Martin Luther King Jr. was a complicated figure

Dear Editor:

Now with the warm fuzzy glow of history, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has become a saintly figure. Adjectives such as chosen and divine are used to describe him. Young people today seem to think all he did was pray and use his glorious oration to effect change.

Of course, the reality is more complicated.

King was a polarizing figure and bigots wanted to crucify him. So-called moderates said he was pushing the envelope too far and upsetting the social order of mid-century America, while some liberals saw King as the closest thing to the second coming of a messiah.

For his convictions of a fairer America, King was turned into an American outlaw. He was beaten and jailed. His family tormented. The U.S. government spied on him and infiltrated his organization. J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI, in fact, labeled King the most dangerous man in America.

King, it must be noted, was a real flesh and blood person who had his own flaws. He drank, he smoked, and he had affairs. He was human.

In my humble opinion , he is a true blue American patriot and hero. He never gave up on his philosophy of nonviolence, nor his belief that those tactics would eventually cause legalized apartheid to end in America and call attention to universal rights of people all over the planet. A lesser man would have been broken so much sooner.

Adam Bierman
Princeton

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2 comments
  • Civil rights is and always will be a preeminent issue in America. The long ago institution of slavery will forever haunt this nation. The height of slavery’s correction may in fact be the 1960’s under the leadership of MLK. He had a dream and it continues to be realized. However, I suspect an underlying issue of forced labor beyond slavery and delineating race. If one looks to the foundation of our nation, one will find the policy/ law of indentured servitude. This is a form of coerced work – like institutional slavery.

    Moreover, today there is evidence of forced labor -seemingly innocuous at a glance, but nonetheless evident. Our consumer debt economy parallels forced productivity. Consumer debt, that is credit cards, mortgages, and student loans, among other, binds individuals/borrowers into agreement/conditions of bound productivity/work. Student loans are taken with the intent that students will pay back by working in the economy, making it/them more productive or sustaining productivity. The national debt is enormous, yet the stock market continue to grow and thrive. I can only surmise the growth and productivity of America is fueled by a need to work, that it is driven by a need to pay back a borrowed debt. Today’s capitalism locks individuals into a state of debt and ,therefore, a forced/ bound state of productivity. We do not call this slavery, per say, but it is a forced state of existence, harnessed to the rhythm of the work week, producing to pay our bills and troubled when we can not. Are we really free? Is this the Liberty we all believe?

  • The tragedy of MLK is that while he so well articulated the greater Dream of the common good, his ‘theology’ was without the means to realize the Dream. And he also failed to comprehend that democratic process was no less limited. But the time may have come to finish his revolution as the means to the dream may now exist.

    “For those who will TEST, discover and confirm this new insight for themselves, an intellectual, spiritual and moral revolution is under way; where the once impossible becomes inevitable, by the most potent, political, Non Violent Direct Action never imagined until now. One able to
    advance the highest aspirations of human idealism and which entrenched elites, religious institution, media filters, bureaucratic control, nor the modern corporate/national security, surveillance state can corrupt, dilute, stop nor interfere with. Even if they dare try.”

    More at http://www.energon.org.uk

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