Observing MLK Day 2019

MLK Day

I commented in “Observing MLK Day 2017,” posted January 16, 2017, as follows:

If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he would bemoan that  America remains so far from the Promised Land of his famous dream. It speaks volumes in this respect that President-elect Trump marked observations of this holiday two years ago with a racist rant against MLK protégé John Lewis.

After Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said that Russian interference undermined the legitimacy of his election, the preternaturally thinskinned Trump reacted by impugning Lewis’s character and life’s work:

Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to…mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad! ‒ Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017

This he said of a man who bears well-known scars from marching with MLK for civil rights. Lewis also happens to be the most revered Black man in America today – as Obama himself would concede.

As for his district, far from ‘falling apart [and being] crime infested,’ Atlanta is the very manifestation of that ‘shining city upon a hill’ former President Ronald Reagan envisioned in his farewell address. Moreover, no less a Republican bible than  Forbes  named his district ‘the ninth best place in America for businesses and career development, and among the best for job growth and education.’

More racism

Yet remarkably, President Trump marked observations last year with a racist rant against “shithole countries” like Haiti and all those in Africa. Evidently, when it comes to immigration, he wants people to be judged by the color of their skin, not by the content of their character. This is why he reportedly huffed that too many are coming from those Black countries and not enough from White ones … “like Norway.”

Given the way he marked previous ones, it should come as no surprise that Trump marked observations this year with more racism. After all, he triggered a government shutdown more than a month ago in a temper tantrum because Democrats refused to appropriate the billions he wants to build a wall to keep Brown migrants from “invading” the country.

And he’s only compounding his racist huff by insisting that those migrants, who number in the thousands, are creating a humanitarian crisis (in Mexico) that only his wall can solve. He’s blithely ignoring that the furloughed government workers, who number in the hundreds of thousands, are facing a humanitarian crisis of his making.

On tiptoe status

Like most Americans, the vast majority of those workers live paycheck to paycheck. And not receiving that paycheck is forcing many of them to stand in  Soviet-style breadlines, miss mortgage and rent payments, and withdraw children from afterschool activities. (Russian President Vladimir  Putin could not have scripted a more gleeful turnabout of events for his Manchurian president to trigger.)

Trump is also imposing danger upon airline passengers because many Transportation Safety Administration agents are saying they can’t afford to show up to screen them for no pay.

Incidentally, Trump’s racist antics forced John Lewis to lead boycotts of his State of the Union Address in 2017 and 2018.  And Trump has given him just cause to do the same this year ‒ except that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have spared him the effort. She has informed Trump that she’s rescinding the invitation for him to deliver it this year until he comes to his senses and ends the shutdown.

The only one!

But, hey, it was MLK’s day. It is most noteworthy that he is the only private citizen (Black or White) to have a federal holiday declared in his honor. Hell, even Washington and Lincoln have to share one holiday on Presidents’ Day. And, with the August 2013 dedication of his memorial, MLK is now perched on the Mall alongside them in perpetuity.

All of which might explain why Washington’s monument is glaring down on MLK’s. Seriously, though, am I the only one who thinks the  Washington Monument looks eerily like a stonemason’s homage to the Ku Klux Klan? As I wrote in 2011, “Is it not a curious thing that this everlasting monument to the slave-holding Washington pays unwitting homage to this everlasting symbol of White supremacy?”

Whatever the case, this holiday is not just a testament to MLK’s greatness. It’s a symbolic down payment on the promissory note that represents the unpaid ‒ if not unpayable ‒ debt America owes descendants of the Blacks it enslaved.

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Anthony L. Hall is a native of The Bahamas with an international law practice in Washington, D.C. Read his columns and daily weblog at www.theipinionsjournal.com. Click on this commentary at www.flcourier.com to write your own response.

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