January 17, 2004

The Only Good Hero

King and the Joker -- Martin Luther King Weekend, a good time to proclaim that 2004 is the year we get rid of the Bushes and restore a democratic system in the United States. No need to nitpick over all the many many issues upon which we may disagree. If all the people who are getting royally screwed, if not in mortal danger, just work together to remove this regime it will be gone in the snap of a finger. Just getting rid of that mob would solve a lot of problems.

Defined precisely in terms of the people who are getting hurt by the Bush regime, we could be looking at the broadest coalition in history. But many of Bush's most vulnerable victims believe the media propaganda that pretends he's a good guy who's going to take care of them.

That is the crux of the struggle -- breaking the media chokehold on information that enables them to define the national dialogue, to greatly influence the form of popular culture itself.

Those warriors for the elite, the politicians, love nothing better than a dead hero. Pataki's pardon of Lenny Bruce was a stroke of wry theater. Now 40 years after a bunch of moralistically tight-assed authorities destroyed Lenny Bruce's career and life, the spiritual descendants of those authoritarians are trying to bask in the aura of Lenny Bruce while they destroy other lives today in roughly the same manner.

Bush going to the grave of Martin Luther King is almost funny, if it weren't so nauseating. Bush likes to associate himself with people like the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, who are seen as heroes by millions of people. In real life he embodies everything diametrically opposed to what made those people love their heroes. ("Protesters boo Bush near MLK's grave" in The Miami Herald, said:

Escorted by Coretta Scott King and Christine Farris, King's sister, Bush placed a wreath before King's tomb, bowed his head in prayer briefly and departed. Hundreds of protesters, black and white, stood across the street from the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, bearing signs that read, ''Impeach The Liar,'' ''Bush Zionist Puppet'' and ``Money For Jobs And Housing, Not War.'' Five Atlanta city buses parked in front of them and blocked their view of the president. Police in riot gear stood atop the vehicles. Before Bush arrived, the protesters chanted ''Bush, go home'' and ''Peace, not war.'' They booed loudly as the president placed the wreath at King's tomb.

Dead heroes are great to people like Bush because he can do photo ops with them, associate himself with them in a powerful visual symbol language, and they are not able to speak up and say, "Bush is doing the very things I died trying to oppose." Nothing could be farther from Martin Luther King than George W. Bush.

This weekend Americans who watch TV will probably see Martin Luther King say, "I have a dream!" many times over, until it's a meaningless loop of sound with no meaning. His efforts to end segregation in the south will be hashed over at some length, and they will leave the last couple of years of his life out of the biography until he was shot, by a lone nut of course. People whose deaths would have huge political consequences are usually killed by lone nuts with no political agenda, allegedly. The last part of his life is little mentioned because that's when he took the principles underlying desegregation and applied them more broadly. The process inevitably leads to opposition to the war in Vietnam. When King opposed the war, he had finally gone too far. One year after he came out against the war, he was shot.

The czar of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover called King, "The most dangerous man in America," and engaged in a sordid campaign against him that alone disgraces Hoover's whole career.

An article from The Philosophical Society puts it well: "Far better for the occasion and for their sanctimonious carryings-on to think of MLK as a wistful dreamer, not as a revolutionary; to see him as a civil rights leader fighting only for racial equality, not as a human rights leader fighting for a good deal more (the end of violence in Vietnam, for instance, the end of poverty at home, &c.). There's an irony worth mentioning. MLK Day is being celebrated just a few months [now two years] after passage of the U.S. Patriot Act, that nefarious bit of legislation that allows the intelligence agencies more freedom to spy on citizens and, in some cases, to proceed in certain instances without a warrant. Honest students of the sixties will recall that the FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, undertook a sinister program called 'Cointelpro' to harass and malign civil rights leaders. The FBI spied on Dr. King, leaked private information about him to the press, threatened him on occasion, and mailed anonymous letters to his wife suggesting misconduct of various kinds on his part. The FBI worried, according to an April 16, 1976 report in The New York Times, that Dr. King was the 'most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country.'" (See also

  • "Martin Luther King's Radical Legacy"
  • "The FBI and the Death of MLK",
  • "The Lawless State",
  • "Memphis jury finds that a conspiracy led to Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination"

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