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Turning King’s Dream Into a Nightmare

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Posted on Jan 17, 2010
MLK and Malcolm X
AP / Henry Griffin

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., left, with Malcolm X in Washington in March 1964.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

The crude racist rhetoric of the past is now considered impolite. We pretend there is equality and equal opportunity while ignoring the institutional and economic racism that infects our inner cities and fills our prisons, where a staggering one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are incarcerated. There are more African-American men behind bars than in college. “The cell block has replaced the auction block,” the poet Yusef Komunyakaa writes.

The fact that prison and urban ghettos are populated primarily with people of color is not an accident. It is a calculated decision by those who wield economic and political control. For the bottom third of African-Americans, many of whom live in these segregated enclaves of misery and deprivation, little has changed over the past few decades; indeed, life has often gotten worse.

In the last months of his life, King began to appropriate Malcolm’s language, reminding listeners that the ghetto was a “system of internal colonialism.” “The purpose of the slum,” King said in a speech at the Chicago Freedom Festival, “is to confine those who have no power and perpetuate their powerlessness. … The slum is little more than a domestic colony which leaves its inhabitants dominated politically, exploited economically, segregated and humiliated at every turn.” The chief problem is economic, King concluded, and the solution is to restructure the whole society.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were, as King and Malcolm knew, meaningless slogans if there was no possibility of a decent education, a safe neighborhood, a job or a living wage. King and Malcolm were also acutely aware that the permanent war economy was directly linked to the perpetuation of racism and poverty at home and often abroad. 

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In a speech titled “Beyond Vietnam” he gave at Riverside Church a year before his assassination, King called America the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” a quote that won’t make it into many Martin Luther King Day celebrations. King’s strident denunciation of the Vietnam War and economic injustice at the end of his life saw many white liberals, members of his own staff, as well as allies within the political power structure, turn against him. King and Malcolm, in the final days of their lives, were lonely men.

“There are many ways in which Malcolm’s message is more relevant today,” said Cone, who also wrote “A Black Theology of Liberation.” “King’s message is almost entirely dependent on white people responding to his appeals for nonviolence, love and integration. He depends on a positive response. Malcolm spoke to black people empowering themselves. He said to black people, ‘You may not be responsible for getting yourself into the situation you are in, but if want to get out you will have to get yourself out. The people who put you in there are not going to get you out.’ King was appealing to whites to help get black people out. But King gradually began to realize that African-Americans could not depend on whites as much as he had thought.

“King did not speak to black self-hate and Malcolm did,” Cone said. “King was a political revolutionary. He transformed the social and political life of America. You would not have Barack Obama today if it had not been for King. Malcolm was a cultural revolutionary. He did not change the social or political structures, but he changed how black people thought about themselves. He transformed black thinking. He made blacks love themselves at a time when they hated themselves. The movement from being Negro and colored to being black, that’s Malcolm. Black studies in the universities and black caucuses, that’s Malcolm. King never would have done black studies. He taught a course at Morehouse on social and political philosophers and did not include a black person. He didn’t have W. E. B. Du Bois or Frederick Douglass. None of them. He had all the white figures like Plato and Aristotle. Malcolm helped black people to love themselves.” 

King and Malcolm would have excoriated a nation that spends $3 trillion waging imperial wars in the Middle East and trillions more to fill the accounts of Wall Street banks while abandoning its poor. They would have denounced the liberals who mouth platitudes about justice for the poor while supporting a party that slavishly serves the interests of the moneyed elite. These American prophets spoke on behalf of people who had nothing left with which to compromise. And for this reason they did not compromise. 

“You can’t drive a knife into a man’s back nine inches, pull it out six inches, and call it progress,” Malcolm said.

“I’ve decided what I’m going to do,” King preached at one of his last sermons at Ebenezer Baptist Church. “I ain’t going to kill nobody in Mississippi … [and] in Vietnam. I ain’t going to study war no more. And you know what? I don’t care who doesn’t like what I say about it. I don’t care who criticizes me in an editorial. I don’t care what white person or Negro criticizes me. I’m going to stick with the best. On some positions, cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when a true follower of Jesus Christ must take a stand that’s neither safe nor politic nor popular but he must take that stand because it is right. Every now and then we sing about it, ‘If you are right, God will fight your battle.’ I’m going to stick by the best during these evil times.” 


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By derfen, June 2, 2010 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

The problem of racism and xenophobia do not fully resolved in the U.S.. Mutual distrust has long will exist. Thanks from mahjong fan.

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By Alan MacDonald, January 21, 2010 at 7:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

truedigger3, apparently, from your comment, you have dug far enough and hit the truth.

Congratulations in finding the truth, truedigger.

I apologize for suggesting any further discussion about possible veins of golden truth to a miner who has already hit paydirt.

As a child I remember the expression, “if you keep digging you will hit China”, but as an adult I have put away those childish things and believe that as we dig deeper we will hit Empire. 

I may be wrong, but am unwilling to stop digging, since I am apparently less confident than you that any golden vein of truth has been discovered and that I can, as you suggest, “stop right there. I will have none of it.”

Keep an open mind—- it’s particularly important in finding that golden vein of truth, particularly when others may be trying to distract you.

Keep digging,
Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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By Inherit The Wind, January 21, 2010 at 4:52 am Link to this comment

Che J:
You claim to know everything about King but understand NOTHING!
Do you think King should have engaged in armed insurrection instead?  And what would THAT have accomplished, other than to satisfy your urge for “revolution” (which I infer from your handle of “Che”).

Che was killed in Bolivia, I believe.  But peacefully, Evo Morales is achieving far more there 40 years later.

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By Che J, January 21, 2010 at 1:36 am Link to this comment

Where did anybody ever get the idea that MLK was a radical?  How can we have
intelligent discussions when writers clearly didn’t live during that time and have
recast someone into a radical who was bamboozled into politics and who
repeatedly stated that he was not radical?  The fact that a dupe like MLK was even
at the forefront of such an activity as the civil rights movement is a sad
commentary on the death of intellectuals such as Malcolm X and what that
wrought. 

Start by rejecting MLK as a genuine grass roots leader - he was no more one than
Obama, who has been groomed for the last 15 years or so by the far right to be a
president with no power whatsoever, representing the worst of both parties.  Who
chooses the editorials we’re supposed to comment upon anyway?

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By Inherit The Wind, January 20, 2010 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment

Virginia777, January 20 at 9:43 pm #

nice memory, ITW, it still doesn’t explain why you are blind to the enormous amounts of Racism that exist in America today.
*****************************************************

Blind to it? BLIND TO IT??? Are you out of your twisted mind??? I’m not BLIND to it!

I have LONG argued that the GOP used racism from 1964 to 2008 to attract the redneck element.  It wouldn’t work if racism wasn’t rampant.

It’s that stupid “All or Nothing” thinking that makes me crazy.

I’m not saying racism isn’t rampant, but that doesn’t mean it has NOT receded in the last 40 years.  It has.  It doesn’t mean that things for non-whites is terms of blatant overt discrimination haven’t improved—they have, but far, FAR from enough.

Just because bitter racism exists today in America doesn’t mean improvements haven’t been made.  Nobody bitches about busing anymore—they just do it by age instead of race, but get the same effect.
Nobody bitches about public pools being open to everyone—they just do it have since the mid 70’s.

That doesn’t mean a Black or Hispanic kid has the same chance to be a CEO as a White kid—but the chances were zero in 1965 and now are greater than zero—just not much greater.

Use your brain Virginia!

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By Virginia777, January 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment

nice memory, ITW, it still doesn’t explain why you are blind to the enormous amounts of Racism that exist in America today.

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By Mary Morton, January 20, 2010 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From the beginning, it has been obvious that the most important thing in life to President Obama is his family - his wife and two children.  I believe that he has been told by those in power that he does their bidding or his family is toast.  Of course, tha doesn’t explain how he could be elected when he was so open about escalating further war and imperialism on other peoples.

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By Hulk2008, January 20, 2010 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

What this country lacks and desperately needs is a frontier.  In older times, when the wealthy and power-mad politicians started making things uncomfortable in America, people regardless of color walked, ran, rode, and trekked into the wilderness - out west, away from society of any kind.  Trouble is there is no longer anyplace to escape into. 
  The one characteristic that wealthy people all share is the drive to tell everybody else what to do ... or not do.  Wealth always transcends race and ethnicity.
  Race will remain an issue until the populace successfully intermarry to the point that “color” will be indistinguishable.  There will be a box on the US Census that queries: “Race:  All-and-poor   Or Wealthy”.  Eventually the robber barons will have to incarcerate up 90% of the citizens to maintain control.
  MLK was often perceived to be a socialist in the sense of demanding that the government enforce equality.  But his Christianity led him to that first - his Lord, Jesus, basically ignored government and demanded equality from the people themselves - bottom-up not top-down.

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By Night-Gaunt, January 20, 2010 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

Lynchings went into the 20th century and weren’t confined to Dixie either. Some people even now still think that if you aren’t treated equally in our society than you are less than them and can then be killed with impunity. Just ask all those dead gay men and women assaulted and some were killed both inside and outside the military. A vile thought process no matter who is targeted whether for gender, color, social status, sexual interest etc. it ends the same way. Proposition 8 anyone?

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By randomstu, January 20, 2010 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

> Martin Luther King Day has become a yearly ritual
> to turn a black radical into a red-white-and-blue > icon.

In America, most mature people don’t blindly follow heros or leaders. Instead, people care about principles. MLK day doesn’t exist to glorify a dead individual, but rather to honor particular principles that he articulated: most specifically, the principle of judging people based on their actions, rather than skin color.

> King, after all, was not only a socialist but
> fiercely opposed to American militarism

King is honored for articulating an opposition to racial discrimination. That’s the principle we honor on MLK day. The fact that King was a socialist is every bit as irrelevent as the issue of, say, whether he committed adultery. It’s not about the man, it’s about the principle he represents.

> So by making his birthday a national holiday,
> everybody claims him, even though they opposed
> him while he was alive.

A good percentage of our population wasn’t even born (or were still children) when MLK was alive. But MLK day is still meaningful to them because it represents our widely-shared belief in not judging people by skin color.

Of course, not everyone shares this belief or hope re going beyond racial classification and discrimination. Or, at the very least, such beliefs are so unimportant to them, that they’d rather use MLK day as a way to piggy-back their unrelated causes, like advancing socialism etc, as Hedges does here.

http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

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By Inherit The Wind, January 19, 2010 at 10:09 pm Link to this comment

Virginia:
Lynchings aren’t THAT long ago—I remember VIVIDLY the execution-killings on WTVD-Greensboro in 1979, when a tiny group from Durham calling themselves the “Communist Workers Party” held a “Death to the Klan” rally in Greensboro—if there were 50 people there it was a lot.

The Klan and a bunch of American Nazis came, started arguing, went back to their cars, got guns and started shooting—all while the WTVD video tapes were running. A lot of the CWP were killed—none of the KKK/Nazis were even hurt.

In the resulting trial, they were all, ALL acquitted.

I remember that day, vividly.

And how long ago was the Byrd lynching?  At LEAST that one got the bastards punished.

And I remember the political killings of the 60’s.  It wasn’t just JFK, RFK, and MLK.  There was Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X.  There was the 3 civil rights workers and Mrs. Liusa.  There was James Meredith (he was shot but didn’t die).  There was even the murder of George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party.

Maybe it’s long ago to you…but maybe Ronald Reagan’s regime is long ago to you, too.

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By Night-Gaunt, January 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment

Actually Truthdigger3 wasn’t it Eisenhower or even Truman though really FDR and helping the French fight the Japanese trying to take their Asian empire away. Who was interested in France’s lost colony? It is true that on two occasions, after both world wars delegates of the Vietnamese asked the American president to support them in their need for freedom from foreign tyranny. They were rebuffed both times. Ahh, the “Land of the Free” doesn’t extend to anyone else!

Wasn’t it LBJ who was the one who escalated it into a real war even if the Congress failed in their duties to declare war or not?

Wars are evil things and Dr. MLK Jr. knew that and that made him unpopular with those who think strength is equated with violence and gun boat diplomacy in other people’s lands. That is universal and still holds today, especially with the growing empire we have that is ill fitted for a Republic but not for a fascist empire. He would see some hope but also many things still wrong and getting worse.

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By truedigger3, January 19, 2010 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment

Re:By Alan MacDonald, January 19 at 6:15 pm #

Alan,

Why did you bring JFK here?. He was not a pacifist or against wars. He started the Vietnam war!!.
If he had procedural disagreements with the military or CIA , “if that was true”, that happen all the time and that doesn’t make him a MLK or a Ghandi.
If you are leading us to another conspiracy theory about JFK assassination, I say, stop right there. I will have none of it.

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By Virginia777, January 19, 2010 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment

I disagree ITW. I do see you point that we don’t have lynchings anymore, but that was a long, long time ago and to say that Racism is better than then, is a moot point.

Where racism has not improved, in fact has back-tracked, is from the 1960’s. Racism was subdued for awhile in America (some might say it went underground) but it has re-emerged, big time. We are literally drowning in racism today, and this is crazy, for 2010. Open racism has become acceptable again. Our cities (and schools) are segregated.

To deny this, is to allow it to continue and racism is a destroyer. It harms a significant portion of our population. It eats away at the fabric of our humanity.

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By Inherit The Wind, January 19, 2010 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment

Virginia,  Racism is still prevalent in America but things are better, much better.

See I remember how people were murdered in the South and the murderers walked away from it. Lynching was virtually unpunished, even terrorist bombings were near-impossible to prosecute. Gone are the days when some bunch of rednecks could hang a Black man with impunity for even LOOKING at a White woman.

I was living in Virginia when we elected a Black governor—in the South!

But that doesn’t mean racism is gone, or the economic inequities are gone, or the simple inability to call a cab are gone.

Nor does it mean that a Black man can drive from New York to Florida without getting stopped and fined for no good reason.

But the last time a Black man was lynched (Mr. Byrd) in The South, the two rednecks who did it got the death penalty, when once they wouldn’t even have been charged but would have laughed about it with their buddies over beer.

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By gerard, January 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment

Martin Luther King stuck with nonviolence, insisting upon its effectiveness as a method of resistance because it had been successful (particularly in India), and because he saw from history that violence is used as an excuse to employ more and stronger violence, thus working to i-n-c-r-e-a-s-e the power of forces which his program of justice and equality was attempting to overcome. 
  He saw non-violence as right and violence as wrong. He illustrated by his life that non-violence requires every bit as much courage as violence.  He hoped to use his leadership making the point clear that in any struggle both methods are available, and it is our responsibility to c-h-o-o-s-e the right method when the crunch comes in working for any and all human rights.

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By Alan MacDonald, January 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hedges is right on target——and the target is the ruling-elite corporate/financial/militarist EMPIRE that controls ‘our’ government by hiding behind the facade of its two-party ‘Vichy’ sham of democracy (aided by its equally ‘Vichy’ Goebbelesque media).
Not only did MLK have a prescient sense of the battle against this hidden Empire perverting our democracy, but JFK did also.

Both men had the vision, and the courage to speak-out, to take action behind the scenes, and to pay the ultimate price for confronting Empire and its ‘antional security state’, its “shadow government”, its “Secret Team” (as Fletcher Prouty calls it), or its corporate/financial/militarist Empire (as I call it).

MLK knew that he had been set-up and put in a fix after his Riverside Church speech “Beyond Vietnam—A Time to Break Silence” (April 4, 1967), when he vastly expanded his vision and criticism from civil rights and racism to the whole panoply of the hidden Empire’s perversions and crimes of class, financial, and imperialist wars—- thus exposing himself to the sure enmity of the Empire’s secret “national security state’.

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm

JFK likewise knew that he had been set-up and put “in a fix” as Curtis LeMay (CIA) taunted him in the White House about the Cuban Missile Crisis (after the CIA pressure to employ US forces in the Bay of Pigs).

Obama, has now been pressured several times and put “in a fix” by the CIA generals and the deceitful media leaks by the MIC/Empire through the ‘good offices’ of the senior uniformed ‘regular’ military leadership—- you know, the ones like Adm. Mullen, Gen. Petraeus, and Gen. McChrystal, who are ‘regular’ CIA also—- and are pushing hard toward broad M.E. and Central Asian war (even though it will ‘end badly’, if ending in nuclear war is ‘ending badly’).

Obama is reaching his JFK crisis turning point, his MLK Riverside moment, his Truman turning point against General MacArthur in using Korea to launch war on mainland China, his Eisenhower turning point against the MIC.

Obama knows that he is being ‘gamed’ and put “in a fix” by the militarist Empire behind the superficially ‘democratic’ two-party ‘Vichy’ government and equally ‘Vichy’ media (which is pushing hard now for global war, under the guise of antiterrorism—- all the while pushing ‘fear’ to roll both the US people and Obama).

Obama, knowing this, put a ‘shot across the bow’ of the global corporate/financial/militarist Empire during his Nobel address by quoting JFK’s American University 6/22/63 speech—- which was JFK’s first fully PUBLIC shot at the Empire after working only behind the scenes to press the Empire on the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile crisis ‘set-ups’ for global war.

Obama must now, even more publicly tell the American people that he is being railroaded toward war and so are we. He must expose and confront the Empire that he has only been dueling with in the dark. He must fight it in the light and with the help and support of the American people (except, of course, those ruling-elite behind the Empire)

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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By kath, January 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have to add that Chris my favorite and the only one whose column I look for every week.  He always tears away at the illusions we fall for and keeps an interesting perspective on what we are up against.  I think of all these young blacks in prison and murdered in drug wars as a form of genocide.  I agree—- restructure the whole society.

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By Tommy Tucci, January 19, 2010 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. BIRTHDAY ...Jan 8, 2010 ... BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS IGNORED BY OBAMA How does Dr Martin Luther King Jr. fit into the American Power Structure of the 21st Century? ...
21stcenturyreversepyramid.blogspot.com/.../dr-martin-luther-king-jr-birthday.html - Cached

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By Samson, January 19, 2010 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

King’s Riverside Church speech
http://www.ratical.com/ratville/JFK/MLKapr67.html

Repository of King’s speeches and writings.  A nice antidote to the corporate version pushed one day a year.  http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/

King at Riverside, 1967 ...

“I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in the successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reasons to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides. Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans.

Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.”

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By Samson, January 19, 2010 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

Remember, MLK protested against the policies of Democratic state and local governments in the south.  MLK also protested against the Democratic policies of Kennedy and Johnson, which was also an era when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

MLK would have no problem figuring out what to do about these new Democrats.  Exactly what he did against the old ones.

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By Samson, January 19, 2010 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

People will gladly give ‘justice’ to anyone they ‘love’.  Of course, its easy to fake and pretend love.  You find out whether someone really means it when they are willing to give justice to those they say they love.

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By Night-Gaunt, January 19, 2010 at 11:19 am Link to this comment

1 in 5 Blacks are unemployed right now a staggering 25%! The Aryan power structure, Christian (of a certain type) spend an average $35,000 per inmate. A vast unregulated industry and a sick one. One who has a better chance of being raped and/or becoming a thug and hardened criminal even if he never was to begin with. A cheap labor pool but not to learn any marketable skills or earn any savings for when they get out. One who when they get out are branded for life with an invisible scarlet letter that will fuel their simmering hatred of the system that helped put them there and keeps them down after they have served their terms. A system originally started after Civil War(I) along with the economic slavery that was put in place then too. Conspiracy? You are correct sir! I dare say I would be worse off if the only thing different about myself was if I were black and not lily white.

We still have such pernicious and toxic thoughts out there that also contaminate newcomers to our shores. Remember when Yaffet Koto tried to hail a cab in NY in the late 1990’s? (Michael Moore show.) They wouldn’t do it because he was black, even those recent immigrants had picked up the noxious meme that permeates our culture which is still essentially run by Nordic-Aryans. Very rich ones who don’t like New Deal or anything that smacks of giving the rest of us peons a chance for a decent life. That is the reality.

Things might be some what better but Obama is a hard right winger Capitalist playing at being Liberal. He’s acting like George Bush more articulate and nicer.

Oh, we are in a Great Depression, “Recession” is the euphemism they use to try to fool us when we have 20% general unemployment which qualifies.

For me Chris Hedges is on the mark. Institutional racism is still around, it just went stealth. Change a name and off they go. More millionaires and billionaires of any color is bad for a society. We are now at the same point we were in 1929 when 75% of wealth is owned by just the top 10% and they pay only 35% of the taxes. Guess who pays the other 65%? With nothing fixed we are cruising for another chance at full meltdown into a Greater Depression that will rival the 1873 one. Then the architects of the new nation will come out and rebuild a new nation with the encumberances of a Bill of Rights or habeaus corpus to get in their way. When it will be one Empire under God. Not a prospect we need when the Republic is on the wane as it is killed from the inside out.*

*Recently came to light that AIG threatened the Securities & Exchange Commission that if they weren’t given a bail out 100 cents on the dollar free of strings they would take down our economy! Supposedly we can’t find out any more until 2018.

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By FreeWill, January 19, 2010 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

If ever there were blatant proof that racism is economic issue more than a color distinction it is here on the same page of Truthdig.
Here we have an article by a white guy Hedges who obviously gets it when it comes to human suffering and loss of dignity opposed to another article by Eugene Robinson, “Hard Lessons of a Rookie Year” an affluent black guy who clearly doesn’t get it. Eugene continues to defend the disastrous policies of Obama which now further marginalize our society into rich and poor.
Exactly how far have we come?  Now the only difference is that many more whites will join the ranks of the desperately poor.  When we learn as a people that it is the tool of the wealthy elite to divide us against each other so that they can continue in control and profit by it.

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By DieDaily, January 19, 2010 at 8:57 am Link to this comment

V777, I get your point, but

“Most of our great social reformers, once they are
dead, are kidnapped by the power elite and turned
into harmless props of American glory.”

is his point. And I think he does a sterling job of
making it. He’s de-sanitizing and de-racializing.
He’s trying to point out that their true messages are
often co-opted and rendered sweet and pat. But the
truth is that they were both killed for crossing the
divides of race and class, not by any stretch of the
imagination for their black activism. The moment they
transcended race and class…pow. That’s they we it
goes. Unity. Classless society. Chris Hedges tears
away the cutesy “wasn’t he a nice little black
activist, didn’t he do nice work for them colored
folks” overlay, in order to draw attention to the
long-sanitized aspects of their struggles. Frankly,
this writer’s mind is unbelievable. As his his
courage. I’m kind of in awe of him, in case you
didn’t notice.

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By Virginia777, January 19, 2010 at 7:25 am Link to this comment

I am concerned about the many posts I saw yesterday, similar to Hedges’s article, that compare Martin Luther King to Malcolm X, and equate them or even say Malcolm X was somehow “superior”.

It seems to me many posters are in the total ignorance of the level of racism in America today, how it has grown (no, ITW, it is NOT getting better).

How couldn’t it? Fox News and hate-radio are Everywhere and spew racism daily, this has served to make racism (perhaps always only hidden) “ok” to come on out into the open again.

We are buried in Racism in America today, and it is MLK (and not Malcolm) that is providing the inspiration needed to those suffering from it.

It was King who let the powerful legacy in written word, living word today. It was King who was the prophet.

So why is Malcolm X getting equal credit (on Martin Luther King day, no less), even by great writers like Chris Hedges?

Come on! time to Wake Up people.

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By DieDaily, January 19, 2010 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

“Yet, buried under GRYM’s post is a funny thing: 
Very few Whites I know actually embrace racism.”
BINGO! F-ing fabulous post btw ItW. The race card is
a poker card. They didn’t go after MLK or MX until
they started to do the two things that are NEVER
allowed. Unified the races / bridged the divides, and
followed the money / realized that the economic
oppression forms the real superstructure. The
economic oppression is and always will be “color
blind”...it only sees in Green. Vis a vis Malcolm X,
though, it can’t be said for sure who’s money took
him out, regardless of the race of the shooters but
we do knoew that there were plenty of irregularities.
Hoover’s COINTEL PRO was in full swing, and police
provocateuring was ramping up. A week before his
death some report Malcolm X said that the harassment
had gotten too big for any organization of blacks to
accomplish on it’s own, that it had to be somebody
else, though he did not specify who. I think he was
tolerated as long as he was dividing the races and
religions.

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By Inherit The Wind, January 19, 2010 at 5:00 am Link to this comment

Yet again Hedges ignores basic facts that tend to undermine his point. Much of what he says is quite true but much is false as well.
1) Malcolm X, after his haj to Mecca, abandoned his fundamental racist philosophy.  Not that Blacks needed to help themselves and not rely on Whites, but the idea that Whites are fundamentally evil. Malcolm wrote that in Mecca he prayed, ate, drank and slept alongside fellow Muslims who were Black, Brown and White, but all devout together to the same faith, with no difference between them.
2) This was a major break from Elijah Muhammad’s movement today led by the racist anti-semite Louis Farrakhan, and THEY were behind Malcolm’s death, not the White establishment.
3) King was not saying “pretty please” to the White man.  He was following the non-violent civil disobedience path of Gandhi, where by allowing the violence of Police eventually the immorality would catch up, or, as Gandhi put it “Yes, the British will just walk out”. 
4) But King also knew the sacrifices that Whites had made in the 60’s.  Schwerner and Goodman, who died with Cheney, were White. Viola Liusa, shot down by the Klan, was White.  King was good friends with Pete Seeger, who, if you called him a racist would probably laugh at you, married as he is to a Japanese-American woman for over 60 years.

Yet Hedges’ point that King was getting more radicalized and realizing that economics was far more part of the story, which Malcolm preached, is spot on.  During the years when Blacks were getting more radicalized, with the Panthers and people like Stokely Carmichael, King seemed almost old-fashioned and fading into the background.  Even Mad Magazine picked up on this with a spoof on it around 1966/1967 (I don’t remember which).

With King’s statement of opposition to the Viet Nam War (which infuriated his ally till then, LBJ) he “re-invented” himself and thrust himself back into the limelight.  His final work was with garbage workers on economic issues—as Hedges notes, seeing the economics as crucial.

I have long resented the reduction of MLK to “I have a dream”.  It’s a great speech, a seminal speech, but if it makes us forget all he did, it’s better to remember the marches, and the arrests and the TV interviews and the moral foundation he laid down so explicitly to change our nation.

Yes, non-whites have more rights, more chances, more options today than in 1963 or 1968.  That’s great.  Yes, we are able to elect a non-White man as President.  That’s great.

But the only real equality we are seeing today is that more and more White workers are finding themselves in the same boat as non-White workers.

As one poster noted, today it’s “OK” to hate Arabs and Mexicans. No, it’s not.

Nor is it all roses as our resident Foxer GRYM would have us think because one Black woman, Oprah Winfrey is a billionaire and can make or break an author’s career if she likes or hates their book.

Any one in any business with half a brain knows that the “Black Tax” is still very much alive today. I see what my Black colleagues face, which my colleagues from China and India don’t face.  It’s still very much there.

Yet, buried under GRYM’s post is a funny thing:  Very few Whites I know actually embrace racism. Most realize it is a very bad thing for everyone, themselves included and condemn it, as does GRYM.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not there.  Still, we can recognize it in ourselves and teach our children that it’s wrong, and WE shouldn’t accept it in ourselves.

Already the next generation seems to be less racist.

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By truedigger3, January 19, 2010 at 4:10 am Link to this comment

Those who blame the situation in inner cities on cultural attributes of its inhabitants are blinded by prejudice and bigotry and are ignorant of of history.
The deterioration of the inner cities started when industries and many businesses left the cities to the suburbs and took with them many of the living wage jobs leaving many of the blacks trapped behind unable to move to the suburbs either because they couldn’t afford it or because of racism.
Now that industries are leaving the suburbs and small towns to China, Mexico and Vietnam etc etc.., the same problems and afflictions that plagued the blacks in inner cities are starting to plague the whites in the suburbs and small towns and the only difference is that while crack is the drug of choice in the inner cities, the drug of choice in the suburbs and small towns is Meth amphetamine.
Yes indeed, economics and racism has a lot to do with the conditios in the inner cities.

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By ardee, January 19, 2010 at 4:05 am Link to this comment

DieDaily, January 19 at 5:19 am #

Chris Hedges is hands down my favorite reporter on this site.

And here I thought I was the only one!

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By liecatcher, January 19, 2010 at 2:05 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges’ Columns
Turning King’s Dream Into a Nightmare

And while MSM continues Turning King’s Dream Into a
Nightmare, Bush3 sold his soul.

He doesn’t consider the following:


(” On some positions, cowardice asks the question,
‘Is it safe? ’
Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic? ’
Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular? ’
But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ ),
in fact,
he doesn’t even have to ask himself ‘will it serve
my masters?’,
all he has to do to stay alive is to fulfill his
contract & follow
his script. And in so doing, he keeps in power the
descendents
of the original founding fathers who made their
fortunes as slave traders.

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By redspades, January 19, 2010 at 1:47 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges once again points the source of the wound and not only the wound.

Great Column.

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By DieDaily, January 19, 2010 at 1:19 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges is hands down my favorite reporter on this
site. He cuts through all the veneer and exposes the
illness so we can see what’s really happening and have
a chance at real healing. He not only transcends
racism, he transcends fake secretly exploitative
political correctness. But he doesn’t flout it. He’s
not partisan. I totally dig this guy’s work.

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By jamiedbruce, January 19, 2010 at 12:53 am Link to this comment

It is time to get this guy to stop writing on this site. He is getting to become
ridiculous. For crying out loud please stop this. It is painfull!!!!!

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By nestoffour, January 18, 2010 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther, where are you??

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By cascadian, January 18, 2010 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

As Malcolm Martin pointed out, Martin Luther King was killed by the government. I could go into detail, but I’ll point people to the book Act of State by William Pepper.

He’s a lawyer and a colleague of King. The King family came to realize that James Earl Ray was innocent. In 1999 they filed a civil suit against Loyd Jowers, who had confessed to being involved in the killing, and other persons. The Memphis jury agreed that King had been killed by a conspiracy.

We think of warlords as tribal chiefs in Afghanistan, but the real warlords are in Washington. They killed King for speaking out against the war in Vietnam. The war went, and now we are fighting three or more wars. The warlords silenced Martin Luther King. They have won unless enough people speak out.

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By ardee, January 18, 2010 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment

“The world lost so much, when Martin Luther King was gunned down, this day should not be a holiday, but a national day of mourning.”

Thank you Mr. Anderson for such an eloquent epitaph.

“It is you who is the unconscious racist, Mr Hedges.  It is the policies you advocate that keep people of color in degrading slums!  It is you who believes there’s a difference in people due to their pigmentation.  “

Thanks also to GRYM who posts a germ of truth and spoils it with the worms in his head…Certainly African Americans are better off today than they were yesterday, in some respects obviously. But to blame the ghetto on liberalism speaks volumes about the poster and nothing whatsoever about the facts.

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By Malcolm Martin, January 18, 2010 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges comes as close to being a revolutionary as anyone in the strata of society Marx called the petty bourgeois can be. And that is not to disparage Hedges. He is an admirable and courageous man. One hellava writer too.

But Malcolm and Martin were revolutionaries! Their murders by the ruling class are proof of it. From their different places both great men were moving toward Marxism practically speaking. And before they got anywhere near Leninism, the transformation of ideology into strategy and tactics, and became the “Black messiah” so feared by J. Edgar Hoover, they were silenced.

Since then capitalism has consolidated its grip on the world. Had either Malcolm or Martin been a 39-year-old African-American (both were 39-years-old when killed) today, they would live in obscurity.

Now Chris writes so many important things in his essay.

He correctly points out Dr. Kings view “that racial justice without economic justice was a farce.” Racial justice without economic justice is, in fact, impossible. The ultimate expression of racism in feudal times, slavery, existed because it was so lucrative. It disappeared when an even more lucrative system came along, capitalism and wage slavery. Racism will never disappear in a capitalist economy because it serves up super profits. Economic justice will only happen under socialism. And that means a workers dictatorship, not the gentle “let the rich hang around” socialism Chris Hedges has described in the past.

Chris points out that Dr. King, “began to call most whites ‘unconscious racists.’” White people in the United States run the gamut from spectacularly good human beings to sociopaths. But every single white person socialized in a capitalist USA is a racist! That includes Chris Hedges. There is nothing more incendiary you can say to a white liberal or progressive but it is the fact. No matter what station born into, every white American enjoys a privileged status.

Racism is a toxic element in the air of the national culture. All of us breathe it in and are infected. To deny it is to limit yourself. To confront it, in the manner the alcoholic does in AA meetings at Step 1, is to give yourself a chance to be a revolutionary, an effective warrior.

Finally, thank you to Chris for reminding us all of Malcolm and Martin’s lesson that our inner cities are best explained as a “system of internal colonialism.” That kind of truth and wisdom cannot be repeated enough.

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By zeroinfinity, January 18, 2010 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I prefer the general opinions of Malcolm X to the general opinions of Martin Luther King Jr. in regards to their viewpoints regarding race relations, after four to five decades of reflection on the history since the passing of both of these men, for the following reasons: 

First, Malcolm X had a more “reality based” view of race relations, from a social…society standpoint, than Martin Luther King Jr. had.  Unlike Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X made it clear that ALL OF US, every person alive on planet Earth, is a racist against at least ONE ethnic group.  Let’s us all be honest as human beings, this insight is indeed true for one reason or another depending on where in the world one lives.  Ok?  Malcolm X revealed this uhhhh… intrinsic characteristic about human nature, and it makes some human beings uncomfortable to admit that part of our collective consciousness.

Second, Malcolm X gave whatever oppressed demographic (in the context of his life - though, albeit, this may not be what he intended) pride in themselves for who they are -even irrelevent to skin color.  In other words, whatever the oppressed demographic one belongs to, even ones through no fault of their own, that he had worth and dignity in the world.  Personally, I like that.  Malcolm X is a much greater inspiration to me as a person than Martin Luther King Jr. is.  Myself, I am Caucasian male, believe it or not; yet, I belong to an oppressed demographic based on who I am as a person and my affiliated demographic is not ok by society today.  So, I have an affinity for Malcolm X, more so than Martin Luther King Jr. .  Therefore, I can relate to Malcolm X’s message more, vs. kissing the oppressor’s shiny pinky ring that Martin Luther King Jr. espoused from a metaphorical standpoint.

Overall, Malcolm X had a more reality based view on racism than Martin Luther King Jr. had.  Malcolm X was right too!  You know?  There is a Martin Luther King Jr. day; but, there is no Malcolm X day that I am aware of.  Why?  Is it because the majority of USA citizens do not want to give a realistic view of race relations?  Seriously?  I ask this question!  How about this:

Ethnic groups NOT ok to persecute in USA society today:

people with a black skin color
native Americans
Jews

Ethinic groups that seem to be ok to give racial slurs to, from a USA society standpoint:

Arabs (especially Palestinians)
Hispanics (especially those from Mexico)

Malcolm X brought to light that, overall, people are intrinsically racist.  Truth is, the majority of an ethnic group tend to prefer spending time with those who belong to that same group most of the time if given the chance.  Sorry, but people in general may call this trend “right” or “wrong” regarding the general behavior of the ethnic group, collectively; however, that seems to be the way general relations are among people overall(which therefore makes this a part of human nature - with Millennia of history backing up this assertion).

Martin Luther King Jr., however, had the notion that “we shall overcome” our INHERENT racist natures.  This is why there is a “Martin Luther King Jr. day” in the USA and not a “Malcolm X day.”  Understanding this empirical evidence, it should therefore come as no surprise that there is a memorial being built in Washington DC honoring King, and not one honoring Malcolm X. 

In conclusion, King saw the human race the way it OUGHT to be; Malcolm X saw the human race AS IT IS.  Since human beings, socially, DENY reality; a memorial is made in KING’S honor.  Also, the fact that Malcolm X was a Muslim and Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian did not help matters much in regards to the social liking of the former.

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By Allan Krueger, January 18, 2010 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

I agree, with his Martin’s death, the world lost much! This day is not a celebration of MLK’s death, it is a celebration of his life! He was murdered in April.

G. Anderson: “...The world lost so much, when Martin Luther King was gunned down, this day should not be a holiday, but a national day of mourning.”

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By Glen Wayne, January 18, 2010 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

A Lost Avatar     empirePie     January 18th, 2010

Honesty don’t need to be a lonely word
Nations don’t need to be nation hoods;
pimping copious goods,
with loaded phrases,
purging histories theft;
the strange fruit of hope bereft.

Time won’t wait to collect our grainy thoughts in the sand
and demand our curtained warriors
re craft the monopoly board of desire
or find a better ist
to foil our collective soul
...the spirit..

a lost avatar

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By Go Right Young Man, January 18, 2010 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment

All Americans have every right to remain proud.  The United States is an extremely young nation. A nation made up of people from all over the globe.  The strides America has made in ethnic relations is unprecedented in both historic and contemporary history!

Most successful and beloved entertainer; Opra Winfrey.  Most successful and beloved sports figure; Tiger Woods.  The latest person, by more than a comfortable margin, to reach the highest office in the land; President Obama.

Black CEOs GAINING in CORPORATE AMERICA / NUMBERS GROWING:
http://articles.sfgate.com/2005-02-10/business/17358720_1_black-enterprise-black-history-month-ceo-american-express

Before the 2008-09 financial downturn HUD was reporting record numbers of “minority” owned homes.  New single family housing too was dramatically on the rise for people of color. 

Minority owned small business’ is one of the fastest growing segments of the American economy.  Minorities with PHD’s in education, engineering, social sciences, physical sciences and professional sciences are all on the rise.

All Americans can remain proud of what continues to be accomplished in such a short period of time.  Very few nations on earth can boast the same!

When people like Mr. Hedges think in terms of color they will see in terms of color.  It’s commonly referred to as racism.

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By bEHOLD_tHE_mATRIX, January 18, 2010 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

On Free Speech TV I just watched MLK’s monunental April
4, 1967 speech…. exactly one year to the day before
he was assassinated.  My eyes welled up in tears as I
realized how worldwide capitalistic hegemony and the
fear-mongered-for-profit war machine that, as in his
time, continue to define us as merely greedy,
opportunistic animals that carry around and spew from
religious and political documents of past leaders that
had, in futility, hope for us.

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By G.Anderson, January 18, 2010 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

“that racial justice without economic justice was a farce.”

Yes, and we are worse off than ever on this respect, because we have institutionalized racism and economic exploitation, just by calling it another name. 

No, ethnic group bar none has been hit hardest by the twin pogroms of child support enforcement, and the export of industrial production/immigration - i.e., globalization, than the African American community.

Where once there was thriving industrialization, including automobile assembly, tire production, Aerospace production, etc., that hired and gave secure jobs to African Americans, there exists only economic cannibalism.

Where once there was industry there now exists only foster care, and child support enforcement, to replace millions of jobs.

Economic cannibalism, that keeps the dream only a dream, while those in charge feign cluelessness as to the causes and solutions.

When they are the cause, and stand in the way of solutions, chalking up to paranoia, revelation after revelation, of the calculated nature of their acts.

From the destruction of black leadership, that
led to gang warfare and high body counts among young black males, to the removal of fathers from homes by decades of welfare policies that made intact families a rarity.

The world lost so much, when Martin Luther King was gunned down, this day should not be a holiday, but a national day of mourning.

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By Virginia777, January 18, 2010 at 10:55 am Link to this comment

also, it is inaccurate to say King’s dream was turned into a nightmare. King’s dream remains intact (via his living word). The fact that so many of the issues he addressed and fought for are unsolved, is undeniable, but the dream (the inspiration) remains.

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By Virginia777, January 18, 2010 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Great article, Chris, but I absolutely disagree on this one “There are many ways in which Malcolm’s message is more relevant today”. Martin Luther King was an Inspirational leader, who always saw the necessity to combine inspiration with leadership.

His living Word remain so powerful still,and they remain powerful motivators, and provide crystal-clear direction, to keep people working on the issues he fought so hard for.

“The issue is injustice” - Martin Luther King

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By jcorn, January 18, 2010 at 10:21 am Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges,

I have read all your books, and I read your column weekly.  I do not question your education, passion, or powers of intellect, but I fear that you may have forgotten the role of the intellectual in society. I wonder if you have read Jacques Barzun’s criticism of American intellectuals published in Time Magazine in the 1950’s.  He says that the intellectual’s role is “to help us to understand and endure life better.” 

Regarding your writing, I would give you great credit for understanding, but very little for encouragement.  The overwhelming sentiment one takes away from your tone is absolute despair and futile rage.  This does not help the reader to feel better about life and his place in it, because it provides him no mode of action when facing the difficulties and structural bohemoths facing him in our political/economic system.  Protest is the luxury of the loser in politics, yet it seems all that you offer as a mode of political action.

I, like you, believe we live in decadent times, however I do not feel that it should be used as an excuse to wallow in self loathing.  Even in decadent times, good things can be accomplished.  Perhaps a more uplifting attitude would suit you better and give more power to your arguments.

I was raised in the Georgia, where King is generally regarded as having helped us to avoid another civil war here.  Taylor Branch tells us that King knew he would be killed and had decided long ago that his goals were worth that sacrifice.  He was an extremely powerful intellectual who took the bravest position possible, knowing that his life would be taken at some point. Yet when you read his work it is never hateful or vindictive. 

As John McWhorter pointed out to me, without Western decadence King would not have been able to accomplish what he did.  Yet despite living under the constant threat of death and always battling the most engrained political powers he rose above the hate to project dignity, agape love, and powerful modes of action to his followers.  His life should be proof enough that we need not wallow in despair and that in our highly regulated society working within the political process is our very best hope for a productive political life.

Regards,

J. Corn
Gainesville, Ga

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By sollipsist, January 18, 2010 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

...so now I’m confused. Is it Chris Hedges Day, Professor Pope Day, or Malcolm X Day?

No, just kidding. Great job, Chris. This article will really give all the people who won’t ever read it something to think about. And the few who do, man, aren’t they happy that they agree.

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By 3rd party voter, January 18, 2010 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

I just wanted to say this in honor of the Great Dr. Martin Luther King:

Blacks have *finally* achieved complete and total racial equality. They can produce presidents as bad as whites.

BO has flipped&flopped; enough over the past 10 months to make Bill Clinton blush, if Bill Clinton was physically capable of blushing which we know he is not.

The BO 2step
1 step forward then
2 steps Barack

http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Timothy_Carney/Martha-Coakley-K-Streets-choice-for-senator-81295092.html

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By jon, January 18, 2010 at 9:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think many whites are starting to find out what it’s like to be marginalized, and how it feels to be set upon. How it feels to scream for justice and for democracy and not to be heard—by institutions that have no intention of doing the people’s will but have every intention of exploitation. 

But also note that the civil rights movement of King’s day took place without blogs, there were few if any radio stations or TV channels who took up the case for civil rights (the late Senator Jesse Helms, when a TV commentator in Raleigh NC gave on air op-ed talks that were racist, and ‘unfortunately’ the tapes/films of these talks were lost by the major NC television station, so are not available to view today) And despite this, and the deaths in Mississippi, civil rights remained a strong force and things changed. 

We all see how our country can so effectively marginalize groups who protest the nation’s direction, and we all see how our media today clearly is part of this marginalization.  But remember the civil rights movement—it moved forward despite being marginalized.

I lived through the deaths of JFK, RFK, and MLK, and I remember asking myself: when will this stop?  Indeed.

America is historically not a kind country, unless you are in the upper 5%.  Then it’s nice as pie and a great place to live in.

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By Dawud Israel, January 18, 2010 at 9:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Malcolm and DuBois’ thinking has now been continued and picked up by American Muslim thinkers to help them get out of the pickle they are now in. Black thought is being applied somewhat to the issue immigrant Muslims (Indo-Pak, Arab) face as new minorities. You should look into the works of Dr. Sherman Jackson, an American Black Muslim scholar and thinker.

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By Adekunle, January 18, 2010 at 9:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Go Right Young Man

I suggest you read the latest report, United For A Fair Economy: State of the Dream 2010: Drained. Jobless and Foreclosed in Communities of Color, regarding the rise of Black homeownership. With the latest global recession and it’s effect on Black, Brown, and poor whites your statements are suspect. Your reaction to Mr. Hedge’s article is telling. You attribute Mr. Hedges with being an unconscious racist, when in fact, he was quoting Dr. King. Why project the statement onto Mr. Hedges when trying to make your point? Maybe you are an “unconscious apologist” for an unjust and unequal society. If the shoes don’t fit don’t wear them!

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By diman, January 18, 2010 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Homeownership amongst people of color is on the rise?

Where did you get this information from? Is there actually a poll like that, an organization that counts the rate of homeownership among the “people of colour”? And what an achievement for the mankind it is to have more coloured millionaires and billionaires. But I undestand it though, coming from a capitalist frame of mind these are some brilliant results that coloured community has achieved.

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By drf, January 18, 2010 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

One effect that the Great Recession is having on this late middle-aged white man is a greatly increased empathy for African Americans.  In our ‘king of the mountain’ economy there will by nature be winners and losers.  The fact that government economists deliberately accept a certain percentage of unemployment as “full employment’ to keep inflation at bay guarantees there will be plenty of losers.  It’s a convenient moral salve to the majority if the losers are different from us.  Some element of their makeup, some moral flaw, must be responsible for their plight.  Surely widespread joblessness and poverty are not natural by-products of our industrial system?
Wrong.  They are a built-in part of our system.  And the ranks of the losers are growing.  It’s not just minorities any more.  The middle class is steadily eroding, leaving more and more formerly optimistic Americans to share the bottom rung.  We’re all in this together now.

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By bozh, January 18, 2010 at 8:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We`ve had saviors: ashur, baal, god, jesus,king,ghandi,and obama a yr ago.

But we r still ruled by asocialists. Aghas, amirs, kings, princes, lords, ceos-rich shareholders, et al.

All of these saviors merely speak but do not improve life for lower classes.
People who improve our lives r pasteur, pavlov, newton, tesla,edison, faraday an dpeople like them.

Thse people come from our one genetic pool that produces from time to time a genius; from whose work we shld, in principle, all benefit equally.

It takes 100mn of US to produce a genius; thus, that is our contribution to progress. Yet, we do not share equally in this progress; it`s tiny minority which usurps our heritage.

To me, ad hominem laudation or blame is such a waste of time; it does not add an iota to knowledge or enlightenment. tnx

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By Go Right Young Man, January 18, 2010 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

“Unconscious racists”

-

All Americans can remain proud of electing a president whose father was a Kenyan immigrant — a feat none of our sharpest critics in the world could have accomplished.

In the 1980’s minority owned business’ more than doubled.  Today there are more people of color in positions of CEO, COO and CFO then there were ten years ago and more than there were 25 years previous.

Home ownership amongst people of color is on the rise.  The highest paid entertainer: Opra Winfrey.  Highest paid sports figure: Tiger Woods.  Highest office in the land: President Obama.

Every year that passes there are more black and Hispanic PHD’s.  Every year that passes there are more black and Hispanic law makers.  Every year that passes there are more black, Hispanic and Asian millionaires and billionaires.  Every year that passes there are more small business’ owned and operated by people of color.

All Americans can remain proud, Mr. Hedges.  The United States is an extremely young nation. A nation made up of people from all over the globe.  The strides America has made in ethnic relations is unprecedented in both historic and contemporary contextual history.

It is you who is the unconscious racist, Mr Hedges.  It is the policies you advocate that keep people of color in degrading slums!  It is you who believes there’s a difference in people due to their pigmentation. 

There is, thank God, little room for your brand of bigotry and racism in America today.

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By Hank from Nebraska, January 18, 2010 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

This article is very insightful, as Hedges’ articles usually are.  We really are no closer to world peace, socialism, or equality than we were in the 1960s. 
In fact, I don’t think we are any closer than we were in 1944, when FDR outlined his economic bill of rights, or 1948, when the United Nations made economic rights a central part of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.  I think it is highly likely that King and Malcolm X were indeed murdered, and whatever the motives of the actual trigger pullers, most Americans accepted the murders as inevitable, because MLK and Malcolm X revealed some uncomfortable truths.  They reminded us that we are not inherently good people individually, and that we need a political process that creates a cohesive set of progressive socialist policies for achieving collectively what we can never can achieve individually.  So we have avoided King’s true message and, instead, accepted the myth of the dream.  We have comfortably voted for politicians from both parties who persistently dismantled the New Deal and Great Society programs that at least tried to create the economic means for everyone to afford actually sitting at the lunch counter that the original Bill of Rights, the Emancipation Declaration, and the Civil Rights Act made possible only in principle.
Today, the idea of economic rights has disappeared from our vocabulary altogether.  It too has been murdered, and it has been replaced by the myth of “individual responsibility.” This new myth, nicely coupled with the myth that our system has fulfilled “the dream,” now makes it impossible to even discuss the issues of socialism, economic equality, and collective responsibilities that King and Malcolm X discussed 40 years ago. 
Thank you, Chris Hedges, for reminding me that today is not a day for dreaming, but that it is a day get a grip on our sad reality.

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By elitist, January 18, 2010 at 4:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the central claim of this article seems to be

“that prison and urban ghettos are populated primarily with people of color is not an accident. It is a calculated decision by those who wield economic and political control.”

Even to a diehard socialists like myself, this sounds paranoid and even delusional.

What precisely is the advantage to the those wielding economic and political control to have and a third or more of the black population inhabiting crime riddled ghettos?

I can understand how it benefits those in the vast social services industries (including a large proportion of the black middle class), the prison industry, and a handful of slumlords, but how does it benefit the political and economic elite as a whole?

It is long since become embarrassingly obvious that aside from the prison industry, no one is benefiting financially from the cataclysmic failure of large segments of the African-American population in the United States.

On the whole, the presence of a criminally prone and dysfunctional black ghetto community is an enormous financial drain on the United States, an embarrassment internationally, and when the violence spills over into other communities, a source of wider danger, and has an enormous financial drain on America’s cities.

Isn’t the problem with most ghetto dwellers not that they are being exploited by the economic elites, but instead that no one wants to exploit them, i.e. profit from their labor? that they have been essentially discarded by the system and warehoused in crime infested hell holes?

This article is boilerplate recycled from 40 years ago, and fails to explain the levels of dysfunction in large portions of the black community in the United States, and worse yet, fails to mention that the evil, malignant white people have poured hundreds of billions of dollars into programs designed to improve the occupational and educational status of the black community, from across-the-board quotas in education in hiring, social welfare programs, job creation and training, empowerment workshops, pilot schools, experimental educational projects, etc., one could go on for pages and pages.

Everything has failed, and even the most diehard radical most of these entertain the question whether black dysfunction has deep roots in black culture.

even the most diehard radical must notice that the American system, while far from perfect, has offered the possibility of prosperity and success to wave after wave of immigrants from all over the world, including many from Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, Asia, etc. etc..

It is simply not accurate to say that the United States is some sort of white supremacist society.

If United States were still a racist society, we would not have elected Obama, and we would not have immigration policies that favor people of color.

At least a quarter of the total population of Mexico is living in the United States currently.

we are about to relax quotas for Haitians to emigrate United States in larger numbers than before.

as a direct consequence of its immigration policies, the United States is about to become not a white supremacist enclave, but instead a white minority country.

your article seems to be strangely disconnected from these realities.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, January 18, 2010 at 4:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The surprising thing is not that history lies but
that in the 42 years since King’s death no one of his
moral stature has risen to take his place among
blacks or whites.  The whole nation is suffering from
psychic numbing resulting from a half century of
corporate - militarist dominance of our lives.  There
is no hope of real change being possible.  It was
said of the Russian people under communism that they
were in a collective state of apathy and depression
after 50 years of living in a police state.  We have
arrived at the same place with better entertainment, 
more shopping opportunities, and prozac and other
prescription drugs.
The corporate media does like to cheer lead about the
glory of the US.  As Cuban, Russian, Chinese,
Turkish, French, and other rescue units were on the
ground in Haiti within a day or two of the disaster, 
the talking heads on American tv were gloating about
all that the US was doing even though the US rescue
units were floundering somewhere, God knows where. 
Six days in: “Help is on the way.”

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By writeon, January 18, 2010 at 3:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Whilst the election of Obama was historic, the first “Black” president is a significant occurence in country like the United States, I don’t believe we should adopt an attitude close to “inverted racism” and give too much importance to the colour of the president’s, or anyone elses, skin. Surely the person underneath the skin is of far more importance, what he has in his heart, the ideas inside his mind, the content of the words and not just the sound?

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, January 18, 2010 at 2:35 am Link to this comment

I wonder what these 2 great revolutionaries would think about America now.  Would they be as disgusted as many of us are?  Would they think Obama’s election was historic or just another white sellout with a nice tan?  So much of what they fought for has been lost.  Most minorities still live desperate lives with little hope.  The only consolation might be that many whites are now joining them in the same condition.  Something tells me they would not have found this very funny nor poetic.

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