I have a post at Religion Dispatches on the perverse ironies of the unspoken complacency with which the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is often celebrated.
Here’s the final paragraph.
It seems to me that given America’s glaring gaps today in economic
justice at home and principled, constructive involvement in the outside
world, King’s "Dream" speech should if anything play as a stinging
reminder of how little of his mission has been fulfilled. Instead, his
stirring words are more often than not deployed not as a call forrenewed introspection or commitment to equality, but as a
self-congratulatory coda to America’s modern social history that seems
highly premature — like those iconic feminist-themed Virginia Slims
billboards of the past — not to mention fundamentally at odds with the
message of the man and the holiday being celebrated. Like the
self-satisfied Virginia Slims billboards of the past, in some respects
we’ve come a long way, Baby, but the fact that we’ve reduced Reverend
King’s holistic and unapologetically revolutionary message to the
toothless, politically correct sermonizing of a Benetton commercial
shows that his dream remains more than unfulfilled — it remainsscandalously undigested.