Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day across the United States, a national holiday. I’ve written a number of MLK Day posts over the years. This post is the best of the lot, at least the one I’ll hang my hat on as to what I think about Dr. King and the day in general.
This is also Inauguration Day. The Constitution says new presidential terms start at noon on Jan. 20, but President Obama and predecessors have deferred public events when the date falls on a Sunday, citing religious reasons as well as the fact that courts and government offices are closed on Sunday.
Like those predecessors, Mr. Obama took the constitutionally required oath of office in a brief private ceremony Sunday at the White House.
Since Obama is the first African-American president, there are many that will find it fitting that his second inauguration would fall, or at least be celebrated on the day that we now designate to remember the efforts of Dr. King to bring about transcendence on matters of race and possibly more important (but often neglected), the economic disparities in America.
The very first MLK holiday was celebrated on January 20, 1986. It was met with resistance. Former President Reagan was opposed to nationalizing this day, as was Jessie Helms, John McCain, and Ron Paul.
Reagan signed the law, doing so with contempt, even telling a friend in a letter that the high public regard for King was “based on an image, not reality.”
Paul, in an old newsletter castigated Reagan for signing the law, deeming the MLK holiday as “our annual hate whitey day.”
I’m sure today’s daily double of President Obama’s inauguration and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day will cause some heads to explode on the far fringes of the American hate spectrum. I mean, two black men, one living and one with a tremendous legacy are being celebrated.
At the same time, elements of how President Obama has governed concerns many that revere Dr. King and understand his message that went way beyond merely Civil Rights.
Glenn Ford, who will never be accused of being an Obama apologist offered up a contrarian comparison of Dr. King and our sitting president. In fact, Ford’s post is worth reading and it will serve as an antidote to much of the surface, sycophantic window dressing that will be ubiquitous today.
Sometimes I think that racism has seeped into the cultural soil of our national heritage like spent motor oil does into the ground. It’s part of our past and it continues to reside in our national DNA.
As a nation, we fought a war over whether or not Americans had the right to enslave an entire race of people. To me that’s quite significant and I’m not sure it ever goes completely away.
Consequently, when liberals try to overreach and paper over the message of economic justice that was front and center for Dr. King, I believe they also diminish the true message that he delivered and gave his life for.