As the country (at least some of us) celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., it is worth considering how he would view America in 2011. There is little doubt that Dr. King would be thrilled that an African-American man is in the White House, but aside from that one bit of improvement, there is little to indicate he would be satisfied that America has developed into little more than a “society gone mad on war,” and a racially and economically disparate nation suffering at the hands of corporate rapists. The most unfortunate prospect is that as the country languishes on the precipice of 2nd rate status, it appears that our worst days are ahead.
Dr. King made some famous, oft-quoted speeches about the condition of America’s spirit and his vision and dreams of just how great a nation America could be if only we would lose the nationalistic mindset and instead see ourselves as “ecumenical rather than sectional” and stop spending “more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift.” Although President Obama has made strides to usher America into the family of the world, and to give all Americans the prospect of enjoying the “meaning of the creed that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal,” America is far-removed from either of those lofty but reachable goals.
During the NFL’s Divisional playoff games, a graphic recognizing our valiant service members sacrifice and service stated that America has troops in 177 countries around the world. That America has troops in 177 countries is an abomination because the amount of resources we commit to imperialism means that our focus is on nationalistic endeavors for the benefit of corporatism rather than on social issues for the betterment of mankind at home and abroad. As Dr. King noted in a speech in 1967, America is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” and with troops in 177 countries, we are all the more militaristic to the benefit of the military industrial complex at the cost of our own people’s well-being.
Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech,” was an inspirational call to decency and vision of an America where, as Dr. King said, “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.” After the 2008 election of Barack Obama, it seemed that finally, at long last, the American people had gotten past the color of a man’s skin and chosen a leader based on character rather than race. Oh, what a disappointment a large segment of the population has proven to be since that election.
Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech:
Instead of a nation that spends its resources creating equality for all its citizens, we have devolved into an oligarchy where conservatives have elevated corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the poor and working class. Republicans have conspired with the oil, banking, and financial industries to subvert the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence by creating an atmosphere where all men/women are not created equal. The conservative view of America is one in which equality is defined as corporate dominance of the citizenry with the help of an activist conservative Supreme Court and Republican power brokers bent on destroying the middle class.
Dr. King would be most disappointed that although there is an African-American president, a great majority of Americans discriminate against their fellow Americans based on not just race, but economic station and social convention. The character of the tea party patriots and Republican legislators is morally bankrupt because they are more concerned with depriving all Americans of the American dream and the equality that is guaranteed in the Constitution than achieving the Founders’ goal of liberty for all. The outrage of the tea party and Republicans that all Americans deserve affordable health care and a decent job is a condemnation of the basic humanity Dr. King dreamt of, and will be the downfall of America as a society.
The abject hatred propagated by conservatives and their oil industry masters is unprecedented and exceeds Hitler’s Germany where the hatred was against a religion and not an entire population. Dr. King’s vision of America, once thought of as reachable in our lifetime, has turned into a nightmare for all Americans except the wealthiest and the corporate overlords who will not be satisfied until every bit of wealth flows unimpeded to them with the help of Republicans and conservatives who promote and defend their malfeasance on the grandest scale.
The equality that Dr. King envisioned for America is never going to be realized until Americans reject the corporate mindset that Republicans promote, and until the imperialistic nature of our society comes to a halt. Fox News, the Heritage Foundation, and conservative groups that have convinced simple-minded Americans that military spending and corporate protectionism are more important than social programs have fostered such hatred for the poor, minorities, and women that America is now more divided as a country than during Dr. King’s lifetime. There is little doubt that for many in the Black community, life is improved and opportunities are better than in the 1960s, but for every bit of progress, the country has gone backwards at the urging of groups striving to return to those dark days in America’s history.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a man with a vision who believed that America’s best days were ahead and it is an admirable vision. However, if he were alive today he would witness a country that is more divided than ever before and it is not just racial division. The inequality today is between the haves and the have-nots and is promoted by conservatives who use deceit and distraction to turn the population against each other so they do not notice that corporate America is slowly taking total control of the nation. If Dr. King were alive today he would probably be sick at the condition of America and division that conservative policy has created. America does not need a new vision or dream, it needs a philosophical adjustment that favors equality for all Americans and not just the wealthy and the corporations they own. America has a leader who can deliver if truth is allowed to prevail, but that is a tall order when the media is complicit in the dividing of America. Dr. King doesn’t know it, but he is probably better where he is, because he, like the Founding Fathers, would not love America today.