The MLK You Don't See on TV
by Jason Williams, Mon Jan 17, 2011 at 02:30:03 PM EST
FAIR finds a nugget in the archives. A column by column by FAIR founder Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon dispelling any notion, as DOD Chief Counsel Jeh suggested last week, that today's wars are in-line with King's humanitarianism, and illustrating how far we're still off from achieving his dream:
But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights"--including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.
Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power.
You haven't heard the "Beyond Vietnam" speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967--and loudly denounced it. Life magazine called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The Washington Post patronized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."
In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his life: the Poor People's Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would descend on Washington--engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be--until Congress enacted a poor people's bill of rights. Reader's Digest warned of an "insurrection."
King's economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its "hostility to the poor"--appropriating "military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty funds with miserliness."
The column, written in 1995, wraps with a condemnation of a Congress and a mass media complacent toward income inequality and poverty in our country.
16 years after this column, 43 years after King's assasination, it's worth asking ourselves how much closer we are to the vision Reverend King fought for.