The Death of Dr. King

Scripps-Howard News Service 10.04.01
Balint Vazsonyi

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 to them.

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, restaurants?

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 our well.