Point of View Columns

MLK Day – What America Really Thinks

As the annual celebration of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. progressed yesterday, several thoughts come to mind. First, Trump demonstrated that he has not run out of verbal sewage after five years of flooding America with his wrongful, hurtful and absolutely racist rhetoric.

For reasons that might somehow be found in the secret canyons of his damaged mind, Trump chose yesterday to attack schools where the truth about slavery is being taught as somehow being Un-American. And then he pivoted to advocate that something called Patriotic Education be a part of the curriculum in all American schools.

As with most things Trump there are few details about exactly what Patriotic Education looks like, but it sounds like White Supremacy 101 would probably be the title of a master course in this curriculum and a course in White Privilege would probably qualify as a graduate course. Not mentioning the genocide committed against the indigenous people of the North American content is certainly a likely topic.

Painting the institution of slavery and its systemic descendants – systemic racism and institutional inequity are guaranteed to be a part of Patriotic Education. And, of course, the confederacy and the treasonous civil war would certainly be components of this white supremacist lesson plan.

That the President of the United States would publicly support such an odious agenda is bad enough. Issuing such rhetorical garbage on the national holiday celebrating the life of Dr. King is an act of racism worthy of a Klan leader or Woodrow Wilson.

But the fact that the overwhelming majority of the 74 million people who voted for him would have no problem with Patriotic Education makes matters worse. And it is not a stretch to surmise that the Patriotic Education speech being made on the King holiday would not disqualify Trump from receiving their vote any and every time.

Which raises the question as to what a significant part of white America really thinks about Dr. King and racial inequity here in the 21st century, in focusing on this concern it is important to note that in 1967, the year before he died, Dr. King was one of the most hated men in many parts of America. In that year Dr. King also stated his concern that at some point in the future historians would state that American civilization died because it failed to make justice a reality.

While Dr. King is rightly remembered from his aspirational rhetoric and continued faith in possibility and probability of equal justice for all, there should be no doubt that during his entire public career he was a fierce critic of American racism, American cruelty and American injustice. And there should be no doubt that his every critique criticism shortened his life.

The only reason that Dr. King is celebrated is that the sanitized version of a saintly, nonviolent Black man who advocated patient and peaceful protest. The real Dr. King, the man who challenged racism and racists at every turn, the real Dr. King who was fearless and clear that the malignant America must change and the real Dr. King saw nonviolence as a tactic and not a reflection of a passive spirit.

There should be no wonder that racists like Trump would still fear and hate Dr. King over a half century after his assassination. And it should be no wonder that the children and grandchildren of the men and women who hated Dr. King when he lived would now support a president who still hates Dr. King.

Of course, for Dr. King, who is a place where Trump will never be, knowing that Trump still hates him would verify that he was the one doing the right thing.

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3 thoughts on “MLK Day – What America Really Thinks

  1. Ray Gerald says:

    Mr. Ford,
    You, indeed, may have struck new ground in bifurcating Dr. King’s into a “real” Dr. King and a “generic” representative of him, in effect, strategically masquerading as passive, nonviolent, etc. Assuming the duality, WEB DuBois’ long established “double consciousness” principle in “The Souls of Black Folks” evinced its enduring truth.
    That he concluded the necessity to present a persona publicly necessary to communicate simultaneously his or our complaint about the long standing, forcibly imposed position of inferiority and subjugation of AA and aspirational appeals for mitigation, if not elimination of AA subordination is unsurprisingly telling of the danger then and now of AA and any of their so-called white supporters publically speaking frankly. With this as proposition, is it not clear and understandable then why there is generally overwhelming silence by whites in response to the most heinous and publicly horrific wrongful acts committed by the white people’s enforcement regime – the police?
    That there is a Trump to personify the widespread existence and durability of systemic American racism and validation thereof by nearly 50 % of eligible, predominantly white voters voting against their own interest in a presidential election is not now and historically should not be surprising. Rather, take the reality as history and current behavior durably confirms. Yes, it is exactly how America is.
    Apologies for omissions and other miscues.

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