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Thu Jan 18, 2018, 03:17 PM

Beyond Good and Evil

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.; April 4, 1967


I think that Monday was an extremely important point in current history. At a time when many Americans were thinking about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., his memory was juxtaposed with that of the vile racist Donald Trump. The stark contrast in their characters was obvious for all to see.

It's not just the difference in character between King and Trump that is important, of course. In the larger sense, it's the impact that they have upon other people. Those who respect and honor Dr. King's message are distinct from those who follow and support Trump. Thus, our society is currently experiencing great tension. For that reason, it is important that we fully understand and appreciate the vast differences between “creative tensions,” of which Dr. King mastered, and “negative tensions,” which define Trump.

In their formative years, both men grew up in the shadow of a successful father. The elder King was a prominent minister, and the elder Trump was a “successful” speculator and thief. King's father worked for making a more just society, while Trump's father was a racist Klu Klux Klan member. Both Dr. King and Donald Trump would opt to follow in the footsteps of their fathers' careers. Both experienced some tensions with their fathers as they began to be successful. Both would become national figures, rather than the parochial statuses that their fathers were.

King was a complex man. In his early life, he struggled with serious depression. He sought to identify the “meaning of life” through his early and extraordinary education. Though he was raised in a republican, middle class home, he was fascinated with radical “liberation theology,” as documented in John Ansbro's “Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Making of a Mind” (Maryknoll; 1990). As a result, King would never seek great material wealth.

Trump is a simpleton. He sought his father's approval, but never really obtained it. Hence, his never-ending quest for the admiration of others. More, he defined “success” in terms of crushing opposition on his path to obtaining material wealth.

King was a registered republican, until the 1960 presidential election. When Senator Kennedy responded to Mrs. King's concerns about her incarcerated husband's safety, the extended King family would become Democrats. In particular, Dr. King worked with President Johnson to achieve the historic Civil Rights legislation successes.

Trump, on the other hand, has been a Democrat, an independent, a third-party member, and a republican – all depending upon what position he felt was most beneficial to him as an individual. With the election of Barack Obama, Trump would chose to identify with the racist right-wing of the republican party. In doing so, he was being as true to his nature as he ever had been as an adult. For Donald Trump is nothing, if not racist scum.

When Dr. King delivered his “A Time to Break Silence (Beyond Vietnam)” speech on April 4, 1967, at the Riverside Church in NYC, it marked a break from LBJ's White House. By the end of the year, King was outlining a plan for a “Poor Persons March,” to occupy Washington, DC. That was an unacceptable level of “creative tension” for politicians. Senator Robert Byrd would infamously call for the “preventive” detention of Dr. King on the floor of the US Senate, should the planned occupation appear to be moving forward.

As King continued to openly oppose US “policy” in Vietnam, as well as violence in the Middle East, many of those who previously viewed him as a “responsible” Civil Rights leader tuened on him viciously. This is well-documented in Taylor Branch's “At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68” (Simon & Schuster; 2006). Indeed, as Branch shows, King's progressive stance resulted in the formation of “neoconservatism” – liberal social policy, military might foreign policy – a mutant splinter of the Democratic Party.

King did not endorse any candidate for the 1968 presidential contest. One can only speculate if he might have endorsed anyone, had he lived. There was an effort to convince him to run on a third-party ticket with anti-war pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, though there is no evidence he seriously considered that option. What is evident is that the final year of his life was extremely painful for King as a man. Yet he was willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

Trump had previously flirted with the idea of running for president, but took the first actual step in 1988, when he contacted Bush the Elder to say he was interested in running as vice president. (See: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush; John Meacham; Random House; 2015) In the years to come, Trump found that by appealing to the racist instincts of white people, he could form a political base for a future run for the presidency.

King believed that by appealing to the public's basic decency and sense of justice, America could reach its potential. Trump believed that by appealing to Russian mobsters, he could bring America back to a point where minorities had no power, and that he could gain financially at the same time. This reminds me of Malcolm X's teaching that society has a choice between a sparkling clean glass of water, and a filthy glass of sludge.

Perhaps the most significant achievement of Dr. King's life is that he inspired everyday people to join him in the effort to, in his words, “save America's soul.” The strength of his example still holds power today. We saw that in the Occupy Movement, and in numerous other selfless social and political movements. We saw it last year in the Women's March on Washington. We need to see a lot more of it now.

While Trump is extremely dangerous, as a malignant narcissist in the White House, it is evident that he also has encouraged his alt-right/ KKK base to take more threatening actions. We saw that in their recent march, in which it is accurate to say there were not “good people on both sides.” We see it in the gross responses to virtually every hateful utterance that comes out of the shit-hole that is Donald Trump's mouth.

We face a clear choice as a nation. Dr. King and Diaper Don represent the two choices, but it goes well beyond those two individuals. Our future – immediate and long-term – depend upon which glass that each of us decides to drink from.

Peace,
H2O Man

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply Beyond Good and Evil (Original post)
H2O Man Jan 2018 OP
guillaumeb Jan 2018 #1
H2O Man Jan 2018 #2
coeur_de_lion Jan 2018 #17
H2O Man Jan 2018 #19
coeur_de_lion Jan 2018 #21
spanone Jan 2018 #3
H2O Man Jan 2018 #10
AmericanActivist Jan 2018 #4
H2O Man Jan 2018 #11
coeur_de_lion Jan 2018 #18
BobTheSubgenius Jan 2018 #5
H2O Man Jan 2018 #12
ms liberty Jan 2018 #6
H2O Man Jan 2018 #13
hibbing Jan 2018 #7
H2O Man Jan 2018 #14
ornotna Jan 2018 #8
H2O Man Jan 2018 #15
malaise Jan 2018 #9
H2O Man Jan 2018 #16
Hekate Jan 2018 #20

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 03:23 PM

1. Recommended.

Very well said.

And this, in my view, is the essence of Trump:


Trump, on the other hand, has been a Democrat, an independent, a third-party member, and a republican – all depending upon what position he felt was most beneficial to him as an individual.


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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 03:30 PM

2. Thank you!

I appreciate that.

At my medical appointment yesterday, my republican doctor started off by saying, "You were right -- he's the worst president ever." I think that more and more people are seeing this. And that's a good thing!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 07:41 PM

17. My poor deluded sister

While not admitting that he is crazy as a loon, at least admits it would be better if he just shut up.

I rejoiced in this happy revelation until she posted a video of a young black man saying Trump has done so much to help black people.

One step forward two steps back.

I'll take any sign of positive progress though.

Thank you for your essay thoughtful and well written as usual.

Pray for my poor sister.

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #17)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 10:10 PM

19. I'm curious what

your sister thinks about one aspect of Trump and the porn star. Trump said she reminded him of his daughter, Ivanka. Thus, my question: Who is Donald fantasizing about, while riding the baloney-pony with the porn star?

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #19)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 11:02 PM

21. Yuck

I almost don't want to know.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 03:44 PM

3. K&R...

Dr. King's opening quote could have been written yesterday.

Thanks.




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Response to spanone (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 06:46 PM

10. Right.

I consider it the greatest American speech. It's as important today as it was the day he gave it.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 04:00 PM

4. Your post reminds me of recent articles published

by Sally Yates and Bill Clinton that indicated Americans must devide who we are as a nation.

Sparkling clean or filthy sludge analogy by Malcolm X is interesting. Personally I don’t believe America will ever be the sparkling clean glass, and currently we are definitely in the filthy sludge of the minority rule in USA.

Thanks for your thoughtful post which reminds me to think about who we are as Americans and what choices do we have.

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Response to AmericanActivist (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 06:55 PM

11. Interesting.

I'm interested in reading what Sally Yates has to say, in particular. And, of course, President Clinton, as well. I'm a lot less familiar with Ms. Yates, but have been very impressed with what I've seen thus far.

It can be difficult for me to look at America as it appears in the media, and see much but the sludge for the past year. But I remember Gandhi saying that humanity is an ocean, and that some spots of filth does not define it. I believe that most people are good, and hope that those people will begin to take a more active role in the social-political tides in our culture.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #11)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 07:54 PM

18. Ghandi said

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they can seem invincible. But they always fall. Think of it -- always."

That quote comforted me when Bush was president. It is even more important now.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 05:39 PM

5. That's some good writin', right there.

I quite like your style of prose, and the way you pulled your thesis together. Kudos!

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Response to BobTheSubgenius (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 06:57 PM

12. Well, thank you!

My second cousin, who I've worked closest with on politics over the decades, often tells me that my writings are boring, because I write like I speak. I assume he finds it boring when I talk, too!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 06:17 PM

6. K&R. Well said, as usual! n/t

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Response to ms liberty (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 06:57 PM

13. Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 06:25 PM

7. it's the impact that they have upon other people.

It may just be me, but he sure seems to have emboldened the racists. It seems almost every day there is a story about some racists doing something public and proudly. Today it was the workers in Wisconsin. The corporate media uses softer terms like "white nationalist" it saddens me terribly to realize how far we still have to go.

Peace

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Response to hibbing (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 07:03 PM

14. Exactly!

Even here in rural, upstate New York, it is evident that racist dim-wits feel emboldened to spout off publicly the nonsense they used to say behind closed doors. And that's not to say there haven't been racist activities in this region, going back to when the KKK was big. But even things like people who have never been outside the state, flying the confederate flag, have become much more common. I see it outside houses, and on vehicles.

The social justice that comes with our constitutional democracy requires on-going struggle.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 06:30 PM

8. Thank you again

For your great commentary. Always thoughtful and appreciated.

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Response to ornotna (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 07:05 PM

15. Thanks, ornotna!

I thought about this essay for a day, before writing it. It seemed that important to me. I'm pleased that you appreciate it!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 06:43 PM

9. A beautiful, hopeful OP

Thanks WaterMan

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Response to malaise (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 07:07 PM

16. Thank you!

I am hopeful. I think the response to Trump's "shit hole" bullshit is encouraging. And the response has been global.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 18, 2018, 10:16 PM

20. KnR. Peace

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