MLK Day gives Americans a chance to reflect

The legacy and accomplishments of one of the most revered Americans in its history, Martin Luther King, Jr., is not reflected in the politics of America.

By Solomon Smith, Political News Editor

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

King was a rebel, an agitator, in the very best sense of the word. During his lifetime, detractors characterized him as the coming downfall of American ideals, and the harbinger of the decline of American society. He was, instead, a celebrated hero in the fight for equality; racial equality, labor equality and economic equality. His work laid the foundation for modern American ideals on equality and justice. America became a better country because of his work.

The inclusion of an openly racist member of Congress, Representative Steve King (R) of Iowa’s fourth district, the increases in hate crimes since the election of Donald Trump, and the increase in racist organizations across the country illustrate how much further the country has to go. The Trump administration has often been the locus of racist rhetoric and has attempted to gas light the American people into thinking that it is aligned with beliefs of respected leaders like King.

“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy,” said Vice President Mike Pence, quoting King. “He inspired us to become a more perfect union and, in fact, that is what President Trump is trying to do.”

Pence’s comments about the wall is only one example of the Trump administration mischaracterizing the truth, and, more than that, it shows how far from the dream we are. King’s son responded by putting it plainly.

“Martin Luther King Jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder,” said Martin Luther King, III.

The administrations callousness about the suffering of people at the border, the difficulties of those government workers under the weight of the shut-down and people of color across the nation feeling the pressure of living in Trump’s new America can attest—this is not the Dream.

We can do better, and there is hope that King’s Dream has survived. The third annual Women’s March built itself on the nation’s need for a hopeful future, Black Lives Matter continues to be unafraid to speak truth to power and the Los Angeles Teachers Union fights for both better wages and schools; the resistance of the modern era is the spirit of King’s defiance.

There will be a lot of quotes about King’s belief in peace this week, but a more pertinent quote, one showing his willingness to continue fighting injustice and hatred in trying times is this one.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”