Martin Luther King Was a Radical, Not a Saint

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/21-2

by Peter Dreier
Published on Monday, January 21, 2013 by Common Dreams

Today Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is viewed as something of an American saint. His birthday is a national holiday. His name adorns schools and street signs. Americans from across the political spectrum invoke King’s name to justify their beliefs and actions, as President Barack Obama will no doubt do in his second Inaugural speech and as gun fanatic Larry Ward recently did in outrageously claiming that King would have opposed proposals to restrict access to guns.

So it is easy to forget that  in his day, in his own country, King was considered a dangerous troublemaker. He was harassed by the FBI and vilified in the media.

In fact, King was a radical. He believed that America needed a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” He challenged America’s class system and its racial caste system.  He was a strong ally of the nation’s labor union movement.  He was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, where he had gone to support a sanitation workers’ strike.  He opposed U.S. militarism and imperialism, especially the country’s misadventure in Vietnam.

In his critique of American society and his strategy for changing it,  King pushed the country toward more democracy and social justice.

If he were alive today, he would certainly be standing with Walmart employees and other workers fighting for a living wage and the right to unionize. He would be in the forefront of the battle for strong gun controls and to thwart the influence of the National Rifle Association. He would be calling for dramatic cuts in the military budget in order to reinvest public dollars in jobs, education, and health care.  He would surely be marching with immigrants and their allies in support of the Dream Act and comprehensive reform. Like most Americans in his day, King was homophobic, even though one of his closest advisors, Bayard Rustin, was gay. But today King would undoubtedly stand with advocates of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/21-2

See also Common Dreams:  MLK Injustice Index 2013: Racism, Materialism and Militarism in the US

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