Don’t You Dare Conflate MLK and Obama


by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

If Dr. King were alive today, there might be a Black president, but he or she would certainly not get MLK’s support if he behaved like Barack Obama. Dr. King would oppose Obama’s wars, “make Wall Street scream, and attempt to render the nation ungovernable under the dictatorship of the Lords of Capital.”


Don’t You Dare Conflate MLK and Obama

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Had King survived, his break with Obama would have come early.”

Back in 1964, under prodding from a BBC interviewer, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. predicted that a Black person might be elected president “in 25 years or less.” Four years later, shortly before his assassination, King confided to actor/activist Harry Belafonte that he had “come to believe we're integrating into a burning house." We now see that the two notions are not at all contradictory. At least some African Americans have achieved deep penetration of the very pinnacles of white power structures – integrating the White House, itself – while conditions of life for masses of Black folks deteriorate and the society as a whole falls into deep decay.

The fires lit by the “giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism” that Dr. King identified in his 1967 “Beyond Vietnam: Breaking the Silence” speech are consuming the world, now stoked by a Black arsonist-in-chief. Domestic poverty hovers only a fraction of a percentage below the levels of 1965, with “extreme poverty” the highest on record. Black household wealth has collapsed to one-twentieth that of whites. Today, more Black men are under the control of the criminal justice system than were slaves in the decade before the Civil War, according to Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow.

The intervening years have shown that Dr. King’s 1960s visions were not in conflict: the rooms at the top floors of the national house may have been integrated, but the building still burns.

The deepening crisis of capitalism, the triumph of Wall Street finance over industrial capital, the increasing imperial reversion to international lawlessness in a desperate bid to maintain global supremacy – all this was predictable under the laws of political economy. Had the assassin’s bullet not found him, Dr. King would have continued his implacable resistance to these unfolding evils, rejecting Barack Obama’s invasions, drones and Kill Lists with the same moral fervor and political courage that he broke with Lyndon Johnson over the Vietnam War. Absolutely nothing in King’s life and work indicates otherwise.

The very notion of a grand austerity bargain with the Right would have been anathema to MLK.”

One school of thought holds that corporate servants like Obama could not have taken root in Black America if Dr. King, Malcolm X and a whole cadre of slain and imprisoned leaders of the Sixties had not been replaced by opportunistic representatives of a grasping Black acquisitive class. In any event, had King survived, his break with Obama would have come early. Surely, the Dr. King who, in his 1967 “Where Do We Go from Here” speech called for a guaranteed annual income would never have abided Obama’s targeting of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the weeks before his 2009 inauguration. Forty-five years ago, King’s position was clear: “Our emphasis must be twofold: We must create full employment, or we must create incomes.” The very notion of a grand austerity bargain with the Right would have been anathema to MLK.

Were Martin alive, he would skewer the putative leftists and their “lesser evil” rationales for backing the corporatist, warmongering Obama. As both a theologian and a “revolutionary democrat,” as Temple University’s Prof. Anthony Monteiro has described him, MLK had no problem calling evil by its name – and in explicate triplicate. His militant approach to non-violent direct action required him to confront the underlying contradictions of society through the methodical application of creative tension. He would make Wall Street scream, and attempt to render the nation ungovernable under the dictatorship of the Lords of Capital. And he would deliver a withering condemnation of the base corruption and self-serving that saturates the Black Misleadership Class.

He would spend his birthday preparing a massive, disruptive action at the Inauguration.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].


On Rev.MLK Jr's bday, yesterday, Rev.Al Sharpton's

UPDATE: Rap artist Lupe Fiasco has mic cut off & asked to leave stage after criticism of Obama re drones,etc. at private Inaugural event. Story on top right of UK Daily Mail online.  Jan. 21, 2013 1pm EST

On this very subject- Yesterday, I stopped my radio dial at 1600AM and Rev. Al Sharpton's show was not yet over.  (It's a day show but broadcast later in NYC.)  It was in the last hour.  A guest host, from Sharpton's National Action Network, was doing the Obama and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. alignment.  I can't think of another word for it.  I got upset when the man said that Obama was using drones in a way that minimized harming civilians, that it was precision ...  It was his assertion that Obama was doing great... I had to turn it off.  Well, as the good Rev. Dr. King Jr said, "No lie can live forever.".  And "the arc of history bends torward the truth".  I'm old enough to been a young adult during MLKing Jr's lifetime.  He was "the grownup" in my view.  He couldn't be bought, meaning, he couldn't be co-opted. 

Brilliantly Stated

Thank you for being a voice of truth and sanity in the midst of all the twisted inauguration MLK/Obama conflation.

I'd like to think that if MLK had lived, Barack Obama would be a different political person entirely, and not simply another member of the "opportunitstic grasping Black acquisitive class", as you so astutely and eloquently describe it. 

Unfortunately, social-class

Unfortunately, social-class opportunism often trumps collective identities based on race and ethnicity in the U.S. Many folks don't think "big picture," so even if they become upwardly mobile, they don't realize their kids and grand-kids may suffer if they don't have their heads screwed on straight when it comes to politics. And if the education system continues to go in the direction its going in, fewer and fewer people will be able to think at all. :(

Don't Conflate King With Obama


I am writing this in the early morning of MLK's birth day and hours before the inaugeration.. King and Obam are poles a part. They could not be more different.

If Obam makes any refernces to King during the inaugeral address they will be back handed ones that will confuse those who weren't alive during King's time.  In the past Obam has refered to King as a young southern preacher. Which young southern preacher was Obam referring to, Billy Graham or Billy Sunday?  This muddies the water as Obam always does.

King was an African American preacher born in the South and earned every scholastic degree claimed for him.  The parentage, place of birth and credentials of Obam are left open to question by his own lack of clarity about the same.

King opposed the War In Vietnam and rapacious capitalism.  Obam gave Wall St. bailouts, appointed the same Wall St. crowd that caused the problem; and has murder Tuesdays in the White House via his drone killings.  Obam has the Whitiest administration since Calvin Coolidge.  Clearly there is some truth to those who have observed that Obam feels most comfortable with older White men.

I predict that in his inaugeral speech Obam will talk about guns, immigration and how tough choices have to be made about social sceurity, medicade and medicare.   Please note that we pay for social security, medicade and medicare by deductions from our pay checks. They in no way contribute to deficeits. The plight of Black America, the lower 9th ward in New Orleans or the North East devestated by Sandy will not be mentioned. 

May God rest Dr. King in peace.  May God have mercy on those who willfully cover up for the crimes of Obam.