If Martin King were alive today, he wouldn’t be allowed to speak at most of today’s venues. Maybe the 1963 “I have a Dream” King would be invited but few would want to hear the MLK who delivered the infamous antiwar, anti-racist, anti-capitalist speech at Riverside church titled, Vietnam and Beyond,” exactly a year before he was murdered by the US government.
Dr. King wouldn’t be invited to speak to middle class Black audiences either.(more on that in my next commentary MLK speaks to Black folks) Liberals and progressives would not be in a rush to have him address them either, because he would be convinced, unlike them, that US neo-liberal capitalism cannot be reformed, but would have to be overturned.
Martin King would not be invited because he was a protester. Protesters aren’t invited to give the keynote speeches at King Day celebrations. On occasion, one might be invited, but few will be invited who declare like MLK that, “an edifice that continues to produce beggars needs restructuring.”
Most King Day celebrations don’t usually invite someone who once said out loud, to a group of SCLC organizers that, this system simply doesn’t work and eventually we will have to turn to some form of socialism.
If invited, Dr. King would again condemn capitalism, militarism, racism and materialism. He would again say that. “the US is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” He would criticize the country for its inability to limit the production, sale and flow of guns, pointing out that lives are being lost because the needs of profit supersedes the needs of human beings.
And yes, he would have grown and condemned patriarchy. He would challenge its victims to fight to pull patriarchy up by its roots and in so doing, recognize that it is tied to all of the other evils of this society.
It’s likely that if the human rights leader were invited somewhere to speak, he would not get caught up in the condemnation of Donald Trump and would recognize that the problem in the US is not so much Trump the individual, but the system that Trump heads. He would point out that Trump is not the first to take a dim view of Black and Third World countries. In fact other administration’s intervened and interfered in these countries, in order to better exploit and extract their wealth for the benefit of US capitalism.
He would say that while Trump calls them detestable names, too many of our fellow citizens view them as detestable as well. He would condemn us for our silence, which he would conclude is tacit agreement.
He would expose and denounce the capitalist trick of getting people focused on Trump and his racism, so they can rush into the breach and present the “lesser evil crew,” the Democrats, as the alternative.
Moreover King would hark back to unjust policies of previous administrations: Eisenhower’s inhumane bombing of North Korea; Kennedy and Johnson’s war in Vietnam, their CIA’s interventions in African and South American affairs; JFK’s assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Cointelpro; Nixon’s War in Vietnam and War on Drugs; Reagan’s trickle down and supply side economics; Clinton’s Welfare to Work, War on DrugsII, Crack Sentencing disparity, Mass Incarceration; Bush II’s Afghanistan War, Iraq War, Guantanamo Bay, torture as US policy; Obama’s; Drones ,Wall Street Bailout, foreclosure crisis, Flint, record setting deportations and Libya.
Martin would astutely point out that these policies, which had a devastating impact upon lives at home and abroad, were instituted by men: who were Republican and Democrat, conservative, centrist and liberal; easterners, southerners and westerners; White and Black.
The human rights leader, would point out the inconsistency in condemning the Republican Trump for making disparaging remarks about African countries, while being silent about the Obama administration’s bombing of Libya, (a sovereign African country) and its complicity in the savage public sodomy and knifing of its leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Martin would point out the inconsistency of agreeing that Libya was undemocratic, while applauding US relations with Saudi Arabia, a monarchy, which by definition, is undemocratic, authoritarian and totalitarian. It is currently militarily interfering in sovereign Yemen and has caused great loss of life while enforcing a man-made famine as a result. But the US government has not condemned Saudi Arabia and has no plans to bomb it back to the Stone Ages, as it did Libya, which now is looked upon as a failed State.
As a preacher, he would declare that “the Earth is the Lord’s” and the earth’s bounty does not belong to multi-national corporations, nor does it belong to Wall Street, the Big Banks, the ruling families, the Forbes list of top ten billionaires, the capitalists, or rich White folks. But he would declare that the earth’s bounty should be shared by all.
King would have applauded Colin Kaepernick and the NFL players who have taken a knee to oppose police violence and would have actively taken a knee with any group doing so anywhere. And he would tell the truth about police violence, explaining that rather than an aberration, it is a feature of US imperialism and is a necessary tool in their ruling class tool kit.
King would condemn the silence about the continuing and apparently never ending US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. He would call on Christian churches to stop sending their children to fight these wars.
The humanitarian and yes revolutionary, would again condemn this government for the existence of: ghettos, two tiered education (one for poor folks and one for the wealthy), education geared to build up the self- esteem of those with European backgrounds, unequal pay for women, the lack of rent control and affordable housing and the failure to institute single payer universal healthcare. He would chastise liberals for standing in the way of the $15 NOW movement. He would be critical of the fact that real wages have not kept up with the cost of living.
He would close by reminding us that, “ Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability, it comes through the tireless effort of [human beings] … without this hard work, time becomes an ally of the forces of [evil] social stagnation [inequality, injustice]”
justice then peace