January 23, 2013
Initially I hadn’t planned on writing a piece concerning this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. March. But after a few days of thinking about the ridiculousness of our local organizers I felt that something had to be said. It’s really a shame that Democratic operatives have co-opted the holiday committee for MLK because this should be a day without “party lines”. After all, Dr. King was not a big proponent of the left-right paradigm.
In fact, at one point he said, “I feel someone must remain in the position of non-alignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both—not the servant or master of either.” With that being said, one might think that the committee would be nonpartisan. But apparently this is not so (or at least it is not a concern of the organizers). The reader will see shortly why I think there was a bias within the committee that originated from political elements.
This year, the Inauguration Day fell on the same date that we observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The holiday committee decided that since Dr. King’s birthday fell on Pres. Obama’s Inauguration Day, they would combine the festivities. While I believe that some on the committee genuinely thought this was a good idea, clearly there wasn’t much thought put into it.
A couple of days before the march I got word of what the organizers had planned to do. I was a little puzzled by this decision because of what I knew about Dr. King’s stance on war as opposed to the president’s actions the last four years. The whole time I couldn’t stop thinking, “If MLK were alive today, would he support the president’s policies concerning drone strikes, foreign intervention, and indefinite detention of US citizens without a trial or jury?” But at the end of the day I tried to give the organizers the benefit of the doubt and chalk it off as them wanting to honor two influential men of color.
I discussed this with a local activist and rapper named Rev Dellic, who also had the same concerns. Despite my reservations about the inauguration component, I decided to join with local activists to commemorate Dr. King. Admittedly a few of us also wanted to strike up conversations with Obama supporters to see what their thoughts were on the comparisons of these two men.
Rev and I decided that we would march with signs around our necks that read, “MLK had a dream…What is Obama’s dream?” We decided the best approach would be to pose a somewhat simple and nonthreatening question to open up dialogue.
As I made my way to the Old Courthouse, I hadn’t even gotten across the street to where everyone was meeting for the march, when my attention was immediately brought to a 10-12 foot tall Obama puppet standing with outstretched hands behind the ROTC choir. Besides the irony of the giant puppet, I found the whole situation awkward. Another thing that stood out to me was the fact that Obama was the predominant character despite the status of MLK.
At any rate, once we got over to the site of where the march would begin, we proceeded to put on our signs. Overall we had a 95% positive reception with a few double takes and a couple snide remarks. But by and large most people were indifferent to the question posed. To those that responded negatively or somewhat perturbed, they seemed to be going more on their emotions or the perception that we may give wearing a political sign at such an occasion. Of course the latter response is silly since the Democrats already politicized MLK Day by combining the inauguration with it.
One self-proclaimed “Anarchist” named James rode over on his bike to henpeck us on why these signs were inappropriate and polarizing towards nonwhites. His arguments weren’t totally illogical and he wasn’t being a jerk, however he was worried more about his agenda to proselytize African-Americans to Anarchism then our right to freely express ourselves. He also made this wild assumption that because some of us were white that we had no connection to the black community here in St. Louis. I couldn’t help but laugh on the inside when he said this.
While I get being sensitive to the culture of others, I don’t buy into the psychology of “white guilt”. My personal belief is that your motive for helping oppressed peoples should not come from a place of making penitence but out of love and the brotherhood of man. Needless to say James failed to convince us to remove the signs but he did successfully remind us that even some in the activist community censor themselves according to the other parties’ color of skin.
Another gentleman that was a little annoyed by our signs, got in my face and asked what I meant by the statement being made. I was a little caught off guard by his aggression but I proceeded to explain my position. Unfortunately, like I have to do every time I discuss Pres. Obama, I had to preface my argument by saying that the problem is his policies and not his hue. Once I got past the opening spiel, I told him that I believed that if Dr. King were alive today he would have denounced the president’s actions against foreign countries and the continuance of tyrannical “Bushian” policies.
This gentleman actually looked at me, with a straight face, and said, “It seems like we’re living in the past…” He also took issue with the sign and tried to charge us with not being forthright by simply posing a question. The guy said it was disingenuous and that “Obama is about peace because he brought the soldiers home from Iraq.” He further hashed out his argument by saying that MLK was against the Vietnam War but that this was a different time period altogether. The gentleman then attempted to counter my mention of the murderous drone strikes by saying, “France has taken over that.”
Defying logic and facts, this guy waved off the killing of women and children (that the president signed off on) by playing political hot potato and essentially telling us that we need to evolve on our views of foreign intervention. After he was done I started to note a few things that he seemed to be brushing aside but before I could say another sentence, he literally ran away like a cartoon character out of Looney Tunes.
Fact of the matter is, this man was a diehard Democrat and an Obama sycophant, who when Bush was in office opposed war and surely cried aloud about the civil rights violations of Gitmo prisoners. But now that he has someone that “looks” like him, he feels comfortable in playing identity politics (a charge that Dems attempt to put on the majority of whites on the right). Aside from the hypocrisy, he tried to obfuscate the truth.
It is inaccurate to say that America does not have “boots on the ground” in Iraq. We are still meddling in that country through private mercenary groups like Blackwater; which changed its name from XE to Academi. Furthermore, as far as I know, the United States is still in full command over drone strikes in Pakistan and is waging other proxy wars in the Middle East and Africa. I haven’t the slightest clue where he got that France is now the sole villain in droning innocents.
Continuing on, a more peculiar moment was when we were approached by college students from UMSL that had no idea what the march was about. They said to us that their instructor told them to meet down at the Old Courthouse for a class assignment but didn’t tell them what the event was about. Although I thought this was incredible that they were oblivious to MLK Day and the presidential inauguration, I definitely could see how they could be confused considering all the mixed messages.
This confusion leads into the center of mine and other’s frustration with how this event was handled. It is my opinion that the two events should not have been combined or there should have been a distinction made. It seemed to run altogether and quite frankly Obama was the center of attention despite later marching for Dr. King. I can’t speak for everyone there but the Obama worship was creepy just as it was in DC. I was kind of expecting for people to form lines and patterns for their dictator. But I guess we’re not there yet.