There was a great deal of fanfare a couple of weeks ago, when thousands of people gathered on The Mall to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of The March on Washington. Barack Obama stood where Martin Luther King had stood and declared that the United States was "the greatest nation on earth."
Without a doubt, King would be pleased with Obama's ascension. But Gerry Caplan wonders, in today's Globe and Mail, if King would agree with Obama's assessment of the country:
King had three great objectives: human equality, social justice and peace. But given America’s distance still from anything remotely approaching equality, social justice and peace, you really had to wonder what part of Dr. King’s dream, health care aside, President Obama had actually been working on since becoming president.
Caplan then goes on to flesh out just how far from King's dream America is:
We can be pretty confident that King would have been aghast at the vast inequality that characterizes America today; disconsolate at the thousand ways in which racism still plagues black America; distressed by the neoliberal economic advisers with whom Obama has surrounded himself; startled by the corporate lobbyists who have so much influence in the White House; and shocked that the President’s defence budget is a mind-boggling $660-billion a year. Not to belabour all those killer drones needed for Terror Tuesday or the fact that it’s easier to buy a gun in America these days than it is to vote.
Given King’s passionate opposition to American aggression in Vietnam, we can be pretty sure what he’d have thought of the multiple American aggressions since he was murdered, from Cambodia to Nicaragua to Panama to Afghanistan to Grenada to Iraq. So he might be spinning once more at proposition that a righteous America is somehow entitled to punish the president of Syria for his transgressions.
No, the Baptist preacher would not be happy. America is far from being, "Free at last! Free at last!" The dream has been denied.