An MLK Day Irony


An MLK Day Irony

Interesting little musing: while social media didn’t exist in Martin Luther King’s day, it’s highly doubtful that he would have spent any time fighting injustice on Twitter. Or making epic Facebook posts or even haunting comment areas on sites that he agreed with politically to fill the echo chamber. No, MLK (and countless others, famous and unknown) did things the only way they could be done: with action.

What a great irony it is, to see so many (mainly white) people take to their Twitter feeds to laud King and remind us of what he stood and fought for. It’s all done with the conviction of someone putting on a happy face at Christmas and talk about “what really matters” in order to get the deed over with and make everyone think you’re a great person. While there’s really no cynicism or malice in your words, there is certainly no conviction with the platitude. It’s just something that needs to be performed because it’s what is expected and the sooner it’s over, the sooner your regularly scheduled program can resume.

Right as the impeachment trial of the most criminally-minded, incompetent and unfit “president” launches, there’s no shortage of evidence that it will be a rigged process. Senate Republicans are openly working with the White House without the slightest pretense of fairness or impartiality. (What they call ex parte communication if you remember nothing else from “Law and Order.”) The so-called president’s defense team is offering up all sorts of lies about impeachable offenses without bothering to refute the substance of the articles of impeachment passed by the House. There’s no subtlety whatsoever: it’s all being done right in front of your faces. But your reaction? Not much by way of something in the real world. On social media, however, there’s lots of handwringing, exasperation, anger, disgust and useless appeals to polls. Yet there certainly isn’t anything concrete. No declarations of a boycott, or a mass protest on Capitol Hill, nothing. And because of that, why should the widely reviled and unpopular Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell be afraid of anything? He’s paying no price.

And that brings up another MLK Day irony. The day is often called a “day of service” (mainly by states that hate to have King’s name on anything) but where is the civic service? When confronted with the possibility of letting a criminal president get away with well-evidenced crimes in collusion with his corrupt party, well, what other excuse do you need to protest? To rise up and make your voices louder than before? What is going to happen with this fraudulent Senate trial is a grave injustice, something that King was well acquainted with, especially as a Southerner. Yet he and others did not declare they would wait for an election to change things and keep going about their business. No: he and others put their bodies out there, often at great peril, to begin effecting change. He didn’t tell people to “run for something”, that pithy bit of advice that excuses 99 percent of the rest to us from actually performing something close to a public good since we’re assured something else will bother. He did things, we mostly shirk away from it.

So what is the point of lauding King if, when confronted with breathtaking dishonesty, criminality and injustice, you’re choosing not to do anything? Those feel good messages of King’s achievement mean nothing outside of patting yourself on the back. What he stood and fought for had nothing to do with being a keyboard warrior, or waiting for the next election. Yet it appears that no one wants to take that part to heart. Easier to mutter something and then get back to Netflix.