Obama in the Shadow of Martin Luther King

The coincidence of Barack Obama’s second inaugural coming, as it does, on Martin Luther King’s birthday, invites reflection.

Yes, we’ve come a long way on race relations since 1968. I, like many people over 50, never thought I’d see the day that a black man would become President.

We have matured as a nation, at least on the surface, on the issue of race, though you don’t have to dig deep to find it: in the Republican Party, in our resegregated schools, in our income and wealth disparities.

But Martin Luther King was concerned not only with fighting racial injustice. In the last five years of his life, he set out to attack poverty and to confront what he called the “giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism.”

He understood the linkages among them. He grasped the injustice of capitalism. And he, deep in his bones, was committed to nonviolence.

Still today, capitalism and militarism reign.

And President Obama has not done much to curb the excesses of capitalism, and done nothing but expand the reach of militarism with drone warfare.

Of all the judgments that a Martin Luther King might make of our current President, that one, I’m afraid would be the most harsh.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Banning Semi-Automatic Weapons Is Not Enough."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter