More than a half century has elapsed since the murder of Martin Luther King. How did the nation react to his killing? The answer is easy. There was an immediate outpouring of near universal grief and outrage. And it was not limited to any particular race or political persuasion. Americans everywhere were horrified by what had happened and resolute in their determination to continue the struggle Dr. King had fought and died to advance.
What was that struggle? What were the goals of the movement he and others had begun and which his successors refused to abandon? It can be summed up in two words: equality and justice. Which meant, as a practical matter, that no one was to be judged, in words Dr. King himself had coined, “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
How quaint those phrases now sound! In fact, so positively antique are they that anyone reckless enough to invoke them these days is likely to get cancelled. What has happened to us as a nation that this is where we find ourselves today? To anachronize hallowed ideals on the one hand, then to anathematize people who persist in seeing their continued relevance? Who are so reactionary as to idealize relations among people as being both color blind and character driven?