As the nation rediscovers poverty, it’s time to replace the safe, airbrushed icon with the revolutionary he was
By Joan Walsh
We are ready for the radical King now. President Obama, perhaps belatedly, has declared income inequality “the defining issue of our time.” Even poverty seems back on the agenda. The man who may be doing the most to advance these issues right now isn’t a politician or a rabble rouser; it’s Pope Francis, who’s been hailed by everyone from Obama to Paul Ryan (Ryan gets him wrong) as helping us make the issue of poverty central to our politics. “If Dr. King were alive today, he would be in Rome visiting Pope Francis holding a joint press conference to summoning the world to aid the poor eradicate poverty,” Clarence Jones says. The president promises he’s going to the Vatican to meet the new pope, and that’s a start.
For now, though, all these years later, King’s allies and inheritors are still fighting fires in a burning house. It’s time to rebuild the house with room for everyone, and keep it safer from the fiery danger of injustice.
His vital April 4, 1967 speech is a direct repudiation of the sophistry now used to defend US violence and aggression
By Glenn Greenwald
In that speech, King called the US government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," as well as the leading exponent of "the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long" (is there any surprise this has been whitewashed from his legacy?). He emphasized that his condemnations extended far beyond the conflict in Southeast Asia: "the war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit." He insisted that no significant social problem--wealth inequality, gun violence, racial strife--could be resolved while the US remains "a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift"--a recipe, he said, for certain "spiritual death". For that reason, he argued, "it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war." That's because: