Getting Hosed By Idealism

"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. ... Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.' But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Like other American heroes -- Thomas Jefferson, for example, combined a disturbing tolerance for the violence of the French Revolution with the lifelong ownership of slaves -- King was not a simple figure. He inclined toward democratic socialism as the answer to poverty. In his opposition to the Vietnam War, he called America "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" and thundered that God might "break the backbone" of American power. Toward the end of his short life -- after years of water hoses and attack dogs, wiretaps and bomb threats -- King became increasingly isolated and depressed.

...Under King's leadership, the civil rights movement affirmed several principles: a belief that Providence favors justice and forbids despair; a belief that even the most bigoted white people have a core of humanity that might be touched and redeemed; a belief that American ideals were the ultimate answer to America's sins."

Michael Gerson
Read more @ Washington Post.

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