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No Way to Honor Dr. King

The tribute to peacemakers, organized by the MLK National Memorial Foundation, was mostly a night applauding warmakers, corporate profiteers and co-opted musicians.

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After the speeches and Stevie Wonder’s song, the mic was turned over to an Israeli musician Idan Raichel, an avid supporter of the Israeli Army and someone who has publicly expressed approval of Israel’s 2009 invasion of Gaza. One wonders how much the Israel government gave to the Foundation to get a plum spot in the tribute to peace.

But don’t ask the King family how they feel about their fathers’ opening tribute being sold off to the highest bidder. The family demands royalties for use of the King name—even from the Memorial—and so far have received about a million dollars. Cambridge University historian David Garrow, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of King, said that King would have been " absolutely scandalized  by the profiteering behavior of his children."

Today’s great global peacemakers, the true followers of Dr. King, were neither seen nor evoked. No mention of Burma’s struggling opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi or the  nonviolent protagonists of the Arab Spring or the environmentalists opposing a proposed tar sands pipeline from Canada to Texas  who were arrested at the White House on the very day of the tribute. No mention of the U.S. peace groups trying—for 10 years now—to stop the horrifying Bush/Obama wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the drone attacks in Pakistan that have killed so many civilians.

 Dr. King, whose life was spent preaching unconditional love and nonviolent redemptive good, continues to inspire people the world over who are helping to shape his vision of an “arc of the moral universe” that is long but bends toward justice. Gandhi, King, Mandela—there are precious few whose legacies resonate with those who are risking their lives today, in a nonviolent fashion, to eliminate the evils of racism, poverty, militarism and environmental destruction. King’s tribute to global peacemakers should have reached out to them as the legitimate heirs of the King legacy, not the monied interests who helped pay for the piece of carved granite that bears his image.

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