Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. & Democracy

Reading time 5:16; Viewing time – 8:35  .  .  .


In the second and last presidential candidate debate last Thursday President Trump set a new International Prevarication Record – the coveted IPR – by lying more than once per minute with peak gusts to 3 per minute for multiple extended periods of time. The record had been held by Pinocchio since 1883, but Trump obliterated Pinocchio’s record in just 90 minutes. Said one of the judges, “Boy, that guy sure can make up total crap really fast.”

Many of his lies were about the coronavirus. His lies have and will continue to prove to be lethal to Americans. More on that in the Health Statistic of the Week section below.


The Main Point

In looking for a particular quotation, I recently had occasion to revisit Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter From the Birmingham Jail (download a copy here). I wound up reading the entire document again and found that much of what he wrote in 1963 applies to today.

This isn’t the 1950-60s segregated South or the middle of the 19th century before the Civil War, but we are once again at Robert Frost’s metaphorical point where two roads diverge and the choice we make for the path moving forward will have profound consequences. This road is both about race in America and whether we will continue go be a democracy and we must decide which path to take.

Dr. King wrote his letter to a group of clergy with whom he was quite disappointed because of their lack of support and outright criticism of the peaceful, nonviolent demonstrations he led for racial justice. With that in mind, here are some quotes from his letter. Decide for yourself if his words feel uncomfortably applicable to today.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.

You deplore the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham [feel free to apply this statement to today by substituting Portland or Kenosha or St. Paul or Ferguson or  .  .  . ]  But I am sorry that your statement did not express a similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstrations into being.

Birmingham’s [or substitute the name of another city] ugly record of police brutality is known in every section of this country. It’s unjust treatment of Negroes in the courts is a notorious reality. [See this post for confirmation.]

I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.

We know from painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

  • For a contemporary look at this and to truly understand what is going on in America right now, watch author Kimberly Jones’ 7-minute video. Before watching you need to know that her words are hard. They are rough. If all you can tolerate is a Kumbaya moment, this isn’t for you. This is only for you if you really want to know the truth, if you really want to know the “why” of what goes on and not just the “what” and if you really want to see what our country steadfastly refuses to look at. Many thanks to Amy Tucker for highlighting this video.
  • Be clear that race is an issue where choice and consequences demand our immediate action. At the same time we are dealing with the destruction of much of what had been believed to be our national bedrock, the rules, practices and guardrails that have allowed us to be a democracy since the Constitution was ratified.
  • There’s big trouble right now, leaving us with the ongoing challenge to both issues and the requirement to answer the questions: What will we do? And what will we be?
  • The principles driving our choices and the consequences they produce in both race and for our democracy itself are interchangeable.
  • That road diverging into two paths and the choice about which we follow is upon us. We are facing the choice between destruction and hope. We are deciding whether we will continue to hate or whether we will find reconciliation. We are deciding whether might makes right or whether right makes right. We are deciding if we truly believe that all men and women are created equal and whether the call of the Pledge of Allegiance for liberty and justice for all means anything. It is a profound moment in America. History and our children’s children will be a brutal judge if we choose poorly. Choose wisely right now.


  • ————————–
Health Statistic of the Week
  • There are over 70,000 new cases daily and
  • Click the graph for the WaPo article.

President Trump told us clearly and in no uncertain terms that “We’re rounding the bend” on the coronavirus and that “it affects virtually nobody.” Just to prove him right, over the past 7 days more than 5,600 American nobodies rounded that bend and are now dead.* According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the actual number is almost certainly far higher than the official count.

We send our deep, heartfelt condolences to all of our dead American nobodies.

Dr. Scott Atlas is a radiologist – an MRI, x-ray guy. He’s an infectious disease and epidemic imbecile. He’s heading Trump’s program of avoidance of doing anything positive to protect Americans from the pandemic. Atlas recommends herd immunity to beat the coronavirus. That consists of waiting for infection to sweep the nation and for millions to die. After that we’ll just carry on with the few of us remaining. Trump has talked about this method of national suicide at times and, by his lack of action, appears to favor it. Why would he do that? Try this.

The elderly are the ones most likely to die from this disease, so doing nothing to protect people will cull the herd of millions of those whose tax dollars funded Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid but who are now a financial drain from the system. Neither George W. Bush nor Paul Ryan could get those programs privatized, but Trump may accomplish the same tax dollar savings by getting millions of our people killed. Genius.

So, we chant, Trump lied, people died.

  • ————————–
Quote of the Week

This is for all the hissy fit people who refuse to wear a mask because it infringes on their freedom.*** And for those whose liberty has been squashed and want the schools to reopen, regardless of how many teachers, staff and grandparents become infected and die. And for all those so desperate for a drink that they need their favorite bar to open so they can have a Covid party. And for the mega churches in Denver whose rights were so horribly stomped on that they sued and won the right to jam mask-less people into their amphitheaters in weekly super-spreader events. And for all the self-proclaimed keepers of the one true vision of America, the daddy issues militia morons, whose rights are somehow more important than those of the rest of us.

“Liberty doesn’t mean freedom to infect other people.” – Paul Krugman, NY Times

  • ————————–

*Worldwide the number is over 1 million dead.

**You really need to read Ira Leavitt’s take on this.

***Read Paul Krugman’s love letter to Libertarians here. My view is that any Ayn Rand is too much.

  • —————————————-

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