Martin Luther King Jr.
Thoughts on MLK and his contributions to America and the world... both good and bad.
The other side - This is a Toastmasters Speech I did on "the road to understanding", and thinking about the “other side” of Gandhi, MLK and Tankman. Who are the real heroes? Life and people are more complex than we are usually taught. And we owe it to everyone (and ourselves) not to just be shallow cheerleaders of caricatures and idols:
MLK's assassination and memory -
- MLK was a great plagiarist and pastor that gave some of the most inspirational speeches (and helped organize many of the marches) of the civil rights movement, and became the voice and face of that movement.
- His contributions to helping "his" people can't be diminished and should be remembered and celebrated. And the world and U.S. are better for having had him as the voice/face of that time/movement, than any of the alternatives.
- However, nor should we forget that he was a philanderer that surrounded himself with marxists, and was devolving into something far less savory than his earlier and more famous self, by the time he was murdered -- and like JFK and other good but flawed men, the best thing he could do to save his reputation was take an assassins bullet, before the full truth and consequences of his darker side came to light. (E.g. if it wasn't for JFK getting shot, his self destructive streak would have eventually caught up with him. And MLK shifting towards reparations and other causes might have devolved him into becoming just another Al Sharpton or other race hustler, if given enough time).
- I sincerely think the nation was better off because he was shot when he was, rather than the friction that would have been caused by the clashing of those who idealized his accomplishments versus those that admitted the reality of his flaws (or sensationalized them for other darker reasons). By dying it made the argument much more one-sided, and that was much better for the nation and the movement. (Dead martyrs are better than living hypocrites).
- In some ways, I sort of wish that we went with others as the image of black accomplishments like Leidesdorff, Douglass, Washington, or even DuBois. But it was easier to pretend that blacks couldn't accomplish anything until they got civil rights and MLK had given us that, rather than celebrating the incredible accomplishments of those who did so in spite of the nearly insurmountable headwinds/biases against them. But to me, that set the wrong tone. (I want to celebrate black achievements over injustice, rather than just wallowing in the injustice or the fight to overcome it).
MLK Plagiarism - King started plagiarizing the work of others and he continued this practice throughout his career. This isn't just sharing and quoting for others, this was lifting verbatim and without acknowledgement and taking credit for their work in his school papers, on to his speeches. Even his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech borrowed sections from a 1952 address to the Republican National Convention (by black preacher Archibald Carey). His test scores backed up that he was in the bottom in literary accademics.
MLK Philanderings - Secret FBI recordings accuse Martin Luther King Jr of watching and laughing as a pastor raped a woman, having 40 extramarital affairs.
MLK Communism - King avoided labelling himself a communist in public, but readily described himself as a Marxist in private. Plus his upper echelon was quite cozy with the communists. That's why the FBI started taping/monitoring him as a subversive element and a threat: because parts of his beliefs were just that. So while the blacks and hippies all discounted the claims that he was a communist and claim he was just being watched because whitey didn't like his stance on civil rights, the truth is they had bigger concerns about him being a Communist sowing discord, and if he wasn't outright collaborating (which some of his lieutenants were), his philandering and hypocrisy did make him an easy blackmail threat to the communists.
2017.01.20 MLK Bust - Time/Examiner - Trump pulled the MLK bust out of Oval Office. Never mind, it was moved in the same room, and the Churchill bust that Obama removed was brought back. Lesson: don't shittweet before factcheck!
A friend pointed out that we would be living in a different America if we had not lost Dr. King...
- (a) that's true about just about anyone
- (b) "Maybe not for the better"
Look, MLK plagiarized and gave a brilliant speech or three. And his causes were just, and his actions commendable (far better than the Malcom X type stuff). So I am somewhat a fan, and am not trying to pee in anyone's punchbowl, nor mock their heroes. There are far, far less worthy celebrities. So he's not a Che Guevara or unworthy type. But we need to watch the deification of people. Even people that had positive impact on many lives. And I'm also one that focuses on the counter-balances or things not discussed.
So I went on to mention the following points:
- remember, King was a philanderer that was surrounded by Marxists and started talking about reparations
- one of the best things you can do (for your reputation) is take an assassins bullet before the truth/scandals come out
Do you think we'd be a better world if King was disgraced as a hypocrite, or if he had to keep creating "the next big thing" to be like a Jesse Jackson (and become an attention whore)? What if he kept devolving into more and more leftist divisive/Marxist rhetoric? We have no way to know which way his life would have gone from there, and whether he would have pulled out from his trajectory, but there were at least a few indicators that it was heading towards a darker direction.
So while I respect his accomplishments, and forgive his sins, that's easier to do when he took a bullet near his peak, not nearer his valley.
He might have done great things, and still be the voice of reason. He might have also devolved and been tainted by scandal and his need for attention. But I find either, equally plausible. So from doing the most for the world, he might have died at the exact right time. We just don't know.