Thursday, 15 January 2009

Happy Birthday, Dr King

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's Birthday. Below is an audio medley I have made of clips from his speeches on Vietnam, nonviolence, social change, etc. (If you cannot see the player above the photo below, click here.)

Slavoj Zizek, quoting an American professor, has said 'every child knows “I Have a Dream.” Almost nobody knows what was this guy's dream. It wasn't just racial equality.' Indeed, the version of MLK sold in high school text books is a wooly, sugar-coated placebo that almost totally obliterates the radical badass that this man was. Today, on his 80th birthday, a few days before the inauguration of the first black president of the United States - but one who I fear may betray the legacy of the civil rights struggle that spawned him (not least by his silence in the face of his own party's shameful emanations concerning the brutal war waged by Israel in the middle east, in contrast to MLK's vocal opposition to Vietnam, etc) - it is worth hearing the reverend's words again. They provide, if nothing else, an index of the moral and ideological regression of a nation and a world - a world in which a black man can be president, but at what cost to his political credentials? It is worth noting how much, and yet how little the world has changed. A key victory for the civil rights struggle has been won - and yet the United States Government is still the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today", despite years of concerted efforts to obscure this fact by magnifying the threat of terrorism, etc. A hollow victory indeed. As in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, it seems there isn't much meat left on the bones of the trophy shark. I dare you to prove me wrong, Mr Obama.

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