“When you are right you cannot be too radical. When you are wrong you cannot be too conservative.” (MLK Jr) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
On this Martin Luther King day, America and the world are still struggling with many wrongs that need righting, many injustices that beg for justice and many old prejudices that seem to refuse to die. People still take to the streets, as they did in King’s day seeking redress of the wrongs, although many times not as peacefully as he would have liked. Too often there is still a lack of recognition between the right and wrong positions in many of the areas that still cause division and pain. There is too much of a mentality of “them vs. us”; rather than searching for a solution that involves “we”.
The struggles that Dr. King lead, that were so clearly defined along racial lines, have expanded to embrace other groups who are discriminated against because of their differences; not only differences of appearance, but differences in lifestyles. Other groups have added their ethnicity to the discrimination issue fight and a growing issue concerning religious beliefs has begun to creep into the conversation. And, the streets that Dr. King marched upon have not fallen silent. To this day we have people of color marching in the streets caring signs that say “black lives matter”; and new groups marching with them with signs that say “all lives matter.”
In a perversion of Dr. King’s thought, some of the most wrong in America do call themselves Conservatives and seek to justify their discriminatory actions my proclaiming their righteousness in their “defense of American Family values.” Apparently they think it is OK to discriminate so long as they also proclaim themselves to be evangelicals who are mounting a Bible-based defense of American life as they define it. What’s that old saying about two wrongs not making a right? That’s apparently not in their Bible.
Dr. King might be proud of some of the progress that has been made in the struggles that he led; but he also would surely recognize the unleveled playing fields that still exist. The people that he led can ride the buses and eat in the restaurants now, but the same factions that he was fighting back then still own the buses and the restaurants – and almost everything else. There are laws that allow for redress of wrongs; but also many laws or loopholes that protect those who commit the wrongs, especially at the economic level.
Jim Crow may have put away his guns and called off his dogs, but he did not give up control; he just found a less obvious and violent way to exert it – thru economics and political power. He also found new adversaries to try to hold in check – those who were different from him in almost any way. For quite some time this new strategy worked well by employing tactics such as direct political contributions, Political Action Committees and gerrymandering to maintain political power. That political power allowed the structuring of laws that stripped away what power the masses has accumulated through the tort process or via organized labor. Rather rapidly, in terms of history, those in power amassed most of the wealth of the country, too. Now the top 1% of the world’s people control 99% of the wealth of the entire world, and with that wealth they can buy all of the power that they need to maintain their positions.
I’m not sure if Dr. King would have wanted to lead the coming class wars against this oligarchy, but I think he would have seen it coming and understood that it is both necessary and a noble struggle; one in which it will be impossible to be too radical. The “Occupy Movement” was more of a baby step than a real opening salvo in this war. History is full of instances of the people eventually getting fed up with existing on the crumbs that fall off the tables of the rich rulers and rising up against them.
Those will not be echoes of Dr. King’s marches or distant drums that you will hear but the pounding of millions of feet on the streets of the world and they will all be carrying the same sign that reads – “our lives matter”. The 1% cannot buy enough politicians or arm enough police to hold back this movement. Did someone on Wall Street
say “let them eat cake?”