The Death of Dr. King
Scripps-Howard News Service 10.04.01
According to physical evidence, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died
in 1968 of an assassin's bullet. Not so. Dr. King died the day his
self-appointed deputy announced that Dr. King's dream was null and
void. Dead and buried.
The essence of Dr. King's dream was integration - the disappearance
of the wall separating black Americans from white Americans. When
Jesse Jackson announced his commitment to make reparations front
and center of his agenda, he proposed a wall more permanent than
the Ku Klux Klan has ever dared to dream about.
The attack on America may postpone it, but we will presumably have
a debate about "reparations for slavery." It will be irrelevant
for two reasons. First, no intellectually supportable argument exists
in favor of such a claim. Period. More importantly, in the present
political climate, a debate of this kind is lost the moment it is
entered into. America lost this particular debate when it went along
with the extension of the Civil Rights movement beyond the legislative
guarantees for equal opportunity, and a national commitment to goodwill
among men. What then became a Civil Rights establishment depends
for its bread and butter upon generating racial hatred day and night.
The failure of the self-appointed, visible black leadership to
line up with the rest of America in the days immediately following
September 11 stands in stark contrast to the outpouring of patriotic
sentiment by black Americans across the land. But only black Americans
can show them the door.
Broadly speaking, three types of black Americans may be said to
exist today. At the top, there are the Michael Jacksons, Michael
Jordans, Vernon Jordans - stars whose talents have been rewarded
beyond the wildest dreams of anyone descended from the African continent.
The spectacle of them, or Oprah Winfrey, or Bill Cosby, or Johnny
Cochran lining up to take handouts from Detroit car workers and
small Nebraska farmers is too obscene to contemplate.
The second, impressively large, body consists of those who have
found gainful employment across the entire spectrum of human endeavor,
and have built stable and productive lives. Their stories tell about
yet another remarkable achievement of American society. Except for
empty rhetoric, no living soul can relate another example from history
in which descendants of Africa have achieved so much, and in which
the surrounding society aided, abetted, and applauded such achievement.
The respect earned by and accorded to these black Americans would
evaporate the day unearned and unwarranted handouts were being mailed
The third, alas still rather sizable, group is the one that keeps
the Jesse Jacksons in business. These millions have yet to get in
synch with the mental and physical agility required for successful
existence in a modern, highly industrialized society. Some of our
best minds have been attempting to explain the reasons - to no avail.
Perchance, the answer is not in some novel theory, but in the age-old
wisdom that some things require time, and that a process of development
across several generations is the only way.
But even these millions need motivation, denied to them by a black
leadership that feeds them a different lie every day about the great
achievements of their ancestors, the residual effects of slavery,
"institutional racism," and CIA schemes for their undoing.
It is open to question how many could build success from a windfall,
but there can be little doubt about the indictment successful black
Americans deserve for not advancing creative initiatives, not executing
an all-out effort to help these millions get on their feet.
Dr. King's dream of an integrated America echoed that unforgettable
passage in George Washington's Farewell Address in which the first
president extols the splendor of the appellation "American,"
underlines it not once but twice, and admonishes posterity that
it must supersede all others. Recently, I chanced upon a CD by another
"King" - Nat Cole. As I listened to the sheer magic of
his piano playing, I recalled seeing and hearing him for the first
time on the Jack Paar Show in 1959. How can it be, I thought then,
that there are people in the United States of America who would
not feel graced and honored by his presence in their homes, clubs,
Instead, we are now faced with the proposition of wondering every
time we look at a person of dark skin whether he is fixing to live
off the money the rest of us has earned.
As much as it is about material success, the American dream is
a society in which every kind of person, from any corner of the
globe, can and will become an integral part of the whole. What Jesse
Jackson has set out to do is thus not only the destruction of Dr.
King's dream. It is also the destruction of the American dream.
Black Americans ought to put a stop to this madness before it poisons