Martin Luther King Jr. is one of a small group of figures from recent U.S. history who seems to have the admiration of Americans of all beliefs.
You can tell because politicians always try to convince us King would support them and whatever (usually un-King-like) thing they want to do (or want us to forget they did).
King would have been 91 on Wednesday, Jan. 15. What would he think of America today? Would he look on the progress in American society with pride and a sense of accomplishment? Would he think we have far to go? Would he think we are going in the right direction?
Here’s another way to look at it: Would Americans today view King with the same admiration if he was alive and outspoken on current events? It seems more likely that about half of us would detest him and concoct some reason to belittle his past accomplishments and cast his character into doubt, so as to undermine his message.
Don’t think so? Well, can you think of any sociopolitical leader of his stature who has universal respect in America today?
Even Jimmy Carter, a 95-year-old man who builds homes for poor people and teaches Sunday school, meets with scorn from half of us for any remotely political statement he makes. While literally dying of cancer, the war hero and lifelong public servant John McCain was the subject of intense derision from the president and his supporters because he dared to suggest the Republicans should have a plan before dumping Obamacare.
Democrats hate George W. Bush for the Iraq War – or maybe just because he’s a Republican, as Republicans do not have a monopoly on bad foreign policy decisions. Republicans hate Barack Obama for Obamacare – or maybe just because he’s a Democrat, as Democrats do not have a monopoly on bad domestic policy decisions.
Is there anyone Americans all admire and respect?
Americans do not listen to each other anymore or honestly consider what those with different beliefs have to say. Just read the letters on this page the last several weeks. Most of us do not even attempt to understand each other or to think critically about our own views.
Disagree? Tell us why. Write us a letter about someone Americans of both parties admire and respect. We look forward to thinking critically about our own views.