Yesterday was the official unveiling of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall in Washington D.C. For those of you who have read my blogs before, you know that I feel that Rev. King was a monumental figure in American history and he earned his place among Washington and Jefferson. He was a modern day Isaiah, a prophet who spoke of the need to overcome hatred, violence and greed.
It was a historical moment when President Obama was elected, but maybe it was more of a symbolic achievement, and it has only served to divert us from looking at the real measure of our society’s progress. In the context of “The Dream”, what would Dr. King see today?
Instead of one unnecessary war, we are fighting three. In fact, war has become institutionalized in our society with the never-ending “war on terror”. His observation that we were becoming as a Nation the greatest perpetrator of violence in the World has only become more obvious.
Rev. King called poverty another form of “violence”. After decades of declining poverty rates, poverty among Americans began to increase under President Bush and has actually accelerated under President Obama. More children are born into poverty today than since the 1960s. The disparity of incomes among all Americans has increased to obscene levels, especially between minorities and Caucasian Americans. Since the Bush Presidency, the net wealth of white Americans has declined 16%, among Latinos and Blacks it has declined nearly 40%.
In America today the greed of the super-rich has become insatiable and inculcated into the very fabric of our Government. Funding for programs to help people in need is being eliminated, while programs to enrich the already rich are increasing. The attack on Organized Labor signals the final dismantling of any opportunity for poor Americans to rise to the middle class or beyond. America is becoming a 3rd world society of have and have-nots.
Hatred has once again become acceptable in our society. For example, hatred of Muslims has become acceptable for far too many Americans when laws are passed to restrict the practice of their religion or the construction of Mosques go unchallenged. Even the President of the United States is subject to suspicion and hatred because his name “sounds” Muslim.
I am glad that the King Memorial exists and bears witness on the Mall, but it is sad that his voice remains like one “calling from the wilderness”.