The "hope-la" and "change-la" emanating from the
Obama and Clinton campaigns turned sour as Dr. Martin
Luther King's birthday approached. The two front-running
candidates and their corporate media-megaphones found
themselves on shaky ground when the subject turned to
the actual history of MLK and his antagonist/ally,
President Lyndon Johnson. The vapidity of the debate
revealed, once again, the shallowness of American
political discourse, which has been stripped bare of
relevance to past, present or future realities.
Fortunately, Dr. King left a voluminous record of his
own political analyses. Rather than allow them to
blather further, the candidates should be tested on the
question: What would Dr. King do? All but one would
The corporate media-mangled Barack Obama/Hillary
Clinton "debate" over the relative contributions of Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson
coincides with the birthday of the actual Martin Luther
King. Since the corporate media is totally incapable of
covering or even tolerating the raising of any issues of
substance, and because both Obama and Clinton avoid real
issues, real facts, and real history like the plague, we
urge that thinking voters put the candidates to the
Martin Luther King Test. What would Dr. King do, if he
Dr. King said the "triple evils" of his day were
militarism, racism, and economic exploitation. In his
April 4, 1967 speech at New York's Riverside Church,
Dr. King showed the interaction of all three "evils" in
the world; that these evils worked together against the
interests of humanity. King declared that the Vietnam
War, and other U.S. wars in the Third World, were evil
manifestations of American militarism and an attempt to
prevent other peoples from making "their arrival as full
men" in the world - a reference to the underlying racism
and economic exploitative nature of U.S. foreign policy.
In addition, Dr. King said he was "compelled to see
the war as an enemy of the poor" in the U.S. King noted
the "shining moment" when, after years of struggle,
President Johnson became a collaborator with the Civil
Rights Movement, pushing through Congress both civil
rights and anti-poverty legislation. But then "came the
buildup in Vietnam," and King knew, in his words, "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."
What would Dr. King say, today, about the two
quarreling corporate candidates, Barack Obama and
Hillary Clinton? There can be no doubt but that he would
judge them as he did his former presidential ally,
Lyndon Johnson. The Iraq war has taken at least a
million Iraqi lives, as the Vietnam War had killed one
million Vietnamese, by Dr. King's reckoning in 1967. It
is an attempt to prevent Iraqis from exercising control
of their own land and resources, just as King believed
the Americans were attempting to do in Vietnam. And the
Iraq War, just like the Vietnam War, insures that the
U.S. will "never invest the necessary funds or energies"
to rebuild America's cities, restore the social safety
net, or provide universal health care.
Senators Obama and Clinton fail the Martin Luther King
Test, miserably. Obama wants to add 100,000 troops to
the U.S. Armed Forces, at a cost of over $100 billion -
even as he proposes partial withdrawals from Iraq.
Clinton seeks 80,000 new soldiers and Marines. As sure
as the sun rises, a bigger U.S. military means more
wars, and no money for domestic "change."
The only candidate who would pass the Martin Luther
King Test is Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich,
whose platform for peace, truly universal health
care, a living wage, and an end to corporate domination
of American life harkens back to that "shining moment"
in the Sixties that King mentioned, when there were
"hopes" and "new beginnings." But the corporate media
has caused the Kucinich campaign to disappear from
coverage and televised debate.
Lyndon Johnson finally failed the Martin Luther King
Test, in Vietnam. Obama and Clinton have already failed
the test, through their own policy proposals. Neither
has earned the right to speak of Dr. King's legacy.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford.