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Martin Luther King had a dream–and some warnings, as well

Martin Luther King had a dream–and some warnings, as well

Tomorrow President Obama plans a twofer, donning the mantle of two previous American giants:

President Barack Obama will make remarks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28 as part of a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the demonstration best remembered for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The White House announced that Obama – the first African-American president of the United States — will speak at the “Let Freedom Ring” event, which will be held to recall the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

That civil rights movement demonstration drew some 250,000 people to the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his unforgettable remarks.

I would ordinarily consider it to be completely fitting for the first African-American president to make such a speech on such an occasion. But at this point in Obama’s presidency it seems to me to be the height of the exploitative hypocrisy in which he specializes—associating himself by pageantry with real American heroes such as Lincoln and King while working hard to counter some of what they stood for.

Let’s take a look at the words of King’s 50-year-old speech. It is very famous—and rightly so—for its inspirational “I have a dream” passage, although many people have since pointed out the irony of King saying “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” in light of the growth of race hucksterism in America.

But when I looked back at the entire speech, other words caught my attention, too:

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

I also noticed that, in quite a few of the somewhat condensed versions of King’s speech that appear online, that warning does not appear (for example, this site omits it). In fact, it was so often omitted in online versions that I began to wonder whether it only appeared in the published text and King had actually omitted it in his delivered remarks.

But no; you can hear it here, beginning at minute 7:37. The “bitterness” remark was also omitted from this shortened transcript, although the following similar passage is included:

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

And the marvelous new militarism which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers have evidenced by their presence here today that they have come to realize that their destiny is part of our destiny.

In his speech Martin Luther King expressed a dream of a colorblind society, not a society obsessed with color. I assume that he would have been very happy to see that a black man could be elected president, but he correctly foresaw the dangers of the bitterness and rage that has been the legacy of racial discrimination and the movement to redress it.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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Henry Hawkins | August 27, 2013 at 10:52 am

Well, if he said that, Martin Luther King, Jr. was clearly a racist.

    LOL you just made al sharptons head explode.
    If I may, please repeat it a few times as I know a few others who should experience that blinding flash….

    Someone here obviously doesn’t understand your humor!

      Henry Hawkins in reply to JoAnne. | August 27, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      Well, I’m thinking a bunch of folks who have zero problem rewriting the Constitution or any other part of American history will have zero problem rewriting MLK to fit the New Agenda. Could we not see a Toure’ or Al Notso Sharpton saying, “well, where MLK got things wrong is….”?

MLK’s dream goes unheeded in the black community controlled by Democrats. Here’s a video of someone encouraging three black kids under 10 to beat up on a 3-year old kid who’s white. It is disgusting. The one doing the video called it “when white people piss black people off.” The video is shameful. Something is deeply and gravely wrong in black America. When the fire comes, it will have been earned.

Martin Luther King Jr. correctly pointed out that it is the content of one’s character that defines them.

As Jesus would also teach, in the book of Matthew chapter 7:15-20

““Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

I makes me tremendously sad to see what the civil rights movement has devolved into. I was beginning high school when this march and speech occurred. I know firsthand how very different American society is today. Everywhere we see mixtures of people where no such thing would ever have been possible before. America transformed itself massively in only one generation, and we should all be proud to belong to a nation capable of deliberately embracing justice in this way. The remaining problems are, I firmly believe, cultural, and mostly within the lower economic groups in black neighborhoods, although similar cultural problems are spreading among other ethnic and racial groups. In my integrated neighborhood in the South we have married black, white, and Asian couples, and their children are all doing well. That’s where the difference is these days — not by race, but by attitudes and life habits.

Henry Hawkins | August 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm

At some early point in the civil rights movement, when organizers noticed that certain tactics work well in moving the ball forward, they also noticed you could use those same tactics to make some righteous bucks as well. That’s when the movement got corrupted. That’s when most movements get corrupted.

Thank you, an excellent post. The Race Industry vs. MLK, grounded in non-violence, scripture, and soaring ideals. Quite a contrast. I do take heart in those speaking out against the Race Industry. There was silence for way too long. Juan Williams interestingly intersects the Race Industry with the Rap industry:

“Now, half a century after the lyrical promise of that inspiring music and poetry, there is the inescapable and heartbreaking contrast with the malignant, self-aggrandizing rap songs that define today’s most popular music.

In Jay-Z’s current hit, “Holy Grail,” he sings about “psycho bitches” and uses the n-word seven times while bragging that he is “Living the life . . . Illest [n-word] alive.” Another top rapper, Lil Wayne, released a song in the spring with an obscenity in the title, using the n-word repeatedly and depicting himself as abusing “hoes” and “bitches.”

Similar examples abound in the rap-music world and have persisted for years with scarcely any complaint from today’s civil-rights leaders. Their failure to denounce these lyrics for the damage they do to poor and minority families—words celebrating tattooed thugs and sexually indiscriminate women as icons of “keeping it real”—is a sad reminder of how long it has been since the world heard the sweet music of the March on Washington.”

And Jay-Z is a frequent visitor to the White House, a buddy of Obama.

The civil rights businesses are incorporated entities of reactive movements. The commission of redistributive and retributive change represents progress, but it is not positive, as it denigrates individual dignity and sponsors corruption.

What prevents those excerpts from being re-broadcast as a ‘public service’, particularly in large urban television markets?

Dr. King: But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

The flip side of that is King’s support of affirmative action and action to alleviate the plight of the poor (not to mention his coming out against the Vietnam War).

    King was fighting the race hustlers of his day.

    But I did lost some respect for him when I found out he supported the racist anti-VietNam-War movement.

JackRussellTerrierist | August 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I disagree with the entire premise of the post. I don’t view Lincoln or King as “heroes” of anything in our society now or in their day.

RE THIS: “I would ordinarily consider it to be completely fitting for the first African-American president to make such a speech on such an occasion.”

Obama is the first HALF WHITE president of the US whose father was a foreigner from Africa.

He may have chose to fully identify with the blackness of the descendents of American negro slaves, but his heritage is divorced from them.

So why perpetuate the myth that he’s ‘African American’ in the sense we Americans understand the term, by continuing to refer to him that way?

I’ve stated here and elsewhere that Obama’s great failure as a President and as a man was the repudiation of his whiteness. He could have bridged the racial divide if he stood up and announced he wasn’t black – he wasn’t white – he was both. (His sister, of mixed white and Indonesian heritage, has made it a point to do just that).

Just one more missed opportunity of many in his personal and political life.

King could not have foreseen that success of the civil rights movement would turn it into an industry that depended on perpetual grievance to prosper.

As Prof Glenn Reynolds (Insty) keeps pointing out, for some people it MUST be 1963 forever.

For reasons of political power or or financial gain or simple self-image — it must ALWAYS be 1963.

If they accept that the rest of us have moved on, what have they got? They got nothing but Oberlins and such, anymore. Potemkin racists.