Who controls Martin Luther King?

Who controls Martin Luther King?

That's a question worth asking in the decades since King's revolutionary struggle. When King was alive, he was denounced by Time Magazine as a demagogue whose words might have been written for Radio Hanoi. He was the target of US government surveillance and counter-intelligence under the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson, with at least one documented attempt to extort him into suicide.

And as we have heard over the last four episodes of The Terrordome, as described in attorney William Pepper's book An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King and as was decided by a 1999 civil trial whose results are known to almost no one, on April4, 1967, the United States government assassinated Dr. King.

The public perception of Martin Luther King has been brain-rinsed.

Gone is the radical democratic revolutionary, the anti-imperialist who was the most prominent opponent of the US war against the Vietnamese people; gone is the advocate of economic justice; gone is the leader of the 1968 Poor People's March on Washington, which according to William Pepper's insider witnesses, US intelligence feared could have led to a revolution, had he lived. Replacing all these is King frozen in 1963 with "I Have a Dream," and the public perception that the anti-war movement was populated and led exclusively by White, middle-class, drug-abusing hippies. Replacing these are Hallmark cards and department store sales for Martin Luther King Day.

Nowadays, believe it or not, some on the far right in North America are attempting to reinvent Dr. King as a conservative--which would make King a highly unusual conservative: opposing US imperialism, denouncing capitalism, opposing corporate and government White Supremacy.

But even in Canada, some people are eager to rewrite the story of King.

In 2003, CBC's The Current, guest-hosted by Eric Sorenson, did a story on the 40th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Sorenson didn't invite any of the leading experts on King, not even famed intellectual Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, author of eight books, who'd just written I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr.

Instead Sorenson invited Shelby Steele, author of only two books (neither one on King) and a black conservative with the ultra-right wing Hoover Institute, who explained that racial discrimination no longer exists, and that Black misery in the US was exclusively the fault of African-Americans. Neither Steele nor Sorenson made any mention of racial disparities in the American medical system, its justice system, housing, employment, life expectancy, environmental disparity or infant mortality, which are addressed in detail on The Bro-Log--check the links under the heading "Countering Racial Supremacy."

Those who would distort King for their own right wing purposes are legion, and they are powerful.

Who controls the legacy and the meaning of Dr. King? Especially when whoever controls the present, controls our understanding of the past, and thereby controls the living future?

Listen to tonight's The Terrordome to hear Dr. Clayborne Carson on the contested legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Time: 6 PM Mountain Time on CJSR FM-88.5 in Edmonton
Web: www.cjsr.com

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