Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Fifty Years Later



The memory of where I was the moment the news came over the car radio that Dr. King had been murdered in Memphis is as clear today as it was a week later. We were coming back from a long-defunct shopping center in Middletown, New York called Lloyds. My late mother was driving in the east-bound lane of Route 17 - known by locals as the "Quickway". We were just approaching Exit 122, the Fletcher Street exit where the local Catholic high school sits opposite. We were just heading up the ramp when the announcement was flashed to the world. Being a mere nine-years old on April 4, 1968, I had only a vague knowledge of who Martin Luther King was. I would learn a lot more in the days that followed. This was the event that turned me into a newspaper reader. The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy two months later only hardened my resolve to try and stay on top of things. If you're not old enough to remember, 1968 was that kind of year in America - not terribly different from 2018. In fact, I'm willing to make the argument that these times are far worse. Back then, it was an occasional politician being gunned or civil rights leader being gunned down. Today it's whole classrooms of kids.
`
Thinking back on that day fills me with ambivalence. Sure, we've come a long way as a nation since April 4, 1968; the eight-year-run of Barack Obama as our forty-fourth chief executive is all the proof you need that there has been a substantial evolution in our sociology in a half century. But then again, the very fact that the White House is today the home of Donald Trump, tells me that crucial segments of American society have gone backward to a degree that is astonishing. Fifty years ago, Barry Goldwater was as extreme-right-wing as any presidential candidate could possibly be. What a difference fifty years makes. Today he is starting to look reasonable in hindsight. In fact, he did turn out to be a pretty good senator. Although he was against the passage of the Civil Rights Act during the 1964 campaign, he later regretted his stand. At the end of his life he was a vocal proponent of gay rights. The dude evolved, no question about it. When he passed away twenty years ago next month, he was appalled at where the conservative movement - a movement he helped create - was taking the country he loved dearly. Maybe it's a blessing that old Barry didn't live to see the Trump administration.

As his ideological detractors just love to point out, Martin Luther King was far from perfect. All great men and women are greatly flawed. And yet the fact that this man walked among us for thirty-nine years is just one of the ways this great and greatly flawed nation has been truly blessed.

I have always been a vehement critic of the Kennedy-assassination conspiracy theories. While the Warren Commission might have gotten a few things wrong, the overwhelming majority of their conclusions they got emphatically right. But what puzzles me about the assassination of Martin Luther King is this:

How was an escaped convict, third-rate ne'er-do-well drifter like the man who killed him (whose name I shall forever refuse to mention) able to make it from Memphis to Montreal  to London? (where he was eventually arrested). Things just don't add up. I'll never be persuaded that there wasn't a much larger conspiracy involved in taking from us this truly great and decent American.
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Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us of America's potential. He was - he is - someone whose life inspires. We forget that in the final year of his life, he became persona non grata to much of America when he publically condemned the ongoing atrocity of America's involvement in Vietnam. The speech he gave at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967 probably sealed his fate. He told us on that day that a nation that spends more on weapons of death than it does on its own people was a nation approaching "spiritual doom". He was right, of course. He also would have agreed, I'm sure that a country that was willing to accept the mutilated corpses of twenty little boys and girls inside a Connecticut classroom in December 2012 as the price we must pay for our "freedoms" was a country that had hurled itself straight into the pit of hell.

And while we're on the subject, it is probably a good thing that Dr. King did not live to see the era of Donald Trump either. It's a pretty safe bet that he would not be pleased. That's just a silly hunch on my part. Pay it no mind

Has anybody here seen my old friend Martin?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED LISTENING:

The two speeches that Dr. King is best remembered for are, of course, I Have  Dream (1964) and I've Been To The Mountaintop (1968). But the most important speech he ever made, in fact, one of the most important speeches of the entire troubled century he lived in, was the one he delivered exactly one year before he died. Here it is in its entirety:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC1Ru2p8OfU

Shh....listen.

11 Comments:

At 5:55 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

"I have always been a vehement critic of the Kennedy-assassination conspiracy theories." ~~ Tom Degan

I know you have been Tom, which I've always wondered why. I suspect the prospect of a magic bullet never held much validity for you -- or half of JFK's head flying backwards, toward the Texas Bookstore Depository, and spreading out on the trunk of the Lincoln limousine.

It's pure physics, Tom.


"While the Warren Commission might have gotten a few things wrong..." ~~ Tom Degan

Or a lot of small things...or only a few big enough things that swayed public opinion enough to validate the whitewashed Warren Commission Report.

 
At 5:11 AM, Blogger Marc Larivière said...

As a Frenchman, aged 86, I'm old enough to have known a few colored soldiers, when American troops passed through my native village in Northern France, and liberated us from the German occupation... they stayed around for a few days, and I remember how friendly they were, white or black, for that matter, and happy to help or have a talk with the population who greeted them... So, it's always been a mystery for me that colorered people in the US, could not be considered equal with white people, in rights and duties...

 
At 5:11 AM, Blogger Marc Larivière said...

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At 5:12 AM, Blogger Marc Larivière said...

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At 5:14 AM, Blogger Marc Larivière said...

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At 1:20 PM, Blogger Majormajor said...

Tom,

What do you think Dr. King's reaction would be to the photo of future President Obama and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus laughing it up and meeting with the leader of the racist Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan?

 
At 6:10 PM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Jewish leader and CEO of the ADL Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted:

“Over his career, @barackobama has denounced the bigotry of Farrakhan. Time to do so again.”

Asked by Tim Russert in a 2008 primary debate, Obama said, "I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support."

White Nationalists, Nazis, the KKK and Trumpists don’t want you to believe the Black guy of course, just them.

I wonder if Majormajor is curious about what Rev. King's reaction would be to Trump's birtherism, denying the Black President was an American?

Crickets, of course.

How about Trump palling around with Russian gangsters? How did a notorious Russian mobster connected to an illegal international gambling ring run out of Trump Tower end up as a special guest at a Donald Trump event in Moscow in 2013?

More crickets.

What would Majormajor think Rev. King's reaction would be to White Nationalists like Majormajor shilling for racist birther Trump, while attacking the Black President?

More crickets.

What would Majormajor think Rev. King's reaction would be to his saying, "you must believe falsehoods in order to survive the horrors of living Black in America."?

When I stated, “Racism effects millions. Only a racist would deny this."

Majormajor denied it. “Tell me how it effects millions?”

When will Majormajor denounce Trump's racism and birtherism?

All we hear are crickets.

 
At 7:35 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Oh, I don't know, Chuck -- maybe that Mr. Farrakhan told a funny joke, or possibly one of the other people in the group did. Nothing more, nothing less.

Most people do have a sense of humor, you know.

Well, exempting the vast majority of alt-right conservatives like yourself, of course. ;-) That's why you find that picture so perplexing.

 
At 10:36 AM, Blogger Just the Facts! said...

All I can say Dave is a picture is worth a thousand words.

Still waiting for you to "Tell me how it effects millions?”

Not denying anything, just asking you for the impossible, IE an answer.

Crickets? Coming from you that is the lid calling the kettle black

 
At 5:06 PM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

a picture is worth a thousand words. Or $130,000, if you're a porn star with Trump. LOL!

"Not denying anything, just asking you for the impossible, IE an answer."

Demanding an answer to the obvious is denial of fact.

The answer is: Anyone who refuses to see the fact that racism effects millions of people sounds just like a tiki torch carrying racist. He has no answer to my questions, but whines, and denies my answer. IOKIYAR.

Just the Facts/Majormajor sounds like a white nationalist all the way. That is more than obvious. In fact, I say he's proud of it. I dare him to deny it.

If the hood fits...

 
At 6:10 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

"Still waiting for you to 'Tell me how it effects millions?'" ~~ Just the Facts! (aka, "Majormajor", "ArchieBunkerNYC", and a whole host of others. But, for simplicity, I'll refer to him as just "Chuck")

"Dr. Poussaint told the audience to be mindful of the psychological effects of racism. To be black in America is 'to be suspect,' he said. 'Being a minority has a whole psychological impact. There becomes a burden of proof on blacks to show that they are OK; a burden of proof to show that they are competent.'" ~~ Alvin Poussaint, from a keynote address titled, "How Racism Affects Everyone" and offered and written by Lucy Suddreth

Chuck, not only is your ignorance showing -- which we've all come to expect from you over the years -- but your rapidly escalating racism is becoming even more disturbing.

 

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