if this gets read on the air.
Subject: Maybe it’s not my place to say this, but…
Maybe it’s not my place to say this, as a white Canadian woman who was just a baby in diapers when Dr. King was killed. Obviously I have no grand and glorious MLK “experiences” to share. So I’ll try to spit my bit without resorting to the usual media encomiums and pablum about him. God knows we’ve all heard enough of those today.
What I guess I’m trying to say is, I’m sick of the way the media (who, let’s face it, are packed with right-wing WHORES) have trivialized Dr. King by narrowing his message down to “voting rights for blacks”. That is the very LEAST of what he was about. When I listened to Democracy Now’s podcast about him last year, the thing that struck me was how brilliantly Dr. King tied together the plagues of not only black America, but all America and indeed, all the world. He tied the antidemocratic disenfranchisement of voters to the war (then, Vietnam; now, Iraq) to CAPITALISM. Dr. King was very astute about the way capitalism relates both to war and to democratic deficits. The disenfranchised voter is also the most likely to be the disenfranchised cog in the economy. And therefore, the most likely to be sent to war.
After what happened in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, and what I’m sure will happen again this year (I have no illusions), it’s so obvious, isn’t it? Nothing has really progressed in America since Dr. King died. Poor folks, predominantly black and Hispanic, are STILL being denied the right to vote, because we KNOW they will vote for the candidate most likely to make something better for them. And we can’t have that; we gotta have them hungry and desperate for any scrap of honor or recognition or plugged nickel they can get. They don’t get to vote, or to have their vote count, the way it would for an affluent white guy behind a big oak desk. But when it comes to warm bodies to ship to Iraq and feed the Military-Industrial Complex–oh yeah, come on in! Stay out of the polling station, and come into the nice, cozy recruiter’s office, folks, you’re not welcome there but you ARE welcome here. We need you to keep the defence contractors’ stocks rising.
Dr. King understood all that perfectly well. That’s why he put his life on the line, and that’s why he died. He knew he probably wouldn’t be able to talk like that and live for very long. And how right he was. The FBI stalked him at every move, his dossier was probably thicker than your arm is long, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the CIA contracted a hit man to finish him in the very year the Vietnam War was at its worst. People all across the land were drawing the same conclusions as he was; they were connecting the dots. Killing him was meant, I think, to send the message: Don’t even try to stand up against this system. If calling you a nigger-lover won’t dissuade you, maybe a bullet to the head of your favorite black spokesman will.
I’m hoping that this devastating murder didn’t dissuade the people who were really trying to change things, but in light of all that’s happened since, I don’t feel good. Just look at us all, how apathetic our society has become. Capitalism has gone from fat to obscenely obese, and its appetite is getting more voracious at an exponential rate from year to year. Which is why a once-a-year feel-good day of solemn MLK-worship won’t cut it for me. It’s going to take more than just one day a year to honor his memory for real. And obviously it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than just a singular fixation on what he did for the black folks. We all have to keep drawing the lines between the dots, the same way he did. We have to work daily, in small ways, to overcome the divides between not only races, but classes. We have to all speak out the way he did. We have to recognize that he was not just about civil rights for people of color, but that he was doing his damnedest to keep the capitalist money-god from swallowing any more warm bodies–black, brown, yellow or white–so that an already overprivileged few could become even more insulated from the dump-ugly world they’ve created.
So yeah, by all means, tell the media to stuff their hokey fake idolatry of their token black saint. Martin Luther King was nobody’s token anything. To isolate him from the vast and varied movement for social and economic justice as they are doing is despicable, even if they do it in hushed and reverential tones and nonstop, coast-to-coast, wall-to-wall coverage. When will they take up his mission in earnest? Never, because they are owned by the same corporations that are getting rich from wars that kill poor people of every color, including a disproportionate number of blacks.
By the way: Why the hell was Obama praising Reagan? Not only was Reagan responsible for the big national downturn that’s coming to a head now, and not only was he responsible for the gross human rights violations in Central America during the ’80s, he was also stinkingly racist. Remember, Reagan left the Democrats around the same time the Dems decided to embrace the black and Hispanic voter. They did not leave HIM. He kicked off his 1980 election campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi–the site of the infamous murders of two white civil rights workers and their black driver. Coincidence? Not a chance in hell. Reagan was a racist old SOB. And to think that someone like Barack Obama would praise him is absurd to the point of nausea. Perhaps Obama is suffering from dementia too, but his lucid delivery makes me doubt that very much. The “excesses” of the 1960s strike me as nothing of the sort; they were just the bare beginnings of real, cryingly necessary changes. If that’s what Reagan reversed, then may he rot in hell, and may all his worshippers join him shortly. I never saw bag ladies or homeless people in my life until Reagan came into office. And suddenly, they were everywhere, and the media was pretending this was some kind of mystery, or that they were choosing to live on the streets. And when the Reagan CIA was shown to have started the crack-cocaine epidemic that landed so many people on the streets, the reporter who broke the story was dismissed as a tinfoil hatter.
Sorry if I’m rambling, but this all hangs together. To hell with the big media if they can’t connect the dots, Mike. You can, and I can. And we both know why THEY won’t.
Note at 10:30: He just read it.