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Martin Luther King warned about people like Trump and his ilk — and knew how to respond to their crimes

January 18, 2021 in Blogs

By Salon

Time is broken in the Age of Trump. The ability to distort reality is one of fascism’s greatest powers. World-historical events are collapsed down into a few days or weeks. Perspective is lost.

Over the course of two weeks, the American people experienced an attempted fascist coup by Donald Trump and then his subsequent impeachment for inciting insurrection. On Inauguration Day, two weeks after Trump’s supporters overran the U.S. Capitol building, Joe Biden will finally become president of the United States of America.

This essay is being published on Monday, Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is now two days before Inauguration and five days after Trump’s impeachment. These days feel like years.

Dr. King was martyred by a white supremacist assassin in 1968. More than 50 years later, white supremacists with their Confederate flags, Nazi tattoos and T-shirts and other symbols of hate, attacked the U.S. Capitol with lethal results. Once again, we are reminded that white supremacy and the color line are a type of changing same in America.

The forces of white supremacy and American Apartheid that Dr. King fought against those decades ago were never fully exorcised or vanquished.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a civic holiday in America, one when the country celebrates its own belief (which is really a comforting lie) that it transcended racism and white supremacy through the blood sacrifice of one man and the other (acceptable) heroes of the civil rights movement.

Dr. King’s civic holiday has its obligatory rituals. There will be the documentaries and other films and movies about his life and the civil rights movement. Famous people will offer words of wisdom. There will be disappointment. There will be hope. There will be marches and gatherings — made even more poignant and surreal by life in a time of plague.

And on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021, the juxtaposition of Donald Trump’s ignominy with King’s moral vision and life of sacrifice will be almost impossible to ignore.

One of the obligatory public rituals on this day is the summoning of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech, which is often misrepresented and willfully distorted.

In the (white) American popular imagination, King’s dream of racial equality and real democracy are understood as being something accomplished with the …read more


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