I can’t really explain why, but it would have felt disrespectful to post this on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so I held off a day.
This account of Dr. King’s impact on the black community has been widely reposted, but it’s well worth reading (or re-reading). The TL/DR is that Dr. King didn’t fight against separate water fountains and sitting on the back of the bus, he fought against murder, terrorism, and the institutional corruption of justice. But seriously, read the whole thing, and then think on the importance of Martin Luther King R. Day.
Dr. King’s dream, of course, hasn’t been “achieved.” I don’t think it’s the sort of dream that has an end point where you can say it’s come true. It’s the kind of dream that will always have to be defended, and more so in some times than others.
I think it’s safe to say that this is one of those time. I’ll come back to this study, entitled “Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing” in greater detail at a later date, but the point I want to call your attention to is that whites now believe that the game is stacked against them. It’s a way of looking at life that is so alien to me that my mind convulses at trying to understand it. The take-away is that the people in this study believe that, if non-whites get more rights, then by definition, whites have fewer. I would be tempted to dismiss this out of hand if not for the fact that this way of thought seems to actually be gaining ground in the paler parts of the U.S.A. (also, I’ve spent a lot of time on Free Republic, so I get to see this mindset in action too often to believe it doesn’t exist).
By and large, I don’t believe that politicians are stupid. I do think they pander to the Lowest Common Denominator and say incredibly stupid things, but in most cases, it’s a ploy. I’ll make an exception in the case of Sarah Palin, who not only doesn’t seem to understand what Dr. King was up against, but she believes that she has the authority to lecture President Obama on the meaning of the doctor’s legacy. It’s an incredibly stupid thing to say, and, while I hate to engage in mind reading, I think there’s a very real chance she actually believes the stuff she says.
I don’t think Palin speaks for all whites or all conservatives, but she’s very popular with a measurable subset of both groups for reasons that escape me. I linked her comment to illustrate that there are people, influential people, who believe that as a society we’ve gone far enough in trying to bring about equality. In fact, there are those who believe we’ve gone too far.
So, on this day after the day commemorating the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, I think we should take an honest look at where we are and how much work there is to do if we truly want to honor Dr. King.