On Inauguration Day in 2009, many including myself pondered, “Imagine how Martin Luther King would feel today, after all the years of his dedication and sacrifice, to see a black man being inaugurated as President of the United States. ”

In light of the last two years of couched and outright racism against Pres. Obama, one might wonder how Rev. King would feel about that today. A triumph of content of character in 2008 followed by so much judgment of the same man over the next two years based on the color of his skin.

I think Rev. King would not be surprised. In his time, he experienced successes against racism but also saw backsliding. If we think back to the end of the Civil War we’re also reminded of the backsliding during Reconstruction that led to a continued and oppressive racism in The South.

Triumphing over human prejudice does seem to be a case of two steps forward, one step back.  I do believe though that Rev. King would still be exulting in the progress our nation has made with regards to race while acknowledging that those still struggling with it can’t be ignored without allowing their fear and hatred to fester in them into something worse.

With such powerful entities as Fox News and the GOP encouraging and affirming racism, albeit sometimes through code words like “states rights” “birth certificates”, “marxist”, “urban”, “Muslim”, etc, it is a big challenge to turnaround the backwards opinions of those still clinging desperately to the emotional need to believe in white superiority. They may not have money, a job, financial stability or a promising future but at least they used to be able  to cling to being superior because of the color of their skin.

The events of last weekend in Arizona have  seemed to have muted some of the openly expressed racism and hatred that has become such a stable of the MSM. And an assassination attempt, coming a week before the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s birthday should have a heavy impact on our collective sensibilities.

As I noted in a comment yesterday, polls out now show that strong opposition to the HCR Act has fallen markedly in the last few weeks…in direct relation to Obama’s approval numbers rising. Ultimately, all of this is good news but it does seem to portray how some voters’ political beliefs are quite malleable and often shaped by prejudices and negative emotions rather than reason and principles.  How could so many, almost overnight, flip from seeing HCR as a socialist plot to destroy America to an okay plan for trying to fix problems in our health care system? The conclusion would appear to be that instead, people who were angry at Obama just wanted to attack him and everything he worked for, whether or not it was to their benefit, because they use their opinions as reflections of their emotional feelings about politicians or parties.

Why would the unemployed, newly health-insured white man who couldn’t get insurance before HCR due to a pre-existing condition, vote Republican? Why would he vote for cutting off his family’s only income as Unemployment Insurance and losing his Health Care and maybe that of his family’s? How would he actually benefit from GOP policies in his own day to day life?

Such absurd perspectives can only be explained by emotional motivations. It isn’t as simple as saying “racism” but for many of these white males, that is at least a main component of it. Poverty, tradition and poor educational systems may be the concrete base that’s laid for racism to be constructed upon*. The sense that the American Dream that was promised to “real” Americans (white men) never came true and the reason for that is that someone stole it from them. The black man. The Latino man. The Jew. The Woman. The Foreigner.

Here, they grew up their whole lives believing they would be wealthy and have everything they want, just as all the propaganda of the American Dream promised to them. Then, unemployed or underemployed, working for Walmart or McDonalds, they look up to see a black man ascending to the presidency. Of course they feel things have gone wrong in America, of course they “want their country back”, of course they blame the “lesser” people from taking away the comfortable lifestyle and success that should rightfully have been passed down to them from their white ancestors.

There is an intersection of two issues here, one which is unique to some white people and another that is universal between people of all races struggling to stay in or climb into the shrinking Middle Class.

The unique issue that prejudiced white people have to deal with is that they have grown up believing a fairy tale that can no longer be sustained. America is no longer a society where white people have superiority over those of other races and are privileged above them. When things are good, we all live better, when they are bad, we all struggle. They must learn to accept that it is cold, soulless corporations that are taking their jobs away (and shipping them overseas), not the scapegoats both the racists and corporations use (to deflect responsibility), minorities.

This is the issue that all Americans, regardless of color share in common. The domination of corporate control over our politics and economy are at the root of why the American People grow poorer each year and lose more power over their own government and democracy. The “enemy”, the ones literally affecting and diminishing most Americans’ lives are corporations, not people worshiping other religions than Christianity or with different skin colors.

If Martin Luther King was around today, might not his campaign against poverty, poor education, ignorance and inequity be aimed at the wealthy, the top 1% who are oppressing so many to satisfy their own greed? Might not that be a unifying movement, to fight for the 99% of Americans who are being exploited by that top 1%? As education, health, police, fire and so many other crucial social services are slashed during this economic instability…and Wall Street, Banks and the wealthy see profits that shatter records…would not Rev. King see this as the fight that had to be fully engaged and won?

Unfortunately, we don’t have Rev. King here today to support such a movement, if it would indeed be something he saw as connected to his previous and remarkable campaign of justice and equality. However, let us hope that his unforgettable example of standing up for those who are being oppressed by those in power, those pressed to live as a lower class of citizen, inspires more and more to take up that cause today in a quest to return economic and political justice to the people of this nation.

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Things Looking Up In Ohio

Ohio, like most American states, has spent years groaning under the yoke of affirmative action policies. But along comes new governor John Kasich with the state’s first all-white cabinet since 1962, solving the problem in one bold swoop. Now that real meritocracy has been restored to state government, though, things are finally turning around.

H/T Yeglesias


Oy! B’ito!

And I thought I was depressed after reading today that there are plans to — brace yourself — drill for oil and gas in the Ohio state parks!!

Dear God, when will this nightmare end? His inauguration was only a week or so ago and the wreckage is extreme already.


FBI: Bomb found on MLK march route

How much ya wanna bet this would be making news if it were tied to Muslims?


So, so true, Khirad. Or if it were found near a Palin rally or near, say, a house in Crawford, TX.

This is one to watch. Don’t want to jump to conclusions, but what sort of person would put something like that, in a location like that?


Just in case you don’t know the region, it’s not far from Northern Idaho… just sayin’.

And, outside of Democratic Spokane, and WSU, the rest of Eastern Washington can be… well… iffy.

In Southeastern Washington a Tea Party leader threatened to hang Patty Murray, if you recall.

Considering the thread we’re on, that lynching reference reminds me, and I’m about to go on a tangent here–

Can we talk about that word? ‘lynch’?

I was getting in a tiff with a con. It was about the “blood libel” speech and she deferred we should seek a higher ground and tone it down, but added that Sarah wouldn’t be the monster she was if the media didn’t ‘lynch’ her.

Since when is this a verb? Am I too young? I heard it first used after the flotilla by Israel apologists, and it seems to have found its way through the RW blogosphere.

While I agree we all use figurative expressions like ‘crucify’ I find the use of ‘lynch’ quite odd and just a little offensive.

Bottom line, it was hilarious how trying to act one way the user totally walked into that one and proved my point.

Yes, every offense against Sarah is a Blood Libel, a lynching, an Armenian Genocide, a Great Purge, and a Spanish Inquisition all wrapped into one.

In any case, I don’t think Dr. King would be comfortable with the way the Right casually bandies around the word ‘lynch’.


Another great example of the way they take words and twist them, or douse them in gasoline and ignite them, or trivialize them, or create Frankenstein versions of them…anything but use them appropriately.

What is it with the right and words? (And — wow — do I not want to go all Loughner here on the word obsession.)

And yet — for all their ineptitude — they get the barely literate of the populace hooked with words like “death panel” and “Obamacare.”

It’s maddening that they use words like “lynch” and “blood libel” to reinforce their phony victim status, while hauling up that old classic “class warfare” when people who really are victimized have the gall to take notice of it, using words.

Free speech for them and no one else?


Hi everyone. This story is finally making MSM and HP. Spokane has dangerous folks abounding there. It crawls with anti-government, racist, Christian Identity folks, so while this is terribly scary, it’s not actually surprising.

There are ties between Spokane and the Sacramento Valley – anti-abortion zealots robbed banks in Spokane (I think they killed armored car drivers) to finance their clinic bombing spree. The local US Attorney here – a first rate great guy – prosecuted such a case back in the 90s. Tomorrow and Friday the clinics are holding open houses for the anniversary of Roe, and I’ve called them to remind them that this bomb in Spokane is a heads up for them. Too much violence, too many stealth ties.

Over at HP there remain sanctimonious sorts who say, “Oh why do you have to POLITICIZE this (meaning the bomb incident).” Well, prima facie – bombs ARE political. Saying we need a civil discussion or debate is fine over ideas, but how can such a thing occur over a freaking BOMB???? That’s like saying we should civilly and nicely all debate lynching. IS there “another side”????

Scary times, scary people, and scariest of all – denial.


YES!!! That’s what I’ve been trying to say! I DON’T WANT TO NEGOTIATE WITH THEM!


Be careful, C’Lady!!


Just wanted to say I agree with you, but must say that Spokane’s still a very pretty city that votes Dem in good years (this year not being one of those).

Here’s a picture I took about three(?) years back.

Also, a great movie, “Mozart and the Whale” was filmed there.

Okay, proud native Washingtonian state promoter part of me had to say that, even if I’m not accustomed to sticking up for the guys on the other side of the Cascades.

But, the same native Washingtonian in me also knows that it CAN be a scary region. Beautiful landscapes, but a few very bad, extreme people persist in the Greater Spokane-Coeur d’Alene region. What you say is true. I was so not surprised, either.

Didn’t know about the Sacramento Valley nexus though.


And were he around today he’d be called the same ugly names by those who have tried to appropriate his name (Beck, et al) – a Marxist, a thug, etc.

Go back and read what the racists said back then and compare it to what is said about Obama today. Much of the time it wasn’t laced with ‘n’ words and delivered with growling German Shepherds.

That is the most disgusting part to me. Not just their reactionary, corporatist ideology, but that they’re shrewd or self-deluded enough to so whitewash and warp history.


I think the fact that Boehner decided to stop calling it “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” to the ever-so-slightly less incendiary “Job Destroying Blah Blah Blah…” shows that they really do fear a voter backlash. (While at the same time claiming their rhetoric had nothing to do with nay violence.)

AND, as AdLib points out, it acknowledges that most people ARE coming to their senses.


Just heard that there is a concerted effort to tone the debate down–Wait till Louie Gommert or Shelly gets up to speak.


I just looked up Louie – he was a JUDGE??????? How did THAT happen? He graduated from Baylor School of Law?????? How????

No one THAT ignorant could possibly have a working understanding of the law. NO ONE.

I tremble at the thought he “administered justice” to anyone at all.



Really? A judge? I saw that the other day in a comment and I thought they were making a joke.


I wonder how MLK would have fared with the Patriot Act in effect.


Good question, Q. He was tapped, tailed and monitored enough as it was…


Your President and the first Lady sing on MLK Day.

Day of service honors Martin Luther King Jr.



Dr. King was speaking up about income disparity and the lack of economic opportunities when he met his way to early demise. It was one of his main points. Yes, we all know his struggle for civil rights and his non-violence, but he stood against all injustice, not just for the “Negro”, but all injustice. He often spoke of income disparity of the poor, no matter what color. We need to remember Dr. King not for just his stance on civil rights but his stance against injustice.
Some years ago when the AFL-CIO started their campaign for “Jobs with Justice” Dr. King’s picture was often used, so yes he would have been at the forefront today against income disparity no matter what color.



And his opposition to the Viet Nam war was not met with universal approval, either, b’ito, as I’m sure you know. (Muhammad Ali was reviled by many too, for the same reason. Now he’s a revered and respected figure, but it wasn’t always that way.)

One of the speakers at a city wide MLK event today was a 17 year old kid who grew up in the ‘hood here. He’s now a senior at a prestigious Catholic boys high school. He, according to the local paper, “grew up in humble circumstances, the child of a teenage single mother who gave birth to him while in foster care. He spent the early years of his life in public housing and weathered various central city schools before being accepted into St. Francis with financial aid. His parents…placed little value on education and never encouraged him to study.”

This year he’s the first African-American valedictorian in the history of St. Francis and he’s been accepted into Harvard, with plans to study molecular biology.

“‘My thesis is that poverty is the one thing that is preventing us from having any real unity in this country. It’s not necessarily a racial divide but economic, educational, communication–all of these different facets in which some people are impoverished, some people are wealthy, and it’s that divide that’s really keeping us from unity.'”

“He credits his achievements to an immense love of learning, a strong ability to focus, and a great deal of hard work.”

Something tells me he read his MLK sources.


k’es. you were curious enough to look at some of the summaries/findings on that civics quiz and I am sure you noticed the effects that education had on many “beliefs” that consume our society, the more education- the more accepting of others. I have no idea how to instill that factor of curiosity in knowledge and “thinking” but as in the case of of the young man a quality education “can’t hurt.” His social and economical inequality was overcome by the equality of a good education.
(of course money and status doesn’t always hep, a prof of Dubya’s wrote “does the work but not curious about the subjects.”)


That’s such an inspiring story, kes. I believe the young man is correct– economic differences and educational differences really represent our biggest challenges now.


A wonderful local black artist died today, on MLK day. My kids were lucky enough to meet Wil Clay, a gifted and really nice man, some years ago.

He illustrated a number of award winning children’s books, including one on Rosa Parks:



Sorry to hear of his passing, k’es, but how appropriate. If one had a choice, I can think of few days better.


Like you, AdLib, I have a feeling Dr. King would have recognized the true “enemy” in the 21st. century and would have battled hard and non-violently against it. Sadly, I also think he might have been in as much physical danger as he was back in the 60s, as well.

I ran across an interesting and relevant article by Mary Church Terrell, written in the early part of the 20th century, called “What It Means to be Colored in the Capital of the United States.”


To me, it was a fascinating look at how far we have come at the same time that we still have such a long way to go.


“Obama’s approval numbers rising. Ultimately, all of this is good news but it does seem to portray how some voters’ political beliefs are quite malleable and often shaped by prejudices and negative emotions rather than reason and principles”.

You are being such a hopeless Democrat, my dearest Adlib!! 🙂 I am being a bit hyperbolic, you know.

Reason and principles are NOT where it’s at for people. People don’t lead “reasonable” lives in accordance with policies and ideologies. They don’t seek nor are they attracted to reasonable policies with which to to go along. They are primarily emotive and when they are experiencing negative emotions those emotions do inform and taint any brain processes “higher” than that. So, while I agree with your code words for racism, I don’t think racism needed to be operative as much as perhaps it is.

Plausible racism is the result of a natural and instinctually primordial displacement of negative affect upon the “other”. Externalization of the blame is as human as tears. There is a void when policies and reason are the only things which take center stage to the exclusion of the negative feelings people are having in their lives. Even if those feelings originate from the prejudicial, ill-informed, base, or offensive. In other words, are anti-MLK’s advancements. That takes TRUE tolerance.

The great thing about MLK, and something that Obama could probably learn from, is that MLK knew how to mobilize the disenfranchised in our society and many of the enfranchised. Even though the disenfranchised in those days were of similar skin color to that hero of our nation’s past, the elemental sufferings of people know no color. That is the challenge Obama faces today. That is where Obama needs to stand on the shoulders of a great man who had to evolve our collective consciousness to accept equality of all persons regardless of race.

It is from that starting point that Obama needs to both consolidate MLK’s movement forward while addressing similar concerns for all people. That is ultimately the “dream”. The dream may not be in living in the same neighborhoods, sharing the same friends, holding the same ideologies, having the same earning potential or occupying the same economic niche, but it may be one where people show honor and respect to other allowing for differences rather than trying to simply integrate one into the other to create balance and equality. MLK needed to show how all people should be treated equally. Separate yet unequal was the legal ruling. Obama may need to evolve our collective consciousness beyond race and that moral ruling to include how we may need to treat people DIFFERENTLY yet equally on the basis of understanding that they DO experience things differently on an emotional level; that the negative emotions of people are valid regardless. Separate YET equal.

Obama has started something in his wonderful speech in Tucson. To help things along, it may be that the GOP and their ilk shot their wad when they won in November. The dissenters may now be more willing to take in what Obama says simply because their pain, including the pain and anxiety of having a different and uncategorizable President, has been given a concrete yet simultaneously symbolic voice. As irrational as that choice was. If someone seems not to be recognizing your pain the natural, albeit less sophisticated response, is to say “enough, I’ll try the only other alternative out there and ‘forget’ they got us here in the first place. I am in pain and ANGRY!” Less sophisticated responses are important too. Separate yet equal.


Well done AdLib. I really enjoyed that! Hope more will come around to read the subject matter which you’ll admit remains an unpopular one even amongst libs and prgressives 🙂


Great piece, Adlib! As Cher points out, the times MLK lived in seemed at least more in tune with the type of change he envisioned. The universities and “the street” were far more in synch.
There was more optimism, even as much of it was unrealistic. Movies like The Graduate and Easy Rider were sincere efforts by directors to glorify rebellion and rejection of a corporate, soulless society. Those movies would never get made today, or if they did, they would be dishonest and manipulative instead of guileless and straightforward.

I don’t know who the modern day voices are. I know Thom Hartmann and I agree on many things, and he understands and writes really well about these topics, but he lacks the galvanizing presence and charisma of MLK. Or possibly he is simply being drowned out by the drone of the right. Not sure how we find our way anymore.


This evokes so many ideas and questions in me, so please forgive the length of my comments.

The right is only happy when they feel like they are the oppressed minority or when they feel like they are being victimized. Despite the fact that they have controlled at least one branch of the federal government for the majority of the last three decades, they still continue to rail against the big government that is oppressing them. Their need for media victimization never fades, despite the fact that the Right controls talk radio, and the most popular cable news network on television.

The glue that holds the right together is fear. Fox News makes a huge profit selling fear to these people every day. Fear and negativity are what fuel their activism, and as a response, it’s fueled mine too for push back.

We are left with only our trust in the basic decency of people in America to heed the call of Dr. King as opposed to the litany of lies told by the Right. That is all it seems we have to counter the hate and divisiveness that drenches us from the media.

Basic decency and—much harder—intellectual honesty. I watch someone on the Left call Bush “Hitler” and it doesn’t cause any hackles to rise; someone on the Right calls Obama “Hitler” and I am outraged. That—in isolation—is intellectually dishonest, because neither is a Hitler. At least not like a Pol Pot, a Stalin, or, well, Hitler.

This moment in time is no less divisive as it was during King’s era but there feels like a difference. It feels as if during that period, the zeitgeist was more in tune with Dr. King’s vision, and that the forces of racism and regression were dying. At this moment in time, it feels like those forces are now ascendant.

While I see that in the 24/7 news environment everything is too shrill, and everything is an emergency, if we Democrats quiet down will we become even more drowned out? Frankly, MSNBC has a fraction of the audience that Fox has; their megaphone has more amps. I am not sure that the antidote to Fox isn’t whispering, or even Walter Cronkite. It is a bigger megaphone. But let’s face it, as the anti-corporatist Party, we will never get the backing akin to the massive money provided by the Kochs and others.

Sometimes I think it is NEVER too late for a plea for reason and sanity, but then again, I feel like we are facing institutional crazy. We are up against tremendous forces and we have slingshots to their bazookas. We have, basically, George Soros—that’s it. They have Wall Street, fabulously wealthy robber barons, hundreds of Right-wing PACs, thousands of Right-wing preachers in megachurches, and a media empire. For God’s sake—they have the Supreme Court!

There is real desperation all around us. Financial desperation and ideological desperation too. (At least I feel that way.) I see the country moving farther to the Right, inexorably it appears. Despite pleas for sanity, I’m not certain I am ready for that. Perhaps one way to fight back is to shame the haters. (And, in the name of honesty, to shame myself as well.)

It’s just very hard to take calm reason when I see the country spiraling out of control and totally out of whack; up is down, down is up. We are now at a place when to discuss even limiting the size of ammo clips out of the question! The rich and powerful, the anti-government whites–they cry victim, and we real victims cry foul! I hope most Americans are not as angry and worried as I am.

All that being said, Martin Luther King won most of the battles. I hope with all my heart his message proves timeless.


It’s really hard to be purely reasonable because of your indignation, Cher. I know because I feel it too. Avidly. But as I state above, the indignation needs to be attended to within us as we “fight back” in a more integrated way.

People were attuned to the MLK sixties, as you say because it was the zeitgeist. MLK and the people were resonating. Now there is a dissonance, but it is the dissonant voices of the unheard sixties who were not on board.

The trick is how to get them on board without splitting ourselves off from the indignation it brings up in us and resorting to bland recitation of policies, even if they are “good medicine”. Nor is caving in to unedited expressions of rabid retribution the answer. The idea, imo, is to use the anger we feel to make us aware of the anger they feel regardless of its origins or justifiability. Their anger simply just is. How does one deal with anger, tantrums, fear, and anxiety without becoming condescending, impatient, or angry oneself. How does one become the nurturing parent?

Are we honestly dealing with Hitlers on the right? Or Stalins? Are any of the truly malevolent anything more than the higher, more strident registers of anger and intolerance of the mid-range?

Look what happens when their rhetoric has actual consequences. The shootings in Tucson (at least now and hopefully never) were not part of a battle cry to storm anything that is left of very right. There was the understanding that hyperbole might need to be toned down and not become the mid-range of that anger, fear ,and intolerance.

I think this is the challenge of today: How our country deals with the limiting factors in this society that impede progress.


Thanks, Q! I have to ask myself, “Do I want to change people’s attitudes or do I want to vent?” Which is more important to me? Venting relieves some of the pressure I feel, but I know it doesn’t change one person’s mind. (There is an exception to that though—changing the minds of the Left—the disgruntalists. I still feel the need to remind them who they are up against and who is the real enemy.)

I really can relate to the feelings of the Right, even while I vehemently disagree. I felt the same way they do when Bush/Cheney were in charge: Appalled at the direction the country took, and totally disenfranchised. There were very few media outlets then which took the side of us who opposed the Bush regime, which led to a further feeling of alienation. I can’t understand why they vote against their self interests (well, I can, but only on an intellectual, abstract level) but I understand what they are feeling. I understand willful ignorance too, and even if I abhor it, I can see why it seems necessary to them.

I must make a conscious decision to take the harder route if I want to be part of the solution. When I post at HP and when I am my most patient and dispassionate, I get grateful comments from people who disagree with me. I know it works, so I must really redouble my efforts.

This is obviously more than an ideological struggle for me, but goes to my ability to, frankly, be an adult.