For old school liberals*, Martin Luther King is remembered for his monumental contributions toward changing America. Not for womanizing. Not for hating. Not for demanding that white America concede their failings and give up their job to the nearest black woman. He had a dream, and that changed America.
If he had that dream today, would he be canceled for being too centrist?
The expectation on August 28, 1963, was that his words would be rejected, reviled, by racist right-wing conservatives. Times have changed. We’re no closer to judging a person by the content of his character today than we were then, and not only is a colorblind society no longer the goal, but racist in itself as we’re informed that it allows us to ignore discrimination rather than focus on it.
Then again, I’m also informed that I will never understand because I’m a white guy, so what do I know? Even though it looks to me as if we’re getting further away from a society where people are judged by character rather than identity, that’s the sort of thing one would expect someone like me to say. And should I make the mistake of saying so, the passionate will remind me that I don’t get a vote and should shut up and do as I’m told in furtherance of Dr. King’s dream.
What Martin Luther King would say today, if he was allowed to say anything, isn’t clear. He’s not here and no one gets to put their words in his mouth, no matter how strongly they believe otherwise. But I do know what he said when he was alive, and that’s what we celebrate today.
Happy Martin Luther King Day.
*Liberals are not progressives. Progressives may call themselves liberal. Conservatives may call progressives liberal. But liberals are not progressives.