Birth of A Myth and Death of A Dream

Monday was the 54th Anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech. Americans took to social media and proved once again why this speech is possibly the best and worst rhetorical device for confronting systemic racism in America.

Dr. King's speech was a mix of the Bible, America’s founding documents and some of his earlier sermons. His words were seamlessly woven into a message that condemned the status quo while simultaneously offering a prophetic vision of a better day. Dr. King talked about the hope that came with the end of slavery and the heartbreak that followed when Emancipation turned into a 100-year nightmare sponsored by Black Codes, Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan. His words aren’t the problem; the willful distortion of those words and his legacy undermine the events of that day.

Reactionaries use Dr. King to shame those involved in protests they don’t support. This is a reflexive response. Black people are bombarded with images of MLK anytime the nation is forced to talk about race.This method of deflection does nothing to address the issues at the center of a particular conflict. Almost fifty years after his assassination there are Americans who believe Dr. King didn’t cause the kind of racial discomfort they feel about Black Lives Matter or American Flag protests.

America has an uncomfortable relationship with black activism. There appears to be two acceptable forms of civil engagement: passive or past tense. Passive activists are America’s darlings.Their soft shoeing approach to race doesn’t ruffle any feathers. Often they​ place white feelings ahead of justice. This isn’t who Dr. King was. His indictments against the America he inherited were damning. Some of his tactics were just as violent as bricks crashing through plate glass. The yearlong bus boycott he helped lead caused just as much economic damage to the bus lines and businesses in Montgomery, Alabama as a riot.

Dr. King’s murder made him eligible for America’s posthumous resurrection program. When an activist dies their message is edited and made more palatable for future generations. Their critiques of America and white supremacy are replaced by a message that asks future generations of black activists to suffer in silence or follow a set of protest requirements that assure nothing changes. In other words, you can live and be ineffective or die and have your message appropriated.

The same people who chastise Black Lives Matter for not being more like Dr. King moved the goalposts of acceptable nonviolent protest far enough to exclude kneeling in silence. There is no acceptable way to draw attention to the continuing racial disparities in America. When we boycott businesses that discriminate against us we are called economic terrorists, when we write or talk about discrimination we are called race hustlers, and when black athletes refuse to pledge their allegiance they get blacklisted. America writ large has never endorsed any protest that forces us to look in a mirror.

There is a lot to be learned from the sermonizing and writing of Dr. King. His ability to weave secular and religious texts into road maps for the future was pure genius. The hope contained in that speech will live forever. The March on Washington is an immutable part of American history. That event can’t be scrubbed from history, but it is being distorted. If Martin's dream is to be realized the myths associated with his life need to be as violently assassinated as he was.

Will Cleveland Lead The Way?

Will Cleveland Lead The way for honoring the free speech rights of their players?

by Danny Cardwell During a Monday, August 21, preseason game against the New York Giants, 11 Cleveland Browns players kneeled in a prayer circle during the National Anthem. They were flanked by another five players who placed their hands on their teammates' shoulders in a show of solidarity. The players who participated in this act of…

The March From Salem To Charlottesville

In the winter of 1692, Massachusetts Bay Colony was rocked by allegations of witchcraft. In January, a group of young girls from Salem Village claimed to be possessed by the devil. The girls were taken to a doctor who determined they had been “bewitched”. The girls aged 9 and 11 accused a local slave named Tituba of witchcraft.


In early February Tituba was arrested and admitted to being a witch. During her confession, she accused other women in the village of being witches. By May of 1692 governor William Phips established a special court to handle the trials of those accused of witchcraft. On June 2nd, Bridget Bishop was convicted of witchcraft and hanged eight days later. This was the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials.

If you travel to Salem, Massachusetts you can visit the Victim’s Memorial, take tours of the jail and visit several preserved structures in Danvers and Salem. What you won’t find are monuments built to honor the brave men who had to hang and torture the women and men accused of witchcraft. This bothers me. They were husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. They did what they had to do to protect their way of life. They are part of history. Where are their statues?

This is a ridiculous argument, but not really. The officers of the court who arrested, questioned, prosecuted and executed the accused were acting under the legal authority granted to them by their government. They are no better or worse than the Confederate soldiers who participated in the attempted overthrow the United States government.


Last Friday torch bearing mobs of white supremacists marched on Charlottesville. The pictures and videos taken that night are a visual reminders of the mob mentality, hysteria and hatred that fueled the atrocities committed in Salem, Massachusetts. Angry mobs of white men assembled at night with torches has historically ended in castrations, hangings and people burning at the stake. This assembly ended the next day when one member of the lynch mob drove his car into a crowd of people injuring 19 and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.     

The tragic events in Charlottesville were 325 years and 573 miles removed from the Witch Trials in Salem, yet both American horror stories shared​ roots in hatred and hysteria. The people behind the Salem Witch Trials and the white supremacists gathering in Charlottesville weaponized the fear and anxiety of their allies. Once a mob is formed and inhibitions are lowered it becomes that much easier to kill those dehumanized by their ideology.  

What happened in Charlottesville was not about monuments. The removal of Confederate Monuments is to racism what not having dinner on the table is to domestic violence. Issues related to race often remain hidden under the surface; sometimes they just need a spark to remind us how tenuous our truces are. Too often we confuse the absence of large racial outbursts as signs of transcending our racial past, but this is an illusion. We live in a country that continues to struggle with the legacy of white supremacy.

Dr. Eddie Glaude writes and talks extensively about the "Value Gap" in America. The value gap is the belief that white people matter more than the rest of us. His thesis is a retelling of American history and an examination into how this belief continues to shape our society. What we saw in Charlottesville was another attempt by white supremacists to reshuffle the socioeconomic order of our society through fear and intimidation.

The scapegoating of racial, religious and sexual minorities is a necessary recruitment tool for hate groups trying to grow their numbers. The images of torch wielding xenophobes and bigots are disheartening, but not nearly as disheartening as the social media posts of seemingly normal people who have tried to justify their actions. The soft bigotry at the core of some people's need to justify and sympathize with bigots is just as damaging to race relations as walking up and down American streets with Swastikas and Confederate flags supporting them. 

We found a way to preserve​ the history of the Salem Witch Trials without canonizing the villains who committed the evil acts. 99.99% of our society can’t name one person responsible for the hangings, stoning and torture that defined that dark period of American history, yet we all know what happened. If the statues stay we should at least be honest about the terror they represented for 22% of America’s population at the time of the Civil War.

Sex, Lies And Hate


This past Monday Pat Robertson offered his Christian Broadcast Network audience a conspiracy theory, as a legitimate response, to Fox News contributor Eric Bolling’s suspension from the network for allegedly sending unsolicited nude photos to at least three female coworkers. Robertson said:


If you wanted to destroy the Fox News, you really wanted to destroy them, what would you do? Well you would send some salacious material, ostensibly from one of their popular co-hosts or hosts and you’d send it out and then get it publicized and then you have some woman complain that she had gotten this salacious material from this particular co-host.



Sadly, there are Evangelicals who will accept Pat Robertson’s theory as fact. The ungodly union between the reactionary wing of the Evangelical movement and the conservative media has produced an analytical paralysis in the minds of those who only receive information from sources inside their bubble. This paralysis obscures rational thought and hinders dialogue. It’s easier to believe conservative media outlets are the victims of a sinister liberal plot than to address the misogyny and patriarchy that seem to be constitutive parts of their political and religious dogma.

Eric Bolling’s suspension comes a month after Charles Payne’s suspension pending the findings of his sexual harassment allegations. In April of this year Bill O'Reilly was fired from the network after it was revealed that he and 20th Century Fox had been settling sexual harassment cases since 2004.  In July of last year, the recently deceased, Roger Ailes was forced to resign as CEO of Fox News amid his sexual harassment scandal involving female employees at the network.

None of this history matters. A closed mind rarely sees patterns. These sexual allegations are not viewed as a sign of a toxic atmosphere. The “good guy” is a victim of an illegitimate media. This is the kind of thinking that allows people to look at videos of unarmed people shot by police and disconnect what they are seeing from any historical context.

The allegiance some Evangelicals have pledged to the conservative media is so strong that it ignores, tolerates​ and even defends sexual assault. The "Access Hollywood" audio of Donald Trump admitting to sexually assaulting women didn't faze this crowd. Bill Clinton’s 20-year-old consensual affair with Monica Lewinsky is more offensive to many of them than Donald Trump hanging around the dressing rooms of young women or his willingness to just, “Grab ’em by the p___y.”

There are religious and secular people who, foolishly, believe these Evangelicals can be reached with better arguments. These good folks are prisoners of their own hope and optimism. There is a hatred at the core of this kind of Christianity. Pat Robertson was talking to people who spent eight years believing every nonsensical story about FEMA camps, gun grabs, Sharia law and a host of other lies fed to them by the conservative media.

In America, our hatred is often hidden behind the Bible or wrapped in a flag. More than 80% of our fellow citizens identify with some denomination of Christianity, yet the rhetoric disseminated from Christian television, social media, too many pulpits and from our elected officials doesn't comport with the gospel of Jesus. Pointing this out is useless. There are Evangelicals who believe the media is fake news, science is a form of secular opinion and universities produce more snowflakes than data. This isn’t hypocrisy. It’s a pernicious worldview that can’t be penetrated with a better argument. The church and the truth are collateral damage.